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 tomorrow 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, mugged by 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.
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 tomorrow’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, has put a McLaren on the front row of the grid for the first time since Mexico 2018, finishing third – set to be bumped to P2 tomorrow 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 tomorrow’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.
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 tomorrow at 15:00 local time (14:00 GMT).