Virtual Safety Car gives Hamilton the perfect strategy

A Virtual Safety Car gave Lewis Hamilton the perfect strategy at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, handing him the opportunity to take the victory at Imola.

The beginning of the race at Imola was not ideal for Hamilton, having gotten a poor start off the line and dropping to third behind Max Verstappen, whilst nearly losing out to Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri as well.

Having dropped behind the Red Bull of Verstappen, the Mercedes driver looked to be struggling to retake second place and chase after his teammate and closest title rival, Valtteri Bottas.

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Hamilton’s struggles led to an alternate strategy being selected to try and salvage something from the race, running longer in the first stint after his rivals pitted around the lap 20 mark.

Mercedes asked the British driver to stop for an extra 10 laps, with it looking likely that he would go onto the soft tyres for the remainder of the race to try and gain on Bottas and Verstappen.

A mechanical issue for Esteban Ocon forced the Renault driver to park up at the side of the track and the Virtual Safety Car was subsequently deployed.

This gave Hamilton the perfect opportunity to be called into the pits by his team, emerging from the pits 3.8s in front of his teammate, allowing him to comfortably extend his lead in the race as Bottas continued to struggle with his damage.

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The free pit-stop was essentially a gift for the Briton, who seemed to be stuck in third place for a good part of the race.

Speaking to after the race, the 35-year-old was full of praise for the Brackley based team, who secured their seventh Constructors’ Championship in a row at Imola.

He said: “It’s unbelievable. To come back year on year, whilst we have great performances, it’s not easy to continue to deliver weekend in, weekend out.

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“The race itself was an exhausting one, particularly with the speeds that we are experiencing around this track.

“I had a tricky start but extended the stint and managed to fight back to the front. It feels fantastic to clinch the title today at Imola in style with a 1-2.”

Hamilton will hope to continue his run of victories when Formula One heads to Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix in two weeks time.