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Formula 1

Winners and losers from the F1 Italian Grand Prix

Sunday's Italian Grand Prix produced plenty of drama as the two title rivals collided once again, while there was an immensely popular return to the top for McLaren and Daniel Ricciardo. Who were the winners and losers from the Monza weekend?

Column
To news overview © McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo returned McLaren to the top of the F1 podium with victory in a tense Italian Grand Prix, while there was controversy involving title rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton as they collided halfway through the race.

RacingNews365.com takes a look at who were the winners and losers from the weekend.

The Winners

Max Verstappen

Despite how his race ended, Verstappen was a net winner from the weekend in Italy.

Heading to Monza, he and Red Bull expected to lose ground to Lewis Hamilton at a track which didn't reward the strengths of the RB16B. However, surprisingly, the Sprint Qualifying race ended up giving him the high ground for Sunday's race.

Of course, the Grand Prix didn't go particularly well. Usually strong off the line, Verstappen had his afternoon compromised by a reasonably poor getaway and ended up staring at the back of Daniel Ricciardo for the first half of the race.

A poor pit-stop from Red Bull meant it suddenly looked like a big swing in fortune, but as Hamilton emerged from the pits in front, Verstappen saw his chance.

As I wrote yesterday, I don't believe there was anything deliberate in Verstappen's attempted pass on Hamilton. But I believe that he put himself in a position where he could either emerge ahead of Hamilton or give the Mercedes driver the option of having a collision. Either way, Verstappen would benefit.

Of course, Hamilton didn't yield, unwilling to let the Dutch driver bully him aside once again. But in the end, it resulted in Verstappen increasing his championship lead to five points over a weekend where it was expected that Mercedes would capitalise on their superior pace.

It may not have been pretty, but Verstappen was the beneficiary of the incident, even if it does cost him grid places for the start in Russia next time out.

Daniel Ricciardo/Lando Norris/McLaren

"For anyone who thought I left, I never left. I just stepped aside for a while," Ricciardo said over team radio after claiming McLaren's first victory in nine years.

It was a comprehensive display from a driver who had every reason to be filled with self-doubt after a tough first half of the year. Outclassed by Lando Norris in almost every single session, Ricciardo looked uncertain and underwhelming as he admitted to feeling homesick and frustrated by the situation he had found himself in after switching to McLaren for 2021. More like a honey bee, rather than a honey badger.

But whatever he got up over the summer break, Ricciardo has looked far more like the driver that McLaren thought they were signing since Formula 1 resumed at Spa. Just missing out to Norris in Friday qualifying at Monza, Ricciardo nailed his start on Saturday to get the jump on his teammate and Hamilton to put himself second on the grid for Sunday.

Capitalising on Verstappen's poor start, Ricciardo put his ample experience to good use to resist the pressure from the Red Bull driver in the first phase of the race.

With Verstappen and Hamilton colliding, it then became a question of whether McLaren would be overwhelmed by Sergio Perez or Valtteri Bottas. But with Norris climbing up into second past Charles Leclerc, the British driver was able to offer support and offer rearguard defence for Ricciardo.

Given that he's had the measure of Ricciardo all year, it would have been easy for Norris to be annoyed that he wasn't given permission to attack Ricciardo for the lead. Norris looked the quicker man in the second half of the race, but was content to sit back and help deliver McLaren their dream result – a laudable showing of maturity from such a young and hungry driver.

With Ricciardo delivering the fastest lap on the final lap, McLaren scored maximum points at an F1 race (excluding the Sprint) for the first time since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix, and pulled away from Ferrari in third place in the Constructor's Championship.

Valtteri Bottas

With Valtteri Bottas now edging in on a future without being in Lewis Hamilton's shadow at Mercedes, the Finn looked a man reborn at Monza. Despite giving Hamilton the tow for the final runs in Q3, Bottas went quickest of all to secure top spot, and then led the Sprint Qualifying race comfortably throughout.

Only a man of Bottas' luck could be at the top in two consecutive qualifying sessions and still start the main event last, but he kept his head down to make incisive progress through the field on Sunday.

Briefly, it looked as though the win might even be on the cards as his Medium tyres had him catching up rapidly on Perez and the two McLarens, but it wasn't to be as the tyres faded.

While one swallow doesn't make a summer, it was an emphatic performance from a driver keen to prove that he's more than a wingman.

The FIA

The FIA's refusal to bow to public (and paddock) pressure not to introduce the Halo four years ago was, once again, vindicated on Sunday.

Forcing through the introduction of the cockpit protection system saved the life of Hamilton when Verstappen's Red Bull came crashing down with force on the Mercedes, before his rear-right wheel drove across the top of the Halo. Even with the system, Hamilton's helmet took some of the weight and, hopefully, there hasn't been anything more serious inflicted than a headache.

The shocking images from Sunday, in what was a fairly benign incident, showed that tragedy could have struck out of seemingly nothing. In sharp contrast to Romain Grosjean's spectacular Bahrain crash, the Halo saved Hamilton from suffering grotesque injuries, or worse, in an incident that looked practically nondescript on initial viewing.

But the Italian GP weekend also saw the success of an earlier safety mandate. Carlos Sainz's crash in FP2 on Saturday morning could have resulted in a basilar skull fracture, or spinal injuries, as has been seen in similar accidents where the driver's head is thrown violently forward.

Introduced in 2003, the HANS device proved its worth once again as replays showed Sainz being thrown so far forward that his head almost impacted the steering wheel. Strained to the limit by the impact, the HANS device saved the Spaniard from anything worse than a sore neck.

The Losers

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton was supposed to outscore Verstappen at Monza, given the deficit of the Red Bull at the Italian venue. But, instead, he leaves the venue a further two points behind.

It was an inconsistent weekend from the reigning World Champion. While Mercedes clearly enjoyed a pace advantage over a single lap, Hamilton didn't quite manage to get his qualifying effort together. Despite the benefit of a tow from Bottas for the final run, Hamilton fell short of what his teammate could manage. Starting from second for the Sprint Qualifying race, Hamilton then slightly fluffed the start and fell down the order.

Starting from fourth for Sunday's race, Hamilton's start was exemplary on the Hard tyre. Positioning himself perfectly through the first chicane, he vaulted up to third and was in position to attack for second until he met the immovable wall that was Verstappen's Red Bull.

A slow stop (not Hamilton's fault) resulted in him racing Verstappen out of the pits, and their clash at the first chicane. Could Hamilton have left more room? Yes. Was he required to? Debatable, and the stewards didn't feel he did.

While Hamilton has been found innocent on this occasion, it was a situation where being right didn't result in any benefit to Lewis. A race-ending clash at Monza is to Verstappen's benefit, not Hamilton's, and the latter has lost a crucial opportunity to build an advantage on his title rival.

Sergio Perez

With Verstappen and Hamilton taking themselves out of contention, one might have expected that the second Red Bull would be there to pick up the pieces given that the second Mercedes was starting from last on the grid.

But a poor qualifying, once again, from Perez had him starting from too far back, and unable to capitalise on the misfortunes of the drivers up front.

Third place should have, at least, been Perez's, and would have meant Red Bull closing the gap slightly on Mercedes in the Constructor's Championship. But the Mexican didn't manage that either, thanks to some not-so-smart driving.

Having managed to get ahead of Leclerc at the second chicane, Perez stubbornly didn't yield the position despite cutting the corner – something that should have been fairly obvious from A. reading the rule book, and B. seeing drivers in the junior categories being pulled up for the same thing.

That stubbornness meant Perez crossed the line in third, but finished fifth and this cost Red Bull ground to Mercedes. Another missed opportunity in a year full of them.

AlphaTauri

AlphaTauri's home race was a disaster. With Pierre Gasly qualifying sixth on Friday, all that hard work was undone at the start of the Sprint Qualifying race as he tagged the back of Ricciardo's car.

Crashing out due to the resulting wing failure, Gasly started from the pit lane with a fresh Honda engine fitted but, almost immediately, had to retire due to a systems error on his car which wasn't picked up on until it was too late.

Similarly, Yuki Tsunoda never managed to get his race going. He was classified as a Did Not Start, due to a brake issue developing on his AT02 on the way to the grid and leaving the team with no time to fix it before lights out.

"When it rains, it pours," said the team on Twitter afterwards. Indeed.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel was unlucky to leave Monza pointless, having been innocent in almost every race incident he was involved in.

Fighting over eighth place on the opening lap with Lance Stroll, Vettel was quite rudely, and unnecessarily, pushed aside by his teammate through the first Lesmo, costing Vettel several positions as he also picked up some damage.

Further into the race, Vettel managed to get alongside Esteban Ocon into the second chicane but was, once again, pushed off as the Alpine driver failed to leave him enough room. While Ocon was penalised, an annoyed Vettel was left scampering across the escape area to rejoin.

Then, a tap from the Haas of Mick Schumacher was the icing on the cake. While there was no lasting damage from the touch, it was another annoyance in a race full of them for the German, who is still yet to confirm his future at the team for 2022.

RN365 News dossier F1 2021 Italian Grand Prix

The latest news about the Italian Grand Prix straight from Monza.

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