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Daniel Ricciardo Returns McLaren To F1 Victory At Monza

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/LAT Images/Pirelli


Formula 1's oldest race track on the current schedule, Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is recognized as a venue of speed. The 11-turn, 5.793-kilometer (3.6-mile) track layout hosting the 2021 Italian Grand Prix has some of the lowest downforce expectations of many event on the circuit. The unusual performance attributes of Monza where aerodynamic grip is de-emphasized in favour of top speed have given some drivers and teams a taste of glory. Last year’s event won by Scuderia AlphaTauri pilot Pierre Gasly was achieved by the combination of utilizing the team’s Honda engine power and taking advantage of lucky breaks. Gasly’s win in the 2020 Italian Grand Prix also featured fending off a McLaren race car driven by Carlos Sainz Jr. who finished in the runner-up spot. With some extraordinary circumstances occurring in last year’s race, it seemed less than likely that similar unorthodox matters would creep into the 2021 edition of the event. However, the unwritten history of 53 laps at Monza on Sunday opened the possibility of another unique spectacle.


Valtteri Bottas was fastest in the Friday time trial session and won the sprint qualifying event on Saturday but was sent to the rear because of a power unit change on his #77 car. Because of Bottas’ demotion from the pole position, Max Verstappen started on the prime spot of the grid with the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo placed alongside on the front row. When the lights went out to start the 52-lap Italian Grand Prix, it was Ricciardo who achieved a masterful launch from a standstill taking possession of the lead entering the first turn. In the opening laps, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battled briefly but the battle ended as two drove through turn 4. Verstappen made a wide turn into the corner causing Hamilton to run beyond the track’s chicane but remained in contention.

The opening stage of the Italian Grand Prix also saw Italian driver Antonio Giovinazzi in the #99 Alfa Romeo Racing car falling out of top 10 after a collision. A virtual safety car was deployed to recover the debris but Giovinazzi was able to continue. Also out of contention early at Monza was the victorious team from last year. Scuderia AlphaTauri’s two entries piloted by Yuki Tsunoda and 2020 race winner Pierre Gasly were both out after just three laps.

The 2021 championship fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen that narrows with each passing race was ultimately decided by pit stops at the Italian Grand Prix. Although the Red Bull Racing and the Mercedes-AMG pit crews can often be depended upon to deliver quick service, mistakes occurred in the tire changes for both drivers with an over 11-second stop taking place for Verstappen. Hamilton had a slower than normal pit service for his #44 car as he returned to the track beside the #33 Red Bull-sponsored car on lap 26. Approaching turn one, both drivers fought to be ahead of the other with the end result being a coming together in turn two. Through the tight section of the track, the #44 Mercedes-AMG F1 W12 and the #33 Red Bull Racing RB16B remained in a side-by-side fight but the cars made contact after Verstappen jumped a curb. The right rear tire of the Red Bull race car hit the left rear tire of Hamilton’s Mercedes launching the #33 machine’s rear onto the engine cover of the #44 vehicle. Both cars ended the Italian Grand Prix in the gravel trap while a safety car period would be called to clean the track.

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

When the safety car period concluded at the end of the 30th lap, the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo cycled back to the lead leading Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari as well as Lando Norris. In only a few seconds after the green flag flew, Norris’ McLaren drew alongside the #16 of Leclerc down the Monza front stretch. While the Ferrari driver was able to fend off the orange #4 car through turn one and turn two, Norris roared pass Leclerc through the Curva Biassono section. On the next lap, the remaining Red Bull Racing entry piloted by Mexico’s Sergio Perez also found a way around the Ferrari but his move would prove costly as the action fell under investigation by the race stewards.

By the start of the 43rd lap, the sprint qualifying event winner on Saturday had orchestrated a magnificent charge to the front. Starting in the rear due to a power unit change, Valtteri Bottas carried the Mercedes-AMG team’s hopes. With roughly 10 laps remaining, the #77 car had climbed to fourth place tailing Perez’s Honda-powered Red Bull race car. The sole-surviving Mercedes-AMG entry made a charge for the third place. After a brief fight, the Mexican driver was assessed a five-second penalty relating to his earlier pass on Charles Leclerc. Bottas remained behind Perez rather than taking a chance at a high-risk move for the final podium spot.

Photo Credit: Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

For the first time since taking the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix with Red Bull Racing, Daniel Ricciardo won the 2021 Italian Grand Prix with a mildly comfortable performance despite a relatively small margin of victory of 1.747 seconds. An exciting victory for the enthusiastic Australian driver, the win by the #3 machine also included capturing the fastest lap of the event on the final lap. For the long-standing McLaren Racing group, the result is the team’s first victory since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix that was won by Jenson Button.

Adding to the celebratory mood in the McLaren team was the fact the Italian Grand Prix was a 1-2 finish. Lando Norris brought his #4 race car. Norris’ fourth podium of the 2021 season, second place at Monza is the young British driver’s best career result in Formula 1 so far. Valtteri Bottas took third place in the Italian Grand Prix following Sergio Perez’s time penalty. Bottas’ eighth podium finish in 2021, the Finnish driver finished in third place seven times. With Lando Norris finishing ahead of Valtteri Bottas, the McLaren driver is nine points behind the Mercedes pilot.

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/LAT Images/Pirelli

Charles Leclerc brought the Scuderia Ferrari some glory to their home country audience with a fourth place finish. Due to the five-second penalty, Sergio Perez lost two positions in the final running order settling for a fifth-place result. Last year’s runner-up in the Italian Grand Prix Carlos Sainz Jr. took sixth place adding some valuable points for himself and Ferrari. Ferrari lost third place in the constructors’ points standings to McLaren Racing.

Achieving his best grand prix result of 2021 so far, Canada’s Lance Stroll brought his Aston Martin across the Monza finish line in seventh place. Fernando Alonso took eighth place for the Alpine F1 Team while Esteban Ocon added a single point to the French racing group with a tenth place run. Williams Racing’s George Russell finished in ninth place making the Italian Grand Prix the third time the British driver scored championship points in the last four races.

After three weeks of consecutive racing, the Formula 1 tour is taking a week off ahead of the Russian Grand Prix set for September 26th.

2021 Formula 1 Season
Italian Grand Prix
Race Results
Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine
1 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
2 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
4 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
5 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda
6 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
7 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
8 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team Renault
9 63 George Russell Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
10 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team Renault
11 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
12 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
13 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
14 88 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
15 47 Mick Schumacher Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari
16 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
17 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda
18 9 Nikita Mazepin Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari
19 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
20 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
2021 Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship Points (After Italian Grand Prix)
Driver Total Points
1 Max Verstappen 226.5
2 Lewis Hamilton 221.5
3 Valtteri Bottas 141
4 Lando Norris 132
5 Sergio Perez 118
6 Charles Leclerc 104
7 Carlos Sainz Jr 97.5
8 Daniel Ricciardo 83
9 Pierre Gasly 66
10 Fernando Alonso 50
11 Esteban Ocon 45
12 Sebastian Vettel 35
13 Lance Stroll 24
14 Yuki Tsunoda 18
15 George Russell 15
16 Nicholas Latifi 7
17 Kimi Raikkonen 2
18 Antonio Giovinazzi 1
19 Mick Schumacher 0
20 Nikita Mazepin 0
21 Robert Kubica 0
2021 Formula 1 Contructors' Points (After Italian Grand Prix)
Constructor Engine Total Points
1 Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz 362.5
2 Red Bull Racing Honda 344.5
3 McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz 215
4 Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari 201.5
5 Alpine F1 Team Renault 95
6 Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda 84
7 Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz 59
8 Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz 22
9 Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 3
10 Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari 0


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