Red Bull were unable to take a podium at the Italian Grand Prix in a race defined by a dramatic crash involving Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen started from pole but failed to finish after a major crash with championship rival and Mercedes driver Hamilton, while Sergio Perez crossed the line 3rd but was classified 5th for going off track to overtake Charles Leclerc. It meant the Milton Keynes-based team missed out on a podium, on an afternoon that saw former Red Bull star Daniel Ricciardo win for the first time since leaving Red Bull in 2018.
The big moment of the race came when the two main championship protagonists were involved in a race-ending crash on lap 26 of the race at Monza, in their first big on-track confrontation since Silverstone in July.
Verstappen had started the Italian Grand Prix ahead of Hamilton and stayed ahead of him following an opening lap battle but was the Dutchman was left playing catch-up after a fault in Red Bull’s system lead to a slow pit stop.
A slow pit stop of Hamilton’s own meant the Mercedes came out just as Verstappen was approaching the opening chicane. Verstappen attempted to make an overtake into the sequence as the two went side-by-side into turn one. But as they navigated the sequence to turn 2, Verstappen’s car was unsettled by the kerbs and the rear wheels of the two cars made contact.
This sent Verstappen’s Red Bull over the top of the Mercedes, with the Dutchman’s car scraping along the top of his rival’s car and with one of the wheels appearing to make contact with Hamilton’s head before the two cars came to a stop having been beached in a gravel trap. Both drivers were out of the race but OK to walk away, with Hamilton later crediting F1’s safety measures for helping him avoid serious injury or even death.
The race stewards ultimately deemed Verstappen primarily at fault, and in a post-race meeting they handed Verstappen a 3 place grid penalty for the next race, which is due to take place in Russia in two weeks time. He was also given two penalty points on his licence.
Meanwhile, Perez had made a few early overtakes from starting in 8th place, but his hopes of a podium were ended when he went off the track shortly after the safety car restart in overtaking the Ferrari of Leclerc. While Perez did keep Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas behind him for the final laps, the penalty saw Perez finish behind both Bottas and Leclerc on track.
Verstappen ends the Italian Grand Prix weekend still in the lead of a hard-fought drivers championship, holding a five point lead over Hamilton. Perez is in 5th place, with the Mexican 14 points behind 4th place Lando Norris and the same gap ahead of Leclerc.
In the constructor’s battle, Red Bull are 18 points behind the Brackley-based Mercedes team.