Hamilton one win away from Schumacher record after crash-strewn Tuscan GP
Lewis Hamilton is now within one victory of Michael Schumacher's all-time Formula 1 record after winning a crash-strewn and chaotic Tuscan Grand Prix.
F1's first, and perhaps only, visit to Mugello will long be remembered as it involved three major incidents and two red-flag periods en route to Hamilton triumphing ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull's Alex Albon on the podium for the first time in his F1 career.
Unlike a week ago in the Italian Grand Prix when Hamilton was punished for an illegal pit stop and was forced to fight his way through the pack following a restart, the six-time champion steered clear of trouble to take the chequered flag for the 90th time.
The win means Hamilton has now set two additional F1 records as it was his 222nd points finish, overtaking Schumacher, and his 42nd classified result, surpassing Nick Heidfeld's mark.
Mercedes, taking its 100th win in the modern era, also set another F1 record as this was the 32nd race they have led a lap, beating the previous honour set by Williams from 1995-1997.
It was a chaotic period, effectively sparked by Verstappen's Red Bull sustaining a software issue with his power unit on the grid around 20 minutes prior to the start.
It had appeared to have been rectified. At the start, though, it was clear that was not the case as Verstappen went backwards through the pack on the run down to turn one during which Bottas had swept past poleman Hamilton, dropping him from third to 13th.
Sweeping through turn two, Verstappen was rammed from behind by Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen, sending him into the gravel where the RB16 was soon beached.
As for Gasly, he tried to squeeze through a gap that was not there created by Raikkonen to his left and the Haas of Romain Grosjean on his right.
Gasly initially hit Raikkonen, leading to the Finn shunting Verstappen. The first impact led to Gasly then colliding with Grosjean and following Verstappen into the gravel and out of the race.
It naturally led to the introduction of the safety car for six laps but once it filed away, it resulted in a frightening crash at the restart along the start-finish straight.
Race leader Bottas opted not to pull away immediately, aware he was leaving himself vulnerable to an attack from Hamilton directly behind him.
The main issue was that the pack further back had started racing, which resulted in Giovinazzi ploughing into the rear of a near-static Magnussen.
The resulting concertina effect led to Sainz colliding with both of his rivals, while Latifi was also taken out.
It was the unfortunate Sainz's second accident as he had been tagged by Racing Point's Lance Stroll that spun him around while the Verstappen incident was going on around 40 metres behind him.
With a bird's eye of what had unfolded, a furious Grosjean screamed over the radio: "That was f****** stupid from whoever was at the front. They want to kill us or what? This is the worst thing I've seen ever."
As Sky co-commentator Martin Brundle explained: "The back of the pack had decided the race was underway and the front had not yet accelerated because Bottas wanted to protect himself."
For the second consecutive grand prix, FIA race director Michael Masi was forced to bring out the red flag, leading to the 14 remaining cars filing into the pit lane.
After a 26-minute hiatus, the grid restart contained just 13 drivers as Renault had been forced to retire Esteban Ocon during the red-flag period due to overheating brakes.
As the field sat on the grid again, Hamilton appeared to be suffering his own brake issues as smoke could be seen emerging from the fronts.
When the five red lights went out for the second time, it was Hamilton this time who managed to make the more ideal start, pulling alongside Bottas and overtaking the Finn around the outside of turn one.
But the race was not as plain sailing from there as Mercedes would have liked as the team expressed concerns to both drivers on numerous occasions about tyre wear.
Bottas, in a bid to make a race of it, at one stage called for a different strategy to Hamilton, only for both to emerge on the hard compound following stops around 20 laps from the end.
The duo were both then warned to stay off the kerbs to preserve the integrity of the tyres.
With 15 laps remaining, fourth-placed Stroll sustained a puncture that sent him hurtling off the track, across the gravel and into a tyre barrier at the high-speed Arrabiatta 2.
After initially sending out the safety car, Masi soon opted to call a second red-flag period due to the time required to recover Stroll's stricken car.
After an additional 23-minute break, it led to the third grid start of the day involving 12 drivers for 13 laps, with Hamilton again ahead of Bottas, and Ricciardo third on the grid.
Unlike the main start that had taken place two hours and five minutes previously, Hamilton was clean away, while Bottas was passed by Ricciardo on the run to the first corner.
Bottas reclaimed second on the following lap, which left Ricciardo under attack from Albon, who grabbed third on lap 50 by sweeping around the outside of the Australian at turn one.
Hamilton finished nearly five seconds ahead of Bottas to open up a 55-point gap in the standings, with Albon just under three seconds further adrift.
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.