Daniel Ricciardo has led an unexpected and fully-deserved 1-2 for McLaren at the F1 Italian GP 2021. Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas completed the podium.
This is the Perth driver’s first triumph since Monaco 2018. Ricciardo has also finally got to open the display cabinet at McLaren’s headquarters, which has not welcomed such a trophy since Brazil 2012.
After the papaya-coloured cars came a sensational Valtteri Bottas, who has given one of his best performances ever, one week after being laid off from the German team. The Finn climbed from the bottom of the grid (19th place) to the bronze position.
In third place, Checo Perez was left tantalisingly close to the glory. After his head of ranks was out of the race, the Mexican driver became the only asset of the Milton Keynes’ team.
Exceeding all expectations, he managed to rise from ninth to third place only to be penalised (5 seconds) thereafter for not restoring a position to a rival, which sent him back to fifth, between the two Ferraris.
The boys of the Prancing Horse have delivered at home. The fourth and sixth places of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, respectively, might not seem like much but the power deficit of their SF21 does not allow for a better result at a track where sheer power prevails.
The great protagonists of the day, however, have been Verstappen and Hamilton, after colliding again, as they did in Silverstone.
Start: Ricciardo overtook Verstapen
This is a historic result for McLaren, and they have deserved every bit of it. Crash between Hamilton and Verstappen aside, the orange missiles have demonstrated an extremely high competitive level at the ‘Temple of Speed’.
At the start of the race, Ricciardo actually overtook Verstappen and led the race while keeping his prominent rival at bay from then on. Moments later, in a premonitory incident, Verstappen, second, and Hamilton, third, lightly touched as the former fended off an attack by the latter.
Pit-stops and crash between Max and Lewis
Once positions seemed to have settled at the Italian GP, something happened that would change the fate of the race. Planning ahead for a possible attack by Verstappen, Ricciardo made his pit stop on the 22nd lap.
The Dutchman followed suit one lap later, but with such bad luck that the masters of wheel changing lost 11.1 seconds in the manoeuvre. It was a disaster for #33.
Hamilton, on the other hand, was flying away solo on the track. Setting a devilish pace, he overtook Norris to lead the race. Three laps later (#26) and Mercedes sent their hero him to pits.
After an also slow, four-second job, the Briton re-joined the race with Norris and Verstappen. He don´t passed the Dutch enemy.
The two rivals met at the narrow second corner of the circuit. Neither would cave in and so they ended up crashing. Max’s right rear wheel actually brushed Hamilton’s head.
Ricciardo escapes after the safety car
After the safety car departed on lap 31, Ricciardo sped up at the front of the pack. Leclerc was rolling behind the Aussie, which moments later was overtaken by the Briton from Woking.
Likewise, Perez also took on the Monegasque to climb to third place on the 33rd lap. From then on, positions remained unchanged and McLaren achieved an unexpected and fully-deserved glorious win.
Images of F1 Italian GP 2021: McLaren Racing.