Gasly beats Sainz in Italian GP stunner

Andy Hone/Motorsport Images

Gasly beats Sainz in Italian GP stunner

Formula 1

Gasly beats Sainz in Italian GP stunner

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Pierre Gasly has won his maiden Formula 1 victory for AlphaTauri in a chaotic Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

The Frenchman held off a siege by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz to beat the Spaniard to the flag by less than half a second, with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll completing the podium.

The grand prix was run in two halves, with a mid-race red flag to clean up Charles Leclerc’s crashed Ferrari and subsequent standing restart jumbling the field and catapulting the unexpected trio into victory contention.

Gasly leads Sainz to the line to claim F1’s biggest upset win in years. Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton had been leading the first half of race from pole, but a tire change while the pit lane was closed, after Kevin Magnussen had broken down near pit entry, earned him a 10-second stop-and-go penalty that dropped him to the back of the pack after the restart on Lap 27.

Stroll, starting the reset race from second, was best placed to inherit the lead, but the Canadian was jittery off the line. Complaining of cold tires, he dropped to fifth with a lock-up that forced him through the escape road at Roggia. It paved the way for Gasly to capitalize and head the field.

But the prime mover was Sainz. The Spaniard had been second behind Hamilton early in the race but started from sixth on the restart grid, and his McLaren was demonstrating field-beating pace.

On Lap 29 he cut past Stroll and in another five laps he was up to second ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. That left him with 23 laps to close a four-second gap to the lead.

It took Sainz until Lap 45 to close to breach the two-second mark and until the penultimate tour to gain DRS. But Gasly, having perfectly managed his pace, was inch-perfect in defense through the critical chicanes, and with the better exit from Ascari he made himself the first Frenchman to win a grand prix since Olivier Panis in 1996.

“Honestly it’s unbelievable,” he said. “I’m not sure I’m realizing what’s happening right now, it was such a crazy race.”

Gasly paid credit to his team, for which this is its second win after Sebastian Vettel’s 2008 Italian Grand Prix victory in its Toro Rosso guise. “This team has done so much for me. They gave me my first opportunity in F1, they gave me my first podium, now they give me my first win.”

Sainz said he needed only one more lap to make a move for the lead, but the Spaniard was satisfied to claim a second place he said reflected McLaren’s true pace.

“I’m halfway disappointed with P2,” he said. “With a normal race I think I would’ve got P2 behind Lewis, because he had really good pace.

“We’ve been super quick all weekend — I feel I could dominate the midfield easily today. I wouldn’t have believed I’d have got a chance to fight for victory today.”

Stroll was pleased to return to the F1 podium for the first time since 2017 but lamented his poor performance at the restart that saw a win go begging.

“It feels good to be back,” he said. “It’s been such a crazy race.

“It’s a bit of a bummer — I think it was mine to lose starting from second, but I just had no grip at the start. I had a ton of wheelspin and everyone just flew by me.”

Lando Norris finished fourth to earn McLaren a 30-point haul, fending off Valtteri Bottas in the second half of the race. The Finn reduced his championship deficit by only one point, to 49 points, and he remained third in the standings behind leader Hamilton and Max Verstappen. It was a missed opportunity to make meaningful inroads in the title fight after his race was undone by a disastrous first lap.

After losing multiple positions at the start, Bottas was unable to fight his way back to the front. Andy Hone/Motorsport Images

Bottas dropped from second to sixth by the Ascari chicane — passed by both McLaren drivers, a Racing Point and a Renault — in a start so bad that he radioed in frantically suspecting a puncture, although the team assured him his car was undamaged. The rest of his race both before and after the red flag was characterized by managing overheating, leaving Bottas powerless to recover position and defending against Daniel Ricciardo late in the afternoon.

Hamilton recovered to an impressive seventh to limit the damage, coming from half a minute behind the pack after his stop-and-go and passing nine cars in the process. He also scored a bonus point for fastest lap.

Esteban Ocon finished eighth in the second Renault of AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez rounding out the top 10.

Nicholas Latifi finished 11th for Williams ahead of Romain Grosjean’s Haas. Kimi Raikkonen ended 13th in his underpowered Ferrari-engined Alfa Romeo after plummeting from second at the restart.

George Russell finished 14th in the second Williams ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Alex Albon and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi.

Neither Ferrari made it to the finish, Sebastian Vettel retiring with brake failure and Leclerc’s day ending in the tire barriers at Parabolica, causing the race-defining red flag.

Max Verstappen and Kevin Magnussen both retired from the race with power unit problems.

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