Max Verstappen may have won in Imola but it is Hamilton who thanked his stars. The Brit took a major hit after going off-track but was saved by the red flag. You may even call it a big conspiracy theory on the part of the Mercedes management.
While countering Verstappen, Hamilton ended up sliding into the wall and in the gravel. With his front wing hanging on the ground and being a lap behind, it seemed like the end of his race. But then he got lucky.
A crash involving George Russell and Valtteri Bottas raised a red flag which brought the field back together and gave Hamilton back his lap deficit.
F1 analyst Martin Brundle believes that there is no need to conjure up conspiracy theories just yet.
“Lewis got lucky with a safety car here late last year and now once again the red flag to clear up the mess from Bottas and Russell played into his hands by allowing damage to be repaired, some fresh tyres (like everyone else) and to unlap himself (along with the other lapped runners),” he said.
“The rules allow for lapped cars to unlap themselves, by one lap and return to the back of the field, under a safety car and red flags so that on the restart they are not in the mix with the leaders thereby denying us of say a great duel in the closing stages of the race,
“What goes around comes around for teams and drivers in this respect, sometimes it will help you, sometimes it will hurt you. It seems unfair in some respects, but we have seen the rule really energise races and bring drivers back into play.
“Lewis didn’t waste his gift-wrapped opportunity as he sliced through to second place and fastest lap. When I interviewed him post-race it was clear that the error when passing Russell played heavily on his mind”, concluded the former F1 driver.”
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