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Ricciardo wins, Verstappen gets grid penalty

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McLaren’s Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo drives during the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the AutodromoNazionale circuit in Monza, on Sunday. AFP

Ricciardo wins, Verstappen gets grid penalty

Daniel Ricciardo won the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday as Max Verstappen was blamed by the Monza stewards for the dramatic airborne crash with Lewis Hamilton who said his car’s halo safety device “saved my neck”.

Red Bull’s Verstappen, who leads his Mercedes rival by five points in the Formula One standings, must serve a three-place grid penalty at the Russian Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time for his role in the frightening crash.

Ricciardo had nipped past pole-sitter Verstappen at the start to lead virtually throughout with the Australian followed across the line by his McLaren teammate Lando Norris.

This was the British team’s first win since 2012 and their first one-two finish in 11 years.

Ricciardo’s path to his first win since Monaco 2018 was eased when Verstappen had tried to muscle past Hamilton who had just rejoined the track after a pit stop on lap 26.

But Verstappen’s car, pushed onto the sausage kerb at the Turn One chicane, ended up with its back wheel rolling over the top of his rival’s Mercedes, the halo protecting Hamilton’s head.

Both drivers slid into the gravel and were forced to retire.

“I feel very fortunate today,” said Hamilton. “Thank God for the halo which saved me, and saved my neck.”

The seven-time world champion added: “I am so grateful I am still here. I feel incredibly blessed that someone was watching over me today.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been hit on the head by a car before - and it is quite a big shock for me,” Hamilton said.

“We are taking risks and it’s only when you experience something like that that you get the real shock of how you look at life and how fragile we all are.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff commented: “The championship was good fun up until now but we saw the halo save Lewis’ life today. We don’t want to see someone seriously hurt.”

In the stewards’ verdict after interviewing both drivers, although Hamilton’s line forced Verstappen onto the kerb, the Red Bull man had attempted the manouevre too late for him to have “the right to racing room”.

Verstappen was, they said, “predominantly to blame”.

Ricciardo meanwhile was celebrating the sweet taste of victory with his trademark podium celebration of drinking champagne from his shoe.

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

“To not only win but to get a one-two, it’s insane. For McLaren to be on the podium it’s huge, let alone one-two . . . For once I’m lost for words.”

‘Awesome weekend’

Norris was also in good spirits after an impressive second-placed finish.

“We’ve had a pretty awesome weekend,” the British driver said.

“We’ve been working towards this and we got a one-two finally. I’m happy for of course Daniel for getting the win.”

Verstappen started the race on pole after finishing second behind ValtteriBottas in Saturday’s sprint, but dropped back to second at the start as Ricciardo pipped ahead.

Hamilton made an immediate move from fourth, overtaking Norris and then trying to get at Verstappen, only to finish off the track before quickly re-entering back in fourth.

The real drama started just as the drivers started making their first pit stops.

First Ricciardo went to the pits, giving up the lead, before Verstappen dropped back to 10th after a long pit stop on lap 23 which gave Hamilton the chance to push past Norris and take the lead.

Hamilton then pitted himself on lap 25 before clashing with Verstappen almost immediately after his exit.

In third in the 14th round of this fiercely contested season came Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Bottas, who inherited the podium spot after Sergio Perez was hit with a five-second time penalty.

He had started at the back of the grid despite winning Saturday’s sprint race as punishment for taking on power unit components in qualifying on Friday.

“Starting from the back, it’s never easy,” said Bottas.

“I’m glad we get more points than Red Bull, we maximised and from my side, it was good fun.”

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