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Daniel Ricciardo’s eighth career win might just go down as his greatest

13/09/21

The Aussie wins drama-fuelled Italian Grand Prix

“This is for Team Papaya” said Daniel Ricciardo in his post-race interview as he celebrated alongside teammate Lando Norris who crossed the line in second place. The stunning one-two finish for McLaren ends a nine-year hiatus from the top step of the podium and is the only one-two of any team in 2022.

The Australian looked comfortable all weekend in his McLaren, a solid P9 in the first practice session of the weekend was followed by P5 in Qualifying and most importantly, his pace had the Australian optimistic about his chances of finishing less than three one-hundredths behind Max Verstappen in P3.


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From there, things seemed to fall into place for the Australian.

A nightmare start from Lewis Hamilton in Sprint Qualifying saw Ricciardo leapfrog both Hamilton and Norris to move up into P3 by the time he reached Curva Grande which is where he would finish the Saturday afternoon session. A grid penalty from Valtteri Bottas meant Ricciardo would line up for Sunday’s race in P2 alongside his former Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, his first front row start since leaving Red Bull at the end of the 2018 season.

In a race that will be remembered for a dramatic Lap 25 incident between title protagonists Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, Dan Ricciardo literally led from start to finish.

Once the lights went out on Sunday, Ricciardo controlled the race.

Verstappen got away cleanly in P1, but not as well as Ricciardo who quickly moved up alongside Verstappen before moving ahead as they exited the first chicane to lead a race for the first time since Abu Dhabi in 2018.

By Lap 10, Ricciardo was maintaining his lead of around one second from Verstappen with the Dutch driver audibly complaining on team radio that it was hard to get close to his former teammate. Meanwhile, Lando Norris in third place ensured there was a two-car gap between Ricciardo out in front and Hamilton in fourth.

Verstappen pulled into the pits on Lap 23, a lap after Ricciardo for his stop, but was held for 11.1s by a slow right-front wheel. Hamilton then pitted on Lap 24, a 4.2s stop meaning he exited the pits alongside Verstappen setting up what would become the defining moment of the 2022 Italian Grand Prix.

Contact between Hamilton and Verstappen left the 50% capacity crowd in Monza stunned and with the two quickest cars on track out, all eyes turned to Ricciardo

With the field bunched up again behind a race neutralized Safety Car, it was Ricciardo who nailed the restart where he’d be able to hold front spot for the remaining 22 laps of the race.

With ten laps to go and Norris in second place and within DRS range of Ricciardo, the Brit asked the question of his garage who was told explicitly not to attack his teammate and compromise a historic one-two finish for the team.


When the two papaya cars crossed the line, you only had to listen to team radio to understand what this meant to the entire garage.

“Crazy, what an awesome day!” said Ricciardo immediately after the race.

“We really set the tone from the start of the weekend. I think anyone that’s seen the demeanour this weekend, they’re not surprised.”

The win capped a historic night for fans of Australian motorsport, with up and comer Oscar Piastri taking line honours in the earlier F2 race, meaning Australians were on the top step at Monza in both classifications.

The win sees Daniel Ricciardo move clear of Pierre Gasley into eighth in the Driver Standings and sees McLaren move clear of Ferrari into outright third in the Constructor’s Championship.

With no points awarded to either Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton, the Dutch driver maintains his narrow five-point advantage with eight races remaining in the 2021 season.


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