Lewis Hamilton claimed his ninth victory from the opening 13 races of the 2020 Formula 1 season as Mercedes clinched a record seventh constructors’ world championship at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Despite initially losing a place at the start to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and dropping to third, Hamilton extended his opening stint and capitalised on a fortunately-timed Virtual Safety Car period to snatch the lead.

Hamilton had moved into the net lead of the race when polesitter Valtteri Bottas and Verstappen pitted before a succession of fastest laps put the Briton in prime position to pull off an overcut strategy.

His job was made easier when a VSC was called for Esteban Ocon’s parked Renault, meaning Hamilton lost less time compared to his rivals during his pit stop with the field forced to run slower.

Hamilton had just posted a new fastest lap of the race just before he came in - a lap that was 1.5s faster than his teammate - and already looked to have the delta to successfully maintain his position at the front of the field.

A late Safety Car was deployed on Lap 51 when Verstappen spun off into the gravel following a suspected right-rear tyre failure, before George Russell crashed his Williams into the wall, throwing away the chance to score his first points in F1.

Both Hamilton and Bottas took the opportunity to make a free pit stop under the Safety Car to switch their Hard tyres for the Soft compound, setting up a seven-lap sprint to the chequered flag.

Hamilton aced the restart and kept Bottas at bay on his way to securing his 93rd career victory to head Mercedes’ fourth 1-2 finish of the season.

The result ensured that Mercedes eclipsed Ferrari’s previous benchmark of successive teams’ titles by claiming its seventh straight world championship, while Hamilton is on the verge of equalling Michael Schumacher’s seven drivers’ world championships.

Hamilton now heads Bottas by 85 points in the championship and can wrap up the 2020 drivers’ crown at the Turkish Grand Prix next time out.

Behind the Mercedes duo, Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of the late drama to score his second podium of the season in third place, holding off the late-charging AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat, who claimed his best result of 2020 in fourth.

Charles Leclerc took a strong fifth place for Ferrari having opted not to pit under the Safety Car, while Sergio Perez finished sixth ahead of the McLaren duo headed by Carlos Sainz.

Alfa Romeo claimed its first double-points finish of the year as Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi rounded out the points in ninth and 10th, with the Swiss squad taking advantage of the late drama to record its best single points haul of 2020.