Ricciardo heads McLaren 1-2 after Hamilton and Verstappen collide in dramatic Italian GP

Daniel Ricciardo came home to win one of the most dramatic Italian Grands Prix in recent memory as title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen took one another out of the race after the first series of pit stops.

The popular Australian came home to take the chequered flag ahead of teammate Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas, but the big talking point was obviously the coming together of the warring title protagonists.

It was shades of Ayrton Senna vs Alain Prost at Suzuka 1989, as Hamilton re-joined the circuit practically alongside Verstappen after his first pit stop, neither driver giving an inch at the chicane. The inevitable collision left the Red Bull dramatically atop the Mercedes in the gravel trap and both drivers storming off to their respective pits.

It left the coast clear for Ricciardo to net his first race victory since Monaco in 2018 and McLaren’s first race win since Jenson Button in the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.

“About time,” said a beaming Ricciardo on the podium after a memorable eighth grand prix victory. “Oh wow! Obviously it worked well for me yesterday, I knew to be honest even if we got the start I was never a guarantee I would lead the whole race, but I was able to hold firm out the front the first stint and I don’t think we had obviously mega speed but it was enough to keep Max behind and there was safety cars, this and that.

“But to lead literally from start to finish I don’t think any of us expected that. But there was something in me on Friday. I knew something good was to come.”

It was an intriguing start, Ricciardo out dragging Verstappen off the line and into the lead whilst behind them Hamilton pulled a lovely overtake around the outside of Norris. Eager to gain a crucial further place ahead of chief rival Verstappen, the Mercedes man bounced over of the chicane kerbing and conceded the place to Norris once again.

In the midfield there was more drama, Antonio Giovinazzi clipping Carlos Sainz and spinning sideways before somehow managing to get his car back in a straight line, albeit at the back of the field.

The iconic Monza circuit is one of the fastest of all, dubbed the ‘Cathedral of Speed’. Yet as witnessed during Saturday’s Sprint Race, once the opening laps are out of the way, the long straights and sweeping corners can still lead to a procession even with DRS available as cars struggle in the ‘dirty air’ created by the wash.

In Hamilton’s favour was the fact that the Englishman was the only top ten starter to gamble on the harder compound Pirelli, the tyre coming into the optimum performance range as the others on the medium started to struggle for grip.

Ricciardo was the first of the big hitters to roll the dice, the leader pitting on lap 23, a 2.4s stop putting him back out in 6th behind Sainz’s Ferrari. Verstappen was next, switching to the hard compound to take him to the end of the race. But a disastrous 11 second stop saw the Dutchman’s race scuppered, rejoining tenth just as Hamilton made the pass stick on Norris before pitting for medium tyres.

It was now advantage Hamilton but then came the moment of the race, the Englishman re-joining the track almost side by side with Verstappen and the pair coming together at the chicane, the Red Bull climbing onto the top of the Mercedes into the gravel trap. It was a low-speed accident but the importance of the Halo was clearly in evidence, the tyre of the Red Bull coming to rest almost on top of Hamilton’s helmet.

F1 2019 Regulations - halo cam.
F1 2019 Regulations – halo cam. © Craig Scarborough

When the dust settled, Ricciardo led the race from Leclerc and McLaren teammate Norris as Perez passed Leclerc for third position. With Hamilton and Verstappen gone, the Mercedes vs Red Bull battle moved to Perez v Bottas. And with Bottas on a fresher set of mediums, he was the man on the charge, closing onto the back of the Red Bull.

It became an even easier task for Bottas after Perez was slapped with a five second time penalty for gaining an advantage off track earlier in the race. The fight for the race win now became a fight between the McLaren duo and Sprint Race winner Bottas.

But with Bottas held up behind Perez, it was the McLaren duo who came home for a memorable 1-2, Ricciardo, thanking the gathered Tifosi in Italian before adhering to his trademark ‘shoey’ celebration when the champagne was poured on the podium.

“I’ve just been a sand bagging SOB the whole year, that’s all,” added Ricciardo. “I mean, thirds fourths, fifths… I might as well just win. So that’s what I did! Honestly the August break was good just to reset so I felt that at the last three weekends.

“To not only win but to get a 1-2, it’s insane. For McLaren to be on the podium it’s huge, let alone 1-2, so this is for team papaya. I’m for once lost for words!”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.