The first crash at Turn 1 was caused by Valtteri Bottas, whose mistake sliding into the back of Lando Norris impacted both Red Bull cars and left Max Verstappen battling back to eventually finish the race in 10th.
At the initial start, Hamilton and Verstappen made good getaways on the damp track after rain had fallen steadily in the 30 minutes before the start, which meant all the cars lined up on inters, while Bottas dropped down several places leaving the line.
But worse was to come from the Finn as he appeared to completely misjudge his braking for the first corner, having been passed by Sergio Perez and Lando Norris, with Bottas locking up and sliding straight into the back of the McLaren.
This had two knock-on effects, with Norris sent shunting into Verstappen’s right-hand side, the Red Bull’s right-front wheel somehow staying on, while Bottas, his left-front broken, continued sliding and clattered into Perez on the far outside, with all four sent into the runoff beyond Turn 1.
Bottas retired there while Verstappen led Norris and Perez away, around the debris of a second Turn 1 shunt that was triggered by the out-of-control Lance Stroll going onto the grass on the inside of the right-hander and then careering into Charles Leclerc, who had been set to move up to second behind Hamilton.
Stroll’s error broke his left-front against the Ferrari, which in turn was knocked wide and hit Daniel Ricciardo, who had been edging up Leclerc’s outside – the Australian sent spinning to the back of the reduced pack.
The debris field at Turn 1 initially led to a safety car being called, under which Red Bull pitted Verstappen, while Esteban Ocon was the main beneficiary of the chaos as he ran second behind Hamilton and ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
Verstappen lost his right barge board as he exited the pits, just before the race was stopped to allowed the track to be cleared and because Perez, whose car was smoking heavily from the hit from Bottas, had stopped on the short straight between Turns 11 and 12 at the start of the final sector.
The field returned to the pits, where Red Bull worked to fix Verstappen’s car, and McLaren had to retire Norris as a result of the damage sustained his hit from Bottas.
After a near 30-minute delay, Hamilton led Ocon, Vettel, Carlos Sainz, Yuki Tsunoda and Nicholas Latifi back to the grid as the top six for a second standing start, where Verstappen would have lined up 13th.
But in near-farcical circumstances, Hamilton was the only driver not to come in at the end of the second formation lap – the race’s third lap of 70 – and he took the standing start alone while all the rest came in to swap their inters for medium slick tyres, as the track had dried under sunny skies during the red flag.
Hamilton duly shot down to Turn 1 solo, where Ocon was remarkably led out of the pitlane by George Russell, who had been eighth under the red flag but jumped up the pitlane queue thanks to Williams position at the end of pitlane.
But as Russell came up towards Hamilton as the mediums proved to be much faster than the inters on the rapidly drying track, he was ordered to give back the positions he had gained in the pitlane, which meant Ocon moved into a clear lead when Hamilton stopped for mediums at the end of lap four – the first full racing lap completed in the race.
Over the next five laps, the Alpine driver built up a 1.4-second gap over Vettel, while Latifi held up the pack behind in third, as Verstappen battled Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi on the fringes of the top 10 – with Hamilton catching the battle after re-joining in 14th and last after his stop.
Ocon continued to run just ahead of Vettel, with the race lead battle soon becoming a two-driver contest as Latifi continued to fall away.
Back in the pack, Verstappen worked his way ahead of Gasly and then chased Schumacher for 10th place for several laps as his damage meant he could not bring Red Bull’s usual pace advantage to bear, and behind Hamilton was also frustrated by the time it took him to pass Giovinazzi and then Gasly.
On lap 14, Verstappen attacked Schumacher at Turn 1 but had to go wide on the exit, and then the Red Bull went around the outside of the long, downhill left of Turn 2, getting ahead on the exit where the two cars briefly touched as they raced side-on racing towards the fast right of Turn 3.
Five laps later, with Ocon running just over a second ahead of Vettel up front, Mercedes called Hamilton in from behind Gasly in 11th, switching from the mediums to the hards.
His sensational out-lap pace meant he jumped ahead of Verstappen and Ricciardo, who had been running just up the road, when they came in on the next lap to try and cover Hamilton.
Several rivals, including Russell, pitted shortly afterwards, which aided Hamilton’s path up the order, but he continued to lap much faster than the rest – setting a string of fastest laps between the 20th and 30th tours.
Over this part of the race, Ocon came under severe pressure from Vettel before then edging his lead up again, reaching 2.3s by the halfway mark.
With Verstappen stuck behind Ricciardo as they caught the drivers yet to make first green flag stop – including Schumacher again – Hamilton roared clear and passed Latifi shortly after the Williams pitted from third on lap 23.
Hamilton then surged up to Tsunoda, who had undercut past Latifi by stopping a lap earlier, and passed the AlphaTauri around the outside of the fast left of Turn 4 on lap 32.
Once Hamilton was up to fifth, Ferrari then pitted Sainz, who had requested to be left out when Tsunoda and Latifi came in earlier so he could run in clear air, which he used to carve into the large gap behind Vettel.
That ended Hamilton’s charge, just as the focus switched back to the front of the race when Vettel was called in to go from mediums to hards on lap 36.
A 3.3s stop thanks to a slow left rear change meant that when Ocon came in for hards at the end of the next lap, despite Vettel charging on his out lap as he fired the white-walled rubber up to temperature, the Aston could not get alongside the Alpine as it came out of the pits and headed into Turn 1.
Ocon then resumed lapping around a second ahead of Vettel over the next phase of the race, but Sainz and Hamilton – who was soon complaining about the state of his tyres – were soon only six seconds off the lead as they lapped in the low 1m21s and the leaders set high 1m21s and low 1m22s.
Fernando Alonso cycled through to first when the two leaders pitted, but he came in to make the switch to hards at the end of lap 40.
After this, the race settled down for a time as Hamilton was stymied behind Sainz and Ocon remained in control ahead of Vettel – other than a moment at the start of lap 48 where Vettel came close to contact with the Alpine’s rear as Ocon lapped Antonio Giovinazzi at Turn 1.
The lap before this, Mercedes had called Hamilton for a second green flag stop, putting him back onto the mediums and setting up a thrilling charge for the final third of the race, as he had a 22.6s gap to Ocon to close.
The world champion – much like he did here to win against Verstappen in 2019 – set a fierce pace as he re-joined in clear air behind Alonso and seven laps after he came in, he was under 10s off the lead and right with the second Alpine.
On the next tour, lap 55, Alonso locked up lapping Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 1, which gave Hamilton the chance to attack around the outside of Turn 2, where Alonso aggressively held the inside line to remain ahead, and also shrugged off Hamilton’s advances at Turn 4 a few moments later.
The battle raged over the next 10 laps, with Hamilton attacking in similar circumstances at Turns 2 and 4 on several occasions, frustrated by Alonso’s fierce defence, all the while his former teammate was closing on Sainz and then running in the Ferrari’s dirty air.
On lap 65, though, Alonso’s defence crumbled when he locked his left-front again at Turn 1 and went deep, which allowed Hamilton run alongside on the exit and then blast past using DRS on the run to Turn 2.
Hamilton then immediately caught Sainz, who resisted the Mercedes driver’s first attack, but could not stop Hamilton moving up to third as they raced down the pit straight on lap 67 while lapping Ricciardo.
Alonso’s stout defence meant Hamilton only caught the leaders right at the end, with Ocon ending his race-long charge ahead of Vettel to win by 1.8s, with Hamilton a further 0.8s adrift.
Gasly took sixth behind Sainz and Ocon after being allowed past Tsunoda approaching the final third, with Tsunoda then spinning at Turn 2 late on, which meant he came home well adrift of his teammate.
Latifi and Russell scored Williams’ first points since 2019 with seventh and eighth, the former closing in on Latifi throughout the second stint after being held up by Schumacher after his sole green-flag stop.
Russell also had to resist Verstappen’s attentions at the end as the Red Bull ended up just 1.1s behind in 10th, after he had been pitted with 30 laps to run in a successful bid to get ahead of Ricciardo, who had been holding station ahead since their unsuccessful attempt to stop Hamilton’s undercut.
Verstappen passed Ricciardo with a bold move around the outside of Turn 4 with 10 laps remaining and set about closing on Russell to the finish.
Raikkonen was given a 10s time penalty for being released into Nikita Mazepin’s path when the field piled into the pits on the second formation lap, with the ensuing contact breaking the Haas’s right-front suspension and making him the race’s only other retirement in addition to those eliminated as a result of the Turn 1 chaos.
Schumacher came home 13th ahead of Giovinazzi, who was also penalised 10s, this for speeding in the pitlane, the Italian’s gamble to stop for slicks on the first formation lap not paying off because of the red flag.
|2||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin|
|4||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari|
|10||Max Verstappen||Red Bull|
|11||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo|
|Sergio Perez||Red Bull|
|Lance Stroll||Aston Martin|
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