It was a cruel afternoon for the Bulls at Monza as a premature exit for Daniel and a late penalty for Max prevented the team from taking a bigger share of the spoils at the Italian Grand Prix.
At the start, pole position man Kimi Räikkonen, held the lead through Turn 1 ahead of Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton third. Behind them Max, starting from P5, passed Bottas and was soon up to third place.
The Dutchman inherited the position in Turn 4 of the opening lap as Hamilton tried to go around the outside of Vettel’s Ferrari. There was minimal room for manoeuvre and the pair collided. Vettel spun and dropped to the rear of the field. Max slotted into third place behind Raikkonen and Hamilton.
At the back of the order, there was a collision between Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley at the start and with Hartley’s car stranded at the side of the track with a blown tyre, the Safety Car was deployed.
That brought out the safety car and under the caution Vettel pitted for soft tyres and a new front wing. Daniel also pitted, the Aussie took on supersofts, and after leading Vettel back on track, the pair were soon making their way through the field.
Daniel did his best to fend off Vettel as they strode forward, but armed with greater pace, the Ferrari driver passed the Bull at the start of lap nine. The drop didn’t deter Daniel, however, and he continued to advance until lap 23, when he was in P11.
As Daniel made his way towards the first chicane a puff of smoke appeared at the rear of his car and as he was swiftly on the radio reporting an issue. Daniel clattered across the bumps in the chicane as more smoke poured forth and he quickly pulled over at the side of the track where he retired from the race.
By that point race leader Räikkönen made his sole stop, for soft tyres. Hamilton stayed out though and there followed a cat and mouse sequence as they exchanged fastest laps. Hamilton eventually stayed out eight laps longer than the Finn and the delay would, in the end, bring the race to the Briton.
After Hamilton’s stop Bottas, who had yet to pit, led the race ahead of Raikkonen. Mercedes told Bottas to keep his fellow Finn behind him and Hamilton, who had emerged from his pit stop 2.5s behind the Ferrari driver, began to close in.
Bottas finally made his pit stop at the end of lap 35 and he rejoined behind Max and ahead of Vettel, who had made a second pit stop and armed with new supersoft tyres, was targeting a late charge.
At the front, Räikkönen was visibly beginning to struggle with his ageing soft tyres. Hamilton smelled blood and after a few tentative efforts made the decisive move on lap 45. He tucked in behind the Finn on the pit straight and then darted around the outside of the Ferrari into Turn 1 to take a lead he would not lose.
Behind him Max was now coming under pressure from Bottas. The Finn went to pass in Turn 1, but Max held a wide line and there was contact, with Bottas being forced to cut the chicane.
The incident was placed under investigation and Max was subsequently handed a five-second time penalty for causing the collision.
Max crossed the line in third behind winner Hamilton and second-placed Räikkönen, but with Bottas and Vettel within five seconds of the Dutchman, Max was classified in fifth place, and finished where he started the race.
Italian Grand Prix - Race Result:
- Lewis Hamilton
- Kimi Räikkönen
- Valtteri Bottas
- Sebastian Vettel
- MAX VERSTAPPEN
- Romain Grosjean
- Esteban Ocon
- Sergio Perez
- Carlos Sainz
- Lance Stroll
DNF Daniel Ricciardo