The best onboard action from Italy
From the first lap to the last, Sunday's Italian Grand Prix was jam-packed with wheel-to-wheel action. Here's our pick of the best - all from the driver's perspective...
Max Verstappen was dropped from second to 13th on the grid at Monza thanks to engine penalties, but he went some way to restoring the balance at the start when he exploded of the line and then proceeded to make his rivals look like statues as he boldly danced between and around them. After recording his sixth retirement in 12 races in Belgium, you could have forgiven the precocious Dutchman for being more circumspect at the start – but for better or for worse a cautious approach simply isn’t in his nature…
He may have displayed superb judgement as he threw caution to the wind at the start, but Verstappen showed a distinct lack of it when he bundled into the side of Felipe Massa’s Williams at the first chicane as he attempted to snatch P7 on the third lap. The Dutchman has been extremely unlucky on plenty of occasions this season, but in this case – with an evidently quicker car underneath him than the man he was trying to overtake, and the whole race ahead of him - you can’t help but think that Verstappen was very much the architect of his own downfall. And when you look at what his more measured team mate Daniel Ricciardo was able to do from even lower on the grid, this race will go down as a missed opportunity for the teenager.
One of the best battles in Italy played out over the first couple of laps as Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas fought over fourth place. The Finnish duo, who have plenty of previous when it comes to coming together, rubbed wheels as they came out of the first chicane side by side. And though Raikkonen ultimately emerged on top after the opening exchanges, it was Bottas who had the last laugh getting a mighty slipstream down the back straight before pulling ahead into Parabolica. A wobble mid-way around the long right hander threatened to lose him the position almost as quickly as he gained it, but after another spot of wheel-to-wheel down the pit straight, the Mercedes was eventually able to wriggle clear.
After squabbling in Belgium a week earlier, Fernando Alonso and Jolyon Palmer clashed again in Italy – and this time it was the Spaniard who was left fuming, even after the Renault driver was given a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage during this move at the second chicane. Alonso argued Palmer should have given the place back immediately, Palmer argued that having committed himself he had two choices: crash or cut the corner. Whose side are you on?
In 2014 Daniel Ricciardo capped a brilliant Monza charge with a fabulous switchback pass on then Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel into the second chicane, and this year the Australian was up to his old tricks once more. Force India’s Sergio Perez was the Honey Badger’s victim on this occasion, with the Mexican left standing as the indefatigable Red Bull driver snatched P6.
Having sat behind Esteban Ocon's sixth-placed Force India for a few laps, trying desperately to find a way past the powerful pink car, Kimi Raikkonen was finally able to make a move stick as the duo headed into the first chicane on the 26th lap - and what a move it was. He may have had DRS and a mighty slipstream, but it still required an exquisite deftness on the brakes to complete this move - not to mention make it look so easy.
"He just turned into me," complained a frustrated Romain Grosjean after this brush with Max Verstappen at the first corner. Though when you look at the replays, it appears it was the late-braking Frenchman's reluctance to give up the corner, even after Verstappen had come past him like a freight train, that was the key factor in the contact. Fortunately for Verstappen his lightning reflexes kept him pointing in the right direction. Fortunately for Grosjean he escaped the incident with nothing but minor bodywork damage and a slightly flat-spotted tyre.
Of all the dazzling moves Daniel Ricciardo made in his Driver of the Day-winning run from P16 to P4, this one on a surely shocked Kimi Raikkonen was undoubtedly the best – in fact it probably ranks as one of the moves of the season so far. Reminiscent of Lewis Hamilton’s overtake of Raikkonen from a similarly long way back in 2007, this pass into the first chicane from an approach speed in excess of 320km/h perfectly demonstrated the triple threat of derring-do, inch-perfect precision and incredible braking feel that make Ricciardo such a force of nature.
Kevin Magnussen was left annoyed that Max Verstappen escaped punishment after their late race tete-a-tete over P10 ended with him taking to the escape road at the second chicane. The Dane felt the Red Bull driver hadn’t left him enough room under braking, but after reviewing the footage – including these onboard camera views – the stewards disagreed. Max’s assessment of the whole thing? “To be honest, I don't really feel it was an incident. Also, I don't really care."
Back in the 2014 race at Monza it took an almighty effort from Felipe Massa on the final lap to hold off then Williams team mate Valtteri Bottas for the final podium spot. This year the evergreen Brazilian found himself engaged in another last-lap ding dong, only this time he was the hunter not the hunted. Stuck behind team mate Lance Stroll in a Force India sandwich, Massa had a legitimate look at snatching P7 into and out of the second chicane - but his steady throttle work and measured braking tells you all you need to know about how carefully he went about it. Safe to say that he might have been a little bolder if the car he was fighting was another colour...