F1’s drastically revised calendar involves stuffing 17 Grand Prix into a short space of time, which has been achieved through two means: double headers at certain tracks, and returning to some conveniently-located old favourites. A couple of tracks, however, haven’t ever hosted a Grand Prix - Algarve International Circuit (also known as Portimao), and Mugello.
With the F1 camp pitching up at the latter last weekend for the ‘Tuscan Grand Prix’, Williams driver George Russell gave us an intriguing guided lap of the track over the radio to show what it takes to fling a circa-1000bhp single-seater around this legendary place. He’s remarkably calm for someone driving fast around a circuit which includes two 170mph corners, but that’s F1 drivers for you. He even talks about using two trackside flags to gauge the wind direction.
Fears that the relatively narrow circuit would make for a dull race proved to be unfounded. There were overtakes aplenty (with hanging it around the outside of Mugello’s sweeping turns seeming to be a particularly popular option), two huge multi-car crashes and two red flag periods. In the end, seven cars were claimed by crash damage, with Estaban Ocon’s brake issues making for eight retirements in total.
Lewis Hamilton won from Valtteri Bottas and Alex Albon, the latter driving scoring his first-ever podium. Well-timed, considering the guy he replaced at Red Bull - Pierre Gasly, now at Alpha Tauri - won the last Grand Prix in a car that’s supposed to be slower. Awks.
The string of DNFs helped avert major embarrassment for Ferrari, this being a track the company owns, as well as the Scuderia’s 1000th Grand Prix. Both cars finished in the points for the first time in five Grand Prix, not that eighth and tenth will do much to appease the Tifosi.
As for Russell, he took advantage of the carnage and fought hard for what would have been his first-ever points finish and Williams’ first top 10 of the 2020 season, but ultimately had to settle for 11th.