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28th September 2021

2021 Italian GP review

A look back at the dramatic Italian Grand Prix, as McLaren dominates
2021 Italian GP review
Photo: Morio @ Wikimedia Commons

The 2021 Italian GP saw Australian Daniel Ricciardo take the win with his teammate Lando Norris coming in second to complete a McLaren one-two. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas rounded off the podium finishing in third place after starting at the back of the grid due to engine penalties.

Max Verstappen started at pole position after winning the sprint race on the previous day. His ex-Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo got off to a flying start in the first lap and took the lead after turn 1 and never looked back.

With Max struggling for pace at the start, Lewis Hamilton caught up alongside his Red Bull but was forced off the track. At the second chicane, the Dutchman left him no room to overtake.

Both Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda had to retire their cars after the first lap, and Italian Antonio Giovinazzi fell to the back of the grid after colliding with Carlos Sainz while attempting to re-join the track.

Photo: Lukas Raich @ Wikimedia Commons

That wasn’t the last time the two drivers would lock horns either. Max Verstappen endured a horrifically slow pit stop during lap 24 which saw him stationary for more than ten seconds. Lewis took the lead from Lando Norris while the Red Bull driver was in the pits.

During lap 26, the seven-time champion also suffered a slow pit stop which saw him re-join the track just in front of Max Verstappen ahead of the first corner.

Verstappen tried to go around the outside of Lewis and ended up alongside the Mercedes, which put him on the inside for the second turn of the chicane.

After Hamilton left Max with no room, the Red Bull car was lifted above the ground after making contact with the sausage kerb. The car ended up with two wheels on top of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes. Fortunately, Lewis was left unharmed after the incident after being protected by the Halo.

The incident was reviewed by the FIA after the race, with Max Verstappen being awarded a three-place grid penalty for the Russian Grand Prix taking place on Sunday.

Max put the blame on his title rival during his post-race interview: “I didn’t expect him to just keep on squeezing, squeezing, squeezing, because he didn’t even need to. Even if he had left me, just a car width, we would have raced out of Turn Two anyway, and I think he probably still would have been in front”.

“He just kept on pushing me wider and wider and at one point there was nowhere to go, he just pushed me onto the sausage kerb. That’s why, at the end of the day, we touched, because the rear tyre bumped up to his tyre.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff also had his say on the turn 2 incident: “I think in football you’d say it was a tactical foul. He [Verstappen] probably knew that if Lewis stays ahead, that is the race win possibly.”

With both title contenders out of the race, this gave McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo the chance to win his first race in over three years.

The Australian drove brilliantly from start to finish, leading every lap of the race. He also ended up with an extra point for the fastest lap and was also voted as the Driver of the Day by fans. “To anyone who thought I left, I never left, I just moved aside for a while,” said the McLaren driver.

McLaren, who has won their first race in over nine years since Jenson Button’s Brazilian GP victory in 2012, completed a one-two at the podium with Lando Norris holding onto second place after overtaking Charles Leclerc during the safety car restart.

Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas topped off a sensational drive starting from the back of the grid with a third-placed finish. He was moved up from P4 after Sergio Perez was handed a five second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage on Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.

Italian GP result: Top 10

1) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren

2) Lando Norris, McLaren

3) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

4) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

5) Sergio Perez, Red Bull

6) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

7) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin

8) Fernando Alonso, Alpine

9) George Russell, Williams

10) Esteban Ocon, Alpine

All eyes now move to the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday to see how takes the lead in the Drivers Championship standings, as the battle between Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen continues.

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