MONZA, Italy — Championship leader Max Verstappen was penalized Sunday for a crash with F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton at the Italian Grand Prix, which was won by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Verstappen was penalized after the race for the crash, and the Red Bull driver will start three positions lower on the starting grid for the Russian GP.
It was McLaren’s first win in nearly nine years, since Jenson Button took the chequered flag in Brazil in 2012.
It was also Ricciardo’s first win since Monaco in 2018. He finished 1.747 seconds ahead of teammate Lando Norris and 4.921 ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who turned in a strong performance after starting from the back of the grid after a penalty for taking a new engine.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 12, 2021
But the biggest talking point of the race came on Lap 26 of 53
Hamilton had pitted from the lead and returned to the track just in front of Verstappen. The Red Bull driver tried to come up the inside on a turn as the seven-time champion defended his position.
As the two made contact, Verstappen’s car catapulted on to the top of the Mercedes as both slid into the gravel. The protective halo ring at the front of F1 car cockpits may have saved Hamilton from serious injury.
“That’s what you get when you don’t leave the space,” said a furious Verstappen over team radio. In a later tweet, Verstappen continued to put the onus on Hamilton for the collision.
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
Both drivers were able to walk away from their cars though Hamilton took a long time getting out of his, only clambering out after Verstappen had long gone.
Ricciardo won the race after a brilliant start allowed the Australian driver to pass Verstappen who started from pole position at turn one.
Behind them Hamilton, who started fourth, managed to pass Lando Norris. But he then attempted to try and get around the outside of Verstappen heading into the second chicane and was instead forced off across the grass, allowing Norris to regain his place.
“He (Verstappen) pushed me wide!” Hamilton exclaimed over team radio.
It's days like today, I am reminded of how lucky I am. It takes a millisecond to go from racing to a very scary situation. Today someone must have been looking down, watching over me! #TeamLH: I'm so thankful for each and everyone of you, you are truly the best. Still we rise! pic.twitter.com/H2sGtXPKrr
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) September 12, 2021
Hamilton was then held up by Norris and could only watch in frustration as Ricciardo and Verstappen stretched their advantage lap by lap.
Ricciardo was first to pit, on lap 23, and came out seventh. Verstappen was struggling with his tires and stopped on the following lap.
But a botched pit stop that lasted 11.1 seconds saw him come out in 10th and, to make matters worse for the Dutch driver, Hamilton had in the meantime passed Norris to take the lead.
But disaster struck for both drivers shortly afterward.