Lewis Hamilton has survived a wild inaugural race around Mugello punctuated by two red flag periods to claim victory for the Tuscan Grand Prix and puts himself just one win behind Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91 race triumphs.
The first stoppage was to clear a hefty pileup along the main straight following a frenetic Safety Car restart. Then Lance Stroll suffered a scary tyre blowout 15 laps from the chequered flag, careening into the tyre barrier at Turn 9.
The race becomes only the sixth Grand Prix in history and the third in the 21st century to have two red flag periods, the last being in a wet Brazilian GP in 2016.
Valtteri Bottas rounded off a Mercedes 1-2 with Alex Albon at last scoring his maiden podium with a late move on Daniel Ricciardo.
A three-car collision interrupted the start of the race as Kimi Raikkonen speared into the gearbox of an ailing Max Verstappen at Turn 2. The Finn was pitched into the Red Bull by last week’s surprise winner Pierre Gasly whose AlphaTauri mounted over the rear right wheel of the Alfa Romeo.
Verstappen had slumped from third to outside the top-10 as a suspected engine issue hampered the start of the Red Bull. The team had been hastily repairing a power unit sensor drama on the grid before the race start but the Dutchman lost power off the line and the sudden drop in speed caught out the unexpecting Raikkonen.
Bottas thus fronted a Mercedes 1-2 for the Safety Car restart on Lap 7 with Charles Leclerc in tow. The Finn held himself until the last possible moment to launch from the line but a frenetic restart behind saw Carlos Sainz and Antonio Giovinazzi accelerate from the rear of the grid into a mobile wall of slower cars.
What followed was a hefty four-car pileup which eliminated several drivers and littered the main straight in a deluge of debris. The Safety Car was deployed immediately before race control waved the red flag to suspend the race, the second red-flagged Grand Prix in succession.
Nicholas Latifi, Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Ocon, Giovinazzi and Sainz joined the casualty list as just 13 cars took to the grid after a 25-minute delay.
Both Mercedes had taken a set of the medium compound tyres for the restart which left them vulnerable from an assault behind by those on fresh softer rubber. But after having aced the first race start, Bottas dropped behind Hamilton at Turn 1 for the restart with Leclerc in tow.
The margin between the leading pair ebbed and flowed between one and two seconds though Hamilton never gave Bottas the opportunity for DRS retaliation as Leclerc came under increasing pressure for the final podium spot, surrendering positions to Stroll and Ricciardo in successive laps.
Hamilton was whistled into the pitlane one lap ahead of Bottas and the two-second margin grew to six seconds. The result looked set with Hamilton having the stranglehold on the field until Stroll threw the race leaders a curveball when he crashed heavily into the barriers at Turn 9 due to a high-speed puncture on Lap 44.
The entire field would take the opportunity behind the Safety Car for a cheap pitstop before race control suspended the race for the second time as the marshals carefully recovered the stricken Racing Point which had buried itself under the tyre barrier, ripping away the conveyor belt before lighting itself on fire.
The remaining 12 cars moseyed back to the starting grid 15 minutes later for the third standing start of the race. This time Hamilton converted pole position into the lead as Bottas slipped behind Ricciardo for second.
It would take just one lap before Bottas reclaimed second from the Renault with Albon following suit three laps later.
Hamilton was never troubled across the final few laps as he fronted a Mercedes 1-2 with Albon putting to rest the demons of his past by finally claiming his maiden career podium result.
A disappointed Ricciardo had a realistic shot at the rostrum slip from his grasp following the second red flag restart coming home in fourth.
Sergio Perez beat out Lando Norris for fifth while a silent Daniil Kvyat benefited from the chaos to grab his fourth top-10 finish of the season in seventh.
Charles Leclerc was promoted to eighth following a five-second penalty for Kimi Raikkonen who crossed the pit entry blend line in a desperate bid to capitalise on the final Safety Car period.
Sebastian Vettel rounded out the points finishers, fending off a hard-charging George Russell who came tantalising close to scoring his maiden point.