Hamilton wins at Imola as Mercedes clinches constructors’ title

LONDON: Lewis Hamilton took a record-extending 93rd career win at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday as his Mercedes team clinched an unprecedented seventh successive Formula One constructors' title with four races to spare.

The team did it in a one-two finish, with the six-time world champion taking the chequered flag at Italy's Imola circuit 5.783 seconds ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, who had started on pole position.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo finished third for Renault, his second podium of the season.

Hamilton also banked a bonus point for the fastest lap to extend his lead over Bottas -- now the only other driver in title contention -- to a hefty 85 points.

The Briton, who had dropped to third on the opening lap after a poor start, could now equal Ferrari great Michael Schumacher's record seven titles in two weeks' time at the Turkish Grand Prix.

“What an incredible achievement for all of you. I am so proud of everybody and I am so grateful to be a part of it,” said Hamilton over the team radio after being told of the constructors' success.

“People watching maybe think we're used to this but it always feels like the first with this team and I think that's because of the spirit,” he said after stepping out of the car. “It's unbelievable... seven-times champs. That's something I'm going to be able to tell my grandchildren one day.”

Mercedes had already started celebrating its team title 12 laps from the end when Red Bull's Max Verstappen crashed out with what looked like a sudden rear puncture while in second place.

Red Bull Racing had to score 34 points more than Mercedes to keep the championship open beyond Imola. - Reuters ?