Daniel Ricciardo in huge drama as boos ring out at Italian GP

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
Daniel Ricciardo is pictured left, and Max Verstappen leading the Italian GP behind the safety car on the right.
Daniel Ricciardo's stricken McLaren led to the Italian GP being won behind the safety car, leaving F1 fans booing at the track. Pictures: Getty Images/Formula One

Daniel Ricciardo inadvertently found himself the cause of a controversial finish under the safety car at the Italian GP, with F1 fans booing as Max Verstappen led Ferrari's Charles Leclerc home.

Red Bull's Verstappen won his fifth race in a row as he continues his charge towards back-to-back F1 championships, but the cheers at his home race last weekend were replaced by boos as the Italian fans fumed at the decision to end the race behind the safety car.

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Ricciardo had to pull over on lap 47 of 53, leading to a safety car as stewards scrambled to get his stricken McLaren off the track.

However race officials erred on the side of caution as it took longer than expected to clear the track, opting to end the race under controlled conditions rather than try to hastily reorganise the grid for a sprint to the finish on the final lap.

While most teams and drivers agreed that the FIA rules had been followed correctly, in comparison to last year's controversial season finale in Abu Dhabi, almost all of them were disappointed there hadn't been a chance to cross the finish line under green flag conditions.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said officials had been 'caught sleeping' by the timing of the safety car, while both Leclerc and Verstappen were disappointed by the safety car finish.

"The end was frustrating. I wish we could have ended up racing. It's a shame," Leclerc said, disappointed to lose further championship ground to Verstappen.

For Red Bull's part, while team boss Christian Horner said the FIA had followed protocol, it was nevertheless an unsatisfying way to win a grand prix.

“We don’t want to win a race under a safety car,” Horner told Sky F1.

“And that’s something that we’ve talked about for many, many years that they should finish racing. There was enough time to get that race going.

“We had the faster car, and we would have liked to have won the race on the track, not behind the safety car.

"So we share the disappointment of all the fans because it took away a grandstand finish.”

Max Verstappen wins Italian Grand Prix to extend F1 lead

Leclerc, Verstappen's main rival, started on pole on Sunday but, as so often this season, pit-stop gambles yet again did not work out for the Italian team on their home Monza track.

World champion Verstappen quickly made his way up the field and then kept hold of the lead as the race controversially finished behind the safety car, with Leclerc second ahead of Mercedes' George Russell.

Verstappen now leads Leclerc by 116 points with six races left as Ferrari fans booed the anti-climactic finish.

The Dutchman can even seal the title in three weeks in Singapore if results go his way.

"We had a great race. We had a really good race car and we were controlling the gap and then the safety car came out. Unfortunately, we didn't get a restart," Verstappen said.

It was the opposite to the Abu Dhabi finale last year where Australia's former race director Michael Masi allowed one lap of racing after the safety car and Verstappen snatched the title.

Despite the unsatisfactory finale, Verstappen went on to win an 11th race this season and 31st of his career.

Leclerc had got away well from pole but Russell tried to get past on the first corner before running wide, without either being penalised.

Both Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen were disuappointed but understanding of the decision to end the Italian GP behind the safety car. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
Both Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen were disuappointed but understanding of the decision to end the Italian GP behind the safety car. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

Verstappen was quickly up to third on F1's fastest and most used track. The world champion then easily overtook Russell on lap five of 53.

A virtual safety car when Sebastian Vettel retired his Aston Martin prompted Leclerc to make an early pit-stop but Verstappen stayed out initially to take the lead.

Verstappen boxed midway through the race and came out in second behind Leclerc, who opted to pit again and lose the lead.

The late safety car phase led to a flurry of stops but Verstappen clung on as the yellow flags stayed out.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz drove from third last to fourth to at least give Ferrari fans something to cheer at Monza, celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Lewis Hamilton, who also started towards the back, finished fifth for Mercedes and Red Bull's Sergio Perez, also hampered by a grid penalty and brake problems after a stop, was sixth.

Williams driver Alex Albon was ill with appendicitis so reserve Nyck de Vries, the 2021 Formula E champion, competed in qualifying and ended the race in an impressive ninth on his F1 debut.

Alpine's Fernando Alonso had to retire in his 349th race, equalling Kimi Raikkonen's record for most F1 starts.

With AAP

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