Lewis Hamilton moved to the verge of a seventh world championship at Imola’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, where Daniel Ricciardo claimed a second podium in three races for Renault. A late tyre failure for Max Verstappen, who looked to be cruising to a second-placed finish ahead of Valtteri Bottas, triggered a late Safety Car and a six-lap sprint to the finish line. As he did at the Nurburgring, Ricciardo was on hand to capitalise, holding off AlphaTauri’s charging Daniil Kvyat for another visit to the podium. The win moves Hamilton to the brink of a seventh world championship and secured Mercedes the constructors’ title, its seventh in as many years. That moved the German constructor past Ferrari’s run of six in a row from 1999 to 2004 to officially record the most dominant spell of F1’s history. Hamilton’s victory was built on a long first stint which saw him stay out for 10 laps longer than teammate Bottas, who led away from pole position at the start. That strategy played out beautifully when Esteban Ocon’s race retirement triggered a Virtual Safety Car, which effectively gave Hamilton a much faster pit-stop. Because a VSC period means drivers much drive at a slower pace, the time lost in the pit-lane goes down from 27 seconds to 17, meaning Hamilton was able to stop and get out in front of his teammate. Mercedes later revealed Bottas had been carrying a “significant” piece of debris on his car for most of the race, which he had picked up in the opening laps. Bottas finished 5.7s behind Hamilton, albeit after being brought back into contention by a late Safety Car period. Bottas now must outscore Hamilton by eight points at the Turkish Grand Prix to stop Hamilton claiming the championship at that event. On securing his second podium of 2020, Ricciardo declared “holy mac and cheese balls!” over his race radio and made sure to perform his traditional podium ceremony of a shoey — a swig of champagne from his race boot, something he forgot to do at the Eifel Grand Prix. Ricciardo also convinced Hamilton to do a shoey out of his other race boot. The podium had looked like Sergio Perez’s to lose after Verstappen’s late stop, but Racing Point’s decision to pit him for soft tyres was not replicated by the drivers behind. It left Perez with too much to do in the closing laps and it was actually Kvyat who took the fight to Ricciardo after a superb pass around the outside of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for fourth. Kvyat’s finish was his best of the year and salvaged something from the race — Pierre Gasly had been forced to retire from a promising position earlier in the race with a terminal car failure, having qualified in fourth. Red Bull’s Alex Albon was in the group of cars behind Ricciardo at the late Safety Car restart but spun just after being passed by Perez, who now looks like a front runner to replace the out-of-form Thai driver at the team next season. There was heartbreak for George Russell before the Safety Car restart, with the Williams driver spinning while weaving his car around to get heat into his tyres. Russell was inconsolable after the race and sat against a wall for a short period of time, knowing his chance at a first F1 points finish had slipped through his fingers due to an unforced error.