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Max Verstappen second in sprint for GP Italy: 'Better than expected'

Published on 11 September 2021 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen finished second in the sprint race for the Italian Grand Prix. The Dutchman moved up one place as the lights went out because of a bad start from Lewis Hamilton, and did not give up the position during the rest of the race. Valtteri Bottas took pole position by finishing first, but will not be able to enjoy that for much longer. The Mercedes driver will have to start the race from the back because of an engine change. That also means that Max – who increased his lead to Lewis Hamilton in the championship with two points – will start the Grand Prix from first place on the grid. Daniel Ricciardo for McLaren completed the top three.

“It is amazing to be here and to see all the Italian fans again”, says a pleased Verstappen after the race. “They are incredibly passionate about motor sport in general, so good to see them. The race went better than expected. We had a good start up to second position. We scored some nice points and of course we will be starting from pole position tomorrow.”

Max does not get ahead of himself: “Mercedes still seem very quick, I was giving it all to try and stay close. It is going to be an interesting battle tomorrow. We did trim our car and have a decent top speed, I am not too worried about that in the race. Of course we also know that Mercedes have a very good pace over a whole lap. Nevertheless we are going to try and have a good race tomorrow.”

The lights go green just after half past four for the eighteen lap sprint to the finish. Max Verstappen has a good start and moves past Lewis Hamilton. The Brit has a bad start and falls back behind both McLarens and the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly. The latter comes into contact with Daniel Ricciardo in turn one and damages his front wing. When Gasly turns into the Curva Grande, his front wing breaks off and the Frenchman ends in the gravel against the tyre barrier. Gasly gets out of the car unharmed, but race control decides to get the safety car out so the damaged AlphaTauri can be recovered.

With fifteen laps to go the race is restarted. Valtteri Bottas is smart about the restart and stays in the lead ahead of Verstappen. Behind them the top six is formed by Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc. The gap between Max and Bottas fluctuates around the two seconds. Norris defends against Hamilton who tries to limit the damage of his bad start. The gap between the two is after eight laps still less than a second.

Hamilton does not succeed in passing Norris and finishes the sprint race outside of the points. Valtteri Bottas wins and takes pole position, which he will lose tomorrow because of the grid penalty for changing his engine. Max who finished second will start tomorrow from pole. Daniel Ricciardo finished third and takes the final point.

Contest Italian GP: win a by Max Verstappen signed 1:2 scale model 2020 helmet!

Results sprint qualifying Italy:

1Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1827:54.0783
2Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda18+2.325s2
3Daniel RicciardoRICMcLaren Mercedes18+14.534s1
4Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes18+18.835s0
5Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes18+20.011s0
6Charles LeclercLECFerrari18+23.442s0
7Carlos SainzSAIFerrari18+27.952s0
8Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari18+31.089s0
9Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda18+31.680s0
10Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes18+38.671s0
11Fernando AlonsoALOAlpine Renault18+39.795s0
12Sebastian VettelVETAston Martin Mercedes18+41.177s0
13Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault18+43.373s0
14Nicholas LatifiLATWilliams Mercedes18+45.977s0
15George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes18+46.821s0
16Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda18+49.977s0
17Nikita MazepinMAZHaas Ferrari18+62.599s0
18Robert KubicaKUBAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari18+65.096s0
19Mick SchumacherMSCHaas Ferrari18+66.154s0
0Pierre GaslyGASAlphaTauri Honda0DNF0