IMAGE: Race winner Pierre Gasly of France and Scuderia AlphaTauri is congratulated by third placed Lance Stroll of Canada. Photograph: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
France's Pierre Gasly won an astonishing Italian Grand Prix thriller for Italy-based AlphaTauri, on Sunday, in a topsy-turvy race packed with suspense and none of the usual top teams on the podium.
McLaren's Spaniard Carlos Sainz finished a close second at Monza after a nail-biting chase to the flag, with Racing Point's Lance Stroll third on a podium of youngsters.
Mercedes's championship leader Lewis Hamilton finished seventh after starting on pole and dropping to last following a 10-second stop/go penalty for entering the pit lane under a red light while leading.
Despite the setback, the six-times world champion retained his 47-point lead at the top -- now over team mate Valtteri Bottas, who was fifth, after Red Bull's Max Verstappen retired.
Hamilton has 164 points after eight races to Bottas's 117 and Verstappen's 110.
It was the first time since 2013, when Kimi Raikkonen triumphed with Lotus in Australia, that a team other than Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull had won a race.
"It's unbelievable," gasped Gasly, who was dropped by Red Bull's main team last year but has come on in strides in the strangest of seasons disrupted by COVID-19 and without spectators. "It was such a crazy race and we capitalised on it.
"I've been through so much in 18 months, I struggle to realise this."
The victory was a first in F1 for Gasly, the first for a French driver since Olivier Panis in 1996 and the second for the former Toro Rosso team whose only other win was also at Monza with Sebastian Vettel in 2008.
"I was so close but yet so far," said Sainz, who had also dreamed of taking his first win before joining Ferrari next year. "I needed one more lap."
The race had to be stopped at the halfway mark after Ferrari's Charles Leclerc crashed heavily into the tyre wall at Parabolica.
Leclerc's team mate Sebastian Vettel had already retired with brake failure and the chances of hearing the Italian anthem on the podium had appeared to be nil up to that point.
The standing restart from the grid, and Hamilton's penalty that left the Briton having to make up a 30-second deficit, set up a thrilling 17-car sprint and a glimpse of what a reverse-grid race might look like.
Racing Point drop appeal against F1 brake ducts penalty
Photograph: Kind courtesy Racing Point F1/Twitter
Renault, who made the original protest, had already withdrawn their appeal -- leaving only Ferrari still taking action.
In a statement ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Racing Point welcomed "much-needed clarification of the rules on listed and non-listed parts" by the governing FIA.
The team also noted that the stewards and all parties involved in the appeals process had recognised a lack of clarity in the regulations and that there was no deliberate intention to break them.
"Now that the ambiguity around the regulations has been settled, we have decided to withdraw our appeal in the wider interests of the sport," the team added.
Racing Point said the matter had been a distraction and that it looked forward to focusing on racing with Canadian Lance Stroll, son of owner Lawrence, and Mexican Sergio Perez.
The team, whose 2020 car is a close copy of last year's Mercedes, have been allowed to continue competing without having to redesign the offending parts.($1 = 0.8447 euros)
Renault to be renamed Alpine F1 from 2021 season
The Renault Formula One team will be renamed Alpine F1 from 2021, competing in French colours to showcase the carmaker's sportscar brand, new company CEO Luca de Meo announced on Sunday.
Alpine has a strong motorsport pedigree, in rallying and endurance racing, but has not previously featured in Formula One as a constructor. The Renault name will remain on the car as the engine provider.
"Starting from next year we will be racing with the Alpine brand," De Meo told reporters ahead of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
"The car will be representing the historical colours of French motoring with the blue and Tricolore."
Loss-making Renault last week announced a new organisational structure focused on four divisions rather than geographical regions, with Renault F1 team principal Cyril Abiteboul overseeing Alpine.
The Renault group revived the Alpine brand and its two-seater models in 2017, updating a classic design which hit a peak in the 1960s and 70s.
Pricier models like the Alpine could help improve the group’s longer term profitability, with De Meo saying last week that Renault's 'centre of gravity' had to be more upmarket.
"We will use Formula One as a platform to market a brand that we want to develop," he said on Sunday.
"Even if Renault is a glorious brand, the fit within the Formula One world of Alpine can be even better," added De Meo. "I believe that Formula One should be a championship of constructors with brands that make people dream."
The carmaker has committed to Formula One until at least 2025 after signing a new commercial agreement.
Formula One is also introducing a $145 million budget cap next year.
The 2021 Alpine team will feature Spain's Fernando Alonso, returning to a team where he was a double world champion more than a decade ago, and Frenchman Esteban Ocon.
"This change comes at a key moment in the trajectory of the team and the sport," Abiteboul said in a statement.
"The implementation of the budget cap will put an end to the expense race and will allow the signatory teams to be measured for their sporting value. Alpine has its place in Formula One and can challenge for victory."