French Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly claimed an emotional first-ever Grand Prix victory at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza after a massive crash involving Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc plunged the race into chaos.
The Formula 1 race was packed with stunning overtakes, scary crashes and a healthy dose of controversy as Frenchman Gasly, who was dropped by the Red Bull team last year, claimed victory in an incident-packed race at the historic Italian circuit in a race that saw none of Formula 1’s established top two teams, Mercedes and Red Bull, on the podium.
Gasly won the race by just four-tenths of a second from the hard-charging Carlos Sainz, who drove a brilliant race to haul in the leader, but ran out of laps in his bid to claim a dramatic late victory. Third place was claimed by Canada’s Lance Stroll in his Racing Point Mercedes.
Defending world champion and runaway series leader Lewis Hamilton totally dominated the first part of the race. But, in the middle of a pitstop window that saw the teams gradually bringing their cars in to change tyres, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc suffered a high-speed crash at the Parabolica turn at the end of the lap.
Remarkably, Leclerc survived unscathed, but the race was red flagged to allow the clean-up job and barrier repairs to be finished before the cars could return to the track.
But there was controversy as Hamilton entered the pit lane during the caution period while the pits were officially closed. It led to the British driver being given a 10-second stop-and-go penalty to be served after the race restart and left the Mercedes ace 30 seconds behind the leader and needing to carve his way through the field.
Incredibly, Hamilton battled through from dead last to seventh to reduce the damage, while his teammate Valtteri Bottas endured a tough day in fifth. To make things better for Hamilton, his nearest championship threat before the race, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, was forced out of the race with engine issues.
Hamilton has 164 points after eight races to Bottas’s 117 and Verstappen’s 110.
But at the end of the race it was cause for celebration for Gasly, whose treatment at the hands of Red Bull last year was seen by many as harsh for the talented Frenchman, who was replaced by Alex Albon.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said after his maiden Grand Prix win.
“It was such a crazy race and we capitalized on it.
“I’ve been through so much in 18 months, I struggle to realize this.”
Meanwhile, It was a story of what might have been for Sainz, who fell agonizingly short of claiming his first F1 GP victory.
“I was so close but yet so far,” he said.
“I needed one more lap.”