2020 Italian Grand Prix Blog
This race was exactly what Formula 1 needed, completely unpredictable and with drama throughout, but highly watchable!
As the cars lined up on the at grid, Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri started in tenth place. Few would have given him a chance of a Top 6 finish. Nobody thought he would win. But win it he did! Yesterday’s race at Monza was a triumph for the little guys and proves that in sport, anything is possible.
So how did such an unlikely outcome unfold? Lewis Hamilton got off to another excellent start, whilst his teammate Valterri Bottas had a bit of a horror show on lap 1. That left the two McLaren’s of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris in P2 and P3, fantastic news for the Woking team, but they simply were not quick enough to keep up with the Mercedes. Hamilton was pulling away and establishing a distance between himself and the pack but a mid-race safety car, triggered by the broken-down Haas of Kevin Magnussen, turned the race on its head.
In such circumstances one would have expected a round of pit stops, as this is the sensible tactic, but only Lewis Hamilton and Antonio Giovinazzi entered the pit lane. The reason soon became clear – the pit lane was closed! After the race Lewis explained that he had failed to spot the yellow crosses on the boards and accepted the blame, saying: “Honestly I didn’t see those boards, so I take responsibility for that.”
The officials deliberated for some time, and were maybe not helped by Hamilton’s visit to the stewards room whilst the race had been red flagged, but in the end they handed out a 10-second stop/go penalty, leaving the Mercedes driver more than 25 seconds off the back of the field once he had served this following the restart. Lewis is a great driver, but it was asking the impossible for him to win from that position.
We should explain that the race had been red flagged following a nasty looking crash for Charles Leclerc as he lost control of his Ferrari around Parabolica. Everyone felt genuine relief to see him climb out of the car. The Monegasque said over the radio: “Was a big crash – arghh! I’m sorry, but honestly I struggled so much with the balance. I’m sorry.” And that was the end of Ferrari’s afternoon. Sebastian Vettel had already retired from the race with a brake failure. This was a highly embarrassing result for the Scuderia and a race they will want to forget.
Where was Max Verstappen? Normally if Mercedes show any sign of weakness the Red Bull driver is waiting to pounce but he was well off the pace. “It was a pretty ‘beep it away’ day,” said Verstappen afterwards, “First we had a very bad start. When I dropped the clutch I had a lot of wheel spin, as the engine was hot somehow… And then from there onwards, we got stuck in the DRS train – you can’t pass around here then. After the red flag and the second start, when I accelerated, I had a problem with the engine, so we tried to solve it but it didn’t go away and we had to retire the car.”
All of the above left the door open for one of the smaller teams to claim a highly unlikely victory. Lance Stroll afterwards described the race as “mine to lose” but a poor restart saw the Racing Point driver drop back from second to sixth place and in the end it boiled down to a drag race between the AlphaTauri of Pierre Galsy and the McLaren of Carlos Sainz. No doubt the Mclaren was slightly quicker but Gasly held track position and despite eating into his lead Sainz struggled to get within the magical 1 second mark to activate DRS until the final couple of laps. This was just too late and the AlphaTauri held on for a remarkable victory.
In the post-race reaction, it was clear how much this meant to the team. Gasly summed up their feelings: “This is amazing! I’m lost for words! It’s unbelievable!” Carlos Sainz was equally excited and generous in second place, saying: “Well, what a race! Extremely happy to land a P2 here in Monza! Days like today are what make our sport so intense and rewarding.”
For neutral fans the Italian Grand Prix was undoubtedly the best race of the season so far. The team at Edge all thoroughly enjoyed it and the excitement continues as F1 makes the short 300km hop down the road to Mugello for the Tuscan Grand Prix this coming weekend.
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