Pierre Gasly has proven Mercedes are vulnerable in Formula 1 as he resisted Carlos Sainz in the dying laps to pull off an extraordinary Italian Grand Prix victory.
The result came courtesy of a stop-go penalty for Lewis Hamilton who pitted under the Safety Car while the pitlane was closed.
Kevin Magnussen had parked his ill Haas on the exit of the final corner with Race Control immediately onto the call to close the pitlane. However, Hamilton dove into the lane unaware of the closure for a fresh set of tyres.
He had established a 15-second lead in the first part of the race and appeared to be cruising to victory as his teammate Valtteri Bottas slumped from second to sixth in a dismal opening lap. Sainz ran second ahead of Lando Norris with Gasly down in tenth.
But after the Safety Car was deployed, all of the field but Hamilton and Antonio Giovinazzi respected the rules and came in the following lap once the Haas had been recovered by the marshals.
That led to an extremely jumbled restart order with Hamilton leading but under investigation and Lance Stroll running second having not pitted at all.
Gasly had benefitted from pitting just before the Safety Car to leapfrog himself to third, ahead of his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, Charles Leclerc and Nicholas Latifi who all ran the same strategy.
Leclerc looked feisty in his Ferrari, dispatching Raikkonen and Giovinazzi but then suffered a wild snap of oversteering at the Parabolica turn and he careened heavily into the tyre barrier.
The race was red flagged to repair the damage to the barrier and it meant Ferrari suffered a double DNF at their home Grand Prix with Sebastian Vettel retiring in the first few laps with a brake failure.
The restart took place with the grid now aware of Hamilton’s sentence of a 10-second stop-go penalty which he took the very next lap, dropping to last.
Once Perez had pitted, Gasly led Raikkonen and Sainz, with the McLaren demoting the Alfa Romeo to third with 19 laps to go.
He then zeroed in on Galsy, closing to within a second of the Frenchman on the final lap. But Gasly had just enough in hand to take a remarkable first F1 win by 0.415s, 12 years since Toro Rosso won their maiden Grand Prix with Sebastian Vettel at the same venue.
Raikkonen slipped right back from the restart to finish 13th but it meant the final podium position was awarded to Stroll.
Norris finished fourth in the second McLaren, resisting the muted Bottas, while Hamilton made it back through to seventh.
Max Verstappen had a woeful day at the office when he retired after the restart with a lack in car pace while his teammate Alex Albon finished 15th following a Turn 1 clash.
|Carlos Sainz Jr.