Now the dust has more or less settled on an enthralling Italian Grand Prix, it’s time to pick out the biggest winners and losers from one of the most dramatic Formula 1 races of the season.
McLaren earned its first 1-2 finish since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix and Daniel Ricciardo ended a three-year victory drought, while the Formula 1 title rivals collided for the second time this season, with Max Verstappen incurring a grid penalty.
Our writers separate those walking away from Monza with a smile and those that will be counting down the days until they can put things right in Sochi.
Daniel Ricciardo’s 2021 season thus far has been painful viewing.
We all knew his race-winning potential from his time at Red Bull alongside Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen at Red Bull and how he can transfer his heroic driving to the midfield with Renault.
So, it’s been distressing to see Ricciardo dejected and struggling to match Lando Norris, and a great relief to see him turn things around since the summer break.
He drove beautifully all weekend, he wasn’t gifted this win by the Hamilton/Verstappen collision and Ricciardo would have been right in the mix for the victory even with them both still in the race.
The fastest lap on the last lap of the race suggested he could have put up a good fight against Norris even if the Brit wasn’t told to hold station.
It’s great to see Ricciardo back on the podium – now we’re going to find out if he’s truly got his head around the McLaren or if this was an incredible one-off. – Josh Suttill
McLaren has gone through some seriously painful times across the last decade but for quite some time, the team has become the most effective operation in the midfield fight.
The changes made at the team have been such a breath of fresh air from the Ron Dennis era and the nightmare Honda reunion, and this is the biggest vindication that McLaren is heading back in the right direction.
Ricciardo’s improved form will worry Ferrari and this meaty 44 points haul – the highest single points haul for any team this year – puts McLaren back in the driving seat in the race for third in the constructors’ championship. – JS
One of Bottas’s strongest weekends as a Mercedes driver. It’s a crying shame he couldn’t start the grand prix from pole position, because he would have been right in the mix to make it a perfect weekend.
He made an effective charge through the field and his own blunder came during his attack of Sergio Perez’s third place.
Had he cleared Perez, perhaps he could have challenged the McLaren duo, but who is to say he’d have been able to get close enough to pass them.
From 19th place on the grid to third is a brilliant day’s work and as Bottas pointed out, Mercedes out-point Red Bull because of the Finn’s effort. – JS
Stroll barged his way past his Aston Martin team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, on the opening lap of the race and finished ahead of both Alpine drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, as well as the Williams of George Russell.
This was one of Stroll’s strongest races for quite some time, in stark contrast to a miserable race for Vettel who was barged around by both Stroll, Ocon and his good friend Mick Schumacher.
The points briefly looked at risk as he was investigated for a potential yellow flag infringement, but ultimately escaped with just a warning. – JS
Just like buses, Williams and George Russell have waited such a long time for points without a single one arriving, and then several come all within a few races.
Ninth place for Russell in any other race earlier this season would be headline news but following his Spa podium and the team’s double points finish in Hungary, it all feels a bit more ordinary.
But that should take nothing away from how impressive this ninth-place finish (which may become eighth if Stroll gets a penalty) was.
Williams did not have the pace to get out of Q1 this weekend, but Russell split the Alpine drivers, beat his on-form team-mate Nicholas Latifi – who he trailed earlier in the race – and finished ahead of both Alfa Romeo drivers.
He hasn’t looked in the best form since his Spa second place but this Italian GP marked a return to form for Russell, who won’t have to count ninth place as a superb result for much longer. – JS
Max Verstappen/Lewis Hamilton
Pre-weekend – and especially after qualifying – you’d be right in saying that any outcome in which Hamilton doesn’t take points out of Verstappen at Monza is a bad one for Hamilton.
After Saturday’s race, you’d be right in saying that any outcome in which Verstappen doesn’t also extend his lead on Sunday is a bad one for Verstappen. And after Verstappen’s bad pitstop… well, you get the gist.
Obviously, in each case, you can look at it from the other driver’s side, so it’s a glass half-full/half-empty kind of thing. You can mentally pencil both drivers into the winners’ column as well, although ultimately they both did end their races in an ultra-clumsy crash.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this Monza weekend is that, for all the twists and turns, the status quo has been largely preserved. Verstappen has a slightly inflated cushion to take away from a weak track for Red Bull, but also has a grid penalty – so it sort of evens out, in theory.
All the better for the viewers, really. – Valentin Khorounzhiy
Two cars in the top six isn’t on paper a bad result for Ferrari in its current situation but also this was a day when a Mercedes and a Red Bull collided and the other Mercedes started at the back. Those are days Ferrari ought to be winning.
It didn’t, but McLaren – its rival for third in the constructors’ championship – did. Emphatically. In a 1-2. It’s still only 13.5 points ahead of Ferrari as a result but this could’ve been the day that settled that battle given how hard it is to get a big points swing when not right at the front.
Ultimately Ferrari is still too weak on the straights and Monza is dominated by straights. It’s in far better shape than a year ago and is clearly heading back towards the front.
But that doesn’t stop today being a painful missed opportunity on home ground.
As Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies put it on Saturday night: “Fifth and sixth doesn’t make us smile”. Fourth and sixth wouldn’t have done either. – Matt Beer
Perez felt robbed of a podium by the five second penalty he was given for cutting the second chicane while battling with Charles Leclerc, given that he was ahead of the Ferrari at the time.
That’s true, but skipping over the run-off ensured he stayed ahead and was always going to lead to trouble given the way those rules are policed at present. It was needless.
You could be generous and consider a drive from eighth on the grid to third on the road to be praiseworthy.
Or you could look at the fact Perez has still only taken two podiums all year and was only fifth in the final results on a day his team leader retired.
It’s not fair to expect a Bottas level of wing-manning from Perez in his first year at Red Bull, but it’s not unfair to suggest he could end up costing Red Bull the constructors’ championship. – MB
Alfa Romeo/Antonio Giovinazzi
For the second weekend in a row, Antonio Giovinazzi’s Q3 heroics (and a stellar drive in the sprint race) went unrewarded in the race.
Unlike last week, Giovinazzi has to take the blame for this opening lap error. Perhaps not wanting to be out-muscled by a Ferrari on the first lap of another race, the Italian went too far and carelessly rejoined the track, not aware that Sainz was right behind him.
It was a costly error in a race that Alfa Romeo really should have scored in, and it’s one that will do Giovinazzi’s chances of staying in F1 for a fourth season no good. – JS
Disaster. That word or any synonym of it are the only words that can be used to describe AlphaTauri’s Italian GP.
It won the race last year but this year Yuki Tsunoda was wheeled off the grid before the race started and although Pierre Gasly left the pitlane at the start, he soon retired.
It was especially frustrating for the team on a day when both Alpine and Aston scored a decent points haul. – JS