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Daniel Ricciardo took his first Formula 1 in more than three years and McLaren’s first since 2012 at the end of a dramatic Italian Grand in which a collision involving Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton saw both title contenders exit the race. With Lando Norris following Ricciardo home to hand McLaren it’s first one-two finish since 2010, Valtteroi Bottas claimed third after a battling driver from the back of the grid.
The pre-race script had front-row starter Ricciardo as a character actor in the drama to be played out between pole sitter and championship leader Max Verstappen and title rival Lewis Hamilton who was starting from fifth.
But as soon as the lights went out at the start Ricciardo rose to a starring role. Verstappen got a poor getaway and Ricciardo surged forward to claim the lead as the field went into the first chicane. Verstappen slotted into second and Hamilton, who had made a good start, took third place.
As the leaders streamed towards the second chicane the Mercedes driver and the Red Bull were side by side. But in the tight confines of the corner both were forced wide. And while Verstappen managed to keep second, Hamilton cut the corner and conceded third place to Norris.
Behind them a collision between Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz brought out the Virtual Safety Car. Sainz managed to hold sixth place but as Giovinazzi limped back to the pit lane Sergio Perez climbed to seventh.
The Mexican soon began to pressure his Spanish rival and on lap 9 he got close enough to plot a move. As the pair approached the Variante della Roggia he pulled across and drew alongside the Ferrari. He managed to get a nose in front on the entry to the corner and emerged with sixth place in the bag.
At the front, despite applying intense pressure neither Verstappen nor Hamilton could get past the McLarens, both of which were running in clear air, and on lap 18 Verstappen was still a second back from Ricciardo and five seconds clear of Norris who had a second in hand over Hamilton.
With his tyres fading, Ricciardo dived for the pits at the end of lap 22. Verstappen was released into the lead and clean air but with his tyres also wearing out the Dutchman headed for the pit lane at the end of the following lap.
And there the championship leader’s race began to quickly unravel. A problem with the front-right wheel saw the Red Bull driver sit in his pit box for almost 11 seconds and he emerged in ninth position, behind Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.
Behind him, Hamilton managed to get past Norris and took the race lead. The Mercedes driver then made his first p[it stop, but bizarrely the Briton also suffered a slow stop and when he emerged from the pit lane it was into the path of Verstappen.
The title contenders went into the first chicane almost side by side and just as with their lap one clash neither backed out. This time though the battle resulted in a collision as Verstappen hit the kerbs and then the driven left wheel of Hamilton’s car. The Red Bull was launched into the air and landed on top of the Mercedes, with the result that both ended up in the gravel and out of the race.
The Safety Car was released and that resulted in a flood of cars heading for the pit lane for a free stop. Perez was among those taking on new tyres and he emerged in fourth place behind race leader Ricciardo, Norris and Leclerc.
When racing resumed and the McLaren’s held the top two spots Perez went on the attack and on lap 34 he muscled past the Ferrari as they went through the first chicane. He got the job done by rattling across the kerbs, however, and was soon handed a five-second time penalty for gaining a lasting advantage. Behind the Mexican, Bottas also passed Leclerc and began to apply pressure on the Red Bull. Perez defended well, however, and managed to hold on to the place.
At the front, Ricciardo marched on and after 53 laps he took a surprise but well-earned win ahead of McLaren team-mate Lando Norris. Checo crossed the line third but with his time penalty applied he dropped to fifth behind third-placed Bottas and Leclerc. Sixth place went to Sainz, with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll seventh ahead of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, Williams’ George Russell and the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon.
2021 FIA Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix - Race
1 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren
2 Lando Norris McLaren 1.747
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 4.921
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 7.309
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 8.723
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 10.535
7 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 15.804
8 Fernando Alonso Alpine 17.201
9 George Russell Williams 19.742
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine 20.868
11 Nicholas Latifi Williams 23.743
12 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 24.621
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 27.216
14 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo 29.769
15 Mick Schumacher Haas 51.088
DNF Nikita Mazepin Haas
DNF Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
DNF Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing
DNF Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri
DNF Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri