After the summer break and the orange explosion at the Dutch Grand Prix, dominated by Max Verstappen, the 2023 Formula 1 Championship continues in Europe with the highly anticipated Italian Grand Prix, in the historical Monza circuit. The Italian tifosi, despite Ferrari’s difficulties this year, continue to support the two drivers in red at their home race. Thanks to the success achieved in Zandvoort, Max Verstappen now equals the record of nine consecutive victories set by Sebastian Vettel in the 2013 season, with the streak starting at the Miami Grand Prix. Here in Monza the possibility of overcoming Vettel's record and entering the history of Formula 1 is at stake. The Grand Prix represents the fourteenth round of the season, a week after the Dutch Grand Prix, the thirteenth race of the championship. For the fourth time in the season, the World Championship involves one race taking place a week apart from the other. The Italian Grand Prix is the eighth and final event of the season scheduled in Europe, as well as the sixth in a row. It is the second event after the mandatory summer break for teams and drivers, as well as the third race of the second part of the season, and the first of three overall events scheduled for the month of September. The World Championship is holding a race on the type of permanent track for the sixth consecutive race weekend. The contract for the inclusion of the race in the world calendar, again at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, was renewed in June 2020 until the 2025 season. Sponsor of the Grand Prix is, as in the previous edition, Pirelli, an Italian company tire supplier for the championship. This edition is attended by 304.134 spectators, for the second Italian Grand Prix with the highest number of attendances at the Monza National Autodrome, behind the record of 336.647 spectators in 2022.
Present in the calendar of the Formula 1 World Championship since the inaugural edition of 1950 and valid as a test of the category from the same year, the Italian Grand Prix, together with those of Monaco, Switzerland, Belgium, France and Great Britain, including a he edition of the Indianapolis 500 valid for the World Championship was one of the tests that characterized the calendar of the inaugural edition of the Formula 1 World Championship. The Grand Prix is the only one, together with that of Great Britain, to have been present in the calendar of the World Championship since the first season in 1950. In these races, including this event and in the already held Hungarian Grand Prix in July, tire use in qualifying will be hard in Q1, medium in Q2 and soft in Q3, in dry weather. Initially one of the two races chosen was the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, before its cancellation. If successful, Max Verstappen would also become the first driver to triumph in the four classic races on the calendar since the inaugural season in 1950, following successes in the Monaco Grand Prix, the British Grand Prix and the Belgian Grand Prix. Thursday 31 August 2023, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team is delighted to announce that Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will continue to lead its driver line-up for the next two seasons. The duo has been paired together since the start of the 2022 season and each driver continues long-standing relationships with the team. Lewis will drive for the Team in the 2024 and 2025 seasons and continue an historic relationship that has secured six World Drivers' Championships and eight World Constructors' Championships. Since joining the works team, Lewis has taken 82 victories and 78 pole positions en route to becoming the most successful driver in the sport's history. The extension ensures the continuation of the most successful team and driver pairing in Formula One history into at least a 13th year. George has extended a relationship that first began in 2017 until the end of the 2025 season. The then 18-year-old joined the team's Junior programme before rising through the ranks to F1. After starring at Williams, he was promoted to partner Lewis Hamilton in 2022 and claimed his maiden Grand Prix victory in last year's São Paulo Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton commented:
"We dream everyday of being the best and we have dedicated the past decade together to achieving that goal. Being at the top does not happen overnight or over a short period of time, it takes commitment, hard work and dedication and it's been an honour to earn our way into the history books with this incredible team. We have never been hungrier to win. We have learnt from every success but also every setback. We continue to chase our dreams, we continue to fight no matter the challenge and we will win again. I'm grateful to the team who have supported me both on and off the track. Our story isn't finished, we are determined to achieve more together and we won't stop until we do".
George Russell commented:
"I have grown up with this team ever since joining as part of the Junior programme back in 2017. It's my home and it feels fantastic to extend our special relationship through 2025. After stepping up to the Mercedes race seat last year, I wanted to reward the trust and belief that Toto and the rest of the team placed in me. Taking my first pole position and race win last year was an unforgettable feeling. More importantly though, it's been great to work with everybody at Brackley and Brixworth to make progress with our car and push forward our development. Their loyalty, vision and hard work is inspiring. We have made some significant steps over the last 18 months and are only getting stronger as a team. I'm excited to help continue to build on that momentum as we progress into 2024 and 2025 as we continue to focus on returning to the very front of the pack".
Toto Wolff, CEO and Team Principal, continued:
"Continuing with our current driver line-up was a straightforward decision. We have the strongest pairing on the grid and both drivers are playing a crucial role in the team to move us forward. The strength and stability they provide will be key building blocks for our future success. Our partnership with Lewis is one of the most successful in the sport's history. It was always a formality that we would continue together - and it's energising for us all to be confirming that publicly. His qualities as a pure racing driver are illustrated by his remarkable track record; but over our years together, he has grown to become a pillar and leader of our team. Those leadership qualities are crucial as we focus on fighting for world championships again. As F1's biggest global star, he has also played a key role in shaping our commitments to diversity, inclusion and sustainability, that will be foundations for our success in the years ahead. George is a leading light of his generation. He has repaid the faith we showed in him when promoting him to a race seat in 2022. His maiden pole position in Hungary and first Grand Prix victory in São Paulo were standout moments last season. As a driver, he combines razor-sharp speed with the tenacity of a true fighter. But he brings, too, an intelligence and attention to detail that will help him to continue to grow, develop and improve further. He is a natural fit to the team and we are delighted to have extended the relationship for the coming years".
Markus Schäfer, Non-Executive Chairman & Mercedes-Benz AG CTO, added:
"Lewis has forged a relationship with Mercedes-Benz right from the start of his career. In that time, he has claimed seven World Drivers' Championships, 103 race wins, 195 podium finishes and 104 pole positions. His ambition and commitment to winning are second to none. His boundless positivity and passion to push himself and team forward are a constant source of pride and inspiration for everyone connected to the team and the wider Mercedes-Benz group. George has also been an integral member of the Mercedes-Benz family since 2017. After joining the team's Junior programme, he has continued to grow and excel year after year. Watching him take his first Grand Prix victory was an incredible moment and demonstrated his immense talent. The strong relationship George and Lewis have has been excellent and provides a solid platform for the Team. We are excited to continue this journey with both drivers and look forward to sharing more success in the future. I know the whole team is motivated for the rest of the season and continuing to build momentum into 2024 and beyond".
Max Verstappen has a good chance of taking his tenth consecutive victory, a stunning performance that would allow him to break the record held by Sebastian Vettel. Lewis Hamilton's words are not surprising:
"I am not as impressed by Verstappen as I was by Michael Schumacher or Sebastian Vettel. For my part, I faced Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas and George Russell in the same team. All these guys were very strong and consistent. Max has never competed against anyone like that".
For this Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole tire supplier, offers the choice between C3, C4 and C5 compound tyres, the softest type of compounds that characterize the entire range made available by the company supplying the tires for the championship. It is the first edition of the Grand Prix where Pirelli establishes this type of tyre. It is set for the seventh time this season, and for the first time since the Hungarian Grand Prix. At the same time, Pirelli names the type of tires available for the subsequent Grands Prix in Singapore, Japan and Qatar. This is how Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, describes the Monza circuit and its characteristics, the home grand prix of Ferrari and Pirelli itself:
"As usual, the European Formula 1 season draws to a close in Monza: which is also Pirelli's home event as our headquarters are just a few kilometers away from this iconic circuit. Monza is synonymous with speed, as its nickname of the Temple of Speed capably demonstrates. To this day, it's where the fastest race in the history of Formula 1 was held, with Michael Schumacher setting an unbeaten average race speed of 247.585 kph back in 2003. As a result, teams use the lowest possible aerodynamic downforce levels to favor top speed by reducing drag. Stability under braking and traction coming out of the two chicanes are the two key factors that challenge tires most on this track, as well as the lateral loads exerted in the fast corners such as Parabolica (named after Michele Alboreto) and Curva Grande. After Hungary, Monza will be the second time that the Alternative Tire Allocation (ATA) is trialled, which uses two fewer sets of tires than the standard format. This offers a benefit in terms of CO2 saved both during production and transport, as well as giving teams and drivers a wider range of strategic options. For this reason as well, we have chosen the trio of softest compounds for Monza - C3, C4, and C5 - which has already been nominated five times this season".
The Federation confirms the traditional two activation zones of the Drag Reduction System established in the 2011 edition of the Grand Prix when the device was introduced for the first time in the history of the category that season. The first area is located on the long pit straight, with the point for determining the gap between drivers placed after Turn 11, the latter modified in the previous edition of 2022, being positioned after the aforementioned curve after previously being placed before of it. The second zone is located on the straight between Turns 7 and turn 8, with a detection point located before Turn 7. Since the debut of the mobile device in Formula 1, the Monza National Autodrome was one of the few circuits present in the world championship calendar to be characterized by the presence of two areas for the use of the mobile rear wing, given the presence of long straights, with the main objective of encouraging overtaking. The Monza National Autodrome is not among the tracks subject to these changes. Compared to the 2022 edition, the yellow and black speed bumpers at Turn 4, Turn 5 and Turn 8 have been removed. The first speed bump at Turn 10 has also been removed. The Federation announces that in the escape route Four rows of polystyrene blocks were placed in the chicane of Turn 1 and Turn 2. To ensure that the cars can return to the track safely, the drivers, if using the escape route, must pass through the four rows of polystyrene blocks and rejoin the track at the end of the escape route. Drivers may only use grass if it is clearly unavoidable. At Turn 5, any driver who goes straight and does not pass through the shaded area before the apex of the second chicane curb must remain to the right of the yellow line and the bollard, re-entering the track at the end of the escape route after the exit of Turn 5. Before the start of the first free practice session on Friday, the third gearbox and transmission are installed on the car of George Russell and Fernando Alonso. Both drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components installed are among those that can be used within the maximum number established by the technical regulations. In the car of Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jr., Russell, Valtteri Bottas, Liam Lawson and Yuki Tsunoda the fourth unit relating to the internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K is installed.
The fourth unit relating to the turbocharger and the MGU-H is installed on Esteban Ocon 's car. The fifth unit relating to the exhaust system is installed on the car of Sainz Jr., Lawson and Tsunoda, and on the car of Leclerc and Bottas the sixth unit of the same component. All drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components installed are among those that can be used within the maximum number established by the technical regulations. Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal, arrives in Monza with great frustration after a difficult Dutch GP, with Hamilton in sixth and Russell in seventeenth position, due to a strategy error:
"Zandvoort was a frustrating weekend. There was potential, but we failed to capitalize on it. We got the call wrong with the switch to Intermediates and that put us on the back foot. From there, it was about trying to salvage what we could. Both drivers recovered well, but the final sting in the tail was the puncture for George. The missed opportunities are annoying, but weekends like this only fire us up to bounce back even stronger. We've got plenty of learnings to take into the next race. Fortunately, we don't have long to wait for it. Monza's track characteristics are the complete opposite to Zandvoort, so we'll see how we get on. It's also sure to be another spectacular atmosphere this weekend".
Lewis Hamilton talks about the renewal:
"We dream everyday of being the best and we have dedicated the past decade together to achieving that goal. Being at the top does not happen overnight or over a short period of time, it takes commitment, hard work and dedication and it's been an honor to earn our way into the history books with this incredible team. We have never been hungrier to win. We have learned from every success but also every setback. We continue to chase our dreams, we continue to fight no matter the challenge and we will win again. I'm grateful to the team who have supported me both on and off the track. Our story isn't finished, we are determined to achieve more together and we won't stop until we do".
George Russell grew up in Mercedes and wants to win in the German team:
"I have grown up with this team ever since joining as part of the Junior program back in 2017. It's my home and it feels fantastic to extend our special relationship through 2025. After stepping up to the Mercedes race seat last year, I wanted to reward the trust and belief that Toto and the rest of the team placed in me. Taking my first pole position and race win last year was an unforgettable feeling. More importantly though, it's been great to work with everybody at Brackley and Brixworth to make progress with our car and push forward our development. Their loyalty, vision and hard work is inspiring. We have made some significant steps over the last 18 months and are only getting stronger as a team. I'm excited to help continue to build on that momentum as we progress into 2024 and 2025 as we continue to focus on returning to the very front of the pack".
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal, continues:
"Continuing with our current driver line-up was a straightforward decision. We have the strongest pairing on the grid and both drivers are playing a crucial role in the team to move us forward. The strength and stability they provide will be key building blocks for our future success. Our partnership with Lewis is one of the most successful in the sport's history. It was always a formality that we would continue together - and it's energizing for us all to be confirming that publicly. His qualities as a pure racing driver are illustrated by his remarkable track record; but over our years together, he has grown to become a pillar and leader of our team. Those leadership qualities are crucial as we focus on fighting for world championships again".
"As F1's biggest global star, he has also played a key role in shaping our commitments to diversity, inclusion and sustainability, that will be foundations for our success in the years ahead. George is a leading light of his generation. He has repaid the faith we showed in him when promoting him to a race seat in 2022. His maiden pole position in Hungary and first Grand Prix victory in São Paulo were standout moments last season. As a driver, he combines razor-sharp speed with the tenacity of a true fighter. But he brings, too, an intelligence and attention to detail that will help him to continue to grow, develop and improve further. He is a natural fit to the team and we are delighted to have extended the relationship for the coming years".
Esteban Ocon remembers his junior days in Italy:
"Monza, the Temple of Speed, is such an iconic and historic track and one of the oldest on the Formula 1 calendar. It's completely different to Zandvoort as we navigate just 11 corners, seven of which make up the three chicanes that break up this classic high-speed circuit. There are some truly legendary corners here such as Curva Grande, Ascari and Parabolica, and it's always exhilarating to drive around here. Personally, I really like this track, and driving in Italy in general, having spent a lot of time here in the junior days. The Tifosi make this race extremely special, and you can feel the passion of the fans. The whole team is excited to get our weekend started and we'll be working hard together for more good results".
Pierre Gasly, French by birth but Italian by adoption, is happy to return In the temple from the speed:
"I have spent a lot of my life in Italy and now I live in Milan, so of course, it's a very special place for me. The Italian Grand Prix is a semi home race for me since I stay at home for the race weekend, so that is very nice! Monza is the place of my first win in Formula 1 in 2020 and I have very fond memories of that. It was a truly special day and one I will remember forever. That was a few years ago now, and the target is to one day repeat that result, but, in the meantime, we will remain realistic on what is possible this weekend. It will be a challenging weekend but we have some confidence and momentum right now. We'll work hard in our preparation, aim for a solid Friday and tee ourselves up for a strong weekend from there".
The technical innovations introduced on the McLaren MCL60 are extensive and go beyond the empty wings that all the teams deploy in the Italian GP. Lando Norris demonstrated a competitive race pace in Holland, even if the final result was not excellent:
"Italy, we're back! It felt good to be back racing last weekend at the Dutch GP. We may not have finished where we wanted to, but we had a competitive car and scored some points. I've had time to go through everything with the engineers, and we now look ahead to Monza. Monza has been a good track for us in the past, so it's a special place for me.The weather may make it another interesting weekend for everyone, but we'll be giving it our all once again".
The Australian Oscar Piastri has already competed on the Italian circuit, even if it is his first time here with a Formula 1 car:
"I'm really excited to be racing in Monza in an F1 car. It's a fast track, which is fun, but there are some trickier parts. The team have been working hard to keep improving the car, and it feels good going into a race weekend knowing you have a car with so much potential. Last weekend showed we're competitive despite the challenges we faced. We'll be taking our learnings into this weekend, and hopefully make the final European race of the year a memorable one".
For Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, Monza means returning home. Both cars have reached up points on the previous race weekend and the evolution of the team confirms they are going in the right way:
"We come back from the Dutch GP with both cars scoring points, which could have been more as we missed a couple of opportunities in the race. However, we are encouraged by having confirmed once again that we have a competitive car. The Italian GP in Monza, which recalls some good memories for our Team, marks the last of the European races.The last few grands prix saw us gain a nice number of points following our upgrades to the MCL60, so we hope to continue on this trajectory. We will also be running the Alternative Tire Allocation in Qualifying. As always, we are determined and will keep working hard to fight for points at the top".
Alex Albon arrives in Italy with a smile, after the great result in the Netherlands:
"We're obviously coming from a strong weekend as we head into Monza, so I think there's high expectations that we need to manage a little bit. On paper, it's a track that should suit us, however we saw in Spa that it's not always the case with the low downforce tracks.With the format being slightly different qualifying it will be tricky to execute well, but we come off a strong weekend with a lot of learnings, so hopefully we can apply some of that to Monza".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, is aware that it this is the homeland of his team, and that the fans are waiting for a good result. Ferrari want to try to climb back to second place in the Constructors' Championship, aiming for a constant performance from the SF-23. Vasseur talks about this:
"We have been waiting quite a while to go racing here in Monza, our only home Grand Prix this year, following the cancellation of Imola back in May and now the time has come. For the entire team, taking to the track in front of our fans is an incentive to put our heart and soul into our work. We are keen to repay our fans for their support through thick and thin and we plan to put on a great show and deliver a race to be proud of This is my first Italian Grand Prix since I joined the Scuderia and so personally, that makes it even more exciting. To achieve our goals however, we will have to put emotion to one side and focus on executing the weekend to the best of ours ability, from the first lap of free practice to the last one in the race. We saw in Belgium, that on some types of track, the SF-23 is competitive. We will have to do everything to perfection. Charles and Carlos are two of the best drivers in the world and we owe it to them to give them the means to express their talent. Behind the Red Bulls, the gaps are very close and the slightest detail can make the difference. We will be giving it our best shot".
Carlos Sainz Jr. can't wait to feel the affection of the fans. From Zandvoort he arrives with a good fifth place, but in Monza the goal is much higher:
"Being a Formula 1 driver is great, but being a Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 driver is fantastic . Yesterday, we had several events to attend in Milan and the affection Charles and I could feel from the fans was heart-warming and a further reason to do our best. This track should suit our car better than Zandvoort. There I fought tooth and nail to finish fifth whereas here I hope we can raise the stakes and aim for the podium. But first, let's get the car out on track and see how it behaves. I came close to winning here in 2020 and I love it because it is extreme and you are always pushing flat out. We need to put together another perfectly executed weekend and see what we can bring home".
Charles Leclerc is undoubtedly an Italian soul, despite his Monegasque passport. Up to now, the Ferrari driver's championship hasn't been brilliant, but Monza rekindles spirits and the goal is at least the get the podium:
"This is a truly unique race for me. Racing in front of our fans and feeling their support from the moment you leave the hotel, gives me an extra boost and I'm all set to give it my best shot to make them happy. Even the fact we have a special team kit for this race is nice, with the long F1 like it very much and it underlines how different this Grand Prix is, compared to the others, for our company. This track has more in common with Spa- Francorchamps , where I finished on the podium than with Zandvoort or Budapest and so that gives me more confidence. Having said that, everyone is very evenly matched so it will be vital not to make the slightest mistake in order to get the best possible result. We will work hard in free practice to optimize our package and then we will see where we are. Usually in qualifying, slipstreaming plays a part and so it can be a very tricky session. The race itself doesn't last long because of the characteristics of the circuit. We will take one step at a time and concentrate on ourselves to get everything out of our package".
Max Verstappen is looking for a record that will place him in the history books:
"I'm looking forward to returning to Italy to see all the passionate Italian fans. There's a lot of motorsport history in the country so it's always good to race there. Monza is a fast circuit, you achieve very high top speeds, so it's very different to Zandvoort where we just raced, it'll be interesting to see how we perform there. It will be very important this weekend to generate as much top speed as possible, while looking after the tires. The weather forecast so far looks dry and it'd be good to have a weekend without rain for a change! Coming off nine wins in a row, I hope I can continue the streak, but we'll find out".
For Sergio Perez Monza is the opportunity to demonstrate that he is capable of living up to his teammate:
"Zandvoort it was super frustrating for me as a race, so Monza is all about getting the podium we deserved last weekend. Sometimes the weather and situations go for you and sometimes they don't, it was unfortunate I picked up the time penalty but there was nothing I could do to prevent that, that's racing though, you can't control everything. This weekend in Italy I will be looking to control the things I can and have a successful qualifying and race. The Team worked so hard for me on Sunday and our reactions together to the ever-changing conditions shows just how well we all collaborate. I feel in a good place with the car, it feels balanced and quick, we have built something really special and I want to show it's true pace all weekend".
On Friday, 1st September 2023, the Italian Grand Prix weekend officially starts on the Autodromo di Monza and the local fans can finally watch the twenty fastest drivers in the world race in their country this year, since the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola planned for 21 May was cancelled due to the devastating flood that hit the Northern Italy region. Carlos Sainz Jr. turns 29 today, so it will be a special weekend for him for many reasons, also because he has the chance to celebrate it by trying to obtain a victory on home turf in front of the Tifosi, in a season where Red Bull has dominated since the first Grand Prix and let no one else win, and where the Prancing Horse never found a good balance until the Spa weekend. About car upgrades, there is not much to discuss this weekend, since many teams only brought some tweaks specifically thought for the Monza circuit, which requires very low downforce and high maximum speed, so the main changes on the majority of the cars is on wings, mostly unloaded. The weather is predicted to be fine for the whole weekend, so the rain is unlikely going to disrupt the course of the practice sessions and in the race like in the Netherlands in the previous weekend.
On the occasion of this special weekend, Ferrari is bringing a livery inspired by the 2023 24 Hours Of Le Mans-winning Ferrari 499P, as well as a special overall for the drivers. Alfa Romeo also brought a different livery with the Italian tricolour on the sides; earlier this week, the Milan manufacturer presented the new 33 Stradale, a special supercar inspired by the car of the same name from 1967, which is considered by many the most beautiful car in history, and they also brought one of the 33 units of this car to the paddock. The purpose of free practice now, besides the usual testing for race pace and finding the right set-up, is also to aim for the fastest time with every tyre compound due to the qualifying format with the Alternative Tyre Allocation wanted by Pirelli. In FP1, Max Verstappen is still the fastest on track with 1'22"657 on hard tyres, followed by Carlos Sainz, 0.046 seconds away, and Sergio Perez, one tenth slower. Charles Leclerc is fourth with 1'22"866., while the top ten is completed by Russell, Alonso, Norris, Hamilton, Tsunoda and Albon. Alfa Romeo experienced some issues with anti-stall, which affected both drivers. They also had other problems shortly after. In order to save a set of tyres, no driver tried the qualifying pace but, instead, they all focused on long runs, hence Verstappen’s fastest lap on hard tyres. In FP2, it is Carlos Sainz who sets the fastest lap with 1'21"355., followed by Norris (+0.019s) and Perez (+0.185s). Piastri closes third, while Verstappen is only fifth and Leclerc closes in sixth place. The session is red-flagged four minutes after the start when Lance Stroll (AstonMartin) gets stuck after the Ascari chicane due to a loss of power, and he closes this day of practice without even making a complete lap, since Drugovich took his place in FP1. Ten minutes before the end, the practice is suspended again after Sergio Perez goes into the gravel at the Curva Alboreto and touches the wall with his rear wing, but with no considerable damage. In conclusion, it has been a positive day for Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and also WIlliams with Alex Albon in top 10 in both sessions, a tougher one for Mercedes and Aston Martin. An OK Friday for Haas and AlphaTauri, very negative instead for Alfa Romeo and Alpine. In Red Bull, Max Verstappen dominated FP1 and closed only fifth in FP2, complaining in certain moments about traffic while he was trying a qualifying lap, even if his track engineer reminded him that he was only free practice. He thinks that he could have done more:
"From my side it could have probably been a little bit better today, there is still some fine tuning to do from the low speed to the high speed, but I am, of course, quite confident we will get there. We have been trying a few different wing levels and I think we still need to analyse which way to go, it is sometimes a tricky thing around Monza. We were a little bit interrupted with our programme in FP2 so it was hard to get a read on a few things. On the short run I was blocked a bit in sector two and then on the long run we didn’t get to do a lot of laps, so you don’t really get a good idea but that’s the same for everyone. We need to see what happens when everyone turns up their engines for qualifying, from our side we can do a better job but also today hasn’t been the end of the world".
Sergio Perez closed both sessions in P3, the second of which with a small incident. He explains what went wrong:
"It was a shame that we ended FP2 the way that we did as I felt that it has otherwise been a positive day. I had some understeer around the exit to the corner; I thought I had the car under control but then touched the gravel and it was game over. As this happened at the end of my session it meant that we only lost around two laps and it didn’t make too much difference to my programme. Aside from this, the car was performing really well and I feel comfortable with it. We have been working really hard and made some positive steps during the session. For now, the team are looking at the damage to the car. We will be in good shape tomorrow and in a strong position for the rest of the weekend".
In Mercedes, it has been a tough day for Lewis Hamilton, eighth in FP1, seventeenth in FP2, but he does not complain about reliability and states that he was more focused on testing than on speed:
"It was a relatively normal Friday programme for me. The reliability was strong, and we got through the work that we needed to, checking off the different tests we had to do. There’s lots of learning from today, and we will have a bit of work tonight to try and improve for Saturday - as we always manage to do. I know that the team will do great work overnight to improve the set-up and car balance, so that we can be quicker tomorrow".
George Russell closed in a slightly better position, fifth in FP1 and ninth in FP2. He also has good feelings about the car:
"It’s great to be back in Monza and driving the car at these high speeds and with low downforce levels. The characteristics are very different to what we had last week in Zandvoort, and that’s something that it’s fun to adapt to. The car was feeling reasonably good, but we have some improvements to make on the soft tyre. The high fuel pace was looking pretty strong, so the focus tomorrow will be on finding more speed for qualifying".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, says that there is room for improvement on many levels:
"It’s been a messy day, partly with red flags but also because we’ve not got the car in a good place at the moment. That means we have a bit of work to do overnight to get the setup in the right place for the rest of the weekend. Single lap and long run both need work if we want to be competitive. There’s not much else to say; we just need to get on with the job of sorting the car out".
In Ferrari, Charles Leclerc closed fourth in FP1 and sixth in FP2; he complains about the car balance, despite having good speed:
"It was a rather tricky day overall. Our performance was quite good, however I struggled with the car balance. We will have to work on that for tomorrow, especially for the short runs, as with high fuel it seems to be going better”.
Carlos Sainz Jr.' day was better, second in FP1 and first in FP2; he seems very motivated and confident with the car:
"Overall it was a positive Friday for the team. The car looks to be back on the pace this weekend and the track characteristics seem to be suiting us better. It’s only Friday and tomorrow is not going to be easy, as the field is super tight with several cars within a couple of tenths. We’ll keep trying to find more performance, especially for the long runs where I think there is more room for improvement. It’s great to drive in front of this amazing crowd here in Monza! Let’s keep pushing".
In McLaren, a positive day for Lando Norris, seventh in FP1 and second in FP2. He thinks that the car can still do better, even if it made considerable progress:
"A good day in terms of progress made. I don’t think we started off in the best position but we made a few good changes and it’s definitely helped us with our overall pace, which is a good thing. However, we’re still a little way off being as competitive as we want to be. We’ll work hard overnight to try and improve on that, and we have a few ideas. But a nice way to end the day, and if we can find some more, I’ll be confident we can have a decent result".
Oscar Piastri closed FP1 in eleventh place and FP2 in fourth, confirming the positive period of the McLaren car. He has good feelings, especially about the flying lap:
"End of Friday, and we’ve had a reasonable day. I think we have some things still to work on and improve on, but the one-lap pace seems to be quite reasonable. Let’s see how we go, there are some things to analyse but not a bad first day".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, analysed the situation, which seems to be pretty positive for the team:
"Overall, it’s been a productive Friday here at Monza. Red flags aside, we were able to work smoothly through our programme, making comparisons between rear wing levels as we try and achieve the right top speed. The data looks encouraging, and tonight we’ll pick what we believe is going to be the most appropriate configuration for the rest of the weekend. We also had a good look at all three tyre compounds, each of which will be used in the Alternative Tyre Allocation qualifying format tomorrow. Ahead of that we have a busy night, binding together everything we’ve discovered today, preparing as best we can for qualifying and the race".
In Aston Martin, Fernando Alonso had a decent day, with a sixth place in FP1 and an eight place in FP2. He fears that the battle in the midfield may be very close:
"It was a good day at Monza and the adrenaline was pumping. It's always nice to be back here. Very unique on a low downforce set-up. I'm happy to be back, but Lance did have a problem and we had to adapt to using just one set of tyres per session. It's the same for everybody and it will be tight tomorrow - from P6 to P16 it could be split by four tenths. We need to be sharp tomorrow".
Mike Krack, Aston Martin’s Team Principal, congratulates Drugovich and evaluates his work:
"As expected, Felipe did a really solid job for the team today and did not set a foot wrong, completing 24 laps during the first practice session. He was tasked with a difficult job given the Alternative Tyre Allocation, but he made his set of Medium tyres last throughout the hour and completed his full run plan within that time. We’re pleased with the detailed feedback he’s given today; it will be helpful in guiding our set-up for the weekend".
Tom McCullough, Aston Martin’s Performance Director, analyses the team’s weekend:
"It was a tough day overall because we only ran with one car in Free Practice Two but Felipe did a great job in FP1. We got all the test runs done this morning as we adapted to the Alternative Tyre Allocation. The fuel system problem was a bit frustrating as Lance didn't get to do any laps in FP2. The other stoppage in FP2 didn't help either, but, once again, everyone was in the same boat. Luckily we got some data from Felipe and Fernando and we have something to work on tomorrow as we look to maximise Monza".
Alex Albon hit the top ten twice today, tenth in FP1 and seventh FP2. Another confirmation of his growth behind the wheel of the car from Grove. As much as his teammate, he complains about the difficulty of driving with low downforce:
"The low downforce set-up is difficult and I don’t think it feels particularly good for anyone, but despite this, the car feels okay. We’re doing an alternate programme to most people, just trying to make sure we understand the Medium tyre going into Q2 tomorrow, as this is going to be important in trying to set ourselves up properly to make it into Q3. There are slightly different issues I’m feeling with the car but nothing I can’t deal with, so we’ll look at these ahead of tomorrow. What’s important is that we’re in the mix but I don’t want to speak too soon. For FP3 tomorrow, we need to weigh up and see what everyone else is doing, helping us to understand where we want to focus on".
A bad day for Alpine: Ocon closed seventeenth in FP1 and fifteenth in FP2. He says that the car can still improve:
"It’s always special to drive here in Monza, such an iconic track, and it’s good to be back driving in front of the Italian fans, especially after the cancellation of Imola earlier this season. On track, our Friday was a busy one with plenty to get through. We completed our programme but I think at the moment there are quite a few different things we need to look at in order to be more competitive on this high-speed track. The key will be to get the set-up right ahead of tomorrow for what will be a busy Qualifying session. We’ve got work to do tonight and I know we’ll all be pushing to be in a good position for Sunday’s race".
Pierre Gasly went slightly better, fourteenth in FP1 and thirteenth in FP2. The Frenchman, who won here with AlphaTauri in 2020, also says that there is room for improvement:
"It’s great to be driving in Monza again as it’s a very special place for me and it’s also my semi-home race since I live in Milan. On-track it’s been a pretty solid if unspectacular day for us, where we ran through a specific programme filled with plenty of learning for the team. The timesheets are of course not where we aim to be, that said, we know the areas we need to improve and hopefully tomorrow we will be in a stronger position. There’s a long way to go in the weekend and now we’ll analyse the data from today and find a good direction on set-up ready for Qualifying".
Matt Harman, Alpine’s Technical Director, says that the main purpose of this day of practice was to collect data and test the new parts:
"Today was all about learning for us and, on that front, it’s been a very good day. Both sessions had some interruptions and a couple of red flags but, even so, both cars ran a solid programme and the drivers did an excellent job to run through a handful of test items and provide useful data for the team to analyse. The rear beam wing we introduced to both cars has worked in line with our expectations and that is positive. We know the areas where we are lacking and finding improvements to those areas has been a focus point for us today, which will certainly benefit us in the mid to long term. Right now, it’s all about picking the best set-up on both cars and we look forward to seeing what the rest of the weekend brings".
Simone Berra, Pirelli’s Chief Engineer, explains the approach of the teams to the practice sessions in view of the alternative tyre allocation:
"It was a very useful day in terms of the data gathered which we will now analyse ahead of the rest of the weekend. The ATA seems to have led the teams to modify their programme, allowing us to gather plenty of tyre-related data, split pretty much equally across all three dry compounds available, without in anyway lessening the show on track, given that the laps completed were completely in line with the numbers we saw last year here in Monza. Furthermore, we were already seeing long runs in FP1, when the temperatures were more similar to those we can expect on Sunday for the race, when compared to what would have happened with the traditional format. FP2 ran to a more conventional Friday pattern so that we were able to confirm the performance gaps between the Medium and the Soft which we had estimated would be around half a second. From what we have seen so far, the compounds that would seem best suited for use in the race are the Medium and the Hard, as the Soft does not deliver a big performance advantage, given the temperatures this weekend. The track is still evolving and, as it gradually rubbers-in, there should be less of the light tread wear we saw today, especially with the Softs".
So, after this Friday is archived, the teams get ready for an intense qualifying at the Temple Of Speed, where drag, slipstreams and power will be decisive. Saturday in Monza starts with a sunny weather and a lot of excitement going around the paddock, for a quali day that is expected to be thrilling.
It’s half past noon when the lights go green on the Italian soil and with that the first F1 session of the day can start: Lance Stroll is predictably the first to enter the track, considering he didn’t drive all Friday, because the reserve driver and Formula 2 2022 World Champion Felipe Drugovich had the opportunity to try out the AM23. After Stroll also the Ferrari duo make his appearance on track, causing the loud cheers from the grandstands, alongside Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez, who sets the fastest time of the session with a 1'22"662. This time is soon beaten by Lando Norris, that sets a new 1'22"515 on his Mclaren, using old soft tyres. While Leclerc and Sainz set their first time that put Sainz in third and Leclerc in sixth position, Max Verstappen is quick to achieve the fastest time in 1'21"838, quickly improved with a 1'21"687 five minutes after. With almost half of the practice time gone, Oscar Piastri finally exists the pit lane and sets the first time of the session, arriving in eleventh place overall. After a quick pit stop for almost everyone it’s time to be on track again, with some predictable traffic occurring at the Parabolica turn and a scary moment in the pitlane, when Kevin Magnussen has to deal with an Aston Martin mechanic standing almost in the middle of the pit lane corridor. With thirty minutes left it’s a 1-2 RedBull at the top, followed by Magnussen in third, Hamilton in fourth and Sainz in fifth, with Leclerc being only in tenth position. They are all working on the race pace now but with different approaches, seeing how the two RedBulls are slowly compared to the other cars on pace. Meanwhile it’s also time to try out the times for quali later, since this weekend the layout will see mandatory hard tyres for Q1, medium tyres for Q2 and soft tyres for Q3: it’s Alex Albon who surprises everyone by pulling a 1'22"114 and arriving in P2 on medium tyres. Some minutes later there’s a yellow flag waving and it’s because of Oscar Piastri, who went wide at the Roggia turn and went into the gravel, but managed to renter the track safely and to continue his session. After this it’s time for almost everyone to try the flying laps for quali later, and the ones who go first are Russell and Hamilton, who get the third and first position (with a time of 1'21"453). After them are Alonso and Verstappen who rejoin the track with brand new soft tyres and it’s the dutchman that puts together the first time of the day under the 1.21s, with a time of 1'20"998.
But after a brief yellow flag caused by Valtteri Bottas at the Ascari turn, it’s Sainz who steals the fastest time from Verstappen and sets a 1'20"912, putting an end on the session, that sees Sainz first, followed by Verstappen, Hamilton, Leclerc, Alonso, Russell, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Albon, Perez, Stroll, Lawson, Tsunoda, Piastri, Sargeant, Bottas, Norris, Ocon, Zhou and Gasly. The electric atmosphere remains all through the afternoon, when it’s finally time for quali and in the sky there are some clouds, to relieve the heat of the Italian summer. At 4:00 p.m. the lights are green and it’s time for Q1, where everyone will have to use hard tyres. A few minutes after the start of the session it’s already Verstappen who sets the fastest time in 1'22"047, just ahead of Russell and Perez in P2 and P3: unfortunately for the dutchman his time gets cancelled and he drops at the end of the classification, putting Albon in P1 with a 1'22"123. After Verstappen also Alonso sees his time get cancelled, for exceeding the track at the Lesmo-2 turn. After this Verstappen retakes his lead with a 1'21"573 in the same moment as Ocon goes wide at the Ascari turn, touching the gravel but being able to continue. At the end of Q1 the ones eliminated are Guanyu Zhou, Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen and Lance Stroll; on the other hand is Verstappen who leads and behind him there are Albon, Leclerc, Tsunoda, Perez, Sargeant, Sainz, Hamilton, Norris, Alonso, Piastri, Lawson, Russell, Bottas and Hulkenberg. While the two Ferraris are under investigation for having done a too slow flying lap, it’s time for Q2, where everyone will have to go for medium tyres. Everyone is on track now except for the Mercedes duo, who is still waiting in the box. At this point it’s Carlos Sainz who takes the best time with a 1'20"991, having behind him Verstappen and Leclerc, with Albon in fourth place. Now even Russell and Hamilton are on track, while everyone else is re-entering in the pit lane: Russell manages a sixth place while Hamilton is far back in twelfth place. With three minutes to go it’s time for everyone to rejoin the track, causing a big traffic mess at the exit of the pit lane and going for one last flying lap on medium tyres. When the chequered flag waves is Verstappen who takes the lead with a 1'20"937, behind him there are Leclerc, Sainz, Perez, Albon, Hamilton, Russell, Piastri, Alonso and Norris. Eliminated are Tsnuoda, Lawson, Hulkenberg, Bottas and Sargeant in P15.
When Q3 starts everyone has to use soft tyres and there are 12 minutes to decide who will be the poleman on the Italian soil: it’s Verstappen who exits first, followed by Perez, Norris, Alonso, Leclerc, Sainz, Piastri, Albon, Russell and Hamilton, with the Mercedes, Ferraris and Red Bulls trying to tow each others. It’s Ferrari who comes out on top with Sainz and a 1'20"532, followed suit by his teammate Leclerc and Verstappen all in a tenth of a second. For the second attempt is Alonso who starts first, followed by the red car number 16 and by Verstappen: when the chequered flag waves it’s Carlos Sainz who takes the pole in front of the Tifosi, with a time of 1'20"294, followed in P2 by Verstappen, and in P3 by Leclerc. Behind them it’s Russell in P4, Perez in fifth place, then Albon, Piastri, Hamilton, Norris and Alonso. After this electric qualifying, it’s time to evaluate the days performances, starting with the Ferrari drivers. At Ferrari it’s a special weekend and Carlos Sainz Jr. is understandably very thrilled:
"What a Saturday! It’s so special to get pole position here, in front of all the tifosi. I had a very good feeling from the car already on Friday and today we confirmed our pace. Q3 was always on the limit and we all took big risks in the fight for this pole. When I finally crossed the line and I heard the tifosi screaming like crazy and jumping on the grandstands I knew we had it. The weekend is not over yet, we want more, and for that we need to stay focused and prepare well for tomorrow. It’s going to be a challenging race but we’ll give it everything to fight for the win and give the tifosi around the world something to keep cheering us on".
The feeling is of course mutual for Charles Leclerc, who is the local hero and in today’s qualifying did really well in front of his adoring fans:
"Q3 was really on the limit and I'm happy with my two laps, considering where we started from this weekend. The direction we went in with the set-up of my car yesterday wasn't the right one, although at first I thought it was. So we had to adapt and make some changes for FP3, a session that still felt a bit inconsistent. But overall, our performance was good today and the gaps are really small between all of us. Let's see what we can do tomorrow".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari Team Principal, is at his first Monza experience leading the Italian team and can be satisfied with the result achieved today:
"We dedicate this pole position to our many tifosi here at the track. As expected, qualifying was very closely contested and Carlos did a simply perfect job. He has been quick since the first free practice session and he fully deserves this. Charles was only six hundredths slower, but that was enough to put him behind Max. This is the best team qualifying result of the season, which will allow us to have a two-pronged strategy tomorrow. Over a flying lap, we knew we were competitive, but from what we saw on Friday, our race pace isn’t bad either. We will take a look at where we are after the opening lap and then see what we can do. We have worked hard and it’s great for the team at ithe track and for those working back in Maranello to see that we have made another step forward and that the effort everyone has put in is paying off. Tomorrow we will give it our best shot".
On the other side, the Red Bull team can also be happy, and so it says Max Verstappen:
"It was very close all the way through quali and Ferrari have been quick throughout the whole weekend. From our side we did everything we could to be as competitive as possible and I was happy with the lap in Q3, so nothing really to complain about. It was just not enough for pole but we know we have a good race car. It is all about the race pace and if we have better race pace, like normal, we will try to put the pressure on them. I am happy with how we set up the car for the race and hopefully that will pay off on Sunday. I know the win is something that could happen. If it’s ten in a row that would be amazing, but we have to execute the race in the best possible way to achieve that".
His teammate Sergio Perez isn’t as happy as the dutchman, since he struggled a lot more:
"Today wasn’t a great day. Adding a new engine and missing a large part of FP3 today was not ideal as it meant that we didn’t get to run the soft tyres before going into qualifying, so we were less prepared for Q3. Overall, I don’t think we maximised our performance and showed what we could do today. The Team, however, did a tremendous job turning the car around in time for qualifying. We had a good Friday and great race pace yesterday but today we just didn’t capitalise on our performance. Tomorrow, I am optimistic that we can still show our strong pace and we will do our very best to come through the field".
Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Principal, confirms a solid Saturday:
"A very impressive lap from Max to get on the front row. We knew from this morning that the Ferraris were going to be incredibly quick over a lap and in the end there was only a couple of centimetres difference between the two of them. Checo recovered well from missing track time in FP3 and an engine change to line up P5 makes for an exciting race tomorrow".
In the Mercedes garage George Russell admits the difficulties of this new quali format:
"You need to be dynamic in this new qualifying format as you jump down the tyre compounds, and I think we did a good job managing it today. The engineers did a great job overnight and we hit the ground running this morning, I felt more comfortable in the car. With the softer tyre compounds Pirelli have brought here, I think there's the option to tune the set-up more aggressively for qualifying or favouring the race pace a little bit more. We've done the latter, so I hope it pays off tomorrow. There's always lots of talk about a tow here, but it's always a double-edge sword; I chose clean air on each run and it worked well today. Overall, though, this was a session that just shows how you need to get every detail right in F1: in Q1, I didn't get the tyre in the right window and was P13; then in Q3, we ended up P4. Now it's full focus on the race and I hope we can challenge for the podium".
Lewis Hamilton shares the same thoughts about some struggles they had during the session:
"That wasn't the greatest session. We started off the weekend well in FP1 on the first run, then it feels like things have got more complicated and I just haven't found the sweet spot with the car. It was improving through qualifying, and we made it to the top ten, but I still didn't have the feeling I wanted with the car on the final run. We know how close the times are in qualifying, and that also translates to very similar race pace, which can make it hard to make up positions through the field, especially early in the race. George did a great job today to get on the second row, and I hope I can make progress forwards tomorrow".
Also Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, says his opinion:
"That was a solid session for us but again a mixed outcome from qualifying - less than two tenths between our drivers, but that means four positions when it's such a close field. George did a strong job to get onto the second row; Lewis found it more difficult to build confidence in the car, and he was struggling for rear grip through the sessions. We know how hard it is to overtake at this circuit, with the small wings and a reduced DRS effect. If George makes a good start, then he can fight at the front; if Albon gets past, for example, then it might be a more complicated afternoon for us. As for Lewis, we know what he can deliver in the race - and he will fight until the final metres to climb through the field. Finally, it was great to see Ferrari put on such a great show, and fantastic to see the emotions of the tifosi as well. It will be a long race tomorrow, probably a one-stop without too much variety in the strategy, but let's see how we go when it comes to the race pace".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, continues:
"It was a really solid lap by George to take 4th on the grid. We were miles off the pace yesterday, but some good work was done overnight to close that gap down. Lewis was the wrong side of a tight bunch but that's how the grid is this year, his final lap began well but the rears started to give up in the final sector which cost him a few places. This track doesn't suit our car particularly well so a podium is a stretch target but we'll be looking for any opportunity to move both forward. We're expecting a hot race tomorrow which is going to mean tyre management is a big factor. But that should also create possibilities to offset and open up some choices on strategy".
The Alpine duo have a difficult day, as confirms Esteban Ocon:
"Obviously, it's very disappointing to exit Q1 today. It was clear that our package was not quite suited to this track and I feel like both cars maximised their potential today, finishing with very similar lap times. It's up to us to really pin down the causes, which led to this lack of performance and I am sure we will find some solutions going forwards. In the meantime, the focus shifts to tomorrow and coming up with a plan to fight our way up the field to salvage something from this weekend. I am sure we can race much better tomorrow and we look forward to the fight".
Also his teammate Pierre Gasly agrees on this:
"We knew this was going to be a tough day as a team and unfortunately that is the case with both cars out in Q1. Obviously, that's a disappointing feeling and not where we want to be but tomorrow is the race and we will see what we can do to advance. We know the areas where we are lacking pace - it has been the focus for us this weekend in practice - but ultimately, this circuit does not suit our overall package and that has shown today. We have work to do tomorrow but we will see what we can do on strategy and aim for a positive race".
Another happy garage is the Williams one, where Alex Albon is ready to start his Sunday race in P6:
"We came into Monza hoping to get into Q3, so P6 is great! We have a great car and quick cars are ahead of us in terms of race pace, so in that sense it's fine. If we can hold position against the Astons and the McLarens, I'll be pretty happy. The car has been feeling good and until Qualifying, we've been making changes to the car every session, as we struggled to dial it in a little bit, but then everything came together. We knew this track was going to suit us, but we need to use these weekends to pull further ahead in the Constructors', so let's see what we can do tomorrow".
Even if Fernando Alonso got into Q3, this wasn’t the qualifying he expected:
"It wasn't our best Qualifying today finishing in 10th position. We still managed to make Q3 again and it means we can fight for points tomorrow. Today it seems we performed better in Q1 and Q2, but we struggled to match this pace in Q3 on the Softs. There are no points awarded for today and our strength has been on Sundays. We will hope for an unusual race tomorrow and look to capitalise on any opportunities".
This feeling is shared by also Mike Krack, Aston Martin’s Team Principal:
"A tricky Qualifying session where we were missing the performance level of our expectations. We need to understand why Fernando did not manage to improve when we fitted the Soft tyres because we were not able to compete for the top positions in Q3. Lance struggled for grip on the Hard tyres. He missed so much track time yesterday and that compromised his preparation. We will need to be opportunistic tomorrow to bring Lance up the field and we will be reliant on the fortunes of others to some extent. There is still a long race ahead and we will give it everything tomorrow to try and bring home some points to minimise the damage".
Some mixed feeling also in the McLaren garage, where Oscar Piastri admits:
"Not a bad result. I felt like I did a pretty decent lap at the end and there wasn't too much more left in it. I'm happy with what I did. Of course would like to be a bit more competitive but I think that's about where we expected to be. We'll do some work tonight to prepare for the race and see what we can do tomorrow".
Same for Lando Norris, who isn’t 100% happy about his result:
"Not my best qualifying, but not a bad day. We struggled a little bit to find the last couple of things on the final lap. Probably a little bit too close to the car ahead. That compromised me maybe a little bit more than I was hoping for but other than that I think it was pretty much as good as we were going to get between Oscar and myself. Oscar did a good job. Tough day but I think we did the maximum".
An important opinion is given to us by Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director:
"The Grand Prix at Monza is always special, because of the great atmosphere at what is rightly known as the Temple of Speed and also because of the show it puts on for the public, who today were treated to a thrilling fight for pole between the two Ferrari drivers and the amazing champion, Max Verstappen. It was really exciting as the three of them improved their times in Q3 one after the other. On the tyre front, these two days have seen us trial the ATA format once again, this time in stable weather. The teams and drivers have shown that they have adapted quickly to the different challenges this has created in terms of tyre usage, without affecting the on track activity. Now we will carry out a detailed analysis of the whole weekend to see if this format could be adopted on a regular basis in the future, maybe with a few adjustments, or if we will stick with the standard tyre allocation. Looking ahead to tomorrow's race and possible strategies, we can confirm that a single stop is the quickest option, with the Hard compound being the main protagonist. It remains to be seen if some will decide to start on the Medium to have more flexibility, with a good level of grip at the start, or risk starting on the Soft to try and make up places in the early stages. The two-stop strategy is conditioned by the fact the pit lane is very long and therefore time is lost at each pit stop, but it could be a valid choice if the race is neutralised at any point".
It’s the 3rd of September, it’s Sunday and it’s race day in The Temple of Speed at Monza, in Italy. The track is clear and the weather is sunny. All the drivers are ready and everyone is set to start on medium tyres except for Hamilton, Bottas and Magnussen, who are on hard tyres. At 3:00 p.m. o’clock the formation lap starts, but Tsunoda has a problem with his car and needs to stop it on the grass. This delays the start at 3:20 p.m.. Finally light out and poleman Carlos Sainz manages to keep his first place ahead of Max Verstappen, who is followed by the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. On the second lap Alexander Albon takes back his qualifying sixth position overtaking Oscar Piastri. Sainz is able to maintain his position against Verstappen, but on 15th lap the Dutch overtakes the Spanish whose tyres have locked up in the first corner. In the back, Albon makes a move on Piastri into the second chicane and goes sixth behind Perez, while Norris, Hamilton and Hulkenberg round out the top ten.
Verstappen, on Lap 6, makes his first attempt on Sainz Jr. around the outside of the first chicane, almost leading to contact. He says on the radio:
"That was naughty".
Then, he tries another assault on Sainz, but fails again. Leclerc is third, while Russell and Perez pass each other on several occasions for fourth. Albon is sixth, with the McLarens following in seventh and eighth, Hamilton ninth and Alonso working his way back into the points. On lap 15, Sainz locks up into Turn 1 and loses the lead into the second chicane to Verstappen. A lap later, Albon pits for hards, while Perez passes Russell once more. Leclerc says on the radio:
"Carlos is struggling a little bit with the rears".
On lap 20, Ferrari decided that it is time to call Sainz into the pits. A lap later, also Verstappen and Leclerc pit, while Perez does the same a little after, for a set of hards, emerging just behind the Ferraris. The stewards note an incident involving Russell and Ocon, with the Briton being handed a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage as he skipped the first chicane to secure the position. The three-car train of Sainz, Leclerc and Perez pass Hamilton, as the Mercedes driver pits for mediums on lap 28 and emerges at the ending place of the top ten, telling his team that:
"There’s a long way to go on this damn tyre".
Perez tries a move on Leclerc and dips two wheels onto the grass at the second chicane.
"You’re faster, you’re going to get him".
The Red Bull pit wall says to Perez, who manages to complete the move on Leclerc into the first chicane. Sainz says that “it will be tight to make it to the end” on his current set of tyres, while Perez gets closer.
Albon tries all he can do to keep Norris at bay for sixth. Hamilton makes a move on Piastri into the second chicane on lap 41, they bang wheels and take to the run off.
"He just turned across me".
The Australian rookie says over the radio and pits for a new front wing going out of the points. Hamilton, eighth, is hit with a five-second penalty by the stewards. Back at the front, Perez is still trying to pass Sainz and takes to the run-off at the first chicane on several occasions and shouting over the radio:
"He’s not leaving any room, man. Come on, we can’t race like this".
Perez finally passes Sainz into Turn 1 on lap 46 and leaves the Ferraris to battle it out for the final podium place, with Leclerc briefly getting ahead of his team mate at the first chicane before dropping back behind at the second, the pair nearly making contact.
Hamilton passes both Norris and Albon in quick succession to rise to sixth. Max Verstappen wins again and breaks another record. He has won ten races in a row this year and beats Vettel’s record with Red Bull. The Dutch shares the podium with Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz. Charles Leclerc is fourth, followed by the Mercedes of Russell and Hamilton. Alexander Albon finishes in 7th position followed by Norris, Alonso and Bottas who closes the top ten. Max Verstappen says it was not so easy to beat Ferrari today, but he managed to do that. He is happy about his record and about the great result of the team in Monza:
"I had to be patient today to get the win, Ferrari had a lot of top speed all weekend and I think when you look at our rear wing we had to trim down our top flap, so our DRS the whole weekend wasn’t as effective as normal. That meant we could never have a good run down into turn one, so I had to be patient and force Carlos into a mistake. At one point, when his tyres were wearing a little, we tried to make him brake late, he locked up a little bit and I thought, perfect and was able to pass him on the exit to turn two. From there it was about managing things and bringing the car home safely. Ten wins in a row is a record I am very happy about; it is something you don’t even think about trying to achieve because it is very unlikely that those kinds of things happen. I am very proud it has happened and proud of what the Team has done again today, the whole year has been pretty incredible so far. And, of course, a one-two today as well, here in Monza, is special for us all".
Sergio Perez is satisfied with his result and hopes he can have a good end to the season. He also talks about the atmosphere in Monza:
"It is really satisfying to achieve P2 today and it has been a brilliant day for the team. Overtaking was really difficult on this track and the Ferraris were very fast on the straights so it was hard to make my way through the field. We had some tough racing, but I fought really hard to overtake and gave it my all and it paid off. We didn’t get to show it yesterday, but it’s been a strong weekend in terms of performance. I feel like my form is fully back and I hope we can have a very strong end to the season. The team have done a lot of work on the suspension and the set-up of the car and we have made great steps forward here. Finally, the atmosphere here in Italy and on the podium was amazing: the whole main straight was packed and it was a great experience. Max’s achievement today really is incredible so well done to him: today is his moment".
Christian Horner agrees with his drivers and explains how, thanks to all the team, it was possible to achieve 14 victories in a row for Red Bull and 10 for Max Verstappen:
"This was a very special victory but we had to do it the hard way. The Ferrari’s were very quick today, just as they have been all weekend and with Carlos and Charles defending like their life depended on it meant we had to work that extra bit harder to lead the race. Sergio did a brilliant job, finding his form to claim second, while Max continued his exemplary run to take the win. This now gives Max 10 victories in a row which breaks Sebastian’s record from 10 years ago. It’s a fantastic achievement and a huge effort from every single faction of The Team. I say time and time again, it’s not just what you see here at track that makes success possible, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes. Formula One is the biggest team sport in the world, and it requires every single person to do their job, investing in this car and sharing the same vision. This win is down to everyone in the Oracle Red Bull Racing Team that has done such an amazing job this season. That’s now 14 victories in a row. We are leaving Europe unbeaten which is a truly remarkable achievement and something we look to extend as we head to the next race in Singapore in two weeks time".
Carlos Sainz has had a good weekend and hopes the fans enjoyed it as he did conquering P3:
"It was a great weekend all along and to be able to celebrate a podium with the tifosi is the perfect icing on the cake! I really want to thank every single one of them for their endless support. They are very special. Today I did everything I could to try to keep both Red Bulls behind, using my tyres to the limit and pushing for the entire race. Unfortunately, they still have the edge over us on race day and P3 was the maximum today. We had good battles on track with them and with Charles and I hope people enjoyed it as much as I did. Now we have some time to regroup and start preparing for Singapore as soon as possible".
Charles Leclerc didn’t get the podium but he says he had so much fun in this race. As well as his teammate, he hopes the tifosi enjoyed the race:
"It has been a while since I had that much fun in a race! The battles we had throughout were great, and Checo (Perez), Carlos and I were really close towards the end, which made for an exciting handful of closing laps. We had some free space behind us, so I just enjoyed it and pushed to the maximum. I hope that the tifosi enjoyed it as much as I did and a big thanks to them for all the support this weekend. I hope that we will see more races like this to come and look forward to being back on track in Singapore".
Frederic Vasseur says the team can be happy with today’s result and thanks the fans who supported them all the weekend:
"It was a great race and the result was the best we could do today, finishing on the podium in front of our fans and bringing home 27 points which sees us get ahead of Aston Martin and close on Mercedes. We dedicate this result to our fans who have been so supportive all weekend long and we are pleased to have put on a good show both yesterday in qualifying and today, especially at the end of the race when we let our drivers fight it out for third place. We did that because we know how special it is to be on the podium here, but we also told them not to take any risks and they complied with that. Carlos drove really well all weekend and Charles also recovered well after getting off to a difficult start on Friday. In two weeks we start from scratch again in Singapore, but for today we can be happy with what we have done here. We knew our car would be more competitive on this sort of track and the SF-23 lived up to our expectations".
George Russell finished the race in P5 and looks forward to Singapore, as he thinks the car will be good in that circuit:
"Fifth place was probably the maximum today and I think we'd have taken that result before the weekend. We've outpaced McLaren and Aston Martin here, but unfortunately Ferrari were just a step ahead of us here - and then Red Bull out front. They were so fast in the high-speed corners today, I just couldn't keep Perez behind any longer than I did in the early laps. It was a tough race because the degradation was high, but the long pit-stop loss just means that a two-stop strategy isn't really competitive; that means a lot of time in DRS, but it's not easy to overtake with such small pace differences between cars. I'm looking forward to heading to Singapore next. We were competitive there last year and I think that our car will be better suited to that circuit, so hopefully we can fight a bit closer to the front than we managed here".
Lewis Hamilton agrees with his teammate:
"Every point and position that we are getting through these races are incredibly hard-fought. We started on the hard tyre today and it was nice to be offset but difficult at the beginning and not so easy to follow in the DRS train. I spent a lot of laps following the McLarens, so I knew that I had slightly more pace than them in the first stint, and hoped I could get them on the second one. There was a big gap to catch after the stop, and I was worried my tyres would go off when I caught them, but fortunately theirs did the same. I cleared Alonso immediately after the stop, which opened things up and let me close them down; but the incident with Piastri was just unfortunate. I misjudged the gap that I had and it was totally my fault - I went and apologised to him straight after. So I think we maximised today, and now I'm looking forward to Singapore in ten days' time".
Toto Wolff talks about the good job his drivers made, maximising the points they could get:
"That was a pretty incident-filled race for us and we maximised the points that were in there today. But like always, we need to be careful not to be too happy about finishing fifth and sixth. Looking back at them, I think both penalties for the drivers were fair, but fortunately they both did a great job to make sure they didn't have any consequence for the finishing positions; they both just took it on the chin, got their heads down and kept on racing. We know that these low-downforce circuits are not our strong suit, and in fact I think we have seen progress over the season from Baku to Spa to here. The next race is Singapore, so back to high downforce and coming towards our direction a little it more. It will be important for us to maximise that opportunity when it comes".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, says that because of the hot conditions the tyres struggled a bit and hopes that in Singapore they will fight for more points:
"We were the third quickest team today so fifth and sixth was the best we could achieve. The car just doesn't have the pace of the Ferrari at this downforce level. Fortunately, on normal tracks the fight is much closer but today was all about damage limitation and the team and drivers did a good job to minimise our points loss in the constructors' championship. The hot conditions made it tricky with the tyres and if you were pushing to defend or attack, the one stop became quite marginal. We were expecting a tough race for the tyres, normally our car is quite kind to its rear tyres but since Friday we've struggled to keep the temperatures down, we're just sliding around a little too much. Saying that, we at least had the pace and straight-line speed to gain a few places at the end with Lewis. We've been some way off threatening the podium positions here so we're looking forward to Singapore where hopefully we'll be able to fight for the bigger points positions".
Alexander Albon says that even if they expected to be a little bit quicker in the race he is very proud of this P7:
"That was probably my toughest but my most proud race I've done, so I'm very happy. I'm sure Lando didn't enjoy that one too much, but I did! We went into today knowing it was going to be a tough, long race and we knew tyre deg would be high. I think on paper we went into this weekend expecting to be a little bit quicker than we were and four laps into the race I knew it would be long, but we managed to keep everyone behind. We were on used Mediums and used Hards so we made it tough for ourselves; I wouldn't want to do that race again but I'm super happy with the result. Scoring points two races in a row is really enjoyable. From where we were at the start of the year to now is amazing. I don't think the next few races will be easy for us so let's enjoy these ones".
Lando Norris finished P8 and talks about the battle he had with Albon:
"A good race. I think the pace was strong today. It was just very difficult to overtake, as usual, but when we didn't have to overtake, the pace was good. We could pressure Alex the whole race, but he did a very good job, so hats off to him and Williams, they were quick this weekend and managed to stay ahead. I think it was the best we could have done, so happy with that. Big thanks go to the team, both at track and at the factory, for reacting after Spa and giving us a more competitive package. We'll put our heads down now and start focusing on Singapore".
Oscar Piastri comments about the challenges he had to face during the race:
"A difficult day with plenty of challenges. Firstly, it was great to lead my first Grand Prix laps, and the overall pace was encouraging today, but unfortunately, we were still lacking in straight-line speed to really take the fight to Alex (Albon). After the first stint, our race got a little bit more difficult and the incident with Lewis ended our chances of getting points. Lots to debrief on as a team and we'll aim to come back stronger in Singapore".
Andrea Stella says that after Spa the results of the team are encouraging:
"Our objective for the race was to finish with two cars in the points, which we only partly achieved. With Oscar, while we were in the points we had a collision with Lewis, which dropped him out of contention, needing to pit for a new front wing. Otherwise, I think we can be pleased with the pace shown by the MCL60 today. We were ready for greater degradation and a more difficult race but in reality, our degradation was manageable, and we were limited only by the capacity to overtake. Considering where we were in Spa, two races ago, this feels very encouraging. The team have worked very hard since the Belgian Grand Prix to address our issues with top speed. They've done a very good job, and parts were being delivered here until the last minute. So, well done to everyone, and now we look forward to Singapore, where we hope to be competitive".
Fernando Alonso says that this race was physically difficult and talks about Ferrari overtaking Aston Martin in the Constructors’ Championship:
"It was a very difficult race today and it was one of the most physically challenging of the year. We will take many lessons from this weekend and look to be better next time. I had some hope we might be able to catch Lewis [Hamilton] when he had the penalty, but as soon as he passed Alex [Albon] I knew it would be difficult. Ferrari has unfortunately jumped us in the Constructors' Championship after this result, so we need to bounce back at the next race. There are still a lot of races and points left in the Championship".
Mike Krack, Aston Martin’s Team Principal, thinks this was a tricky weekend for the team and that they will work hard for the next race:
"Scoring a couple of points with Fernando was little consolation for a tricky weekend in Monza. Maybe with a few more laps we could have challenged Lando (Norris) and Alex (Albon), but there were not too many opportunities available. Lance did a good job today. He moved ahead of the Haas and Alpine drivers, but he suffered with the tyres dropping off in the final part of the race. We always knew that Monza would not be a particularly kind track to us and we have to take today's lessons into AMR24. We will work hard to be back in a more competitive position in Singapore".
Pierre Gasly ended the race P15 and says the car wasn’t fast enough in this circuit:
"It's not been our weekend, that is for sure, and it's always a disappointing feeling when you leave without scoring points. We were simply not fast enough at this circuit to have any success and, of course, we will take this as a big learning going forwards and to see what we can do better next time on this type of track. We gave it our all out there today but fifteenth place seemed to be our maximum. We have a lot of work ahead and I'm definitely looking forward to Singapore for the next race. I'm sure we can be more competitive at the next run of Grands Prix".
Esteban Ocon retired on lap 39 and thinks they need to know why this was a difficult weekend:
"A tough weekend for us with a tough ending. Unfortunately, we had to retire the car as a precaution after feeling some steering wheel lock early on in the race. It's definitely been a big weekend of learning for us on what has been a difficult track since the first session on Friday. Now it's time to really look into the reasons why we could not really perform here and then quickly move on to Singapore. I have no doubt we will come back stronger and return to points-scoring form".
Bruno Farim, Alpine’s Interim Team Principal, says they it was a weekend of learning:
"After the high of Zandvoort exactly one week ago, we leave Monza on the back of a very difficult result and general performance level. We entered the weekend knowing it was going to be a challenge given the nature of the track, and that proved to be the case. As a team, it has certainly been a weekend full of learning, of which we can take forwards to future events on circuits with a similar configuration to here in Monza. On that front, we can remain positive and as a team we will regroup ahead of the next race in Singapore".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, says it was an amazing race and talks about the one-stop strategy:
"Even if Verstappen and Red Bull once again picked up all the points on offer, the Italian Grand Prix was truly spectacular with plenty of thrilling and close duels. Today's track temperature was always above 40 °C, which led to slightly higher tyre degradation. Despite this and even with a trio of compounds that were softer than last year's, the drivers definitely did not have to worry about tyre management as could be seen from the many duels we witnessed, some going on for several laps. In terms of strategy, our predictions from yesterday were pretty much confirmed in the race. The one-stop was definitely the quickest and those who pitted earlier than the predicted window then had to make a second stop, except for the Williams duo, who once again proved to be particularly adept at tyre management. Finally, I want to thank the crowd of hundreds of thousands of fans who packed out the grandstands at this historic circuit over the three days. This is our home race and, even if we are not competing with opponents on track, we feel part of the great show that is Formula 1, especially here at Monza".
Next race will be in three weeks in Singapore, and it is set to be the first of a series of races outside Europe.