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The 2019 Italian Grand Prix was Formula 1 at its best – at least for the first 41 laps. Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton didn't trade the lead once, but from the moment the race started until the Mercedes driver's mistake on the brakes at Turn 1 on lap 42 through to Valtteri Bottas's late chase, it was a race on a knife edge. Tense, tight, briefly explosive and relentless, it had echoes of the legendary Michael Schumacher versus Fernando Alonso battles at Imola in 2005-6.
For 63 minutes, Leclerc could not let up. Save for the two laps on which first the Ferrari driver and then Hamilton pitted, there was never more than 1.589 seconds between them at the end of the lap. On average, the gap at the line was just 0.951s. Leclerc's first win at Spa the weekend before might have been the breakthrough, but it was his victory at Monza under the most intense pressure from one of grand prix racing's true greats that signalled he has come of age in a race where teammate Sebastian Vettel made yet another costly error.
OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences.
With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...
OPINION: With Valtteri Bottas already signed up for 2022, all eyes are on the race for the second seat at Alfa Romeo next year. Antonio Giovinazzi is the current incumbent, but faces a tough competition from appealing short and long-term prospects
OPINION: Daniel Ricciardo has long been considered one of Formula 1's elite drivers. But his struggles at McLaren since switching from Renault for 2021 have been painful to watch at times. Yet he's recovered to banish those memories with a famous Monza win – built on a critically important foundation
The clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was the major flashpoint the 2021 Italian Grand Prix will be remembered for. Yet by this point, race leader Daniel Ricciardo had already done the hard work that would put him in position to end his and McLaren's lengthy win droughts, on a memorable afternoon in Monza
For the second time in 2021, McLaren will line up for the start of a grand prix from the first row. It knows it has the chance of "glory" if things go well for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris at the start of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, but even if they just maintain their grid positions, signs from the rest of the Monza weekend suggest success is very possible for Formula 1's other orange army
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