Daniel Ricciardo kept all others behind him to take his first McLaren victory, heading up a one-two with Lando Norris following home in second. Valtteri Bottas’s pre-race aim of a podium wasn’t too ambitious as the Finn charged to third position.
The big point of contention though came on lap 26 when Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen collided once again, causing both to retire from the race following a scary incident at Turn One.
McLaren’s win is the first since 2012 and Jenson Button’s Brazilian GP victory while the crash between championship contenders leaves the gap in the drivers’ standings at five points heading into the Russian Grand Prix. Here is how the 2021 Italian Grand Prix unfolded.
There was problems pre-race for several drivers on their laps to the grid.
George Russell reported issues with the brake ducts on his Williams while AlphaTauri was experiencing a double-dose of trouble. Having taken a grid penalty following his Sprint crash yesterday, Pierre Gasly had more ill fortune, telling his team there was an issue with the throttle. Yuki Tsunoda was wheeled into the pit lane to join Gasly after an issue emerged with his brakes on the grid. His car was pushed aside in the garage by the time the field arrived back on the grid following the formation lap.
Both Mercedes drivers opted for hard tyres, a decision Charles Leclerc described as “weird” with the remainder of the top 16 selecting mediums for the first stint.
Daniel Ricciardo got the best start to inch into the lead of the race. Hamilton gained the inside line at Turn One over Lando Norris and took third into Curva Grande to put his title rival in sight.
Entering the second chicane, Hamilton braved it around the outside but in a repeat of Imola, Verstappen showed him the sausage kerbs and the Mercedes bounced across them, losing third to Norris in the process.
As the leaders exited the Della Roggia chicane, Antonio Giovinazzi was pitched into the wall by Carlos Sainz after rejoining the track unsafely, bringing out a brief virtual safety car. The Alfa Romeo driver was handed a five-second time penalty for the rejoin on lap 8. Before the VSC appeared, Lance Stroll put a forceful move on team-mate Sebastian Vettel which cost the four-time champion dearly, dropping him to 12th from 8th.
It was withdrawn on lap 2, with Ricciardo leading from Verstappen, Norris, Hamilton and Leclerc.
Yesterday’s Sprint winner Valtteri Bottas was making decent progress on his charge from the back. A good tow put him into 14th, relieving Robert Kubica of the place.
Verstappen and Hamilton had DRS on both McLaren’s in front of them but couldn’t get close enough to make an instant move. The Dutchman reported it was tough to keep close with his former Red Bull team-mate in the dirty air, a problem mirrored by Hamilton four seconds back with Norris.
While Verstappen struggled, Sergio Perez tried a move on Sainz for sixth, taking the place into the first chicane on lap 9. Round Curva Grande, Sainz moved back level with him but with the racing line into the Turn Four, the Red Bull claimed the high ground and position with it.
On the same lap, Bottas relegated Vettel to 13th, continuing his decent progress in the opening 10 laps from the back row. Esteban Ocon followed on the next lap, bringing Bottas onto the fringes of the top 10.
Leader Ricciardo reported he had no more pace on lap 11, but the McLaren of Norris was on the defensive. Hamilton had a tow into Turn One on lap 12 but the McLaren driver defended the inside line well. A decent run through Curva Grande put Hamilton on the outside again and there was no way through for third place. Team-mate Bottas put Nicholas Latifi in his mirrors for P10 with an easy DRS pass one lap later.
Norris’s defence from Hamilton was reportedly costing him tyre life as he told the team, and the duo was slipping back from the leading pair towards Leclerc. Norris had fallen to 5sec back from Verstappen by lap 15.
Vettel was hoping to rebound from his tough opening phase but a move on Esteban Ocon didn’t go to plan. The Alpine driver moved across into the braking zone of Turn Four, squeezing Vettel onto the grass. Both continued without dropping position but the Aston Martin driver was far from impressed. Race stewards noted the incident on lap 16 and the Frenchman received a five-second time penalty for the clash.
Bottas’s comeback continued as he took ninth from Fernando Alonso on lap 17. The Finn was around 26sec back from the lead after the move as Ricciardo and Verstappen began to report their rear tyres were falling away.
Verstappen’s pursuit of Ricciardo hadn’t faded but a lock-up into Turn One on lap 21 cost him 0.7sec on the leader as he skipped across the chicane to rejoin, falling to 1.4sec back. Ricciardo reported back to his team he was targetting plan A on the same lap.
Stroll’s defence from Bottas ended on lap 22 as the Finn blasted past with DRS. He continued to fly and play himself into contention. The move triggered the leaders to pit.
Ricciardo was the first to pit at the start of lap 23 while Verstappen continued round an extra lap. The Red Bull was told to pull the trigger to attempt an overcut. He caught a snap of oversteer in the middle of Ascari as he pushed to clear the McLaren.
His efforts were undone though with a nightmare stop as he was stationary for 11.1sec, dropping behind Bottas. To compound things, Hamilton found a way through on Norris as the Della Roggia chicane to take the lead.
Ricciardo moved by Sainz to take fourth on the road on lap 25 with his fresh tyres as team-mate Norris made his stop to rejoin eighth, behind Bottas but clear of Verstappen.
Hamilton was in from the lead on lap 25 for a sluggish stop himself at 4.2sec and was side-by-side with Verstappen. The duo went into combat into Turn One and Hamilton showed Verstappen the outside, repeating the Red Bull’s lap one defence. Verstappen refused to concede and bounced across the kerbs, collecting Hamilton and causing both into the gravel. The crash put both out of the race and brought out the safety car.
Leclerc, Perez and Sainz took the opportunity to pit and rejoined second, fourth and fifth respectively while race stewards said the crash between title contenders would be investigated after the race.
The safety car was withdrawn on lap 30. Ricciardo led from Leclerc, Norris, Perez, Sainz, Bottas, Stroll, Alonso, Russell and Latifi rounding out the top 10.
Norris got a great tow into the first corner on Leclerc as Bottas did the same on Sainz. Both Ferraris narrowly defended their positions but Norris made it a McLaren one-two despite getting squeezed onto the grass through Curva Grande.
Bottas was forced to wait another lap but got the move done on Sainz for fifth with a tow into Turn One. Leclerc was relegated to fourth by Perez but the Red Bull skipped across the second half of the Della Roggia chicane. The Haas team-mates also came to blows at the same corner, Nikita Mazepin spinning Mick Schumacher into last. The Russian was handed a five-second penalty for the incident.
Bottas was by Leclerc next with a familiar Turn One move on lap 33. The Ferrari out-braked himself and cut the chicane and was able to recover the position heading into Turn Four. The move earned him a time penalty later on. One lap after and Bottas surged through to seal fourth place and set his sights on Perez.
The Mercedes driver was flying on his medium tyres and set a fastest lap 1.3sec quicker than leader Ricciardo on lap 34 and the top four was seperated by under five seconds. Norris told his team that the Australian was too slow out front and needed to increase pace. Despite dropping like a stone after the restart, Leclerc gradually edged his way back towards the leading quartet.
Perez’s earlier move on Leclerc earned him a five-second time penalty on lap 37. Bottas’s earlier blitz on mediums began to fade as the two Ferrari drivers continued to crawl back towards the leaders. Leclerc and Sainz joined the DRS train on lap 40.
Bottas had another go at Perez on lap 43 into the first corner but couldn’t find a way through. A late-braking manouver at the second chicane netted him the place but he ran too deep into the corner and Perez nabbed third back on corner exit.
With 10 laps to go, Mazepin pulled off the track on the exit of Ascari, bringing out the second virtual safety car of the afternoon. His Haas was recovered quickly and racing resumed as the leaders opened lap 45. Ricciardo eased the gap out to 2sec, the largest it had been since the opening laps of the race.
Bottas dropped back for several laps but was agonisingly close to a passing opportunity on lap 50. Even with Perez falling outside of DRS on Norris ahead, the Red Bull was able to keep the Mercedes driver at arm’s length.
Ricciardo had kept the rest at bay throughout the afternoon and put the cherry on top of his victory with the fastest lap of the race on the final lap.
Norris made it a McLaren 1-2 while Perez dropped to fifth despite crossing the line third on the road. Bottas rounded out the podium. Leclerc was promoted to fourth but Perez managed to gap Sainz to split the Ferraris with P5.
Stroll ended the race seventh though is under investigation for failing to slow under yellow flags. The Canadian was followed by Alonso, Russell and Ocon to see out the top 10.
2021 Italian Grand Prix race results
|1||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||53 laps||26**|
|5||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+8.723sec||10|
|7||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+15.804sec||6|
|12||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+24.621sec|
|13||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+27.216sec|
|14||Robert Kubica||Alfa Romeo||+29.769sec|
|18||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||DNF|
*Includes five-second time penalty
**Includes additional point for fastest lap