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F1 2020: Big guns aiming to bounce back at maiden Mugello event

By Ben Spratt

Monza, Sept. 9: Formula One heads to Mugello for the first time for the Tuscan Grand Prix after a huge upset last time out.

The Italian Grand Prix saw a first-time winner as defending champion Lewis Hamilton and each of his title challengers faltered.

That shock result means there has been little change in the championship picture, but Max Verstappen will hope to cut the gap this weekend.

The race gets started at 15:10 local time (14:10 BST) on Sunday, as Hamilton aims to maintain his strong record at new tracks.

LAST TIME OUT

Pierre Gasly won a race in F1 for the very first time as he profited from Hamilton's 10-second stop-and-go penalty, holding off Carlos Sainz to claim maximum points.

Hamilton had led until he entered the pitlane while it was closed amid Kevin Magnussen's retirement, an error that proved costly as Charles Leclerc crashed and the field bunched up.

The Briton's result - seventh - was not as damaging as it might have been, however, as team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished fifth and Red Bull's Verstappen was outside the points.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN ITALY

A Red Bull response must be anticipated after Gasly's victory. As Hamilton happily pointed out after the race, the Frenchman was "dropped by the top team" but then beat Verstappen and Co. with AlphaTauri.

That would have stung for the senior outfit on a day Verstappen did not earn a single point and instead fell further behind Hamilton.

But then each of the big names - including Hamilton - will surely hope to bounce back. Although Gasly deserves immense credit for seizing his opportunity, the breakthrough win was handed to the 24-year-old on a plate.

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Mercedes at Mugello? Hamilton has won on two of the most recent three occasions the series has introduced a new circuit (Austin in 2012, Sochi in 2014), while then Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg triumphed at the other event (Baku in 2016).

Celebrate in style? It is a landmark week for Ferrari. They have endured a tough season, but this is their 1000th grand prix, making the Scuderia the first F1 team to reach the milestone.

No home comforts? There will need to be a first in F1 history if Ferrari are to triumph. The Italian team have not won the first race at any of the prior three tracks used in their home country.

Out to end a drought? Both Ferrari and Red Bull are looking for a change in circumstances, with the Scuderia without drivers in Q3 at consecutive grands prix for the first time since the introduction of the format and Austrian outfit hoping to avoid a second straight race without earning a point.

Prost-igious company? Not since Alain Prost won four grands prix in a row in 1993 has a Frenchman enjoyed back-to-back F1 successes. Gasly is aiming to join the four-time champion.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 164 2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 117 3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 110 4. Lance Stroll (Racing Point) – 57 5. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 57

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 281 2. Red Bull – 158 3. McLaren – 98 4. Racing Point – 82 (after 15-point deduction) 5. Renault – 71

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Story first published: Wednesday, September 9, 2020, 20:40 [IST]
Other articles published on Sep 9, 2020