Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren in cloud nine
Written by Hafiz Akbar, Edited by Morgan Holiday
The pinnacle of speed is back in the Temple of Speed. The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza has been home to some of the best races in Formula One history, with the latest one being Pierre Gasly’s shock win in 2020 with Scuderia Alpha Tauri.
As the race started, Daniel Ricciardo had a cracking start. He accelerated better from 0–200kmh than his former Red Bull teammate, Max Verstappen, who lined up next to him and earned himself his first ever race lead in a McLaren. Coming into the second chicane, Lewis Hamilton was alongside Verstappen but so far so good.
Antonio Giovinazzi tried to overtake Carlos Sainz but was ultimately unable to get past and went into the run-off area trying to get past Charles Leclerc coming into the second chicane. Giovinazzi ended up getting hit by Sainz’s Ferrari upon reentry. This resulted in the VSC going out.
Pierre Gasly, the winner of the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, had to come into the pit to retire after the VSC ended due to a mechanical failure. Meanwhile, his teammate Yuki Tsunoda didn’t have the chance to feature in this year’s Italian GP due to a hydraulics problem detected just before the race started. So it’s a no-points race for the Italian team, their first this season.
Meanwhile, in the iconic racing green Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel fell back after his teammate Lance Stroll went past. He faded away from the race and ended up outside of the points.
Vettel was also involved in a collision with Esteban Ocon coming into the second chicane, with Ocon being handed a penalty.
The first (and last) pit stop for Ricciardo was on lap 21, whilst Hamilton got past the Australian’s teammate, Lando Norris in the same lap. The young Brit ended up pitting two laps later and exiting ahead of Verstappen. Meanwhile, it wasn’t the best of stops for Verstappen and Hamilton. Both were involved in a slow stop, which is unusual to see from the Red Bull pit crew but is certainly not something uncommon for the Mercedes pit crew (wink wink Monaco).
Hamilton ended up exiting ahead of the young Dutch and tried to cover him off for the first chicane as Verstappen went for the overtake from the outside and got punished by the sausage kerb. This launched the back shaft of Verstappen’s Red Bull to Hamilton’s W12, and flung Verstappen’s car atop of his, promptly ending both of their races. The safety car was called out.
Norris took the best out of the situation and used the safety car period to overtake Charles Leclerc, who quickly fell back behind the wing of Sergio Perez. Valtteri Bottas, who started from 20th, quickly surged through the field and was in 4th by lap 34, overtaking both Ferraris in their home turf.
Perez was given a 5-second time penalty due to going off-track and gaining an advantage to overtake Leclerc. Meanwhile, on the Ferrari-engined car of Haas, Nikita Mazepin was also given a 5-second time penalty after causing a collision with his teammate, Mick Schumacher.
One of the highlights of the race was the battle between Perez and Bottas on lap 44, where Bottas almost managed to finish the move but ended up fluffing his lines and letting Perez through again.
There was also a battle for 3rd between Bottas, Leclerc, and Sainz on lap 45 but it lasted no longer than Mazepin’s debut race. It was pretty much a dead race from this point onwards with no significant moves being done. Oh, and I almost forgot that Mazepin retired on lap 44 due to a failure.
After an amazing 53 laps, Daniel Ricciardo wins his first race for McLaren (and his first podium for the team, too!), with his teammate, Lando Norris, coming in second to make a McLaren one-two for the first time since Canada in 2010 and giving McLaren their first win in 9 years. Sergio Perez finished the race in 3rd but due to the penalty, Valtteri Bottas is in the podium and not him. George Russell in the Williams also gained points in Monza for the first time in a long while.
Looking back to the standings, the Drivers’ Championship didn’t change much since both championship contenders crashed out. Ricciardo did climb up a place, overtaking Gasly in 8th. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes extended their lead over Red Bull by 18 points, while McLaren climbed up a ladder and is currently 13,5 points clear of Ferrari.
We’ll be back in two weeks as Formula One returns to Sochi for the VTB Russian Grand Prix. Until then, drink in the shoeey.