Monza (Italy), Sep 11 (SocialNews.XYZ) Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who were demoted five places because of grid penalties, fought back to win his first Italian Grand Prix on Sunday as the race ended behind the safety car.
Pole-sitter Charles Leclerc finished runner-up as Red Bull denied Ferrari a home victory at Monza while Mercedes driver George Russell, who started the race third, finished third.
"We had a great race. We had a really good race car and we were controlling the gap and then the Safety Car came out. Unfortunately, we didn't get a restart," Verstappen said after the race.
While Verstappen was elated with his win, Leclerc was disappointed after losing a chance to win Ferrari's home Grand Prix.
"The end was frustrating. I wish we could have ended up racing. It's a shame. I gave it all. I wish I could have won in front of the amazing Tifosi," he said.
Verstappen got into top gear soon after the start and surged into the second position, overtaking Russell.
After the paddock paid their respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II, the mixed-up grid lined up behind Leclerc and Russell, both eschewing the general consensus of medium tyres to begin on new softs along with Verstappen, Williams' debutant Nyck de Vries, and Alpine's Esteban Ocon.
From P7 on the grid, Verstappen made it into the top three by Lap 4 and took P2 off Russell a lap later. The Dutchman then led as, during a Virtual Safety Car (for Sebastian Vettel's DNF on Lap 12), Leclerc pitted from softs to mediums, said a report on the F1 website.
Verstappen extended his first stint and swapped for mediums on Lap 26, relinquishing the lead back to Leclerc, who then pitted a second time for soft tyres on Lap 33.
The Monegasque driver had a tyre advantage over Verstappen, but a 20-second deficit to claw back by Lap 53. The Dutchman seemed assured of a comfortable victory until a Safety Car on Lap 48, for the stationary McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo. That allowed the top five to pit for softs anticipating a restart.
Ricciardo's car seemed immovable, however, and the ticker reached Lap 53 and the chequered flag with the field behind the Safety Car -- giving Verstappen a slim but altogether comfortable victory over Leclerc and allowing Russell to retain the final podium place.
From P18, Ferrari's Carlos Sainz made it to the podium spots with a long first stint on medium tyres, but fell to P4 after pitting, and ended up behind Russell. Lewis Hamilton declined to pit under the late Safety Car and finished fifth for Mercedes ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez, who pitted early for hard tyres and ended up settling for sixth and fastest lap, having started 13th.
Lando Norris finished seventh for McLaren, having started on the second row, with Pierre Gasly taking eighth for AlphaTauri. That left Williams' Nyck de Vries ninth for Williams on his first-ever Grand Prix appearance, the Dutchman also taking Driver of the Day honours.
Rounding out the top 10 was Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu, with Ocon missing out on points.
Verstappen thus took his points tally to 335, the Red Bull driver leading Ferrari's Leclerc (219) by 116 points.
Red Bull's second driver Sergio Perez is third with 210 points with George Russell of Mercedes a close fourth with 203 points.