ITALIAN GP – Daniel Ricciardo wins in a McLaren one-two as Max Verstappen & Lewis Hamilton crash fighting for lead

Testing & Race Reports

Daniel Ricciardo has taken McLaren’s first victory in almost ten years after beating his teammate Lando Norris by a second and seven-tenths to win the Italian Grand Prix. McLaren had looked strong all weekend and looked on course to finish behind the two title contenders until Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen crashed into each other on lap twenty-six.

As Hamilton re-joined the race following his pit stop he looked to get alongside Verstappen at Turn One, the Dutchman attempting to go around the outside in the braking zone, which put him on the inside for Turn Two.

Hamilton and Verstappen meeting in the middle after the Red Bull was launched over the sausage kerb launching him into Hamilton, the momentum continued seeing the Red Bull come to rest on the safety roll-hoop and halo head-protection device. But will increase the rivalry going into the remainder of the season. Comparisons can be drawn with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1989.

The stewards deciding that Verstappen was “predominantly to blame” for the incident, handing him a three-place grid penalty for Sochi as well as two points on his licence. They ruled “in the opinion of the Stewards, this manoeuvre was attempted too late for the driver of Car 33 (Verstappen) to have ‘the right to racing room’.”

“While Car 44 (Hamilton) could have steered further from the kerb to avoid the incident, the Stewards determined that his position was reasonable and therefore find that the driver of Car 33 (Verstappen) was predominantly to blame for the incident.”

Hamilton told Sky Sports afterwards: “I was ahead into turn one, turned into turn two and then Max was on top of me. It’s exactly the same scenario that happened at Turn Four [at Imola earlier in the season]”

“Where I was in the same position as Max and I gave way, that’s racing – this time he didn’t want to give way. He knew what was going to happen as soon as he went over the kerb but he didn’t back out – I don’t know what else to say.”

Verstappen said: “We knew it would be tight. I went around the outside and he kept on squeezing me. I just wanted to race. People will start to talk about Silverstone but I didn’t expect him to keep on squeezing and squeezing because we still would’ve had a car’s width out of turn two.

A McLaren victory looked unlikely until that point, but a strong third and fourth possible, following the safety car both Ricciardo and Norris managed to pull away from Valtteri Bottas in the second half of the race. The Englishman deciding with twenty laps to go, to play the team game, telling the team “It’s best for us where you are”

For McLaren, it’s their first one-two since Montreal in 2010 and their first win since Interlagos 2012, while Ricciardo takes his first win since Monaco 2018.

Ricciardo said, “Wow. To lead literally from start to finish… I don’t think anyone expected that. There was something in me on Friday. I knew something good was to come. To not only win, but get a one-two – it’s insane. For a McLaren to be on the podium is great let alone a one-two.”

Ricciardo had made the better start early on and also lead the opening laps following a pass on Verstappen at the first corner. Although it was unlikely at that stage, than he would have won the race, the Dutchman closed the gap but his former teammate appeared to have enough pace during the first half of the race.

It was a strong drive for both McLarens, Ricciardo regained the lead following the accident while at the restart Norris got past the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. Leclerc never looking to be a threat as he started to drop back, then that put him into the hands of Valtteri Bottas, who got past the Ferrari drove a strong race coming through the field to finish third after starting the race from the back of the grid.

Bottas’s may have been able to chase after the McLaren after being stuck behind Perez, however, the Mexican was given a five second penalty for overtaking after cutting the chicane and gaining a lasting advantage in his battle with Leclerc. However, the challenge to McLaren in the closing stages may have been hindered by worn tyres.

However, Leclerc didn’t appear to have the pace following the safety car to maintain the second and was soon past by both Norris who got alongside at the first chicane, then got the better drive on exit to blast past the Ferrari through the Curva Grande to gain second.

Sergio Perez finished fifth, a second behind Leclerc to split the two Ferrari’s with Carlos Sainz almost two seconds behind the Red Bull. While it was not the result Ferrari would have wanted, it again underlines the step forwards they have made over the last year.

Aston Martin Lance Stroll was seventh, the Canadian finishing ahead of Fernando Alonso by a second. It was another strong race for George Russell who once again scored points for Williams after working his way up from fourteenth to finish ninth with the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon finishing tenth.

Russell’s teammate Nicolas Latifi finished eleventh eight tenths ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Antonio Giovinazzi finishing ahead of Alfa Romeo teammate Robert Kubica by two seconds. Mick Schumacher was the final finisher in fifteenth for Haas, the German however had light contact with Vettel midway through the race, but it didn’t result in major drama despite him going over the same kerb as Hamilton.

Schumacher’s teammate Nikita Mazepin retired in the closing stages of the race following the Hamilton-Bottas collision. It was also a difficult race for Alpha Tauri, last years race winner Pierre Gasly retiring early on, while teammate Yuki Tsunoda failed to start because of an unknown issue

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