Formula One made the 792.8km trip from Spa Francorchamps to Monza, otherwise known as the ‘Temple of Speed’ for this year’s Italian Grand Prix.
Whilst serving as Ferrari’s home race, Monza is all about power as Sebastian Vettel looked to seize control of the title battle from Lewis Hamilton in front of the Scuderia’s home fans.
Away from title battle, there were plenty of other talking points going into this weekend so what lessons did we learn from the 2018 Italian Grand Prix?
At Monza, there is nothing more that the Italians love than Ferrari dominating on home soil.
Even in FP1 on a damp track, Ferrari and particularly Kimi Raikkonen were right on the pace before Sebastian Vettel breezed through every other session till Q3, underlining how powerful the Ferrari is now compared to where they were in 2015.
Although both Ferraris locked out front row before victory never mind a 1-2 eluded them, it was fantastic to see Raikkonen send a message about his ability by setting a new F1 record for fastest ever lap at 163.793mph after maximising the slipstream from Vettel as rumours about his future continue to grow.
He further added strong evidence about his ability with an impressive drive against Hamilton for much of race, when Ferrari probably would of expected him to play wingman to help Vettel win the race from the start.
Vettel meanwhile needs to still learn when to yield a place rather than have first lap collisions before mounting comeback drives. If he doesn’t sort out this habit now, he will continue to waste big points and therefore a potential fifth drivers’ title.
Nevertheless, this has been Ferrari’s strongest weekend at Monza since 2010 when Fernando Alonso won from pole and Felipe Massa joined him on podium in third place.
With 70% of lap spent at full throttle, not many expected Williams to turn up and be competitive but they definitely surprised everyone.
Excluding the wet FP1, Williams had seemed set to be circling around the Q2 cusp but I definitely wasn’t expecting them to come out and produce what they did in Qualifying with Lance Stroll qualifying 10th after making Q3.
Speaking to Williamsf1.com after qualifying, Stroll put his performance to finding “a rhythm and it just comes all together.”
Well he is lucky that it did with some big names like Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg falling by the wayside.
Come race day, Williams were much more competitive than they probably expected with a double points finish following Romain Grosjean’s disqualification and that according to Stroll being down to “just solid work all weekend” by the team.
As for Sergey Sirotkin, this is his first ever F1 point so congratulations to him for a brilliant if lucky drive to benefit from Grosjean’s exclusion.
With Singapore coming up next, this is a well earned boost but will be interested to see if they can carry their progress forward into the flyaways.
After recording a brilliant double points finish as best of rest, Racing Point Force India came here looking to keep their momentum going.
The weekend definitely started off impressively as they topped FP1 with Sergio Perez before naturally finding themselves in the midfield scrap against Haas and Renault.
Qualifying however saw their first big mistake in not sending Perez out for a second run, costing him a Q2 spot by 000.1s after they “underestimated how much the track would evolve”.
Now they must learn from that mistake and try to nail every run in future so don’t find themselves in a repeat situation, although Perez mounted a fantastic charge to seventh behind teammate, Esteban Ocon following Grosjean’s disqualification which promoted both cars up a position.
Those 14 points however mean that Racing Point Force India has cleared Williams, Sauber and Toro Rosso to move seventh in Constructors Championship in just two races, which is an incredible achievement and McLaren are only twenty points ahead in sixth.
Keep this momentum up and there is no reason why this team can’t enjoy a splendid end to the season.
Sauber have definitely been this weekend’s surprise strugglers despite having a Ferrari power unit in their cars.
Marcus Ericsson’s terrifying crash due to a DRS issue at start of FP2 plus Charles Leclerc experiencing same problem had them on back foot for rest of weekend and they simply never recovered, apart from Leclerc finishing 9th in FP2 & 3.
Best summed up by Team Principal, Frederic Vasseur as “a challenging weekend”, Sauber need to put this race behind them and take any positives from their data and focus on getting back to their best in Singapore.
At Red Bull, they will clearly feeling that this was a race with mixed fortunes after Daniel Ricciardo had to start at back following a power unit change before it blew up mid race.
Max Verstappen meanwhile drove a brilliant race to keep Valtteri Bottas behind before and after both completed their pit stops, even if the five second penalty was fair given that the contact was perhaps unintentional on Verstappen’s part and ultimately cost him a podium.
Both drivers however are already focusing on Singapore because it should suit their car and Verstappen noted that “keeping a Mercedes behind you [on this track] is a very positive sign” which I must agree with given how stronger Mercedes power is compared to Renault’s.
Missed any of the first ten race weekends and want to get up to date? Click on any of the hyperlinks below to go and check out my round up of the weekend/s.