The Saturday in F1 Italian GP changed the order for the Sunday’s race with neither of the Mercedes drivers on the front row, handing advantage to Red Bull.
The Saturday in F1 Italian GP saw the Sprint Qualifying change the order for Sunday’s final race, especially with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton dropping to fifth at the end. Even though he will start fourth, but he is behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and the two McLaren drivers.
His start set him back as Valtteri Bottas led the way from start to finish ahead of Verstappen, who did not hustle enough considering that he is to start from pole on Sunday. For the Brit, though, not only he lost the place but also chance to score extra points.
The wheelspin for Hamilton was enough to derail him as McLaren starting on the soft tyres did not waste enough time to pounce on him. They will be a thorn for him on Sunday. Meanwhile, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez found himself in a tricky position eventually.
He ended up ninth where he started and wasn’t too pleased with the Sprint Qualifying format, which he reckons is simply boring. Even though Monza doesn’t readily suits Red Bull, they have a good chance with Verstappen, considering Bottas starts at the back.
Bottas: “It was good, a good sprint. Everything went smoothly. I had a good start and that was of course the first important thing in the sprint. A good start and the car was very consistent throughout that sprint qualifying race thing. I didn’t really do any mistakes. I knew Max was trying hard behind. The gap was pretty consistent. I was just pushing flat out really and at the same time avoiding mistakes. No dramas.
“For sure this penalty, it’s annoying, having done a good last two days and good performance and then you kind of reset completely for the day after and start from the back, but those things are out of my hands so I’m not going to waste too much energy or be too negative about it because there’s nothing, absolutely I can do about it and the only thing I can do is try my best and go full gas tomorrow but at least I got three points. Every point counts for me personally and for us as a team.
“Lets see, podium is possible. Anything is possible, to be honest, if you look at the race last year, what happened. You never know. I’ll keep pushing. If there was a team order, it would not have been the first time for me, obviously and the situation with the championship, for us… In an ideal world we would have both got a good start. Possibly we would have swapped positions if it was safe, for obvious reasons, but Lewis had a bad start and that of course is not great for him, not great for us as a team in terms of points but that gave me an opportunity to win the sprint which is obviously, for me personally, is nice that I could race.”
Verstappen: “I think it was a good day for us. Good start and from there onwards I tried of course to follow Valtteri around, even though I think we lacked a little bit of pace to really mount a challenge but I just tried to stay in the tow a bit. Yeah, from our side, it was good. Two points scored and, of course, starting first now. Still, I don’t expect it to be a very straightforward and easy race because Valtteri coming from the back but also, of course, Lewis starting in P4, they have a lot of pace. Yeah, we’ll see what we can do against them. If you get cleanly through Turns 1 and 2 of course it’s very good. It’s still quite a decent run to Turn 1 – but overall if you just have a good start it should be enough to defend.”
Hamilton: “I just went too deep on the clutch, got too much wheelspin. The start was just, broke away, got traction, subtle, like 2mm too deep with the clutch paddle and had wheelspin. That’s it. Then trying to overtake the McLarens was just impossible for me. We of course will be working as hard as we can to try. I think it’s damage limitation at the moment. It generally should be a relatively easy race for Max, unless I can get past the two McLarens early on and then challenge him.”
The two McLaren cars are certainly in the mix and they seem to be comfortably ahead of Ferrari F1 duo. With AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly having that dreaded incident, it sets him to the back and probably with a pitlane start, which opens up a place for the likes of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi along with the two Aston Martin and Alpine cars.
Both Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris eventually did well to end up third and fourth, where they will start from second and third. For the Australian, it was a return of some form and a chance to not get his first McLaren F1 podium, but also beat teammate directly in a more head-to-head fight. With Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainza a bit behind, it also helps the team to retake third in the championship.
The Ferrari duo were pretty pleased after their FP2 troubles, while Antonio Giovinazzi was more than happy to keep Perez behind and start from seventh. Considering the difficulties in overtaking, the start to the race and tyre strategy will be key to score points, which the Italian desperately needs amid talks of his F1 future.
Ricciardo: “It was a good start. I knew I had a good launch. As soon as you drop the clutch you just know. It just bites and grips and tells us ‘we’re on here’. And then I had a good tow and I had also a clear line braking for Turn 1. So I was able to go quite deep and through maybe I could get Max for a second but then he had the inside for one and I think, if I stayed there, and tried to keep the inside for two, I don’t think there was enough room for two cars.
“So, I think because then maybe Gasly went into the back of me in the apex of two, so I don’t know. It was just tight but that’s the first chicane. It was just good, hard racing and obviously I got Lando and Lewis so it was still a good first lap for me. I didn’t feel the Gasly touch. I was just told about it after, but no, I didn’t. And then, yes, the rage. Sometimes I don’t keep it that cool, but I would say I used some of that today and I will use the rest of it tomorrow. That’s all. As I said before, I’m hungry, it’s been a long time since I’ve been up in this position, so obviously, yeah, I just want to be back here and yeah, never leave.”
Sainz: “A great job by everyone to get the car back out, and I managed to complete the Sprint. Obviously my confidence level was not very high after what happened in FP2, which was a very odd crash – I didn’t expect what happened and wasn’t really even pushing, so this type of crash takes away quite a lot of confidence because when you’re not even pushing and you lose the car, it’s a bit of a weird one. So I took the Sprint quali with this, bedding in a bit myself, and managed to regain a bit of confidence as the Sprint quali went on, and I think now I’m ready. It’s not like the people in front are reachable. But the people behind, we seem to have them under control, so hopefully we can pick up a couple more positions at the start. But in terms of pace, that’s more or less where we are.”
Giovinazzi: “It was again a positive day. We saw already this morning in FP2 that the race pace was there. I focused on the start, gained a position there and gained a position to Perez and after that, it was just keeping the position. It was not easy in the end of the race to keep Perez behind, but really happy. We start P7 and let’s see what we can do from there. I’m pretty happy actually with the speed on the straight. In Monza, it’s important so for sure we have pace. So, if we take another step it will be mega.”
The fight behind will be tricky too with both Aston Martin and Alpine F1 duos not far off from the Top 10. It wasn’t the smoothest of drives for them, especially with no delta time enough to overtake, but they are banking mostly on the race starts. Gasly will be key in the lot to fight through along with Bottas.
At the back, Nicholas Latifi ended up ahead of George Russell after the latter’s bad start. At the same time, the two Haas drivers are apart with Alfa Romeo’s Robert Kubica in the middle, with the Polish driver using his rallying skills to get out of the gravel after his tangle with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.
Gasly: “I’m doing bad but physically OK, but just very disappointed, because we had a great shot and great start, overtaking Lando and Lewis. And yes, unfortunately there was this contact with Daniel and broke the front wing, and went straight to the wall as the front wing went under the car. Yes, I think we’ve been fast all weekend and that’s the positive. On the other note, I haven’t seen many overtakes, Lewis struggled to pass Lando, there were a couple of other cars that yes, seemed to struggle to overtake, so it didn’t seem easy.”
Kubica: “It started very badly. I don’t know what happened at the start. Probably I did something wrong but I didn’t manage to pull away completely, so I lost a lot of metres, space. But actually it gave me an opportunity to have an overview of what was going on and I placed myself very well into the first chicane, where I gained one or two positions. And then, I did a bit of rally-style move into the second chicane, where actually I gained two positions. I managed to find my way in the middle of other cars, but then I was hit by Tsunoda, and got stuck. And when I was nearly switching off everything, I said, well, I’ll try my rally experience a bit and try another time to get out of the gravel. Don’t ask me how but I managed. But unfortunately later in the race, I had massive oversteer on the right-hand corners. I didn’t understand why, and then when I jumped out of the car I understood. I had damage on the rear floor from the impact of Tsunoda, so it explained my balance issues.”
Stroll: “That was a fun race. It was not an easy decision to go for the soft tyre over the medium because, while it provides a better launch, degradation becomes a factor later on. We made a good start and gained some places in what was quite a tricky first chicane with all the tyre smoke and loose grass. I then had some good wheel-to-wheel racing with Checo later on, too. He gave the position back to me a little later than I expected, which lost our DRS train and allowed Alonso to close in, but we were able to hold onto 10th.”
Here’s video of moment between Robert Kubica and Yuki Tsunoda: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2021-italian-gp-f1-sprint-onboard-with-kubica-and-tsunoda-as-they-react-on-team-radio-to-contact-during-sprint.1710624249548324690.html