The Italian Grand Prix was certainly set up in fine fashion with rain and a record-breaking pole position for Lewis Hamilton but Sunday was dry, sunny and full of red flags, shirts and hats hoping beyond hope that Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen could somehow salvage a lackluster qualifying performance.
Lewis broke the pole record but most of the focus was on an issue that I was ranting about back in January of 2017 as well as our season preview podcast. At the time, I was told to calm down and shut my pie hole but the 4-engine limit for the season was always going to be a bad idea and I argued at the time that it wasn’t just the mid-field that would be affected but possibly the title championship. After the berating I took for highlighting the obvious, I’ll take this moment to say…I told you so.
The youngest driver to ever sit on the front row in the form of Lance Stroll was followed by another rookie, Esteban Ocon. Both produced very good races and were well into the points.
It was Lewis’s weekend with a pole position record in horrible conditions on Saturday and a punishing, title-lead-claiming win in Ferrari’s back yard on Sunday. No doubt the car was comprehensively dominant but that doesn’t take away from the performance Lewis had on Saturday and his efforts on Sunday.
A win for Lewis and Mercedes for the victory at Ferrari’s home race as well as the photo-op of both Mercs running side-by-side during the cool down lap in a show of force and sheer domination. It’s not just a pole record and win but a proverbial rubbing Ferrari’s nose in it in the process.
A win for Mercedes for convincing the F1 press that they didn’t need the increased oil-burn amount—that they craftily introduced a new engine ahead of the deadline to take advantage of—and really weren’t using that much and would most likely just use the 0.91 liter limit anyway…as they hauled out an incredible 30+ second lead and pummeled all the other teams in Italy.
A big win for the Italian fans who once again show why they are some of the best Formula 1 fans in the world.
A win for Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo for a terrific drive to 4th place in a fantastic recovery drive having started back in the grid due to grid penalties.
A win for Lance Stroll to hold position, hold his much more experienced teammate off and convert his front row qualifying into a points finish on a circuit they weren’t expecting it on.
A fail for Ferrari for losing their home grand prix but to be fair, they may not have lost the pace so much as Mercedes gained the pace with an even better engine. Regardless, even though Belgium is a power circuit, the Ferrari was competitive there but at Monza, it was exposed for the lack of shove it has against Mercedes.
A fail for Max Verstappen who needed a clean start and race after suffering from mechanical DNF’s all season long. The clash with Felipe Massa cost him valuable time with a punctured tire and long pit stop. After a review, no action was taken against Massa or Verstappen.
A win for Williams and Force India for converting good qualifying into a top 10 run for most of the day and fighting each other for the constructor’s championship. In Williams F1’s case, they weren’t sure why they were fast at Monza and many thought they wouldn’t be in dry conditions but they were.
A near fail for Felipe Massa who tried to pass his teammate late in the race and almost gave the position to Sergio Perez…you know, the team they are battling against in the constructors’ championship.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen seemed to be complaining about the rear grip of his car early on and slotted in behind the Ocon and Stroll train and noodled his way back and forth but never seemed to get on top of his issues which were suggested to be rear tire overheating. Regardless, it certainly seemed as if he had resigned himself to that fate for the afternoon.
Saturday’s qualifying certainly suggested that Ferrari struggled on the full wet tire compounds but Sunday’s race suggested that they weren’t as good on the Super Soft or Soft compounds as they would have liked to. It’s a bit of a change from the beginning of the season when Ferrari seemed sympathetic to its tires and capable of running a strategy around its ability to stay on top of the tire grip levels. On Sunday, it seemed to be Mercedes who have found the magic heat window with the tires.
Not quite sure how you re-pave the front stretch of an iconic circuit and didn’t bring a level to make sure the cars don’t porpoise down the straight due to ripple in asphalt.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||53||40.335s|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||53||1m11.528s|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||53||1m15.276s|
|10||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||52||1 Lap|
|11||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||52||1 Lap|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||52||1 Lap|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||52||1 Lap|
|14||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||52||1 Lap|
|15||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||52||1 Lap|
|16||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber/Ferrari||51||2 Laps|
|17||Fernando Alonso||McLaren/Honda||50||3 Laps|
|18||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||49||4 Laps|