2019 Italian Grand Prix Review

After the emotion and difficulty of Belgium, Formula One quickly moved on to Monza, Italy as Ferrari looked to follow up their first win of the season with a home victory at the 2019 Italian Grand Prix and end Mercedes’ dominance around here in the hybrid era.

Lewis Hamilton meanwhile was looking to preserve his championship lead whilst several constructors were scrapping over fifth in the teams’ championship, so let us take you through how each team fared this weekend. 

 

Mercedes

2019 Italian Grand Prix, Sunday - Steve Etherington
Mercedes were outperformed by Ferrari this weekend but yet managed to get both drivers onto the podium. (Image credit: Steve Etherington)

Race results: Lewis Hamilton – 3rd, Valtteri Bottas – 2nd

Once again, Mercedes were simply outperformed all weekend by Ferrari but Hamilton and Bottas did do a great job in splitting the Prancing Horses in a farcical qualifying despite lacking straight line speed.

Their race pace however was much better as they pushed Charles Leclerc throughout the race, even after a swap of drivers and letting Hamilton take the fastest lap point instead of second with a late stop for used softs.

I however do wonder if the strategists made the mistake of switching to mediums at the first stop, because I think Hamilton and Bottas would of eventually unpicked Leclerc’s defence with their constant pressure if had opted for the hard tyres.

Nevertheless, Mercedes and their fans will be glad to see the back of the last two races because Singapore should suit them more but not by a dominant margin.

 

Ferrari

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Race results: Charles Leclerc – 1st, Sebastian Vettel – 13th

With Monza known as the ‘Temple of Speed’, this was Ferrari’s to lose and they definitely delivered a dominant home performance all weekend.

Leclerc in particular was the stand-out driver with superb pace throughout the weekend, especially when nailing his exits out of Parabolica to fend off the attack of both Mercedes cars during the race.

His final outlap antics in Q3 however mars his victory because his actions along with those of a few others cost everyone but Sainz a final flier, which made a farce of qualifying but it did guarantee him pole which ultimately proved key in the race as he took back-to-back victories.

Vettel meanwhile appeared to struggle to extract the car’s full potential except in FP3, with a lap six spin at Ascari before dangerously re-joining the track and clipping Lance Stroll highlighting his desperation on top of being consistently outperformed by Leclerc on one lap pace now.

I therefore reckon that coming races could be crucial for Vettel in determining his future, not just at Ferrari but also in F1 itself with Singapore a must win for him given his form around the streets of Marina Bay.

 

Red Bull

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A tough weekend for Red Bull saw both drivers finish in the points, albeit with superb second-half stints. (Image credit: Red Bull Content Pool)

Race results: Max Verstappen – 8th, Alexander Albon – 6th

With Verstappen starting at the back, this was Albon’s first real chance to make an impression at Red Bull and if I am being honest, he did a good solid job with room for improvement. 

On one lap pace, Albon didn’t really set the timings alight because he was completely outshone by Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and unable to get on any par with Verstappen, although Monza doesn’t typically suit Red Bull in fairness which highlights Verstappen’s pure skill. 

Albon however needs to step up his race performances because like in Spa, he was very scrappy and battling midfielders early on before coming alive in the second stint which is great but more consistency is needed, particularly in terms of moving to the front from lower grid positions.

In fairness, Albon wasn’t Red Bull’s only guilty driver this weekend of sloppy first half performances because Verstappen made an uncharacteristically poor start, needing a front wing change and a two stop strategy to charge his way from the back to eighth. 

Red Bull will certainly take these results as a positive because Singapore will suit  the qualities of their car, which will definitely be a huge test for Albon as to his credentials to taking the seat permanently in 2020

 

McLaren

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Race results: Carlos Sainz – Retired, Lando Norris – 10th

McLaren will be pleased with how this weekend has gone because their FP1 pace suggests that they do have stronger pace in intermediate weather conditions, although they were still strong in dry conditions throughout the rest of the weekend. 

Sainz in particular managed to highlight how good this year’s car is under Renault power because he was in around the midfield battlers whilst Norris encountered an oil leak in FP2 before just focusing on his race pace throughout Saturday given he had to start from the back with a new power unit upgrade. 

That upgrade is clearly a strong step forward because Norris drove a quiet but measured race on an unusual medium to hard strategy, which clearly paid dividends with a tenth-placed finish and the final point. 

Sainz meanwhile was unlucky to suffer a loose wheel after his stop because he was doing a solid job battling for a sixth or seventh placed finish ahead of Albon, which suggests that McLaren’s race pace is quite close to Red Bull’s actual real performance on car alone.

Singapore should therefore be an interesting weekend for McLaren with maximum low downforce needed, which won’t necessarily suit their car. 

 

Renault

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Race results: Daniel Ricciardo – 4th, Nico Hulkenberg – 5th

Admittedly, Friday was tricky given the mixed conditions but Renault just came alive on Saturday with a superb performance which outperformed Red Bull’s Albon by miles, showing a huge glimpse of what Renault can achieve if and when they get their power units right and on a par with the three front-running power unit manufacturers. 

What is more impressive is how that performance translated into decent race pace as both drivers just drove their own races, whilst occasionally troubling the frontrunners who were on alternative strategies. 

I therefore wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see an upturn in fortunes throughout the remainder of this season, particularly if they’re beginning to switch attention to next season’s car. 

 

Toro Rosso

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A weekend of progress for Toro Rosso albeit with mixed fortunes. (Image credit: Red Bull Content Pool)

Race results: Pierre Gasly – 11th, Daniil Kvyat – Retired

Toro Rosso have made a step forward with better pace throughout the weekend, particularly on one lap pace with both cars making Q2 but they do still have work to do in comparison to their rivals who are stronger bets to reach Q3.

Kvyat however did drive a solid race into the points until power unit issues put him out, whilst Gasly deserves credit for going from 17th on the grid to just finishing outside the points on the alternative strategy with only Norris and Perez on similar strategies finishing higher.

Singapore therefore will be interesting for Toro Rosso because their car does seem to suit technically demanding circuits this season.

 

Racing Point

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Sergio Perez fought from the back to a valiant seventh-placed finish. (Image credit: Racing Point F1)

Race results: Sergio Perez – 7th, Lance Stroll – 12th

Last weekend’s upturn in fortunes definitely wasn’t an one off because both drivers were again competitive throughout the weekend.

Sergio Perez however did the better job because not only did he have to overcome a FP1 spin on the exit of Ascari, he also had to recover from a power unit failure in qualifying and resulting penalties which left him at the back.

His race pace therefore was surprisingly impressive and if it wasn’t for his qualifying issue, he would of been comfortably racing in the points all race rather than fighting Magnussen early on but to finish ahead of Verstappen is great credit to the Mexican. 

Stroll meanwhile has probably had his best weekend of the season so far overall in terms of pace, with his first Q3 appearance since this race last year although we will never know how high he could of finished the race thanks to poor driving from Vettel. 

The team therefore will surely consider this a double points finish lost but looking ahead, the signs are promising with Toro Rosso just five points ahead in sixth. 

 

Alfa Romeo

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Race results: Kimi Raikkonen – 15th, Antonio Giovinazzi – 9th

Finally Giovinazzi delivers a strong weekend and deservingly so at his home race because he just suited the car all weekend, particularly in the race because he was running solidly in the points throughout unlike Raikkonen who will be desperate to pretend this weekend never happened. 

Two crashes at Parabolica for the Finn and incorrect race tyres at the start pretty much summed up Raikkonen’s weekend as one full of errors, especially at a track which could of brought double point finishes for Alfa Romeo. 

Like Racing Point, Alfa will certainly describe this race as a haul of valuable points lost but Giovinazzi now needs to take the confidence from this weekend into remaining races, if he is to retain his seat next season. 

 

Haas

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Race results: Kevin Magnussen – Retired, Romain Grosjean – 16th

Monza definitely didn’t suit Haas at all because they were extremely quiet this weekend and off the pace, except in FP2 in which Grosjean finished eighth yet was unable to really build on that result as often been the case this season.

The Frenchman’s race however was a disaster after getting hit at the start before having a spin out of Ascari a few lap later, which he put down to car issues, saying; “… the balance we had today was definitely not what we had during the rest of the weekend.”

Magnussen meanwhile drove a great first stint to climb into the points and fend off Perez of Racing Point, before hydraulic issues eventually ended his race and a potential chance to bag some valuable points.

Haas therefore will be relieved that the European leg of this season is effectively done because the flyaways should bring better fortunes.

 

Williams

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Race results: Robert Kubica – 17th, George Russell – 14th

Unsurprisingly, this has again been a dreadful weekend for Williams with their weaknesses on show and no real positives to highlight.

Russell however did a solid job to recover from a difficult Friday in which he lacked one lap pace to eventually outqualify Kubica by 0.556s, before quietly driving to 14th ahead of two experienced drivers in Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean and finishing just over a second behind Ferrari’s Vettel.

Now that is great credit to the youngster’s talent and ability to deliver solid results whilst Kubica again struggled to match those around him to consequently prop up the field of finishers.

Singapore however should be an interesting race given that it isn’t all about speed, and should yield a similar performance as saw at Hungary with their upgrade that weekend.

 

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