The Italian Grand Prix is known as the Temple of Speed and it is the home race for Ferrari. As tradition would predict, it was once again the Italian national anthem playing at the end of the race. Unfortunately it wasn’t for a red Ferrari.
Mercedes were trimmed out for downforce, relying on the shove of their dominant engine, but that made it difficult to pass on the long straights and along with a couple Safety Car period, their race went pear-shaped quickly.
In the end, the Italian team of Alpha Tauri took their first win of 2020—and first since 2008 with Sebastian Vettel—in the hands of Pierre Gasly and while the attrition, red flags, safety car periods all played into his hands, the team and Pierre capitalized on the opportunity to take victory ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll.
Huge win for Pierre Gasly who was jettisoned from the Red Bull team late last season but he has turned that demotion into motivation in 2020 and his consistency and terrific performances put him in a position to take his first win. A big win for the team who made the right strategy call and put Pierre and Daniil both in the points. At this points, given Albon’s struggles, many in the paddock are asking about swapping Alex and Pierre again.
A win for Carlos Sainz and McLaren for a brilliant 2nd place and a 4th place for Lando Norris. Lance Stroll’s free tire change may have cost Lando a podium but the rules are the rules. For Carlos, he needed one more lap as he was bearing down on Gasly on the final lap and clearly had more pace but ran out of time. Still, a big points haul for best-of-the-rest in the constructor’s championship run.
A win for Racing Point and Lance Stroll for a podium finish. Lance was the benefactor of being able to change his tires during a red flag session and that assisted but in fairness, Lance over-cooked the first lap after the restart and created his own drama giving up a good portion of his advantage.
A fail for Mercedes who had the front row locked out, car trimmed for higher downforce—banking on their superior shove—and Lewis ready to take another Italian GP win. None of that came to fruition as Valtteri Bottas had a bad start, struggled all day to pass anyone and said he had several issues he was managing that compromised his race. Lewis ignored a closed pit lane and suffered a stop/go penalty and spent the rest of the day in a nice recovery drive. Did the ban on “Party Mode” Hurt them? Conventional theory is that is hasn’t.
A fail for Renault who did so well in Belgium but weren’t able to beat their customer team in Italy. Ricciardo took a nice 6th with Ocon in 8th but with both McLaren’s ahead of them, that cold comfort.
A fail for Sergio Perez who came home in 10th but wasn’t Abel to run up front with his teammate and while strategy, flag and safety car timing didn’t help him, he was clinging on to a single point while his teammate, Stroll, was on the podium.
A big fail for Red Bull who took the win with their junior team but were unable to make a race of it with the big team. Max Verstappen’s retirement and Alex Albon’s 15th place finish was just book ends for a miserable weekend. Some suspect the “Party Mode” ban is actually hurting them more than Mercedes.
A big fail for Ferrari who qualified the worst they have done since 1984 and then both cars exited the race. A brake failure for Sebastian Vettel and a wicked crash by Charles Leclerc due to driver error. Thankfully he walked away from that massive shunt. Ferrari’s chassis, designed for last year’s engine with massive power, was simply too anemic for the Temple of Speed.
I am not sure what Valtteri Bottas was struggling with all day but his slow start, inability to make progress and lack of pace after the restart was befuddling.
While the broadcast was focused on Lewis Hamilton and his trundling at the back of the grid while the action happened up front, it was a good recovery drive given the struggle the Mercedes cars were having in the slipstream with heat and their difficulty in passing. Lewis did convert his misfortune into a points finish and that’s to be commended but what were we seeing with the Mercedes pace, trim and heat issues?
While it was great to see the paddock pay tribute to Claire Williams, I do wish Sir Frank could have made it to the race for a formal send off. IT’s the kind of thing he probably isn’t a big fan of but with the love the fans have for the team, it would have been good to see. Great to see the paddock pay their tributes to Claire and it must have been emotionally difficult for her to be sure.
There was a part of me that was hoping Kimi Raikkonen could have stayed in the top 3 to make it two Italian teams on the podium but he sank backwards to come home in 13th unfortunately.
Key Moment per Pirelli:
- AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly took his debut win at Monza using all three compounds brought by Pirelli. The red flag on lap 26 meant that all the drivers could change tyres in the pits, so effectively, the Italian Grand Prix boiled down to a 27-lap sprint race, which re-started at 16:20 local time.
- Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, who finished third, effectively gained a ‘free’ pit stop, as he was the only driver not to stop before the red flag came out.
- Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton led the race from pole, but was handed a 10 second stop-and-go penalty, which he served immediately after the race re-started. On Yellow medium tyres, he re-started first, emerged at the back after his penalty, and eventually ended up seventh with the White hard.
- A number of different tyre strategies were already seen before the red flag, but when the race was re-started, there was an equally wide selection of tyres used: with all three compounds chosen for the re-start. However, the top six at the finish all selected the medium tyre for the second half of the race.
- There were no further pit stops following the re-start, even for the drivers who had chosen the Red soft tyre (used by Renault’s Esteban Ocon to finish eighth).
- Weather conditions remained dry and warm, with 30 degrees ambient and 41 degrees centigrade at the re-start.
“This is amazing! I’m lost for words! It’s unbelievable! I’ve been through so many things in the past 18 months and it’s better than anything I expected. I focused hard when I re-joined Scuderia AlphaTauri. Day by day, race by race, we improved ourselves and got stronger and stronger – this team gave me my first podium in F1 last year in Brazil and today, these guys gave me my first win in Formula 1, in Italy, in Monza, with an Italian team. I’m not someone who gives up on anything, I always fought for everything in my life until I made it to F1. Today it was a great day! When I was fighting the last few laps to keep P1, I knew how gutted I would have been if I had lost it, I wouldn’t have been happy with P2. I gave it everything I had – it was difficult – I pushed hard at the start of the stint to not give anyone the slipstream behind, then the last five laps were so intense, I almost shunted 10 times… I was pushing so hard! My tyres were gone but I wanted that win so much, it still feels weird to say I’m an F1 race winner. A big thanks to all of these guys here at the track and at the factory, in Faenza and Bicester, it’s a great day for them too. Most of them are Italian and the HQ is in Faenza, Italy, so to win the Italian Grand Prix is amazing. Thank you all.”
|2||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren/Renault||0.415s|
|3||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||3.358s|
|10||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||23.224s|
|13||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||36.312s|
|15||Alexander Albon||Red Bull/Honda||37.533s|
|16||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||55.199s|
|–||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||Power Unit|
|–||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||Spun off|