Lewis Hamilton won an unforgett…wait, no, not this time! Pierre Gasly took a shock maiden win in Italy, becoming the first French driver to win a Grand Prix since 1996, when Olivier Paris took the victory for Ligier in Monaco. Gasly finished ahead of Carlos Sainz in the McLaren and Lance Stroll in the racing point, making up a very young and very unexpected podium in Monza!
It started out the same way. Lewis Hamilton led from the start, with Valtteri Bottas yet again failing to attack his teammate and actually drop out of the top five. Sainz and Norris both had good starts in their McLarens, but Max Verstappen dropped down the order after a poor getaway.
It seemed we would be in for yet another boring Grand Prix as we approached lap 20, by which time Hamilton had put 13 seconds between himself and second place man Sainz. Suddenly, however, Kevin Magnussen pulled over in his Haas at the exit of the Parabolica corner, bringing out the safety car. From this point, things got chaotic.
Lewis Hamilton came straight into the pits for a change of tires, with both McLaren’s staying out. Antonio Giovinazzi also pitted in his Alfa Romeo. Both drivers had failed to spot that the pit lane was shut while the Marshalls were recovering Magnussen’s stricken Haas VF-20 (more on that later). The pit lane reopened, with Sainz and Norris both pitting in an impressive double stack for McLaren. Stroll didn’t pit and took P2 behind Hamilton, with Gasly in P3. The Alfa Romeo’s were an impressive 4th and 5th, with Giovinazzi ahead of Raikkonen.
When the race got going again, Hamilton quickly led away from Stroll, but further back LeClerc, who was up into fourth, lost the back end of his Ferrari at the Parabolica and went off and plowed into the wall at high speed. Charles emerged from the wrecked SF1000 unhurt, but it was a nasty looking accident and one that instantly has people stop whatever they’re doing and wait with bated breath to see signs of movement.
The race was red-flagged due to the extensive damage to the barrier and to give the Marshalls time to remove the Ferrari, so the drivers peeled into the pits. Giovinazzi and Hamilton were then handed 10 second stop/go penalties for pitting when the pit lane was closed. Hamilton was livid and furiously scootered his way up to Race Control to complain about the penalty and appeal it, but his protests were waved away, and rightly so. There were clear red lights before the pit entrance on the final corner indicating that the pit was closed. Hamilton duly furiously scootered his way back to his car. No such protest from Giovinazzi though, who just got on with it.
When the race restarted, Hamilton came in to service his penalty, which duly dropped him to the back of the grid, and handed the lead of the race to Pierre Gasly, who absolutely aced his restart. Carlos Sainz moved up into second. It stayed that way until the end of the race, with Hamilton fighting his way back up to seventh by the end of the race. Stroll took his first podium since 2017, with Sainz claiming his for the first time since Brazil last year. Pierre Gasly earned his first race win, and Alpha Tauri’s first win since 2008 when they won at Monza while still under the Toro Rosso name.
Norris picked up a fine fourth in the second McLaren, with Bottas fifth and Ricciardo sixth in the Renault. Lewis Hamilton powered back through the field following his penalty and finished in seventh to limit the damage Bottas could do to his championship lead. Esteban Ocon finished eighth for Renault, with Gasly’s teammate Kvyat in ninth. Sergio Perez rounded out the top ten in the second Racing Point.
There were four retirements in this Grand Prix; Magnussen (whom I would like to thank for being the catalyst for today's results), Charles LeClerc, Max Verstappen, who had engine trouble, and lastly Sebastian Vettel, who had a brake failure in the second Ferrari. Last year, Ferrari won their home Grand Prix. This time, they both ended up out of the race.
Pierre Gasly - Driver Reborn
I wasn’t sure what to make of Gasly last season. His debut year in 2018 was impressive for Toro Rosso, so he was promoted to Red Bull for 2019. A disappointing first half of the season saw him demoted back to Toro Rosso, and it seemed like his days in the sport were numbered. He silenced some critics with a fantastic podium in Brazil last year, and this year he has been arguably one of the drivers of the season. Consistent, quick, and giving Red Bull a serious headache. The man who replaced him, Alex Albon, has been underwhelming this year and finished today's race a long way back in superior machinery. I’ve really grown to like Gasly; he’s matured very quickly and picked himself up and dusted himself off following his demotion last year. Big things are in his future, I’m sure.
Valtteri Bottas… again.
Come on Valtteri, not again. Bottas was only 0.069 seconds slower than Hamilton in qualifying. This gave me some hope of a decent race, knowing that Bottas could match Hamilton’s pace and hopefully give him a good fight. He got away poorly, however, and while Hamilton drove off into the distance, Bottas was left fighting the McLaren’s, Verstappen, and the Racing Points. Another disappointing race for the Finn, who will be pleased to have at least finished ahead of his Mercedes teammate and eaten into his championship lead a bit, and with Max Verstappen eventually retiring from the race in his Red Bull, Bottas is back up to second in the championship… for now. This felt like last chance saloon for Bottas, and it seems it has called time on his season.
Carlos Sainz surprised everyone when he qualified in P3 in his McLaren. The orange cars were looking quick all weekend, and it was great to see him back it up with a podium. He came agonisingly close to taking his first race win, under half a second behind Pierre Gasly, but was overall happy with P2. A popular driver with a bright future, the former Toro Rosso and Renault driver are now only 2 points behind Ferrari’s Charles LeClerc, who will be Sainz’s teammate next year at the Italian team.
An Emotional Farewell
As we have spoken about in a podcast the other day,
this was the Williams family’s last race for the team before stepping down and handing complete control to new owners Dorilton Capital. Claire was visibly emotional throughout the weekend, and they came so so close to scoring points. At one point in the race, Latifi was running in 7th, before slipping back and ultimately finishing in 11th. Another solid performance from him and team mate George Russell, but it was a shame that they couldn’t get a point or two to give their old boss a nice goodbye. Both drivers said heartfelt messages over the team radio after the race was over and Claire was tearing up on the pit wall. They’re a terrific family, and they will leave a huge hole in the paddock once they have departed. I will really miss them, as will the entire F1 world, I’m sure.
How Is The Championship Looking?
Well, Hamilton still leads on 164 points. Bottas is back up into second on 117 with Verstappen falling to this on 110. Lance Stroll sits in an impressive fourth on 57, tied with Lando Norris. Only four drivers are still yet to score this season; Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean and the Williams pair of Nicholas Latifi and George Russell.
Where Are We Heading Next?
Italy…again! This time we head to Mugello for the first time, for the “Formula 1 Pirelli Gran Premio Della Toscana Ferrari 1000 2020”. I know, what a name. I might just call it the Mugello GP. So much easier. It’ll be interesting to see who is more competitive here, due to no cars running here before and driver knowledge being a little more limited than on the normal circuits. Mercedes will still be the team to beat of course, but McLaren and Racing Point are looking strong, and you know never to forget about Verstappen and Red Bull. It’s only a week to go, too! Lovely.
As always, take care and stay safe, and we will see you Monday night at 8 pm, as we discuss this race on the F1 Fans Show Live, as well as plenty of other Formula One chatter! Cheerio.