Hamilton Verstappen crash repeats inevitable – What we learned from the Italian Grand Prix
Daniel Ricciardo returned to the top step of the podium for the first time since his redemptive Monaco Grand Prix victory for Red Bull in 2018 and in doing so gave McLaren its first win since Brazil 2012.
With plenty to break down from the second sprint weekend trial, here are five things learned at Monza.
Hamilton and Verstappen WILL crash again
What a season this is turning out to be. Twists and turns at every round as the advantage ebbs and flows between Red Bull and Mercedes, with the two title protagonists again making contact.
Hamilton was rejoining the circuit from the pits with Verstappen looking to go around the outside into the Rettifilo chicane. The first apex saw both exit unscathed but as Hamilton pinched the apex for the left-hander, Verstappen hit the sausage kerb and was propelled on top of the Mercedes.
The image of the Red Bull straddling the Mercedes will no doubt become as iconic as that of the Senna-Prost incidents at Suzuka in 1989 and 1990.
Toto Wolff described the move as a “tactical foul” and the Dutchman was handed a three-place grid penalty that will no doubt divide opinions.
It is clear to see neither driver is willing to give an inch to their rival and another clash is inevitable.
McLaren win no fluke as the Honey Badger returns
Struggles? What struggles? Ricciardo has completed his turnaround after the first half of his maiden season with McLaren with his first victory for three years.
This was no fluke either. A great qualifying by both Ricciardo and Norris left them in fourth and fifth on the grid for the 18-lap sprint, knowing Valtteri Bottas would take a grid penalty.
Ricciardo and Norris jumped ahead of Hamilton at the start to earn second and third on the grid for the grand prix. The Australian dived to the inside at turn one to take the lead and, in all honesty, never looked back.
A slow stop for Verstappen, before his clash with Hamilton took him out of the lead, certainly helped McLaren sit more comfortably, but the fact is both Ricciardo and Norris had plenty in the tank.
Everything was in complete control and Ricciardo even set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour of the ‘Temple of Speed’.
And anybody thinking this was a one-off, Norris was on course for pole at Spa before his qualifying crash, whilst the Briton was also a fraction off pole in Austria.
Halo survives another test
The Hamilton-Verstappen clash was much scarier than on first viewing. The rear of Verstappen’s car hit the halo on the W12 with significant force whilst the right-rear wheel also caught the seven-time champion on his helmet.
That left Hamilton with a sore neck but it could have been so much worse. Despite meeting negative responses when first introduced, the halo has proven its worth on multiple occasions.
The device likely saved Charles Leclerc‘s life in Belgium back in 2018 as Fernando Alonso came down on the Sauber, and the same can be said for Romain Grosjean in last year’s horrific Bahrain Grand Prix incident.
This time it was Hamilton who was spared. The FIA do a wonderful job ensuring safety standards are constantly improving. Thankfully, the halo was passed and will remain a vital part of the sport.
Sprint must not be reviewed in isolation
A tricky one but the sprint works. The fact is a McLaren wouldn’t have won the Italian Grand Prix, Verstappen and Hamilton wouldn’t have clashed and all other permutations wouldn’t have existed had the sprint not taken place on Saturday.
Without the 18-lap event, it would have been Hamilton and Verstappen on the front row of the grid with little chance of Ricciardo leading into turn one. The race was amplified by a small mix-up to the pecking order.
Yes, the sprint was essentially a snoozefest after lap one on Saturday but the format as a whole, with qualifying moved to Friday to give a more meaningful feel to the first day of the weekend, just works.
There is still one trial to go – in Brazil – but we must not fall into the trap of looking at the sprint as a stand-alone event. Are there improvements to be made? Yes, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad concept.
Something Haas to change!
Another weekend, another Haas crash. Team principal Guenther Steiner even suggested on Saturday his drivers would clash again after holding talks ahead of the weekend over the mess that came from Zandvoort a week previously.
Fast forward to Sunday’s grand prix and Nikita Mazepin sent Mick Schumacher into a pirouette at the Roggia chicane. There was no argument this time, however, with the Russian taking full blame for the incident and apologising to the German.
At least that is a degree of progress on the relationship side of their partnership, but something has to change at the team ahead of a potentially defining 2022 season in which Haas will hope points become attainable again.
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September 13, 2021 at 02:30PM