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Formula One Sports Update: Recapping the 2020 Italian Grand Prix (9/8/20) By: Chris Affolder

After Saturday’s qualifying sessions, many Formula One fans assumed that Lewis Hamilton would claim his sixth victory of the 2020 season. The 35-year-old British driver took pole position for the seventh race in a row. With the exception of the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix a few weeks ago, Hamilton has won every race in which he qualified on pole. This week, however, would be different.

The schedule took the best drivers in the world to Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, one of auto racing’s most storied venues, for the 2020 Italian Grand Prix. The race started off just as several other races have this season, with Hamilton starting on pole and quickly taking a comfortable lead. Twenty laps into the race, Hamilton was still way out in front. However, Haas team driver Kevin Magnussen’s car had broken down and had to be pushed to the pits by race marshals. The safety car was deployed and the pits were closed so the marshals could safely push Magnussen’s car off the track. Hamilton, not realizing that pit lane was closed, elected to pit, as did Antonio Giovinazzi. Both drivers were assessed 10-second stop-and-go penalties.

The pits opened up a few laps later, and most drivers chose to make their pit stops. This allowed young Frenchman Pierre Gasly to move into the top three. As the race was returning to normal conditions, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc lost control of his car and collided with a barrier. The violent collision brought out the red flags, temporarily halting the race.

After the barrier was repaired and the track had been cleared of debris, the race resumed. Hamilton and Giovinazzi had to wait until just after this restart to serve their penalties. Once Hamilton entered the pits, Pierre Gasly took the lead. Over the next few laps, Gasly would have to fend off veteran driver Kimi Raikkonen, who would drop out of the top 10. Also challenging for the lead were McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr., and Lance Stroll of Racing Point. Gasly, Sainz, and Stroll all fought for their second podium finish and their first win.

In the end, Gasly would cross the finish line first, securing the first win of his career. Gasly became the first Frenchman to win a Grand Prix in nearly 25 years. This win also marked the first victory for team AlphaTauri. Sainz would go on to finish in second and Stroll finished third. Sainz’s teammate Lando Norris finished in fourth place. Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes, finished in fifth. Hamilton would finish in seventh. This is the only race in which Hamilton finished outside the top five.

Despite the uncharacteristic finish for Hamilton, his hopes of a fourth-straight championship and seventh championship overall remain relatively intact. His only real competition for this year’s title has been teammate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who failed to finish the race. Hamilton currently sits atop the standings with 164 points. Bottas is second with 117 points, while Verstappen is third with 110 points.

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