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Ricciardo wins F1 Italian GP as Hamilton, Verstappen crash out

(AFP)

Daniel Ricciardo won the Formula One Italian Grand Prix on Sunday as the Australian took advantage of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s dramatic crash which eliminated both championship rivals.

Ricciardo was followed by his McLaren teammate Lando Norris in the British team’s first win since the 2012 Brazilian GP, while Valtteri Bottas inherited third, despite starting in last place, due to a five-second time penalty for Sergio Perez.

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Red Bull’s Verstappen still leads seven-time world champion Hamilton by five points at the top of the drivers’ standings as they both finished in the gravel following their crash halfway through the race.

Ricciardo, whose father is from Italy, was delighted with not only his first win since Monaco in 2018 but also McLaren’s first one-two finish in 11 years, greeting the fans in Italian with a huge smile on his face.

“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.”

The 32-year-old promised “total attack” after starting second on the grid and capitalised on the most dramatic moment of an eventful race when Hamilton re-entered the Monza track from the pit lane.

Vertsappen tried to dart past Hamilton just after the Briton’s pit stop but ended up with his back wheel rolling over the top of his rival’s Mercedes, narrowly missing Hamilton’s head.

Both drivers then slid into the gravel and were forced to retire from the race, which Hamilton was hoping to make his 100th Grand Prix victory.

Vertsappen was reportedly furious at Hamilton, saying his rival gave him “no space” in a crash which will be investigated by officials after the race 

The pair then gave each other the blame in their post-race comments, with Hamilton saying he had given way in a similar position to Verstappen earlier while the Dutchman insisted Hamilton “pushed” him into the trackside sausage kerb.

– ‘Awesome weekend’ –

Ricciardo then powered to victory backed up by his teammate Norris who 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 Bottas 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, the two cars meeting in a chicane and then finishing in a mess at the side of the track.

With the title-chasing duo gone and chaos on the track, Hamilton’s teammate Bottas, who will join Alfa Romeo next season, completed a hugely impressive weekend by finishing fourth, promoted to third after Perez’s 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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