Monza. The track that hosts the Italian Grand Prix. One of the most special races on the calendar. It is made even more special by the support for the scarlet red cars that compete. The Tifosi make this race an incredible experience. This year, with a Ferrari front row lockout, they will be as loud as ever as Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen try to break the 8 year gap between Ferrari victories at this circuit. What we all fear however, is team orders that mean Raikkonen loses his pole position and becomes a rear gunner for Seb Vettel. There’s also a chance of the Red Bulls or the Mercedes cars ruining got party.
Raikkonen would start pole as I mentioned with Vettel his Ferrari teammate in second. Hamilton and Bottas represented Mercedes in 3rd and 4th with Verstappen in 5th. Grosjean put in a fantastic effort to fstart 6th with Sainz 7th. Ocon in the Racing Point Force India was 8th with the Toro Rosso in 9th. Lance Stroll put in a fantastic effort to qualify 10th for a struggling Williams team. Magnussen’s Haas was 11th. The Alfa Romeos were in 15th and 18th. Marcus Ericsson in 18th would want a big drive to celebrate his birthday. Hartley would start 16th after Leclerc.
The Grand Prix started with drama on the very first lap. Brenden Hartley hardly went 500m before being squeezed by Stoeffel Vandoorne then collected by Marcus Erricsson’s sauber ending his race before the first corner. Meanwhile out in front Raikonen was able to hold the lead from Vettel meaning that Hamilton was able to mount an attack on Vettel into turn 4. Hamilton went around the outside as Vettel understeered into the side of the Mercedes driver, causing Vettel to spin putting him in last place.
The spin brought out the safety car which meant that Vettel, Riccardo, Hulkenberg and Ericsson made a pit stop. It was looking like these drivers could go to the end on their new supersoft tyres so long as they looked after them early in the stint. The race resumed on lap 4 and Hamilton made a move past Raikkonen at turn 1. However Raikkonen was able to fly straight back past Hamilton by turn 4. Meanwhile in the midfield, the Haas of Kevin Magnussen had a coming together with the Racing Point Force India of Perez forcing him to pit. This put him in last place where he would stay for the duration of the Grand Prix.
On lap 9 Vettel stated his intent of flying through the pack by flying past the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo on the pit straight. Then over the next few laps Ricciardo battled with Gasly in the Toro Rosso fiercely; making contact multiple times with the Red Bull junior driver. However there were possibly some team orders which meant that Ricciardo moved past by lap 12. Two laps earlier, the McLaren of Fernando Alonso had retired with an engine failure. Lap 14 saw Vettel make another move much to the delight of the Tifosi at Ascari. This time he moved past the Williams of Sirotkin. Then two laps later, Vettel dispatched of the of the other Williams in the form of Lance Stroll. Next move for Vettel was at turn 1 once again. This time he got past Sergio Perez in the Racing Point Force India on lap 18.
Lap 21 was where it started to go wrong for Ferrari. After Mercedes bringing their pit crew into the pitlane, Ferrari decided to stop to cover off the possibility of Lewis Hamilton stopping. He didn’t stop however as they tried the overcut stratergy. Meanwhile, things were weren’t going well for Red Bull as Daniel Ricciardo had an engine failure on his neww spec-c engine. I’m sure they can’t wait to switch to Honda engines next season.
By lap 29 Mercedes realised their stratergy hadn’t worked and they pitted Hamilton. However Raikkonen had used up his tyres too early in the stint which would mean he’d have issues with blistering later on in the race. Mercedes had also kept Bottas out which put Raikkonen in a Mercedes sandwich which meant that Bottas was faster than Verstappen in 4th; however Raikkonen in 2nd was slower than Hamilton in 4th. On lap 30 Vettel pitted taking him out of the running for the podium realistically.
From lap 29 all the way to lap 37 Raikkonen was stuck behind Bottas and Hamilton was able to keep up with fresher tyres. When Bottas finally pitted Raikkonen hardly had any life left in his tyres meaning that it would be a tall order to keep Hamilton behind for the remaining laps. On lap 38, Vettel got himself into clean air once again by overtaking Perez into 5th. Whilst this was going on Bottas, who had come out 4th in his pitstop, was desperetely trying to get past Verstappen. However on lap 43 Verstappen pushed Bottas off the track meaning a 5 second penalty which by the end of the race would demote him from 3rd to 5th. Two laps later Hamilton overtook Raikkonen around the outside of turn 1. That was it until the chequered flag at the end of lap 53.
In my opinion this race highlighted a lot of the issues with Formula 1 these days. The whole Mercedes stratergy of keeping Raikkonen held up by Bottas doesn’t make for interesting racing and in my opinion using a driver of Valterri Bottas’ talent as a mobile chicane is wrong. So congratulations to the Mercedes team on the win but I wouln’t say it was a fantastic drive from Hamilton by any stretch. Kimi did well in my opinion to hold on to second after having Bottas as a road block for most of the race. Congratulations on your 100th podium too Kimi. Bottas had a good recovery after being left out so long on old tyres. Vettel also made a decent recovery to finish 4th. However mistakes like this will ruin his shot at the championship as Hamilton can now extend his lead further. Verstappen has obviously still not learnt from earlier incedents in the year. He just needs to calm down in my opinion. There is so much raw talent but he’s too agressive. Romain Grosjean was able to get 6th but was disqualified for an illegal floor hours after the race. Haas are going to appeal.
Other drivers of note:
Romain Grosjean– Haas (6th on track; DSQ) Fantastic effort from the Haas driver who has struggled this year. This is the kind of performance we want to see; especially as the car is looking very good this year. Shame that he was disqualified as it looked like a fantastic drive.
Lance Stroll (9th overall)- Williams Not a name I usually talk to much about but Stroll put in a fantastic drive today, earning a chamionship point. In such a poor car he really got the most out of it to get this result. Still interested to see what would have happened if Felipe Massa had stayed on another year.
Esteban Ocon- Racing Point Force India (6th Overall)
Force India have been through a torrid time recently off the track. However they have been fantastic so far during the second part of the season under their new name and license. A fantastic effort. Let’s hope that Ocon doesn’t lose his drive to Lance Stroll as he is such a solid driver who is very competitive.