Emilia Romagna GP: Hamilton wins at Imola as race comes alive at the end

Lewis Hamilton took victory at Imola thanks to a perfectly timed VSC, while Max Verstappen crashed out of second place late on to hand Daniel Ricciardo a podium.

The result also secured the Constructors’ Championship for Mercedes, their record-breaking seventh consecutive title.

The Verstappen safety car lit up an otherwise dull race that had been characterised by strategy and tyre management more than action on-track – Hamilton took the lead through running an alternate strategy.

It set up a battle royale for third in the last six laps as Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon were in the top five on hard tyres with Daniil Kvyat and Sergio Perez behind on softs, having pit on under safety car.

Kvyat made a brilliant restart to get up to fourth as Albon spun, but Ricciardo was able to hold off his former teammate to get his second podium in three races.

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F1 championship standings

The Australian inherited third after Sergio Perez pitted out of the position at the death, which Racing Point could well regret as he got bottled up behind Leclerc – the pair coming home fifth and sixth.

Hamilton ran longer on his first stint than his rivals who pitted around lap 20, and had just edged into the net lead when Esteban Ocon had to retire, leading to a VSC that gave the Brit a free pit stop and the lead from his teammate.

Bottas had held the lead at the start as both Mercedes made poor getaways, and Verstappen overtook Hamilton at Tamburello, which remained the formation until the first pitstops.

After losing his lead Bottas made several errors on the hard tyres as he suffered from floor damage, culminating in a trip to the gravel at Rivazza at the halfway point of the race which allowed Verstappen through.

But Verstappen suffered a puncture late on and speared into the wall at Villeneuve, while George Russell crashed under the following safety car from tenth position to extend the wait for green flag running.

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen remained in the top five for much of the race with both running very long on their first stint, but Vettel dropped out of contention with a very poor pitstop from Ferrari at their home race while Raikkonen pitted just before the full safety car.

He finished ninth though, his best result of the season and securing a double-points finish for Alfa Romeo which was helped by Russell and Albon’s trouble at the end.

The two McLarens had a quiet grand prix and were seventh and eighth, led by Carlos Sainz. Nicolas Latifi just missed out on points at the end in eleventh, while Lance Stroll was thirteenth after a troubled start.

He was dicing in the midfield but was pinched and lost half his front wing and had to pit early. He ran at the back all the way round.

Pierre Gasly was the early heartbreak of the race with power unit issues on the grid. He only lasted nine laps before retiring after what promised to be a very good result.

He had qualified fourth in the AlphaTauri and was fifth when called into the pits.