Championship leaders retire after turn 2 accident on lap 26; Bottas storms from last to third
By Yuri Coghe
Daniel Ricciardo topped the first 1-2 of the season at the Italian Grand Prix in Imola on Sunday as championship leaders Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton crashed and retired on lap 26.
The Australian driver overtook Verstappen at the start on his way to claim an eighth career win. The victory was Ricciardo’s first since the 2018 Monaco GP when he was still a Red Bull driver and comes after a complicated start of his first season with McLaren. He also set the fastest lap of the race to get the bonus point awarded for it.
“To lead literally from start to finish I don’t think any of us expected that,” said Ricciardo after the race. “I’ve just been a sandbagging SOB for the rest of the year! To not only win but to get a 1-2 – it’s insane.”
Lando Norris finished second to get his fourth podium of the season and turn McLaren into the first team to get a 1-2 in the 2021 F1 season. The 21-year-old Briton overtook Charles Leclerc for second on the lap 31 restart, after the safety car caused by Hamilton and Verstappen’s accident.
“We have had an awesome weekend,” said Norris. “We’ve been working towards this, we finally got ourselves a 1-2. I’m so happy.”
The result saw McLaren move ahead of Ferrari for third in the constructor’s championship, now sitting 13.5 points ahead of the Italian team.
Bottas stormed from last to third to cap off a strong weekend with a podium finish. The Finn came first in the qualifying session on Friday and proceeded to win the sprint qualifying on Saturday. He started Sunday’s race at the back of the grid due to engine penalties.
“I’m glad we got more points than Red Bull,” said Bottas. “From my side, it was a good race. It was a shame about the crash with Lewis (Hamilton) and Max (Verstappen).”
Championship leaders collide – again
Verstappen was running in second place but had a slow stop of over 10 seconds on lap 23 that saw him come back to the track in P10. Seconds later, Hamilton overtook Norris for the lead as Ricciardo had also pitted.
But the seven-time world champion also endured a slow stop of roughly 4 seconds, leaving the pit lane having to fight Verstappen for a position. The lap 26 battle ended in both drivers colliding and retiring from the race at turn 2, and reminding fans of their British GP accident.
The championship rivals also had an encounter on the first lap, moments after Hamilton overtook Norris for third. The Mercedes driver left the track and lost the position to the fellow Briton.
Verstappen Haas been found responsible for the crash in the stewards’s view, being hit with a three-place grid penalty for next race.
More on the Hamilton-Verstappen British GP accident:
From team principals to the driver’s fathers: the full reaction to the historic Hamilton/Verstappen Silverstone accident
FIA see manufactured evidence, deny Red Bull’s request to review Hamilton’s Silverstone penalty
F1 community condemns racist abuse directed at Hamilton after Silverstone crash with Verstappen
Stroll claims season-high result
Sergio Perez crossed the finish line in third but dropped to fifth in the final results due to a five-second penalty for failing to give a position back to Leclerc. The Mexican split the two Ferraris, as Leclerc finished fourth and Carlos Sainz Jr was sixth.
Canadian Lance Stroll claimed his best result of the season by finishing seventh. Fellow countryman Nicholas Latifi finished in P11, one position shy of a third points-finish in the last four races.
Latifi’s Williams teammate George Russell was ninth as the Alpines of Fernando Alonso, eighth, and Esteban Ocon, tenth, rounded up the top-10. The Frenchman received a five-second penalty early in the race for pushing Sebastian Vettel, who finished in P12, off the track.
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Antonio Giovinazzi crashed on the opening lap and caused a virtual safety car to be deployed. The Italian came into the pits to change his front wing and eventually went on finished the race in P13 – ahead of teammate Robert Kubica, who is sitting in for the second race for Kimi Raikkonen after the Finn tested positive for COVID-19.
Five drivers retire
Mick Schumacher, 15th, was the last driver to finish the race. Other than Hamilton and Verstappen, Schumacher’s Haas teammate also retired. The Russian had car issues on lap 44, triggering another virtual safety car to be deployed.
AlphaTauri, who famously saw Pierre Gasly win in Monza in 2020 to give the Italian team its first victory ever, had a race to forget in 2021.
The Frenchman retired early in the race with car issues while teammate Yuki Tsunoda failed to even start the race due to more machinery problems.
The Formula 1 season will be back on the Sept. 10-12 weekend for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, the 15h round in the 22-race calendar.
See the Italian Grand Prix results: