F1 Pierre Gasly wins
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Pierre Gasly earns stunning inaugural Formula One victory at Monza

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MONZA, Italy — AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly claimed an unlikely F1 victory at the Italian Grand Prix after a thrilling race that saw six-time champion Lewis Hamilton given a 10-second penalty and both Ferraris fail to finish at their home circuit of many prior wins Sunday.

It was Gasly’s first win in Formula One.

The 24-year-old Frenchman finished 0.415 seconds ahead of McLaren driver Carlos Sainz and 3.358 ahead of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll on a surreal-looking podium. All three drivers had never won a race and each had only one top-three finish to their name.

Hamilton appeared on course for a comfortable victory from pole position, but he was given the stop-go penalty for entering the pit lane when closed.

The Mercedes driver finished seventh, 17.245 behind Gasly, who was emotional as he crossed the line to become the first French winner at any GP since Olivier Panis in 1996.

“It was such a crazy race. The car was fast, and to go through so much in the space of 18 months. First podium last year (in Brazil), now first victory in Monza. I have no words,” said Gasly, who was dropped by Red Bull last year.

Pierre Gasly takes a moment on the podium after winning the Italian Grand Prix (Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images).

Gasly celebrated wildly with his team but then, after the trophy presentation, was seen sitting down on the top spot of the podium alone. He had a moment to reflect on his achievement, as he took a swig of champagne surrounded by ticker-tape.

“I would have never expected that a year ago,” said Gasly, who had started 10th on the grid. “The podium was already unexpected, a big, big highlight last year.

“I sat down, and I had a lot of things crossing my mind, obviously first of all my family, my friends, and all the people who supported me. You just remember everything you’ve been through … It was a very special moment. It’s been a crazy ride in the last few months. It’s just unbelievable, I’m still struggling to realize what we’ve just achieved.”

Sainz hustled Gasly all the way to the checkered flag as both strove for their first win.

“It’s incredible that I am halfway disappointed with P2,” Sainz said. “I wouldn’t have believed that I would have got a chance to fight for victory today. I think it’s what we deserved.

“We need to be proud of that, we need to be proud of the pace of the car.”

Ferrari’s abysmal weekend continued as Sebastian Vettel had a brake failure on Lap 7 and he limped into the pits with his right-rear brake disc in flames. It was the four-time champion’s first DNF at Monza in his 14th start.

His teammate Charles Leclerc had made it into fourth but lost the rear of the car under acceleration through Parabolica on Lap 25 and crashed into the barriers, causing the race to be red-flagged.

By that time Hamilton’s penalty had been announced. Hamilton had pitted immediately after the safety car had been deployed after Kevin Magnussen broke down but was unaware the pit lane was closed as the marshals recovered Magnussen’s Haas.

Antonio Giovinazzi received the same sanction.

Hamilton served his penalty shortly after a 27-minute delay while the barriers were repaired. The British driver emerged last on Lap 29, more than 30 seconds behind Gasly, but passed eight cars and secured a bonus point for the fastest lap following his punishment.

“My race wasn’t meant to be today but what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger,” Hamilton said. “It was a long pit stop but once I finally caught everybody I enjoyed that bit of a battle.

“We didn’t do a great job with the pit stop. I didn’t see those boards and take responsibility for that and it’s something I’ll learn from. To get seventh and still get the fastest lap is still some good points so I’ll definitely take it.”

In an emotional farewell, Williams drivers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi offered touching tributes on their cooldown laps to deputy principal Claire Williams, who is leaving her family’s team with her father, Sir Frank.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.