Daniel Ricciardo won the Italian Grand Prix for McLaren but the Australian’s fine victory was entirely overshadowed by a major crash between championship rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Both drivers were knocked out of the race in an accident that had the potential to be fatal.
Lando Norris was second securing a McLaren one-two, Valtteri Bottas was third for Mercedes, Charles Leclerc fourth for Ferrari and Sergio Pérez fifth for Red Bull.
It it was a hugely celebratory affair for McLaren with their first win since Jenson Button took the flag at Brazil in 2012 and their first one-two since Canada in 2010. Ricciardo has not won at Monza before, it is his first victory for McLaren, his first since Malaysia in 2016 and the eighth of his career.
It was behind him however that the real drama unfolded. After a frenetic start the racing had settled down with the pitstops, when once again Hamilton and Verstappen clashed. They had a major incident at the British GP after which the tension between the pair had risen. Post Monza it will have ratcheted up even further. With both cars out Verstappen has retained his lead of five points in the championship.
Hamilton had exited from his pit stop, emerged wheel to wheel with Verstappen and the pair went into the first chicane together. Hamilton had his nose ahead but Verstappen had the pace to try to pass and the pair collided. Verstappen’s car rode over the kerbs and pitched onto Hamilton’s car, with both grinding to a halt in the gravel, the Red Bull still perched on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes.
Verstappen climbed out immediately, glared at Hamilton in his cockpit and strode angrily away. The accident could have been life-threatening. Verstappen’s car had ridden over the back of Hamilton’s with his right-rear tyre rolling over the roll hoop and then crucially being diverted away from Hamilton’s head by the halo cockpit protection device, once more definitively proving its worth. Hamilton remained in the car but then emerged unscathed. The incident is to be investigated after the race.
Ricciardo took the lead from Verstappen with a great start through the opening chicane as Hamilton also passed Norris for third, then tried to go round the outside of Verstappen at Variante Roggia. The pair touched, not for the first time this season and not for the last time in the race it would transpire, Hamilton went over the kerbs and Norris retook third. “He pushed me wide,” the world champion told his team but he did not look to have enough of an advantage to make the move stick.
After the frenetic opening, Ricciardo, leading a race for the first time this season, was enjoying the experience. Verstappen remained on his tail as the front four were opening a gap to the field, separated by just over four seconds with the McLarens demonstrating impressive straightline speed. With Verstappen unable to pass, his prospective canter away at the front was stymied.
Hamilton however was the only front-runner to have started on the hard tyre and had to go long. He was however pressuring Norris, who defended stoutly. Monza, as it has often with this generation of cars, was proving a difficult prospect for overtaking.
The front four were within six seconds when McLaren pitted Ricciardo on lap 23 to take the hard rubber. Verstappen stayed out, as Red Bull looked to over cut the Australian. However his pit stop was a shocker, he was in the box for 11.1 seconds with a problem with the front right and the extra time had put him right into Hamilton’s path.
On the same lap Hamilton had passed Norris on the outside of Roggia to take third and he then pitted on lap 26. He came out adjacent to Verstappen and the pair came together.
The safety car was deployed and racing resumed on lap 30, with Norris superbly taking second from Leclerc through Curva Grande with an absolutely bravura move to make it a McLaren one-two.
The pair held their places with control and determination to close out a hugely celebratory win, while behind the scenes the debriefings, investigations and doubtless another war of words were just beginning in a title fight that had once more got physical.
Carlos Sainz was sixth for Ferrari, with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll in seventh. Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were in eighth and tenth for Alpine and George Russell in ninth for Williams.