Mercedes wins constructors title with Imola one-two

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

The German marque’s undefeated run since 2014 beats Ferrari’s previous record of six straight titles between 1999 and 2004.

Mercedes is also guaranteed a seventh straight drivers title, with only Valtteri Bottas in mathematical contention to catch points leader Hamilton with four rounds remaining.

This article originally appeared in The Phuket News.

With victory Hamilton extended his championship lead to 85 points over Bottas, but the Briton was fortunate to take the chequered flag first after dropping to third on the first lap with a poor getaway.

Instead Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen slotted into second place behind poleman Bottas, who held the lead despite damaging his floor running over a piece of debris on the second lap, slowing him considerably.

But even against the wounded car Verstappen couldn’t make a move stick, so on lap 18 Red Bull Racing stopped him for new tyres, forcing Bottas to cover him on the following tour.

It didn’t win Verstappen position, but it worked wonders for Hamilton, who set a string of fastest laps in the clear air of his inherited lead until he had a pit stop’s gap over the competition by lap 30. Aided by a virtual safety car, he made a stop for fresh tyres and rejoined the race without conceding first place and effectively winning the race.

Bottas could only fight for second, and though he momentarily lost the place on lap 43 with a slide across the gravel, Verstappen suffered, a sudden right-rear tyre failure just eight laps later that put him out of the race and guaranteed the Finn second position.

Completing the podium was Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, but the Australian needed a late safety car to bring him into contention.

The Australian had made a great start to take fourth place on the opening lap, but an early pit stop dropped him into traffic and gifted the long-running Sergio Perez an advantage.

However, Perez handed the place back on lap 51 when he stopped for fresh rubber behind the lap-51 safety car deployed to collect Verstappen’s crashed car. It dropped him to seventh with six laps remaining and out of contention.

Instead Ricciardo spent the final stint of the race defending against the fast-finishing Daniil Kvyat, whose AlphaTauri was alive on fresh soft tyres. The former Red Bull Racing teammates sparred for the duration of the final stanza, with the Australian securing his second podium of the year by just 0.821s.

Charles Leclerc finished fifth for Ferrari. As Ricciardo, the Monegasque chose not to stop behind the safety car and so was forced to defend hard against the soft-shod Perez late in the race, holding him off by barely half a second at the flag.

Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris finished seventh and eighth for McLaren ahead of newly re-signed Alfa Romeo pair Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi.

Nicholas Latifi was 0.7s shy of his first F1 point for Williams after teammate George Russell crashed behind the safety car while running 10th.

Sebastian Vettel was 12th for Ferrari but seemed sure to score points before a botched final pit stop dropped him out of the top 10.

Lance Stroll turned in another painful weekend, qualifying poorly, crashing with a Renault on the first lap and then hitting one of his mechanics while making a late pit stop on his way to 13th.

Romain Grosjean finished 14th ahead of Thai driver Alex Albon, who was running fifth behind the safety car but spun out in an unforced error at the restart, dropping to last among the finishers.