Penalty knocks Verstappen off the podium
He crossed the line third, but a five-second penalty saw Max Verstappen drop to fifth place at the Italian Grand Prix.
A race-long battle with Valtteri Bottas eventually came to a head late in the race when the Dutchman squeezed the Finn into the chicane, clipping the Mercedes and forcing Bottas down the escape road.
While Verstappen held off the Finn until the chequered flag, his ailing pace meant Sebastian Vettel, who dropped down the field after a collision with title rival and eventual race winner Lewis Hamilton on lap 1, was close enough to jump the Red Bull after the penalty was added.
"I think I gave Valtteri enough space on the left so he didn’t need to go off the track," said Verstappen afterwards. "The rule says that as long as you give the other driver a car width space, it should be enough. That’s what I did, but he clipped my wheel at Turn 1 and he had to go straight on. I don’t agree with the penalty, but the decision is taken and we can’t do anything about it.
"Of course after I heard about the penalty I was even more determined to keep my track position. I’ve tried to do the best race I could and I had to fight hard for it as we are so much slower on the straights.
"Before the race I thought fifth would have been the best possible result for us, but after a good start and keeping the Mercedes behind, we were in third position, so I gave it everything."
Meanwhile it was more toil and trouble for Daniel Ricciardo, who retired in a puff of smoke. Destined for Renault next season, the Australian had suffered three engine-related failures in the the previous five races, and even took heavy penalties at Monza and started at the back as the team fitted a new power unit in his car. But Ricciardo believes his issue was with his clutch rather than the fresh engine in the back of the RB14.
He said: "It’s been another frustrating race for me. I passed Stroll and looked in the mirror to see if I was clear of him but I couldn’t see that well. I then realised that was because there was a lot of smoke coming out the back of the car and when I reported it to my engineers they asked me to stop.
"I feared it could have been something to do with the power unit but after we got the car back to the garage and the guys investigated, they suspect it’s a clutch issue.
It’s been a frustrating period of races but hopefully we can change some things on the car, improve the reliability and aim for the podium in Singapore.”