Italian GP: Lewis Hamilton & Max Verstappen collide as Daniel Ricciardo wins for McLaren

Italian GP: Lewis Hamilton & Max Verstappen collide as Daniel Ricciardo wins for McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren won the Italian Grand Prix after a terrifying crash between title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

As the pair battled for position, Red Bull’s Verstappen flipped up beside Hamilton, the rear of Verstappen’s car landing on Hamilton’s Mercedes, the halo head protection device possibly saving the seven-time champion from injury.

Both cars retired, beached in the gravel, leaving Verstappen five points ahead of Hamilton in the championship race.

Lando Norris, Ricciardo’s British teammate, finished second after a brilliant late overtake, giving the team their first one-two finish since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix and their first victory in nearly a decade.

“Whaaaaa Yes! I never left, for anyone who thought I did. Thank you very much.”

How did Verstappen end up on top of Hamilton?

Verstappen fell back to second place after a rocket start by Ricciardo from second on the grid, while Hamilton battled Norris for third after failing to gain a place.

Verstappen reacted to Ricciardo’s first pit stop by coming in and suffering a slow 10-second pit stop with what appeared to be a poorly positioned front-right wheel as the race appeared to settle into a pattern of both title rivals being held up by a McLaren.

At the same time, Hamilton was busy passing Norris – he benefited from starting the race on hard compound tyres, while the rest of the front runners were on worn mediums – and then coming in for his pit stop.

But he also had a late pit stop, and the pair happened to pass each other on the track as Hamilton exited the pits. As they approached the slow-speed Rettifilo chicane, the Briton held the inside line and Verstappen refused to yield on the outside.

Verstappen had more than a car’s length on Hamilton, but was squeezed off the track, and as his Red Bull bounced against the kerbs, a rotating rear wheel launched him into the air and pitched him over Hamilton’s car before thumping down on the air box just above the driver’s head.

The car’s flat chassis slid down across Hamilton’s cockpit and appeared to make contact with the halo head protection device, which was introduced into F1 in 2018 in the aftermath of the 2015 deaths of Jules Bianchi in F1 and Justin Wilson in American Indy car.

Both drivers have been summoned by race officials to discuss the incident, and penalties may be imposed.

A conflicting version of events.

After the race, Hamilton told Sky Sports, “I’m a little stiff and sore on my neck because it [Max’s tyre] landed on my head, but I’ll be fine.”

“I came out, saw Daniel [It was Norris] come past, Max was coming, and I made sure to leave a car’s width on the outside.”

“I was ahead going into turn one, then turned into turn two, and Max was on top of me.”

“It’s exactly the same scenario that happened earlier in the season at Turn Four [at Imola], 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.”

“We knew it would be tight,” Verstappen said. I walked around the outside, but he kept squeezing me. All I wanted to do was race. People will start talking about Silverstone, but I wasn’t expecting him to keep squeezing and squeezing because we’d still have had a car’s width out of turn two.

“I have no idea why he kept pushing wider and wider.

“To make the corner work, two people must collaborate, but unfortunately, we touched.” It will not happen if one of the men is unwilling to work.

“It’s unfortunate what happened today, but I believe we’re professional enough to move on.” “I believe we can definitely talk about it.”

A fantastic accomplishment for a young team.

The race at Monza took place in warm, dry conditions in the Lombardy region of Italy, near Milan, on a track affectionately known as the ‘Cathedral of Speed’ due to its rich motorsport history and old, disused banked corners nestled among the trees in Monza’s beautiful royal park.

The expectation was that Verstappen, who started on pole, would take a “easy win” according to Hamilton, especially since Hamilton was only fourth after a poor start in Saturday’s’sprint’ qualifying race to determine the grid for the grand prix.

However, after a strong start, both McLaren drivers held their own, and Ricciardo reclaimed the lead following Hamilton’s pit stop. Norris had fallen behind during pit stops and was trailing Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari when the race resumed following the extended safety car period.

The Briton chased Leclerc down the start-finish straight before surprising him by going onto the grass at high speed around the Curva Grande and passing him on the inside.

Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s teammate, produced a superb recovery drive to claim the final podium place, albeit only after Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who finished third on the road, was hit with a five-second penalty for failing to give a place back after an illegal overtake on Leclerc.

Perez finished fifth in the championship, behind Leclerc, with the second Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz sixth, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll seventh, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso eighth, and his teammate Esteban Ocon tenth.

Britain’s George Russell finished ninth, adding two more valuable points for Williams after the announcement that he will partner Hamilton at Mercedes next season.

Driver of the day

Bottas has been flawless all weekend, despite the fact that his rejection from Mercedes and replacement by Russell was made public only a few days ago. But Ricciardo’s recovery is arguably more impressive – a lost soul in a car he couldn’t understand all season, the Australian overtook his higher-achieving teammate in the sprint race and got a superb start off the line on Sunday to overtake Verstappen, a faster driver in a faster car. He also received a point for the fastest lap. Chapeau.

What comes next?

Following a tense triple header in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy, a weekend off is in order before the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, where the racing may be a little more tame, even if relations between the two title contenders may not be.

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Italian GP: Lewis Hamilton & Max Verstappen collide as Daniel Ricciardo wins for McLaren