Hamilton says ‘heart-racing’ Tuscan GP was like 3 races in one day
Lewis Hamilton says he was pushed to the limit in a "really, really hard" Tuscan Grand Prix that included two red flags and three standing starts, and left his heart pounding as he secured a 90th career victory, his 69th for Mercedes.
“It was all a bit of a daze, it’s like three races in one day,” said Hamilton after the race at Mugello that lasted nearly two hours and 20 minutes.
The chaos began on Lap 1 – with Italian GP winner Pierre Gasly and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen eliminated in a collision – and continued on the Lap 4 restart as four drivers were collected in a second multi-car crash. A Lap 10 standing restart came after a 25-minute red flag, then another red flag was waved after Lance Stroll crashed out on Lap 42 – leading to 12 cars taking the third and final standing start of the day.
Throughout the race, Bottas was threateningly close to Hamilton, who lost the lead to the Finn on the opening lap but re-took it on the Lap 10 restart. The six-time champ then explained it was all about trying to keep his team mate out of DRS range on Mugello’s long start-finish straight.
“There were times I was looking at the tyres [at the end of the race], then all of a sudden he’d close up. Keeping that gap over a second, because this straight is over 1,000 metres or whatever, I didn’t want him to have the DRS – so my heart’s racing. It’s crazy to be here and have 90 Grand Prix [wins]," he added, after hitting the milestone that puts him just one short of equalling Michael Schumacher's all time record.
“[It was] just incredibly tough today, with a difficult start. This track is phenomenal and obviously the heat, keeping Valtteri behind – he’s been quick all weekend – was not easy and I was behind at the beginning. All those restarts, the total focus that’s needed during that time, it was really, really hard,” he said.
The tyres also presented a hurdle for Hamilton as he had a set of used softs fitted at his final stop after Stroll's crash – and revealed that last stint from Lap 45 to 59 was his toughest of the race.
Drivers' standings after the Tuscan Grand Prix
|1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes||190|
|2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes||135|
|3 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing||110|
“The first stint I was fine managing my tyres and I didn’t need to stop. [I just stopped] because Valtteri had a [tyre wear] problem and those things were unravelling on those next laps. Then the last [stint] I started on the used softs, not knowing how far that was going to go, Valtteri appeared out of nowhere… then he was on it,” he added.
Tyre concerns notwithstansing, Hamilton managed to keep Bottas behind him and clinch Fastest Lap on the penultimate tour, securing a bonus point in the process to go with the 25 he got for the victory, to give him a 55 point lead over his team mate at the top of the championship.