It’s been a good weekend for McLaren and especially Daniel Ricciardo who earned the team’s first win since the 2012 Brazilian Gran Prix and his first since the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix.
The race was certainly a dramatic one. Daniel Ricciardo was on the front of for the first time in a while alongside Max Verstappen. It should have been Valtteri Bottas on pole after a phenomenal performance in qualifying and sprint qualifying but because Mercedes replaced his power unit, he had to take a grid penalty and start from 19th. This is what gave Ricciardo his opening.
Instead of having to overtake two cars that can outpace the McLaren, Ricciardo only had to deal with one, granted it was the ferocious car of Verstappen. As soon as it was lights out, Ricciardo managed to get ahead of Verstappen and never let the position go, holding onto P1 tighter than a fat kid with a chocolate bar. The performance from the team in papaya meant that they were able to perform the only 1-2 finish of the season so far.
Once the grid hit the pits, it all started going wrong for Max Verstappen. An issue with the front right tyre caused the stop to come in at 11 seconds, well behind the masters of the under two second pit stop’s usual performance. From there Verstappen was caught up in a tussle with Lewis Hamilton who seemed to be struggling to get out of P4 and ahead of fellow McLaren driver, Lando Norris. Well, it seemed the two contenders for the championship wanted to make things easier for the McLarens and took each other out of the race.
In an event that will surely have people talking in the lead up to the Russian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen kept the aggression up into the chicane going off the track and on top of Hamilton. The crash wasn’t at such high speeds as it was at Silverstone, but it was just as dramatic. Verstappen claims that he wasn’t given enough space taking to social media to air his grievances, “The incident could have been avoided if I had been left enough space to make the corner. You need 2 people to make that work and I feel I was squeezed out of it. When racing each other, these things can happen, unfortunately.”
Today was very unfortunate. The incident could have been avoided if I had been left enough space to make the corner. You need 2 people to make that work and I feel I was squeezed out of it. When racing each other, these things can happen, unfortunately #ItalianGP 🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/9xOmnqAtd8— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) September 12, 2021
The incident almost took Hamilton’s head off and both cars were completely out of the race afterwards. According to Hamilton, he had left plenty of space,
“We were obviously just ahead, we had a bit of a slow stop, came out, braking into Turn 1 I made sure I left a car’s width on the outside and I was ahead going into the corner, and next thing I know, I guess Max went over the second kerb or something like that – he obviously knew he wasn’t going to make the corner – and he drove into me.”
The Stewards have taken a look into the incident and have given Verstappen a three-place grid penalty plus two penalty points in the upcoming Russian Grand Prix. Verstappen’s pass was determined to be “attempted too late for him to have the right to racing room.”
With one Mercedes out for the count, it was the other that managed to pull a stunning performance. Valtteri Bottas started from 19th and clawed his way up the grid to finish in third. He had the pace that’s for sure, his qualifying showed that, and he made great use of it. Had Ricciardo not had a flawless race, Bottas would have earned the Driver of the Day award.
Segio Perez managed a solid performance but was given a five second penalty that stripped him of his podium, plunging him down to P5.
It would have been a good race for Ferrari if it wasn’t their rivals, McLaren, up in P1 and P2. Charles Leclerc managed a respectable P4 that normally would be a very good position for Ferrari but right now it means they lose their hold on third place in the constructor’s championship.
The real heartbreak is what happened to Antonio Giovinazzi. The last two races he’s managed to take that Alfa Romeo into Q3 and start from P7, the highest start for an Alf Romeo during the Hybrid-Turbo era. Last weekend, Giovinazzi lost his position almost immediately but this time he thought to fight for it a little harder. Unfortunately, that meant a little bit of contact with the Ferrari’s and the loss of his front wing. He flew right down to the back of the grid where he could not recover. It is devastating as Giovinazzi’s seat at Alfa Romeo is in jeopardy and while he seems to have qualifying pace, does he have the right stuff come race day? That will be the question Alfa Romeo will be asking themselves.
The next race will be held at Sochi on September 24th – 26th.
In other sports news, the Dennis Rodman biopic will detail his insane Las Vegas bender.