RACE DEBRIEF

    Lewis Hamilton did it the hard way as he inched closer to a record-equalling seventh world title with victory in an enthralling Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. We pick out the winners and losers at F1 returned to Imola for the first time in 14 years…

    Winners: The now 7-time title winners

    It was a matter of when, not if, Mercedes won their seventh successive constructors’ championship, taking the outright record from Ferrari with their fifth one-two of the 2020 campaign.

    To have wrapped it up with four races to spare shows how dominant they have been this year, winning all but two of the 13 Grands Prix so far.

    And as if that wasn’t enough, they hit another milestone in Imola, taking their 500th podium finish as an engine supplier in F1.

    READ MORE: Wolff says he has successor in mind after 'blood, sweat and tears' of seventh title

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    Mercedes celebrate title number seven

    Loser: Max Verstappen

    Max Verstappen’s record of scoring a podium in every race he has seen the chequered flag in in 2020 remains intact. However, rather than securing the second place he richly deserved and worked so hard for, the Dutchman ended up in the gravel after one of his tyres let go.

    READ MORE: Verstappen says he had no warning of tyre issue before sudden spin, as Horner suggests debris possibly to blame

    The chances of beating Valtteri Bottas to second in the drivers’ championship have reduced, as he trails by 35 points with four races to go, but he can still take heart from the fact his RB16 was a genuine threat to the all-conquering Mercedes in terms of pure performance.

    He will, however, be gald to see the back of Italy, with his 2020 record in the country reading 3 races, 3 DNFs...

    ONBOARD: Verstappen's rear tyre explosion

    Winner: Lewis Hamilton

    Lewis Hamilton’s hard-fought victory at Imola was the 93rd win of his career and ninth in 13 races this season.

    It was also his 72nd win for Mercedes, tying Michael Schumacher and his time at Ferrari for the most wins with a single constructor, while Imola was the 29th circuit he has clinched victory in a Formula 1 car. He also led his 5,000th career lap to boot.

    And with title rival Bottas beaten into second, his lead of 85 points with four to go means he could win a seventh world title at the next race in Turkey.

    READ MORE: ‘The only way was to do something different’ – Hamilton explains how he turned poor start into another win

    Loser: Pierre Gasly

    Pierre Gasly drove superbly throughout the weekend in Italy, securing a brilliant fourth on the grid at Imola, just down the road from AlphaTauri’s factory.

    But a water pressure issue that first reared its head on the grid before the start ultimately ended his race when a fourth successive points finish was on the cards.

    In three starts in Italy in 2020, it’s been bang or bust for Gasly – he has won once and failed to finish twice.

    WATCH: Pierre Gasly admits his Imola DNF is 'quite hard' to take

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    It was all looking so good for Gasly

    Winner: Daniel Ricciardo

    Daniel Ricciardo got his second podium of the year, courtesy of a second P3 finish in three races – having previously gone two and a half years without any podiums.

    The Australian’s third place was his seventh consecutive points score, helping Renault to move up into third place in the constructors’ championship, while strengthening his grip on fourth in the drivers’ title race.

    READ MORE: Ricciardo shocked to take 'surreal' Imola podium and share 'shoey' with Hamilton

    Loser: Lance Stroll

    Lance Stroll collided with his friend and rival Esteban Ocon at the start, having qualified poorly, which dropped him to the back of the field.

    He generally lacked the pace of his team mate all weekend, and then got his braking all wrong when he came into the pits, missing his marks by a long way and hitting his front jackman.

    He crossed the line 13th, meaning he has failed to score in the last five races, during which time, team mate Sergio Perez has scored fives times and amassed 48 points – nearly two race wins.

    2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: Stroll hits Racing Point mechanic in pit lane

    Winner: Daniil Kvyat

    Daniil Kvyat is fighting for his future in F1, so his fourth place in Imola – which included two brilliantly opportunistic passes after the Safety Car retreated to the pits – was very timely.

    It was comfortably his best performance of the season and a fourth points score in six races, but it may still not be enough to keep his seat at AlphaTauri next year, with Yuki Tsunoda favourite to replace him.

    DRIVER MARKET: Who will drive for AlphaTauri in 2021? All the key contenders’ chances rated

    Loser: George Russell

    George Russell had a first Formula 1 World Championship point within his grasp, having qualified very strongly and raced very aggressively on Sunday in Imola.

    But a small mistake cost him dearly, the Williams driver losing control behind the Safety Car and skidding into the wall. He admitted his mistake immediately and took it badly, as he realised what might have been.

    READ MORE: Hamilton, Grosjean and other F1 racers rush to console Russell after Imola mistake

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    Russell was left with a long traipse back to the Williams pits

    Winners: Alfa Romeo

    Alfa Romeo put some breathing space between themselves and fellow Ferrari-powered rivals Haas in the constructors’ championship with their first double points finish of the season.

    Kimi Raikkonen ran very deep into the race to move into points contention, while Antonio Giovinazzi gained six places on the opening lap by starting on the softs. The two drivers now sit on four points apiece, having both announced new deals to race for Alfa Romeo next year at Imola.

    ONBOARD: Giovinazzi gains six places at Emilia Romagna GP race start

    Losers: Racing Point

    Racing Point would be comfortably third in the constructors’ championship if they were able to maximise the potential of their car with two drivers.

    However, with Stroll on a bad run of form and the team making the wrong call to box Sergio Perez when he was in P3, relinquishing track position and a potential podium, this was a weekend to forget for the pink cars.

    READ MORE: ‘We gave the podium to Ricciardo’ – Perez rues ‘painful’ Racing Point strategy call

    They are now down to fifth in the constructors’ championship, level with McLaren and a point behind Renault.