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Gasly wins ‘crazy’ Italian Grand Prix as Hamilton hit by penalty

By AFP - Sep 06,2020 - Last updated at Sep 06,2020

Winner AlphaTauri's French driver Pierre Gasly celebrates on the podium after the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza on Sunday (AFP photo)

MONZA, Italy — Pierre Gasly secured a maiden Formula One triumph on Sunday when he won a tumultuous Italian Grand Prix for the Alpha Tauri team after crashes, penalties and safety cars had tipped expectations upside down at Monza.

The first French race winner in 24 years seized his opportunity and resisted late pressure from Carlos Sainz of McLaren to claim his team's second victory with Lance Stroll finishing third for Racing Point.

"It was such a crazy race," said Gasly. 

It was the Alpha Tauri outfit's second win on Italian soil — the first having been scored for them when they raced as Toro Rosso by Sebastian Vettel, his maiden F1 win in a rain-hit race in 2008

Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton was on his way to a comfortable win before a 10-second stop-go penalty for taking a pit stop when the pit lane was closed, pushed the Mercedes world champion to the back of the pack.

The six-time champion eventually ended up in seventh place.

Gasly, who was dropped by Red Bull to rejoin the junior sister team last year, jumped for joy as he leapt from his car, was the first French driver to win a Grand Prix since Olivier Panis was triumphant at the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix.

"Honestly, it's unbelievable," said the 24-year-old from Rouen. 

"I don't think I'm realising what's happening right now. We've been through so much in the past 18 months. I have no words."

The Ferrari-bound Sainz said he was "halfway disappointed" with his first podium finish. 

 

Leclerc escapes crash 

 

"You wouldn't believe I would have a chance at victory, but in a normal race I think I could have finished second behind Lewis." 

Stroll said: "It's been a couple of years since I was on the podium so it's good to be back."

Lando Norris came home fourth in the second McLaren ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes and Daniel Ricciardo of Renault.

Despite the penalty, Hamilton still managed to extend his record run to 41 successive points finishes.

He has a 47-point lead over Bottas in the championship.

Hamilton also had the fastest lap of the race on Sunday as he finished ahead of Esteban Ocon in the second Renault, Daniil Kvyat in the second Alpha Tauri and Sergio Perez in the second Racing Point.

Ferrari endured another torrid weekend with last year's winner from pole position Charles Leclerc walking away after surviving a high-speed crash that led to the decisive 25-minute red-flag interruption.

Four-time champion Vettel, who is leaving Ferrari after this season, retired after a brakes failure while Max Verstappen of Red Bull also retired with engine problems.

On a sunlit afternoon in the old royal park, conditions were perfect — with an air temperature of 28 degrees and the track at 45 — as the lights went out and Hamilton sped clear from his record 94th pole position.

Behind him, Bottas struggled to depart and dropped to sixth on the opening lap as Sainz and Norris took second and third.

Verstappen also had a poor start and fell from fifth to eighth.

Ferrari's miseries, especially those of Vettel, were exposed on lap six when he pulled up at the first chicane with brake failure, smashing through the signage on the run-off area. 

His left rear brake was ablaze seconds earlier.

A safety car was deployed on lap 20 when Kevin Magnussen pulled up close to the pit lane entry. 

Hamilton pitted immediately from the lead, but Sainz and the rest, bar Giovinazzi, stayed out - their teams obeying a signal that the pit lane was closed. Hamilton missed it. 

This left Sainz in the lead for McLaren before the pit lane reopened — Magnussen's Haas car having been pushed to safety — and both Sainz and Norris pitted.

Hamilton led, but was aware he faced a possible penalty, before the safety car came in on lap 23. 

Stroll, who had not pitted, was second behind him, the McLarens having stopped.

Then, two laps later, Leclerc crashed at close to 260km/h at the Parabolica, hitting the barriers heavily. 

He was severely shaken, but climbed out and jogged back to the pits.

By then, Giovinazzi had his 10-second stop-go penalty, a sanction repeated for Hamilton as the race was red-flagged to a halt for repairs to the tyre barriers.

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