No one quite knew what to expect when Formula One announced that it would contend its first Grand Prix at the Mugello Circuit, and fans predicted that it would either be flecked with chaos or boring as hell. As it turned out, we got a little bit of both.
The action kicked off on the first lap with an accident that knocked out several drivers. Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen dropped down the grid after a failed shift at the stop. Last weekend’s race winner Pierre Gasly was squeezed between Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, ultimately climbing over Raikkonen’s right front wheel. Verstappen beached himself in the gravel, and both he and Gasly were forced to retire from the race.
The race went green again on lap six only for another massive crash took out Carlos Sainz Jr., Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi, and Nicholas Latifi.
Essentially, the problem started from the very head of the grid, where leader Valtteri Bottas was still weaving and driving slowly as the green flag waved. The rear of the pack didn’t get the memo; they took off expecting the leaders to have already accelerated. Hence: chaos.
For the second weekend in a row, the race was red flagged while cars were cleared away and the track surface was cleaned. The drivers lined up on the grid once again for a standing start from lap nine. The severely trimmed-down grid was able to put in a clean lap, with Lewis Hamilton launching himself into a dominant first place.
Once things properly got underway, Mercedes easily displayed the dominance that has secured its years of championships. Charles Leclerc at Ferrari lost the pace that saw him taking third place on the restart, quickly dropping to the rear of the grid. That left third place as a battle of the midfield.
A yellow flag waved on lap 43 when Lance Stroll—one of the drivers battling for that third place—skidded off the track and into the gravel. Bottas had been asking for a safety car in order to artificially close the gap between himself and Hamilton, and he got what he wanted. That yellow ultimately turned into a red flag in order to finish the race under green; the gravel and the wall damage would take too long to be fixed.
The final 12 cars lined up for the third standing start of the day. Hamilton jumped to the lead immediately, and Daniel Ricciardo managed to pass Bottas at the start, but Bottas managed to re-pass him just a lap later. Red Bull Racing’s Alex Albon then passed Ricciardo for the final podium position.
That was how they finished: Lewis Hamilton won the race, followed by his Mercedes teammate Bottas in second and Alex Albon in third for the Red Bull Racing driver’s first podium in F1.