Ricciardo Wins in Monza, Verstappen & Hamilton Collide Again
Daniel Ricciardo has won the 2021 Italian Grand Prix in Monza, leading McLaren to its first victory since 2012. Lando Norris was close behind in second place, making it a 1-2 win for good measure, the team’s first in over a decade.
Though the two McLaren boys were helped by Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen once again coming together and taking each other out of the race, they had a good chance of each tasting podium champagne even if that collision hadn’t happened.
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With Valtteri Bottas taking engine penalties and Hamilton underperforming in sprint qualifying, the race kicked off as a straight fight between McLaren and Red Bull Racing’s Verstappen, who started on pole. Ricciardo got ahead at the start and was successfully fending off his former teammate until the pit phase.
That’s when things all went wrong for the two championship leaders. Verstappen was held in the pits for over 10 seconds as his crew struggled with a wheel. This should have put him back behind Hamilton, but the Brit’s own stop was just slow enough to put him right alongside his rival upon coming out of the pits. It’s as though the universe wanted something to happen.
Verstappen tried to go around the outside of Hamilton at the narrow first chicane, but the Mercedes driver closed the door at the second apex. At the same time, Verstappen’s car jostled over the large “sausage” kerbs, sending him flying over his opponent’s car. Without the halo device, Hamilton’s head might have been crushed by Verstappen’s rear wheel.
The stewards ultimately decided Verstappen was at fault, and he’ll serve a three-place grid penalty at the next race as a consequence. I think it should have counted as a racing incident, as Verstappen had a significant overlap next to Hamilton’s car when the latter decided to turn in as though he hadn’t been there.
Incidents at the Monza chicanes are common as modern F1 cars are so long and wide that even the world’s most skilled drivers struggle to find the space to go side-by-side and must inevitably bail out of the corner to avoid a collision. That’s what Hamilton did after his failed first-lap attempt at overtaking Verstappen. When their places were reversed, the young Dutchman didn’t — backing out is not known to be a part of his vocabulary.
Bottas, meanwhile, managed to recover to third place after starting at the back of the grid, capping off one of his best weekends for Mercedes after it was announced he would be leaving the team at the end of the year. He’ll go to Alfa Romeo Racing where he’ll replace his fellow Finn, the retiring Kimi Räikkönen.
Despite Verstappen and Hamilton crashing each other out for the second time this season, Bottas is still a long way behind them in the drivers’ championship. In fact, they could crash out of the next three races, and even if Bottas wins them all, they’d still be leading the title fight. It’s a real testament to how far ahead of everyone else Verstappen and Hamilton have been this season.
Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.