Tuscan Grand Prix: Mugello makes 'incredible' F1 debut as Hamilton leads calls to return

Crash at Tuscan Grand Prix
Only 12 of the 20 cars that began the Tuscan Grand Prix finished the race

Heralded as an "incredible circuit" by some and "phenomenal" by others, Mugello certainly did not disappoint on its Formula 1 debut.

Lewis Hamilton won the Tuscan Grand Prix on Sunday but that was only half the story.

The race was packed with crashes, overtakes and incidents - with three safety car interventions and two red flags.

The F1 circus had only pitched up in Mugello because of the impact coronavirus has had on the calendar - but the dramatic race left drivers and fans alike wanting more.

"I would really love to come back," six-time world champion Hamilton said.

Renault's Daniel Ricciardo, one of the stars of the day after coming home in fourth place, declared that "we will be happy to come back".

"It was certainly not a dull race," the Australian added.

"It's unbelievable, unbelievable," raved Ferrari's Charles Leclerc on the eve of the race weekend.

What made Mugello so good?

The drama began on the first corner on Sunday with Hamilton losing the lead from pole position to team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Two corners later there was a crash between Kimi Raikkonen's Alfa Romeo, Alpha Tauri's Pierre Gasly and Haas driver Romain Grosjean - a coming-together that also ended the race of Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

That incident resulted in the first safety car period, but at the restart there was a violent crash on the pit straight involving Haas' Kevin Magnussen, Williams driver Nicholas Latifi, Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi and McLaren's Carlos Sainz.

That brought out the first red flag, while the second was waved after a high-speed accident for the Racing Point of Lance Stroll as he entered the second of the two 170mph Arrabbiata corners.

At the chequered flag, just 12 of the 20 drivers were still running - some of those in bent and bruised cars.

The race had also taken nearly two and a half hours to complete. It felt epic.

But it was not all about crashes.

The high-speed, high g-force circuit challenged the drivers physically and mentally, and resulted in plenty of wheel-to-wheel action, particularly as the cars swept into Turn One - scene of countless overtakes.

And all that's before we get to the stunning Tuscan surroundings:

Tuscan Grand Prix
The track has held numerous MotoGP races and is a Ferrari test circuit, but it was the first time F1 drivers had enjoyed its long straight, and punishing twists and turns
Tuscan Grand Prix
The rolling Tuscan hills provided a gorgeous backdrop to the action on the track
Cars on track at the Tuscan Grand Prix
Fans were quick to praise the picturesque circuit

The two additional standing starts kept the field bunched together throughout and Hamilton described his win - his 90th in F1 - as "incredibly tough".

"It is phenomenal this track, they really don't make tracks like this anymore," Hamilton had said at the start of the race weekend. "Here there's gravel, less run off areas, massive undulations - I love that man."

Bottas added: "There's a few places where there's definitely not much space to do mistakes and I think that's how it should be.

"If you make a mistake, you deserve to be penalised, so I like these types of circuits."

'Mugello is what you have been looking for!' - what you thought on #bbcf1

Dragon Censer: Mugello can definitely replace Monaco every year, at least we can overtake here!

Koome erick: Dear F1 management, it's in front of your eyes, Mugello is what you have been looking for. Stamp it in the calendar if possible, twice a year!

Karen Waddy: Can we come back to Tuscany next year please?!

Nulla Pax: We need to keep Mugello on the reserve list don't we? Keep everyone on their toes :)

Bruce Ha: Forget reverse grid, let's race in some random tracks every season.

Chequered Flag: Only after a track like Mugello will fans understand the torture of watching cars around the Sochi. Please bring back some old classic tracks.

James Townsend: Give me chaos over procession!

Bertie Black: Love to see the F1 fans discovering what a cracking circuit Mugello is, coming from a fan of MotoGP who have been using the venue for the Italian round regularly for the last 26 years...!

Sam: What a race this has been! Certainly one of the best of the season!

Analysis

By Andrew Benson, Chief F1 writer:

There is no doubt that Mugello lived up to its reputation on its F1 debut.

It owes its grand prix to coronavirus, which has forced F1 to create a mainly European calendar after the cancellation of the first 10 races of the season, and be creative in its search for venues.

Mugello has long been held in awe by the cognoscenti but few F1 drivers had until this weekend had a chance to experience it. It did not disappoint.

It looks gorgeous, nestled in the landscape of Tuscany, and it provides an extreme challenge to the drivers. No corner is taken slower than 80mph and some of the combinations are right up with the very best in the world, particularly the flat-out section of Turns Six, Seven, Eight and Nine, taken at more than 170mph in qualifying.

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