Hamilton reigns in Imola to secure seventh straight constructors crown for Mercedes

Mark Sutton//Motorsport Images

Hamilton reigns in Imola to secure seventh straight constructors crown for Mercedes

Formula 1

Hamilton reigns in Imola to secure seventh straight constructors crown for Mercedes

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Mercedes has won an unprecedented seventh consecutive constructors championship with a Lewis Hamilton-led one-two victory at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola.

The German manufacturer has won every teams crown since 2014, beating outright Ferrari’s run of six title between 1999 and 2004.

The team got the job done in style, claiming maximum points with a one-two finish and Hamilton claiming a bonus point for fastest lap on the final tour of the race.

“It’s just very overwhelming right now,” he said. “I look at my crew, this team here, and I know all the guys, all the men and women back at the factory at Brackley and Brixworth — they’re the unsung heroes. They’ve grafted away and never given up.

“People watch this and maybe think we’re used to it, but it always feels like the first with this team, and that’s because of the spirit.”

Hamilton needed a slice of luck to lead the team home for its historic victory, having dropped to third off the line behind polesitter Bottas and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen with a slip of oversteer.

Bottas led Verstappen and Hamilton away from the midfield at more than a second per lap, although the trio was never separated by more than five seconds among themselves.

Verstappen, unable to make an impression on the leader on the track, stopped early with an undercut attempt on Lap 18. Mercedes was forced to cover with Bottas on the following lap to maintain the lead.

But danger emerged for Bottas on two fronts. His car had picked up floor damage and had a sizeable piece of debris lodged in his car that was preventing him from getting away from Verstappen. Worse, Hamilton, with clear air in the lead of the race, was reeling off fastest laps to extend his advantage ahead.

An early lead for Bottas soon turned into a disadvantage. Charles Coates/Motorsport Images

Mercedes told the Briton to extend his opening stint until he had a pit stop’s worth of time over the stricken Bottas and pursuing Verstappen, but on Lap 30 a virtual safety car — triggered by Esteban Ocon’s stopped Renault — gifted him the precious extra seconds to guarantee him the lead.

Bolting on a fresh set of hard tires, Hamilton rejoined the race almost four seconds ahead of the helpless Bottas and began eking out a gap again, victory virtually assured.

Verstappen slipped past the gamely defending Bottas on Lap 43 when the Finn ran wide at Rivazza, but the gain was short-lived. A catastrophic right-rear tire deflation pitched the Red Bull Racing car into the gravel and out of the race, handing the place back to Bottas.

The safety car was called to collect to collect the wreckage, and the two leading Mercedes cars were switched to soft tires for what became a six-lap sprint to the finish. But with Bottas’s car still struggling with a damaged floor, Hamilton was uninhibited in his run to the flag for his 93rd win.

Bottas crossed the line 5.7s behind his teammate and rued the damage that left him unable to convert pole to victory for the third time this season.

“I think that made it quite hard today,” he said. “Obviously it caused some damage which made the car quite tricky to drive.”

With Verstappen out of the picture, the final podium place came down to a battle between Daniel Ricciardo on worn hard tires and Daniil Kvyat on fresh softs.

Kvyat had pitted for new rubber during the safety car and gained three places on the first lap after the resumption but was unable to break the Australian’s steadfast defense, pacing the way for Renault’s second podium of the year.

“Kvyat came out of nowhere in the last few laps — that was fun!” Ricciardo said. “Two podiums — and today I won’t forget the shoey!”

Charles Leclerc followed Ricciardo in staying out on worn tires to gain track position and finished a strong fifth, fending off the soft-shod Sergio Perez for position to the flag.

Perez was bitterly disappointed to be unable to find a way past — the Mexican had been running comfortably fourth before the safety car thanks to an inspired long first stint on medium tires, but the team erred in stopping him for fresh rubber.

McLaren teammates Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris finished seventh and eighth despite splitting strategies as the first stop.

Alfa Romeo duo Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi completed the points-paying places in ninth and 10th, Giovinazzi particularly impressive after running the medium tire for a mammoth 53 laps.

Nicholas Latifi was Williams’s highest finisher in 11th — teammate George Russell crashed out of a potential points-paying finish warming his tires behind the safety car — ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who was likewise set for points before a low pit stop ruined his chances.

Lance Stroll finished 13th after breaking his front wing on the first lap in a tangle with a Renault, with Haas driver Romain Grosjean 14th.

Alex Albon finished last after spinning out attempting to defend against Perez at the restart, guaranteeing Red Bull Racing’s first non-score since the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

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