Lewis Hamilton celebrated the 90th win of his Formula One career, one short of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record, after a crazy crash-strewn Tuscan Grand Prix on Sunday that was twice stopped and re-started.
The six-times world champion’s Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas completed the Mercedes one-two at the Ferrari-owned Mugello circuit in central Italy.
Red Bull’s British-born Thai driver Alexander Albon, whose Dutch team mate Max Verstappen retired in the gravel after a second corner collision, took third place for his first career F1 podium.
“It was all a bit of a daze. It was like three races in one day,” gasped Hamilton, who finished 4.880 seconds clear of Bottas for a record 222nd points finish in a race with three standing starts.
“All those restarts, the focus that’s needed during that time, it’s really, really hard,” he said.
The race was Ferrari’s 1,000th championship grand prix but the best the sport’s most successful team could manage was eighth for Charles Leclerc.
Hamilton’s sixth win in nine races this season sent him 55 points clear of Bottas, with eight rounds remaining, and the Briton also took an extra point for fastest lap.
Mercedes, celebrating their 100th win in the modern era, are now 152 points clear of second-placed Red Bull in the constructors’ standings.
The race was first stopped eight laps in after a mass-collision among backmarkers when the safety car, deployed at the end of the opening lap, headed back into the pits.
It was red-flagged again with 13 laps remaining when Canadian Lance Stroll crashed his Racing Point after an apparent puncture.
Six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton took his tally of Formula One wins to 90 and the brink of Michael Schumacher’s record on Sunday, but he said it felt like he had just done three in a day.
The Briton’s latest victory, in a Tuscan Grand Prix that was twice red-flagged and re-started, left him one shy of the Ferrari great — a record once held up as a milestone to withstand the test of time.
“Hectic,” said the 35-year-old Mercedes driver, when asked to sum up his afternoon at Ferrari-owned Mugello in central Italy.
“Such a roller-coaster ride, emotionally and physically.”
“It was all a bit of a daze. It was like three races in one day.”
Hamilton has won six races out of nine this season and, with a seventh title looking inevitable, the year has become a countdown to two of the greatest records in the sport — both owned by Schumacher.
There are eight races remaining and it is inconceivable that Hamilton will not win at least one more. He has been averaging 10 a season for the past six years now.
Schumacher, who has been out of the public eye since suffering severe head injuries in a December 2013 ski accident, took his seventh title with Ferrari in 2004 and last win in 2006.
Hamilton can pull alongside at the next race in Sochi, Russia, in two weeks’ time.
“It just doesn’t seem real,” he said.
“It is ultimately a privilege to be in the position and have such a great team and a car to be able to deliver weekend in and weekend out. I am forever grateful to the people who continue to work hard. I’m just a link in the chain.
“Getting these wins is not easy when you have a great driver in Valtteri pushing you to the limit. I never thought that I would be here, that’s for sure.”