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Digest: Mid-race crash impacts Italian Gran Prix

Digest: Mid-race crash impacts Italian Gran Prix

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Mid-race crash impacts Italian GPA simmering battle in Formula One erupted in spectacular fashion Sunday as championship leader Max Verstappen and defending champion Lewis Hamilton crashed out of the Italian Grand Prix, in Monza, which was won by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.

As Hamilton and Verstappen fought for position midway through the race, their cars came together in a move that could have seriously injured Hamilton. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff went as far as describing it as “a tactical foul” by Verstappen.

“The stewards will decide who is to blame,” Wolff said. “In football you would call it a tactical foul. He knew that if Lewis stays ahead, then that is the race win.”

The stewards did decide, judging that Verstappen “was predominantly to blame for the collision.” They gave the Red Bull driver a three-place grid drop for the start of the next race, the Russian GP on Sept. 26.

“I’m proud of the stewards,” Hamilton said after learning of the decision. “I need some time to really reflect on it but I think it definitely sets a precedent and I think it’s important for us moving forwards, for the safety of the drivers that there are strict rules set in place.”

Hamilton, who had been outspoken against the protective halo at the front of F1 car cockpits before its introduction in 2018, thinks it might have saved his life on Sunday.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been hit on the head by a car before. It’s quite a shock for me,” added Hamilton, who still sounded distressed several hours after the incident.

Verstappen maintained his championship lead, which he had slightly extended to five points by coming second in the sprint on Saturday.

Ricciardo celebrated McLaren’s first win in nearly nine years in his traditional style, drinking champagne from his shoe. It was Ricciardo’s first win since Monaco in 2018.

Ricciardo finished 1.747 seconds ahead of Great Britain’s Lando Norris for the win.

Funny car win for Johnson in Pennsylvania: Tommy Johnson Jr. won the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals Sunday in Mohnton, Pa., as a substitute driver for Matt Hagan, beating John Force in the Funny Car final in the playoff opener.

With Hagan recovering from COVID-19, Don Schumacher Racing turned their Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat over to the 53-year-old Johnson last week in Indianapolis. On Sunday at Maple Grove Raceway, he beat the 72-year-old Force with a 3.926-second pass at 330.23 mph for his 22nd career Funny Car victory.

“As the day went on, I kept getting more relaxed and by the final round, it was like, ‘Hey there’s nothing to it now,”’ Johnson said.

Sunday’s other winners included Billy Torrence in Top Fuel, Greg Anderson in Pro Stock and Steve Johnson in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Horschel wins European golf event: Billy Horschel felt aggrieved last week at the manner in which he missed out on a place in the U.S. team for the Ryder Cup. So he took down a bunch of leading Europeans by himself.

Horschel birdied Wentworth’s storied 18th hole after an approach shot that spun back to inside 2 feet, securing a closing 7-under 65 and a one-shot victory at the BMW PGA Championship, in Virginia Water, England.

He became only the second American to win what is traditionally regarded as the biggest event on the European Tour, after Arnold Palmer in 1975.

On a dramatic day of twists and turns in the final qualifying event, Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton were able to celebrate getting the final automatic qualifying places in the European team. Westwood made it for an 11th time, Wiesberger for the first.

Horschel’s birdie on No. 18 took him above Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) and Jamie Donaldson (66) to 19-under 269, and left only one player with a chance of beating him. Laurie Canter, a 170th-ranked Englishman playing in the final group, needed an eagle on the par-5 last hole to win or a birdie to force a playoff, but had to lay up after driving into the rough. His third shot settled within about 15 feet and his birdie putt never had a chance, missing to the right.

Canter signed for a 67, tying him for second place.

Associated Press

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