Tempers flared and Valtteri Bottas was blamed as another Formula One Grand Prix was red flagged before Lewis Hamilton claimed yet another victory on his way to the 2020 title.
Hamilton claimed all 26 points available by also posting the fastest lap at the Tuscan Grand Prix on Sunday, having started on pole, extended his F1 drivers’ championship lead to 55 points ahead of Bottas, while Max Verstappen falls 25 points behind the Finn after a power unit failure.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly may have won at the Italian Grand Prix last weekend but he was the first driver out of Sunday’s race in Tuscany.
But the race was full of drama following Gasly and Verstappen’s early retirements, with two red flags being waved for the first time in four years.
The first red flag occurred following the rolling restart where leader Bottas attempted to slow the pace, thus not allowing second-placed Hamilton to gain any slipstream to overtake him, which in turn bundled the chasing pack together.
As a result, three drivers collided upon the restart as they accelerated and broke suddenly, with Haas Ferrari’s Romain Grosjean narrowly avoiding a collision and heard outraged on the team radio at the drivers ahead.
“That was f** stupid from whoever was at the front. They want to kill us or what? This is the worst thing I have ever seen,” Grosjean shouted.
The finger was pointed at Bottas, although he was not sanctioned for his actions, which understandably were geared at preserving his lead.
Teammate Hamilton agreed: “It was not Valtteri’s fault at all but the decision-makers. They are trying to make it more exciting but today they put people at risk. It was over the limit so there needs to be a rethink.
“These races can get boring when the field stretches out and the safety car brings it back closer together. They do it in NASCAR all the time to keep the racing exciting but they have to take into account the safety aspect. Today wasn’t safe and you could see it coming.”
The second red flag came when Lance Stroll, then fourth, appeared to suffer a tyre issue and spun into the barriers.
The field was down to 12 drivers and became condensed with the introduction of another safety car, which allowed Bottas to close the gap on Hamilton but not for victory, while Albon got ahead of Ricciardo with eight laps to go once DRS was enabled.
Hamilton added: “All those restarts, the total focus thats needed during that time, it was really, really hard.”