Verstappen set for pole position for Italian Grand Prix as penalty-hit Bottas wins Monza Sprint
Valtteri Bottas has triumphed in the second ever F1 Sprint at Monza – but it’s second-placed Max Verstappen who claimed pole position for the Italian Grand Prix, with Bottas set to start the race from the back of the grid on Sunday after a raft of power unit changes despite a faultless drive from P1 in the 18-lap, 100km Sprint from the Finn.
Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile, finished third, Lando Norris fourth, with Lewis Hamilton finishing fifth after starting P2.
As the lights went out, Hamilton had a nightmare start from P2, mugged by Verstappen, both of the soft-shod McLarens and the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly to sit sixth by the time he reached Curva Grande, as Bottas led Verstappen, the fast-starting Ricciardo and Norris – Ricciardo having passed his team mate after starting P4.
Gasly, though, had made light contact with the rear of Ricciardo at Turn 1, and as he rounded the Curva Grande, the AlphaTauri driver’s front wing went under his front wheels, Gasly spearing into the gravel and hitting the wall. The Safety Car was brought out, but not before Yuki Tsunoda and Robert Kubica made contact, Kubica spinning around.
FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN GRAN PREMIO D’ITALIA 2021
|1 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes||27:54.078||3|
|2 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||+2.325s||2|
|3 Daniel Ricciardo RIC McLaren||+14.534s||1|
|4 Lando Norris NOR McLaren||+18.835s||0|
|5 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||+20.011s||0|
The Safety Car was in by Lap 4, with Bottas acing the restart to sit 1.5s clear of Verstappen by the end of the lap, Verstappen then ahead of Ricciardo, Norris and Hamilton in P5, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in sixth and seventh for Ferrari – Sainz’s SF21 having been rebuilt after his FP2 crash – with the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi P8.
By Lap 5 meanwhile, Lance Stroll had climbed to P9 after starting on used softs, having passed the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez into Turn 1. Lap 9 saw Perez attacking Stroll back into Turn 1, Perez driving onto the run-off but holding the position for half a lap before his engineer instructed him to give the position back – with Perez pulling off the legitimate pass a lap later at the same spot.
Hamilton, meanwhile, was doubtless frustrated as, lap after lap, he sat on the rear wing of fourth-placed Lando Norris but couldn’t seem to find a way past the Mercedes-engined McLaren – with the Ricciardo-led group having dropped 10 seconds behind the fast-running Bottas and Verstappen fight with five laps to go.
Verstappen wasn’t attempting to make much of an impression on Bottas, knowing full well that a penalty would be afflicting the Finn for Sunday’s Grand Prix. And as the laps ticked quickly by at the Temple of Speed, it was Bottas who swept across the line at the end of Lap 18 to claim three points for the F1 Sprint win, 2.325s ahead of Verstappen who took two points.
Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile, put himself on the front row of the grid for the first time since Mexico 2018, finishing third – set to be bumped to P2 on Sunday after Bottas’ penalty. Lando Norris was able to hold off Hamilton by 1.176s to claim fourth, with Hamilton fifth ahead of the Ferrari duo led by Leclerc.
Giovinazzi, driving for his career at Alfa Romeo, took eighth, holding off the assails of Perez in the Red Bull, who finished ahead of Lance Stroll as the Canadian rounded out the top 10.
Fernando Alonso was 11th, ahead of the second Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel and the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon. Nicholas Latifi pipped team mate George Russell to P14, Russell P15 as Tsunoda recovered to P16 after his Lap 1 snafu with Kubica.
Having climbed as high as P15 after starting last, Nikita Mazepin eventually wound up P17, ahead of Kubica and Mick Schumacher, with Gasly the sole retirement.
So, having never qualified higher than P5 at Monza, it’s Max Verstappen who’s set to start on pole in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, with the McLaren duo of Ricciardo and Norris behind – with Verstappen having moved five points clear of Hamilton in the drivers’ standings for good measure.
The key quote
“It feels like it’s been a while since I finished first in a race and unfortunately, you know, I’m starting from the back tomorrow, but the speed is there, so I’ll be fighting, I’ll be coming as high as I can tomorrow. But today, I enjoyed; it was a very clean race and we had a good pace” – Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
The key moment
It has to be Hamilton’s horror start (video below). With Mercedes having locked out the front row of the grid, they surely had plans for P1 starter Bottas and Hamilton to swap places at some point, with Bottas then playing the role of rear gunner to back Verstappen into the pack, as Hamilton streaked away at the front to claim pole position and three points for winning the F1 Sprint.
But the best laid plans and all that – with Hamilton now set to start three places back from polesitter Verstappen in P4.
After nailing his start from last on the grid to climb to P15 by the time the Safety Car came out on Lap 1, it was Nikita Mazepin who ended up the biggest mover, ultimately climbing three places from his grid slot to take P17. Lewis Hamilton was the biggest faller, meanwhile, dropping three spots.
Having now had both practice sessions, qualifying and the Sprint, it’s time to get ready for the main event – the Italian Grand Prix, which kicks off on September 12 at 1500 local time. Join us on F1.com for full coverage.