When Daniel Ricciardo stopped his McLaren on lap 47, it left precious few laps to remove the stricken car and re-set the running order behind the Safety Car. Because of a delay—the car was stuck in gear and couldn’t be quickly removed—the race finished behind the safety car with Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in the lead ahead of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari and George Russell’s Mercedes.
Despite pole position, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was always going to have to try something different in order to keep the quicker Red Bull behind him and Ferrari tried to mix up the strategy a bit in order to have a chance.
In the end, safety car or not, the race most likely would have finished the way it actually finished with both Max and Charles on fresh softs (although Max would have had a new set to Charles’s scrubbed set) with George in 3rd on softs as well. Shockingly that’s how I picked it for my Fantasy GP league which basically got me out of last place.
What is notable is the criticism that Sky Sports commentary team, some team bosses, drivers, booing Tifosi and fans online had for the race director and finishing the race behind the safety car. Yet this is exactly what many were outraged by in Abu Dhabi in 2021 claiming the race should have been finished behind the safety car.
When asked about the Italian GP finishing this way, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was very understanding and said that the rules were followed implying that this is what should have happened in Abu Dhabi. The interesting dichotomy is that when asked the same question, Red Bull boss Christian Horner dutifully suggested they had plenty of time to restart the race and that racing shouldn’t finish behind a safety car when the FIA has time to get it restarted. He said the error of picking up George Russell instead of Max, the leader at the time, was part of the issue and misstep by the FIA.
A win for Red Bull and Max Verstappen—who has never been on the Italian podium before—to take the home race for Ferrari. Red Bull were quicker all weekend but not at the level they were in Belgium and this gave Ferrari a little hope. Despite a grid penalty for Max, he quickly regained the positions and took the lead with pace in hand. This leaves Max with a mathematical chance of clinching the title in Singapore in two weeks time.
A win for Ferrari. I know, they didn’t win but Carlos Sainz had a heck of run from the back of the grid to the front finishing P4. Charles wasn’t the quicker car so they had to try some different strategy and the Virtual Safety Car session as well s the actual safety car session didn’t help matters for him. Still he hung on to P2 minimizing the damage.
A win for George Russell who continues to be the consistent force at Mercedes. Despite a set of Hard compound tires that weren’t working for him, he still managed to hang on to the podium and decrease the points lead that Sergio Perez has over him in the driver’s championship.
A win for Lando Norris who was ahead of the Alpine’s and McLaren definitely need the points in their battle for best-of-the-rest. Lando delivered while Daniel retired.
A big win for Nyck de Vries who got thrown into the Williams to substitute for an ailing Alex Albon at the last minute. Nyck had no practice, jumped in, made it to Q3 and brought home two points in P9 on his F1 debut.
A fail for Ferrari who still didn’t have the pace to take the fight to Red Bull at their home race despite having pole position. Charles and Carlos drove well but in hindsight, one wonders if their Plan C or Plan B was really the best strategy. Certainly had there not been any safety cars, virtual or otherwise, running Soft, Medium with a lot of the race left was always going to be a tall order. It’s not fair to be too harsh as there were limited options on a track like Monza and with Carlos running out of position.
A fail for Aston Martin with both cars suffering a DNF and also for Alpine with Fernando Alonso retiring with a DNF and Esteban Ocon down in P11.
A fail for Haas F1 and Kevin Magnussen finished last with a 5s penalty and Mick Schumacher only able to finish P12.
A fail for Valtteri Bottas who finished down in P13 while his teammate, the guy fighting for his seat in the form of Zho Guanyu, finished up in the points in P10. Not quite sure what Valtteri is struggling with lately but he’s seemed to have gone off the boil.
A fail for Yuki Tsunoda who finished P14 while his teammate, Pierre Gasly, finished in 8th. To be fair, Yuki started at the back of the grid and his Hard compound pace just wasn’t there.
The late safety car is going to be what everyone is teeth-gnashing and robe-ripping about this week. The reality is, there was tremendous outrage for not finishing the Abu Dhabi race behind the safety car and yet with similar situation at Monza, included lapped cars…a lot of them, people were outraged that the race finished behind the safety car. If I’m honest, you folks need to pick a lane.
Races aren’t good or bad because they did or didn’t finish the way you want them too. What happened at Monza is exactly what the FIA were trying to avoid in Abu Dhabi and what the FIA understands now is that fans don’t like either result.
Italian GP Results:
|Pos||Name||Car||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||53||34||1h20m27.511s||1m24.745s||2||25|
|4||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||53||0||+5.061s||1m24.446s||2||12|
|6||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||53||0||+6.091s||1m24.03s||2||9|
|8||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri-Red Bull||53||0||+6.396s||1m26.718s||1||4|
|9||Nyck de Vries||Williams-Mercedes||53||0||+7.122s||1m26.624s||1||2|
|10||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||53||0||+7.91s||1m26.361s||1||1|
|13||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||52||0||+1 lap||1m25.706s||1||0|
|14||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Red Bull||52||0||+1 lap||1m26.857s||1||0|
|15||Nicholas Latifi||Williams-Mercedes||52||0||+1 lap||1m26.798s||2||0|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||Haas-Ferrari||52||0||+1 lap||1m26.798s||2||0|
|Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||38||0||DNF||1m27.467s||2||0|
|Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin-Mercedes||10||0||DNF||1m27.501s||0||0|