BEIJING, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) — Daniel Ricciardo ended McLaren’s nine-year win drought with a hugely popular victory in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, as title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen dramatically collided once again in the 2021 Formula One season.

The two title protagonists had narrowly avoided making contact on lap one, as Hamilton took to the escape road at the Roggia chicane while challenging Verstappen for second place and fell to fourth behind the McLaren of Lando Norris.

After a slow pit stop on lap 24, Verstappen bore down on Hamilton as the Briton exited the pits two laps later, but the two collided as they exited the Rettifilo chicane, pitching Verstappen’s Red Bull on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes and ending both their races.

Having taken the lead from Verstappen at the start from second on the grid, Ricciardo drove a faultless race to take his first win since leaving Red Bull in 2018, and McLaren’s first since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.

“Wow. To lead literally from start to finish, I don’t think anyone expected that,” said Ricciardo, who also took the bonus point for fastest lap.

“There was something in me on Friday. I knew something good was to come. To not only win, but get a one-two – it’s insane. For a McLaren to be on the podium is great, let alone a one-two.”

Ricciardo’s teammate Lando Norris scored his best ever F1 result with second place, ensuring a perfect weekend for McLaren that goes a long way to securing the Woking squad’s third place in the constructors’ standings.

Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez finished third on the road, but was demoted to fifth after a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits while overtaking, ensuring that Valtteri Bottas took the final podium place after starting last following an engine change.

Behind the top three, Charles Leclerc took fourth for Ferrari, ahead of Perez and teammate Carlos Sainz. Lance Stroll finished a solid seventh for Aston Martin, with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso eighth, the Williams of George Russell ninth, and Alonso’s teammate Esteban Ocon rounding out the top ten.

Though the day belonged to Ricciardo and McLaren, the aftermath of the race will likely be dominated by the fallout from another incident between Hamilton and Verstappen, after a previous collision at the British Grand Prix had seen the Dutchman sent into the barriers at high speed.

Hamilton’s retirement was notably the first time the Briton had failed to finish a race since the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix.

Despite not scoring, Verstappen may well leave Monza the happier of the two title protagonists after their double retirement, with Mercedes generally having been stronger than Red Bull at the Italian circuit since the start of F1’s current turbo-hybrid era in 2014.

Verstappen and Hamilton remain first and second in the F1 drivers’ championship with 226.5 and 221.5 points respectively. Bottas stays third with 126 points.

In the constructors’ standings, Mercedes remain in front with 347.5 points, with Red Bull second on 334.5 and McLaren leapfrogging Ferrari to sit third with 181.5 points.

The next race of the 2021 Formula One season is the Russian Grand Prix on September 26.