MONZA, Italy – Nothing was going to stop Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren Sunday at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
Ricciardo took the lead at the start of the Italian Grand Prix and dominated from there, earning his first Formula 1 victory since 2018 and the first victory for McLaren since the 2012 season. He was followed to the checkered flag by his teammate Lando Norris, which gave McLaren a sweep of the top two places on the podium.
“There was something in me on Friday. I knew something good was to come. Let’s just say that,” Ricciardo said. “To not only win but to get a 1-2, it’s insane. For McLaren to be on the podium its huge, let alone 1-2.”
The Australian controlled the race from the outset. He started second alongside Max Verstappen and got the jump on the Red Bull driver when the lights went out, allowing him to lead the field into turn one.
Other than a few laps during the pit stop cycle, Ricciardo led the rest of the way to score his eighth Grand Prix victory to the delight of McLaren boss Zak Brown. Norris’ runner-up finish made McLaren the first team this season to sweep the first two steps on the podium at a Grand Prix.
“It was never a guarantee we would lead the whole race,” Ricciardo said. “I was able to just hold firm out front the first stint. I don’t think we had mega speed but it was obviously enough to keep Max (Verstappen) behind.”
While Ricciardo had the race well in hand, there was plenty of drama between championship leaders Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton was exiting the pits on lap 26 when he came up alongside Verstappen, who was roaring down the frontstraight towards the first corner. Neither driver gave an inch and contact was made, with the rear of Verstappen’s car ending up on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes.
The right-rear tire on Verstappen’s car narrowly missed hitting Hamilton in the head. Were it not for the Halo, it likely would have happened.
The end result was both drivers were out of the race, which meant Verstappen will leave Italy with a five point championship advantage. However, post-race stewards announced Verstappen had been hit with a three-place grid penalty at the Russian Grand Prix for causing a collision with Hamilton.
The incident between Hamilton and Verstappen opened the door for Valtteri Bottas, who marched from the rear of the field after a power unit change resulted in a grid penalty. Bottas was fourth on the road behind Sergio Perez, but a five second penalty issued to Perez for passing Charles Leclerc off the track elevated Bottas to the final step on the podium.
Leclerc ended up fourth thanks to Perez’s time penalty, with the Red Bull driver settling for fifth.