Sunday, September 20, 2020
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Gasly wins Italian GP after Hamilton penalty

Italian Grand Prix
Next Sunday’s Toscana Grand Prix is live on 5 Live and the BBC Sport website

Pierre Gasly took a stunning upset win in the Italian Grand Prix for Red Bull’s Alpha Tauri team in one of the most remarkable races in history.

Lewis Hamilton was dominating until he was penalised for being called in for a stop when the pit lane was closed.

Two safety cars in quick succession mixed up the order and Gasly took the lead after Hamilton served his penalty.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz closed him down but the Frenchman just held him off to take his first grand prix victory.

Hamilton fought back from last place, 18 seconds off the back of the pack, to seventh, just two places behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

How on earth did that happen?

Pierre Gasly on the podium at Monza
“How did we do that!” Gasly cried over the team radio after his race win

Gasly’s win sealed an amazing turnaround in fortunes for the likeable 24-year-old, who just over a year ago was demoted from the senior Red Bull team to what was Toro Rosso and was renamed over the winter.

Gasly has been outstanding ever since, including taking a second place in Brazil last year, and few will begrudge him this win.

It is the junior team’s second grand prix victory – their first also coming at Monza, with Sebastian Vettel in 2008.

But it was a cruel twist of fortune for Sainz, who had been running in a superb second place to Hamilton and should have been in a position to benefit from the world champion’s penalty.

But the timing of the pit stops around two mid-race safety cars effectively ended Sainz’s hopes.

He, along with all the leaders, pitted during the first safety-car period, triggered by a breakdown for Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.

Pierre Gasly pays tribute to Anthoine Hubert
It’s been an emotional year for Gasly after the Frenchman lost his close friend, F2 driver Anthoine Hubert, who died in a crash at Spa in 2019

This was when Mercedes made the error that cost Hamilton his 90th grand prix win, calling him in as soon as the safety car was thrown and not noticing that race director Michael Masi had closed the pit lane because marshals were dealing with Magnussen’s car close to the entry.

Gasly had made his stop a couple of laps before the first safety car so did not stop again, and this promoted him to third behind Hamilton and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll for a mixed-up field at the restart.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was soon into fourth place, passing both Alfa Romeo cars into the first chicane on the first lap of racing, but the Monegasque then lost control at the Parabolica and crashed heavily, causing the race to be reflagged for repairs to be made to the barriers.

The race was restarted with a standing start with Hamilton ahead of Stroll, Gasly, the Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi and Sainz.

Hamilton finally has a bad race

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton said he took responsibility for the 10-second stop-go penalty

Hamilton missed the pre-race anti-racism demonstration because of a timing mix-up following his return to the garage for a pre-race comfort break, and once the race started, what had been looking like a routine win turned on its head on Mercedes’ fateful decision.

The race surrendered to him at the start, when Bottas was slow away and had a dreadful first lap, passed by car after car as he slipped down to sixth place.

From then on, Hamilton was untouchable until Mercedes made their mistake.

Hamilton went to see the stewards during the stoppage to check the penalty was fair. He took the restart from pole, but stopped at the end of the first lap, and his penalty demoted him to last.

He soon started lapping three seconds faster than anyone else and caught the field in no time, scything past car after car for a useful haul of points.

Bottas, his car struggling with overheating and uncertain handling in right-hand corners, could not make progress and became stuck behind other cars all race.

His fifth place moves him ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the championship after the Dutchman retired with collision damage, but Hamilton is 47 points ahead – almost two clear wins – with the season close to its halfway point.

Stroll threw away his opportunity for a maiden win with a poor start, and Gasly moved into second behind Hamilton, who pitted at the end of the first lap of racing to serve his penalty.

Sainz then fought past Stroll into Turn One at the start of the second lap but took another four laps to catch and pass Raikkonen, by which time Gasly had a four-second lead.

The Spaniard closed that down to be right on his tail at the start of the last lap but Gasly managed to hold him off.

He is the first Frenchman to win a race since Olivier Panis won the Monaco Grand Prix for Ligier in similarly unlikely circumstances in 1996.

Driver of the day

Carlos Sainz
Perhaps it seems churlish not to give it to Gasly on his day of days, but Sainz deserves it for a superb race after a brilliant qualifying lap to take third place on the grid.

What happens next?

Another race in Italy next weekend – this time the Tuscany Grand Prix, also named for Ferrari’s 1,000th race. It is a prospect to savour on a new track to F1. Mugello is renowned as a challenging, fast and flowing circuit and all the drivers are looking forward to it.

Romain Grosjean and Charles Leclerc congratulate Pierre Gasly
Grosjean and Leclerc went straight over to Gasly to congratulate the Frenchman on his victory
Alpha Tauri celebrate with Pierre Gasly
“I’ve been through so much in the space of 18 months, my first podium last year and now the win in Monza!”
Sebastian Vettel
Alpha Tauri’s last win, when they were Toro Rosso, was at Monza – Vettel’s first career victory – in 2008. Hamilton finished seventh that day as well, for McLaren. Source: Forix
Sainz, Gasly and Stroll on the podium
For the first time this season there was no Mercedes driver on the podium


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