After the Belgian Grand Prix, concluded with yet another success for Lewis Hamilton, the Circus is now ready to move to Italy. In fact, it will be the temple of speed to welcome Formula 1 on the weekend of 4-6 September 2020, where the drivers will battle it out in an attempt to slow down the Mercedes domination. The Autodromo di Monza is the third oldest circuit in the world after Brooklands, now in disuse, and Indianapolis. The track is also the historic home of the Italian Grand Prix since 1950, the year of its establishment and this year in fact, as Silverstone, will celebrate seventy years of activity of the circuit that, except in 1980, has hosted every edition of the Italian Grand Prix. The Monza circuit also has the record of being the fastest among those used for the Formula 1 World Championship, with an average speed of 264.362 km/h.
The Autodromo in Italy has a special significance, being the symbol of one of the first reconstructions carried out after the First World War, in an Italy still backward and tried by the conflict. In fact, the works began in 1922 and were completed in only one hundred and ten days. The circuit was immediately inaugurated for the first races, including the Italian Grand Prix and the Monza Grand Prix. After many years of use of the original circuit, with its ten kilometres, various fatal accidents forced a reorganization of the circuit. In 1939 it was decided to rebuild most of the track, demolishing the high speed ring and modifying the roadway, with similar work carried out after the war.
Despite the changes, however, the circuit remained among the fastest in the world, and nicknamed for this reason “the temple of speed”. During the first week of September, Monza is ready to open its doors to the Circus, to honour the traditional appointment of the Italian Grand Prix. The public will unfortunately not be present, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues to impose changes to the usual course of the season. Nevertheless, the organizers invited two hundred and fifty people, including doctors and nurses engaged in the fight against the pandemic, to attend the race.
But the Italians, you know, are creative people and so on the stands of Monza some spectators are present. It is in fact an initiative of Face for Fun, launched for charity: the fans, in the days preceding the arrival of the Circus, had the possibility to send their photo to be placed on the stands of the Autodromo for forty euros. The proceeds will then be donated to charity in favour of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases Spallanzani, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico and the Association Brianza per il Cuore ONLUS. A nice initiative, but above all important at a time when solidarity is necessary to move forward.
If you look well at this nice crowd you can recognize the silhouettes of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, together with most of the Ferrari team. The idea came from the German driver himself, who once he became aware of the Face for Fun initiative took photos of seventy-six team members, then uploaded them to the dedicated website, along with a personal donation.
On the eve of the Italian Grand Prix, the main news is one and it runs fast: Claire Williams will leave the role of Team Principal in the aftermath of the Italian race. The team founded forty-three years ago by Frank will in fact be managed entirely by the Dorilton Capital fund, which acquired ownership before the Belgian Grand Prix. In the paddock there is great emotion for the farewell of the Williams family to the world of racing, but above all great gratitude for having contributed to the history of Motorsport in an indelible way. In addition to this, during the weekend Renault announces that from next season it will change its name and will be renamed Alpine F1 Team.
During the hours leading up to the tests, the teams agree on the 2021 pre-season tests, which will be halved. The teams have decided to opt for a single week of testing instead of two, with only three days of testing instead of six. Even the circuit could change: in fact, instead of the traditional Catalunya circuit, the tests could take place on the Manama circuit, in Bahrain. In the pre-race press conference, to keep the attention high once again are Sebastian Vettel and his non-renewal with Ferrari. The German still has no certainties for his future, except that he wants to accept an offer only if it comes from a winning team:
"I would only accept a place in a team that fights to win, there are others apart from the three biggest ones. Or, I'd quit. If I would manage a team? For now, I still see myself inside and not outside a Formula 1 car. Then, there are also other categories. Is Ferrari considering Indycar or Wec? I didn't know, I haven't spoken with Mattia but I will, since we still talk to each other".
Vettel then looks at the more immediate future, in particular at his last Italian Grand Prix with Ferrari:
"It will be strange to arrive at the Autodromo and not find the public. A great disappointment, but maybe it will be better for me. It would be too difficult to race in front of the fans knowing that it is the last time".
Sebastian is calm, aware, not sad. He has a long and victorious career behind him, a wife and three children. He knows that, whatever it may be, the next page of the book will bring new adventures, whether as a father or a driver.
"I would have liked to conquer something more, but it didn't happen. For various reasons we never had the package to fight all the way, but I'm not nostalgic and I think about the next goals to achieve. In the past years I have often said my opinion, which has not always been shared, because I think that a driver must drive but also push the team in the right direction. I have no regrets, we have lived through good and bad times. It has been a privilege to drive for Ferrari, all stories end. The best memory? Usually it's the one that is yet to come, but in this case it's different. So I choose the first victory in Malaysia, there have been others, but that one, with the Italian anthem playing and all the guys under the podium, remains unique in terms of emotions".
The baton passes to Leclerc and on him, Vettel has only good words:
"We agree on the problems the SF1000 has. He is a good guy, he works well, he is one of the most talented and fast, he deserves the credit he gets. Time will tell, he is young. Motorsport however has a high mountain to climb to continue to exist, changing regulations is not enough. The world evolves quickly, Formula 1 will not be able to stay silent and close its eyes".
Leclerc, who is tied to Scuderia Ferrari until 2024, is being patient, aware that the road back up is still long and winding:
"It will take some patience and I am ready to wait, but it is also my job to make this process as short as possible to get back to where we deserve to be. The strengths of the car? The balance satisfies us. Is third place in the constructors' standings an attainable goal? It is difficult to answer now, we have to wait at least until Mugello, a track where we should see a more realistic picture of the continuation of the season. The Spa weekend was difficult and the Monza weekend could be as well. My job is to do my best in any situation we might find ourselves in. Now the most important thing is to understand why we are struggling so much. Also because it will also help us for the future. I'm working as hard as I can, like everyone else in the team, to understand the problems and lay a solid foundation for the future".
On the other hand, Vettel is more realistic, well aware of the car's limits: the SF1000 is suffering and will suffer.
"We are here to fight for the fans as well. We'll try to do our best, but it's difficult to have excessive expectations at Monza. We hope to get back to normal but we also know that this type of track by its nature damages us. It will be very complicated; we will not have the support of the fans along the track but we will do everything to put together the best race weekend possible. This year's car is based on last year's car, we tried to take a step forward but we needed a longer one. That's the car now - we're in a tough position, we're struggling in power, grip and chassis. We would have liked the step forward to be wider, but this is the car and we have to make the most of it".
From the Italian Grand Prix, the Party mode - the most extreme engine mapping in qualifying - will be officially banned. A measure applied by the federation to simplify the control of the power units, already very complex, but that in reality is read as an anti-Mercedes move. Lewis Hamilton, in fact, has conquered many of his pole positions thanks to this magic button, but despite this decision he is not discouraged:
"The new directive is a funny saga: the FIA says it's doing it so they can control all the teams, Red Bull on the other hand who pushed for it to be approved. I think we will only lose a little bit, but it is not the end of the world. Everyone will lose something, maybe some more than others, but no one in particular".
Mercedes will therefore have to party mode, but the margin of the W11 over the competition is such that nothing will change in the balance of power. Confirmation comes from the head of Mercedes' track engineers, Andrew Shovlin, who explains how the World Champion team used the Belgian Grand Prix as a dress rehearsal for the following appointments:
"It wasn't until Verstappen got within a second and a half of Bottas on lap 25 that we told our guys they could forget about tire management for a few laps and get a bit of an advantage. We already had the Monza race in mind and wanted to get the engines as fresh as possible into the new era. Every maximum lap would have cost us more later on".
On the other hand, starting from this race, overtaking mode is allowed, which is a way of using the power unit that is used during a race when overtaking or when extra power is required.
For this Grand Prix, Pirelli has decided to use C2, C3 and C4 compounds, but has increased the minimum pressure of the tires: the Italian company has imposed an increase in the minimum pressure for the front tires, which have gone from 23.5 psi to 26 psi, even higher than the prescriptions sent out for the Silverstone races, while for the rear tires the pressure has increased by 0.5 psi to 21.5 psi. Talking about tires, Pirelli's tests on next season's tires will take place at the Portimão circuit, during the second Friday free practice session of the Portuguese Grand Prix, which marks its return to the world calendar twenty-four years after the last race held at the Estoril circuit. Drivers will have to try two different specifications for thirty minutes. Admits Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Manager:
"Obviously we gathered a lot of information from Silverstone and Spa, and we decided to postpone the tests that were scheduled for Silverstone and Barcelona to redesign some prototypes. The idea is to slightly revise the construction for next year. It will be a test of just thirty minutes, we will provide different compounds to different teams trying to collect as much data as possible and define the tires for next year. Obviously it's a new track, and we don't have any data, but from now on there will be a lot of new tracks so we could only decide on which one to test and Portimao is a very severe track on tires, where we will probably find good weather. On the other hand, we couldn't choose Imola because it's only a two-day event, nor Nurburgring because it's too cold, nor Bahrain because it takes place after our deadline of 1 November 2020. That's why we chose Portimao for our tests".
Originally these tests were to be staged at the second round at Silverstone, in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, and in Barcelona, in the Spanish Grand Prix. After the tire problems that emerged in the second English race, the tests were postponed, opting for the Portuguese circuit. Isola is also talking a lot about the choices for future Grands Prix that have been announced, especially for the double race in Bahrain, which will take place on two tracks with totally different layouts. Pirelli's choice will be to bring the same type of compounds:
"According to the simulations we made the wear will be different, but we still decided to bring the same choice for both races, in any case one step softer than last year, when we pruned C1, C2 and C3 but nobody used C1, and this is a decision made even before Covid. We will probably bring C2, C3 and C4 also for Bahrain-2, we think C5 is too aggressive a tire for this kind of track and for the very abrasive asphalt of Sakhir. It will not be a big problem, we will have two different races, however we are still talking about it with FIA and Formula 1".
Compared to previous editions, at Monza the FIA will install timing sensors at the exit of the Variante della Roggia and the Parabolica curve. Every time the driver will pass over the kerb or go beyond the white line, the team will be informed through a message on the official time system. On the third time this happens, the driver will receive the black and white flag and any other cuts will be evaluated by the stewards. Tom Kristensen is appointed as assistant commissioner by the FIA; The Danish driver has also served in this capacity in the past, most recently at the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix. At the Italian Grand Prix, George Russell will wear a special tricolour helmet. In addition to this Grand Prix, it will also be used in the next race, in the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello.
The British driver Lando Norris will also bring a special helmet, with a recall of the pizza livery, while Antonio Giovinazzi will use a white and blue coloured helmet, representing the Italian boot starting from his region, Puglia. Finally, Sebastian Vettel, at his last Italian Grand Prix at the wheel of the Ferrari, uses a special helmet: the design remains the same, but, in addition to the bottom that becomes chrome, the Italian flag appears on the cap to pay homage to the fans of Scuderia Ferrari. After the accident occurred during the Belgian Grand Prix, Alfa Romeo Racing decides not to replace the chassis of Antonio Giovinazzi's car, while Renault mounts the third new engine on the car entrusted to Daniel Ricciardo. Finally, it is to underline that the Israeli Roy Nissany will take the place of George Russell at Williams, during the first free practice session on Friday.
Friday, September 4, 2020 the sun shines over the autodrome, in a day characterized by 30° centigrade asphalt and 23° centigrade air temperature. At 11:00 am the first free practice session of the weekend begins. Sebastian Vettel is the first to join the track, followed by Lando Norris and Romain Grosjean. In the first ten minutes of practice, almost all the drivers go on track for the installation lap, but nobody completes a timed lap. The only ones to stay in the pits for now are Albon, Verstappen and Hamilton. The first one to complete a timed lap is Kimi Raikkonen, followed by Alex Albon who (on Medium tires) takes the lead of the session with a time of 1'22"280.
Then Lewis Hamilton on Hard tires comes in second. Behind them, Raikkonen, Leclerc and Ricciardo. The second position will go shortly after in favour of Valtteri Bottas, who, with Hard tires, gets to 0.125 from the time set by Albon. For Sebastian Vettel, instead, the start is not good, due to a blockage of both his front tires. Soon after Lance Stroll takes the third position, while Hamilton dictates the pace of the group with a time of 1'21".676. Valtteri Bottas tries to recover, but his lap is cancelled as the Finn goes beyond the track limits at the Parabolica. Stroll then overtakes him, briefly moving into second, before Max Verstappen takes his place on hard tires. Bottas, however, tries again and this time manages to get the first position thanks to a time of 1'21"657.
Soon after Max Verstappen ends up against the wall at the exit of the Ascari Variant and the session is interrupted, although the Dutchman manages to get out of the gravel by inserting the reverse gear. After a couple of minutes, the session restarts and the first one to get back on track is Kimi Raikkonen, followed by Grosjean and Magnussen. Shortly afterwards Nissany, Bottas, Hamilton and Albon enter the track on soft tires. The Finnish driver keeps the leadership with a lap of 1'20"703, with a 0.245 gap from his teammate. Albon follows in third place.
The two Ferraris take to the track on Medium tires, and while Charles Leclerc manages to take tenth place, Vettel is at the bottom of the classification, only nineteenth. Twenty minutes before the end of the session, silence momentarily falls on the track, in view of the classic race simulation, which is carried out with more fuel on board the cars. The first to leave the pits is Antonio Giovinazzi on Medium tires, followed by Hamilton and Bottas. A little later, the rest of the drivers get on track, with the cars prepared in race trim. With just five minutes to go, there are no particular improvements in the times, as all the drivers complete long runs, instead of setting a qualifying time. At 12:27 a.m. the session is early interrupted due to Pierre Gasly going off the track, who spun and brought gravel onto the circuit.
At the end of FP1, as usual, Mercedes leads the classification. This time, however, the best time is set by Valtteri Bottas, with a time of 1'20"703, followed by Lewis Hamilton, 245 thousandths of a second behind him. In third place once again is Red Bull, the only car able to compete with the Black Arrows, or at least to try so. This time, however, surprisingly, it is not Verstappen who is behind the two Mercedes, but Albon. The Dutchman, in fact, made a mistake in the middle of the session, but managed to recover and get back on track. In general, all the Honda powered cars showed a very good competitiveness, as Daniil Kvyat classified fifth and Pierre Gasly sixth, despite a small spin. Ferrari, on the other hand, are once again struggling, due to the eleventh time set by Charles Leclerc, 1.2 seconds behind the leader, while Sebastian Vettel is penultimate.
Attention now shifts to the second free practice session, where the teams will once again test the race pace, along with some qualifying simulations. The temperature after lunch continues to rise, reaching 26 °C air temperature and 44 °C asphalt temperature. At 3:00 p.m. on the dot the track activity resumes and, as expected, George Russell takes his place at the wheel of his Williams. After the first five minutes of silence, the first drivers to join the track are Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, followed by Kevin Magnussen and Antonio Giovinazzi. The first to set a time is Raikkonen, who, on Medium tires, closes in 1'22"959. After him Alex Albon, at the wheel of the Red Bull, starts the second session on the right foot: the Thai driver sets the provisional best time of 1'22"806.
Several drivers will soon take the leadership, including Stroll and Gasly. Also Leclerc and Vettel finish their first attempt on Medium and Hard tires, finishing respectively eleventh and fourteenth. During the following minutes the race direction decides to cancel the time of Leclerc, who went wide at the Parabolica. The Monegasque then slips to fourteenth position, followed by Vettel. In the meantime, Pierre Gasly improves, lowering the track limit to 1'21"578. Behind him Stroll, Ricciardo, Perez and Sainz Jr. But the real wait is for Max Verstappen and the two Mercedes, which are stopped in the pits. A few minutes later Lewis Hamilton takes the track and, as expected, sets the best time of 1'21"085 on Medium tires. In second position is Valtteri Bottas on Hard tires, while Verstappen is in third place on Medium tires.
Shortly afterwards Lewis Hamilton starts a new timed lap and further lowers his previous time, recording a time of 1'29"645. Eight tenths of a second behind Bottas, who in turn precedes Gasly and Verstappen. After three attempts also Verstappen manages to set a good time, overtaking Gasly and getting the third position. After the first half hour of free practice, all the drivers return to the pits to prepare for the qualifying simulation, with the exception of Hamilton and Bottas, who came in later than their teammates. The first one to get back on track is Carlos Sainz Jr. on Soft tires, while Lando Norris seems to have some technical problems, and remains at the pits for this reason. Sainz Jr. moves up to third position, 668 thousandths behind Hamilton. After him, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Russell and Latifi also start. Giovinazzi, in particular, puts in a good lap, as he is pulled by the wake of Kimi Raikkonen in front of him, positioning himself in sixth position.
At the moment, the situation on track is chaotic, to the point that Bottas is warned by radio of the simultaneous presence of at least fifteen cars. The problem of crowding could also occur in qualifying, as each driver tries to take advantage of the slipstream of the other. After having mounted new soft tires, Lewis Hamilton returns to the track and takes the lead in the standings thanks to a time of 1'20"192. At 262 thousandths follows Valtteri Bottas, who precedes Verstappen with over a second of advantage. Ferrari's performance is also good, thanks to a time of 1'21"503 set by Leclerc, seventh, and a time of 1'21"733 set by Vettel, twelfth. Once again, however, the sensors at the exit of the Parabolica played tricks on the German and he had his time cancelled for going wide. The same fate also befell Albon, anticipating what will probably be an important topic of debate in the pre-race.
After half an hour from the restart, Lando Norris is finally back on track with Medium tires. In the meantime, Gasly confirms the good qualities of the car by setting a time that guarantees him the third place. Good performance also for the Alpha Tauri of Daniil Kvyat, sixth. Small mistake instead for Carlos Sainz Jr., who ends up off the track at the first Lesmo corner, slightly damaging his front wing. The last half hour, as usual, is dedicated to the race pace simulation. Lewis Hamilton scores a time of 1'24"156, ahead of Bottas and Verstappen. In the second lap, however, some inaccuracy on the kerb of the Variante della Roggia leads him to set a time of 1'26"500. On the next lap Max Verstappen improves, while Bottas is on soft tires and scores the fastest lap, 1'23"820.
A quarter of an hour before the end of the session the yellow flag waves on the circuit, after Sebastian Vettel loses control of the SF1000 at Lesmo, finishing against the barriers with the rear wing. The German manages to get back on track on his own, but leaves some debris along the way. The session resumes after a couple of minutes and Hamilton leads the group with a time of 1'24"4, followed by Bottas with 1'24"7 and Verstappen with 1'24"8, marked on Soft tires. For the two Ferraris, on the other hand, it is not a positive moment: after Sebastian Vettel's exit from the track, Charles Leclerc also goes wide at the first Lesmo, complaining on the radio that his car is too difficult to drive. Ten minutes from the end Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen go back to the pits to make a quick pit stop: the British driver mounts Medium tires, while the Finn and the Dutchman opt for the use of Hard tires. Lando Norris took advantage of the situation and, after having lost the first part of the session, took third place with a time of 1'21"089, stealing Pierre Gasly's place. At 16:30 the chequered flag waves, thus decreeing the end of the activities for this Friday.
The second free practice session confirms, first of all, the great stability of the Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton who takes the lead after having left his teammate the first position in the first free practice of the day. Excellent performance also for Lando Norris, who despite the initial technical problems was able to take advantage of the last half an hour, and became the first of the Mercedes' pursuers. Good performance also for the Honda powered cars, until now extremely unreliable. The engine is undoubtedly powerful, but being able to predict when and if it will be constant is a bet that the Red Bull box often has to lose. The Alpha Tauri are also well placed, with Pierre Gasly fourth at 929 thousandths of a second from Hamilton, and Daniil Kvyat seventh, 1.1 seconds from first place. Fifth position for Verstappen, perhaps a bit underwhelming compared to his usual results, but still on track to make a good qualifying.
Once again the performance of Ferrari is disappointing: Charles Leclerc ends the session ninth, while Sebastian Vettel is only twelfth. The tests were encouraging as far as qualifying is concerned, so Ferrari could try to fight for an entry in Q3; however, the race pace is worrying, as both drivers showed extreme difficulty. In the usual Friday briefing, Pirelli's head of Motorsport, Mario Isola, talked about the data that emerged from the first day of testing:
“The delta between the three compounds is about half a second, in line with what we expected. We have seen that the teams have tried the Hard tire in the afternoon, and this makes us think that it could be an option considered for the race, especially if it will be hot like today. We didn't find any problem with blistering or graining, although we still have to check all the tires. As always in Monza the teams will try to finish the race with only one stop and for this reason we have changed the pressures, especially in the front. They are 2.5 points higher than in 2019 (26.0 psi while at the rear they will be 21.5 psi), and this is due to the simulations we had from the teams during the year. We're waiting for telemetry to confirm this choice, but I think we will, as we were surprised by how much the cars improved over the course of just one year on the same track".
Saturday in Monza opens with sunshine, 26 °C air temperature and 36 °C track temperature. In the third free practice session we will see some small adjustments of the cars in view of Sunday's race. And, above all, the drivers will carry out the last qualifying lap tests. At 12:00 a.m., the green light turns on and the third and last free practice session of the Monza Grand Prix begins. First on track is Antonio Giovinazzi, followed by Raikkonen, Grosjean, Norris, Magnussen and Gasly. For the moment though, they are all installation laps. Ten minutes after the start of the session, silence still reigns on the track, with many drivers still out of their cars.
At 12:15 p.m. finally someone appears on the track: it's Carlos Sainz Jr., who sets the first timed lap of the session on Medium tires. A few minutes later the session officially starts and all the drivers take to the track. Vettel, Leclerc, Bottas and Hamilton try the Soft tires, while Vestappen runs on Medium. In the first few laps, Sainz Jr. tries to improve, but Daniel Ricciardo still manages to dominate. Soon after, the two Mercedes enter the scene, with Hamilton soon leading with a time of 1'20"658, and Bottas at 116 thousandths from the British driver.
Almost halfway through the session Charles Leclerc risks causing a big accident with Lando Norris, and in fact he immediately apologizes: the Monegasque driver probably did not see the British driver at the exit of the Parabolica, thus coming close to causing a contact between the two. Ocon, Perez and Verstappen, meanwhile, take the opportunity to mount new Medium tires, with the Dutchman immediately moving up to three tenths of a second behind Hamilton. However, Valtteri Bottas takes the lead with a time of 1'20"622, on his second attempt with this set of tires. The Finnish driver's supremacy did not last long though, because Verstappen managed to do even better than the two Mercedes and took the first position with a time of 1'20"456.
Half an hour from the end, all the drivers returned to the pits for a tire change, in view of the qualifying simulations. So far the best performing tire seems to be the Medium, as confirmed by the times set by Verstappen, Ocon, Perez, Stroll and Norris. However, even the Soft tyre seems to be able to perform well, and in fact it was used by Bottas, Hamilton, Kvyat, Gasly and Ricciardo. The first one back on track is Sainz Jr., with the same Medium tires used at the beginning of the session. After the Spaniard, also the two Mercedes get on track with new Soft tires, and they immediately attempt a first qualifying lap: 1'20"089 for Bottas, who takes the lead of the session. Hamilton, on the other hand, had to abort his attempt due to a slightly dirty passage at the exit of the First Variant.
Nevertheless, the Briton improves quickly and gets behind his teammate, while Verstappen and the two Ferraris, all on Soft tires, launch themselves. The Monegasque unexpectedly manages to conquer the fifth position, while Vettel is three and a half tenths from his teammate, as it was him who gave him the slipstream and therefore actually towed him. The surprise does not last long though, because soon Norris arrives to take the second position, followed by Daniel Ricciardo's Renault. Behind them are Hamilton and Verstappen, who hasn't improved despite the use of new Soft tires. Ten minutes before the end of the session Daniel Ricciardo causes a temporary interruption: the Australian goes off track and parks his car at the Variante della Roggia due to a technical problem.
The session resumes with just three minutes to go, enough to push the drivers to do a timed lap on new Soft tires. At 1:00 p.m. the third free practice of the weekend ends, leaving now space to the preparations for the afternoon qualifying. Valtteri Bottas closes the session in first place, trying to put pressure on his teammate ahead of qualifying. Great start of the day also for Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr., both present in the first positions. Morning undertone instead for Daniel Ricciardo and the two Red Bulls, the first one stopped due to a technical problem, and the two cars of the Dutch team slipped in sixth and seventh position. Eleventh position for the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, while Sebastian Vettel is only fifteenth, thus heralding a tough qualifying for the two Maranello cars.
The main problem to watch out for will be the one that occurred last year during qualifying, where several drivers were recalled for slowing down the start lap, thus forming a little train, in an attempt to take the slipstream of those in front. In order to avoid the same problem, the race direction will impose a minimum time for the launch lap, below which the drivers will be called back for slowing down the traffic. Already Charles Leclerc, during free practice, complained several times about several drivers who were going too slowly, while Lewis Hamilton found himself blocked by a group of slow cars at the Parabolica and to overtake them he was forced to pass almost on the grass, thus running a great risk. The problem seems to be all but solved, predicting an eventful qualifying.
It is also important to remember that from these qualifying sessions, for the rest of the championship, it will be forbidden to change the engine mappings, eliminating the so-called party mode. The move announced by the FIA in order to be able to keep the power units under control more easily, seemed particularly directed at Mercedes engines, which have made party mode a weapon. Toto Wolff, however, is not at all disturbed by this change, certain of the excellent performance of the German car:
"I think we don't miss the performance on Saturday. We struggled in some races where we were quite limited with the more powerful engine mode, and if Formula 1 were to ban it, then I think it will help us in the race. If you can avoid damaging your engine in those few qualifying laps, the damage metrics go down dramatically. So five laps of qualifying mode not done gives us twenty-five more laps of performance in the race. While it may disadvantage us more in qualifying, which I'm not sure about and it would be a couple of tenths anyway, then it will disadvantage everyone equally. We are always very much at the limit of what we can extract from the power-unit and if we should be limited in qualifying mode, then it will mean that we will be stronger in the race".
In the afternoon the weather remains stable and sunny as in the morning, and at 3:00 p.m. everything is ready to start the first qualifying session. First on track is Leclerc, followed by Grosjean, Vettel, Magnussen, Russell, Latifi and Giovinazzi. The Monegasque complains on the radio about Vettel's excessive speed on the launch lap. The German Ferrari driver takes the lead for a moment with a time of 1'21"151, while Leclerc's time is cancelled after the Monegasque driver goes wide at the exit of the Parabolica. After the first five minutes, Bottas and Hamilton take to the track on Medium tires, and despite the disadvantageous compound they lead the group: 1'19"539 for Hamilton, with Bottas 247 thousandths behind.
Perez, Sainz, Gasly, Norris, Stroll, Verstappen, Ricciardo and Kvyat follow, while the excluded are Raikkonen, Latifi, Leclerc, Gasly and Magnussen. Charles Leclerc is not the only one whose time is cancelled: Gasly and Grosjean are also subject to this kind of penalty. Vettel, now eleventh, decides to stay in the pits ahead of Q2, while Leclerc is on track for a second attempt on new Soft tires. The Monegasque sets a time of 1'20"606, while Vettel drops to seventeenth place and has to make a new attempt. With five minutes to go all the drivers are in the pits, and those excluded from Q2 are Grosjean, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi.
After a couple of minutes, the track comes alive, and all the drivers - lined up one after the other - leave the pits to attempt a last timed lap. Great traffic then, as expected: Ocon, Raikkonen, Vettel and the two Williams are all fighting for a position in Q2 but just for this reason they unintentionally hinder each other, also leading to an investigation against Ocon, Latifi and Raikkonen. At 15:18 the first qualifying session ends and among those excluded from Q2 is, surprisingly, Sebastian Vettel, who fails to go beyond the seventeenth position. Together with him, the excluded are Grosjean, Giovinazzi, Russel and Latifi, while Albon passes the turn.
At 3:25 p.m., the second qualifying session, lasting fifteen minutes, gets underway. All drivers join the track for the first attempt on Soft tires, and the first to set a time is Lewis Hamilton, who further lowers the track record to 1'19"092. Bottas is three tenths behind him, with Sainz and Verstappen right behind. With seven minutes to go, the drivers at risk of exclusion are Kvyat, Ocon, Leclerc, Magnussen and Raikkonen. With three minutes to go, all the drivers restart to make one last attempt, with Norris complaining on the radio about the chaos created on the track. At 3:40 p.m. the second chequered flag of this qualifying session is waved, excluding Kvyat, Ocon, Leclerc, Raikkonen and Magnussen from Q3. Bottas, on the other hand, takes the opportunity to take the record away from Hamilton, thanks to a time of 1'18"952.
At 3:48 p.m. we start with the last twelve minutes of qualifying, at the end of which we will know the name of the poleman of the Italian Grand Prix. Contending for the first five rows are the two Mercedes, the two Racing Points, the two Red Bulls, the two McLarens, Ricciardo's Renault and Gasly's AlphaTauri. The fastest in his first attempt is still Hamilton, who scores a time of 1'19"068, keeping behind his teammate for just 53 thousandths. The first of the pursuers is Perez, at six tenths, followed by Verstappen, Sainz, Norris, Ricciardo, Gasly and Stroll. Albon and Ricciardo are the only ones running on used Soft tires, and for the moment this seems to penalize them compared to the rest of the group.
Five minutes from the end they all go back on track to make one last attempt, and Lewis Hamitlon does not miss the opportunity to amaze everyone again: 1'18"887 for the British driver, who lowers his own record and conquers the ninety-fourth pole position of his career. The fastest lap of the British driver is also the one with the highest average in the history of the Formula 1 World Championship, with 264.362 km/h. Bottas, Sainz Jr., Perez, Verstappen, Norris, Ricciardo, Stroll, Albon and Gasly follow. The king of records therefore continues to be the British driver, impossible to reach, after having taken yet another pole position by setting the lap with the fastest hourly average in Formula 1. Lewis Hamilton is unstoppable, and he says he is happy with this new success and the great teamwork done on the track:
"The whole team worked great today. We were all very good at assessing when it was time to go out on track. It wasn't easy today because of the high risk of traffic and in order to get the pole a super clean lap was practically necessary. I managed to put together two very good laps and I'm satisfied with myself. But Valtteri was just as good and I was worried because of the slight changes made before qualifying. But everything went well for tomorrow".
Talking about the difficulties in Parabolica and Ascari, due to the very low aerodynamic load, Hamilton adds:
"I've had the opportunity to lap many times at Monza, and in some years I've had cars with even less downforce. With these temperatures it wasn't difficult to take these corners quickly and perfectly. We touched exceptional speeds while maintaining great stability. I felt some oscillations in the slower corners, but there it's all about judging the right entry speed to be able to go out hard and push on the long straights".
Instead, his teammate is content with second place, evaluating the overall performance positively:
"We were very close for all the sessions in terms of time, half a tenth is very little. All weekend, I came out ahead of Lewis, but I'm not sure that the slipstream made a huge difference. Maybe he had a little bit of a benefit from it, but still, second place isn't bad, but when you're in front you can't gain on the straights".
Toto Wolff is also happy with his Mercedes, which - as expected - did not suffer from the party mode ban:
"I am very pleased with our performance today. Both Hamilton and Bottas did a great job in qualifying but in the end Lewis managed to come out on top. Today was very interesting as it's the first time we qualify after the abolition of qualifying modes for the engine. So no party mode today but the result showed that the hard work of the whole team has paid off, which puts us in a great position for tomorrow's race".
Not a brilliant day instead for the Red Bulls, with Verstappen going no further than fifth, while teammate Albon comes in ninth. A disappointed Verstappen comments on these qualifying sessions, talking about structural difficulties regarding the performance of the car:
"It appears to be a difficult weekend for us; as a matter of fact, we've been struggling since yesterday. It seems that we struggle to find the perfect balance with a low downforce on the car. It becomes more difficult to resist in the corners and we lack grip, which brought us to fifth position today. We tried many things between yesterday and today. First increased and then decreased the wing loading, we also tried to twist the balance of the car, but in the end the times are always the same. This means that we haven't found the best solution for the car in Monza. As if that wasn't enough, we are also struggling on the straights. It was unbelievable in qualifying, I was getting closer to those in front of me coming out of corners, but then on the straights they were pulling away from me. It's too easy to say that the Honda engine is not worth the Mercedes one, but the reality is different. The single-seater has some problems in terms of set-up and this leads us to have less grip. Maybe we are too unloaded and it is very easy to lose the rear. In the race we are normally a bit more competitive and I think that tomorrow a podium is still possible. To do more will be impossible. It will not be easy to overtake and we are all very close from third to tenth position, but I expect that we can still fight for the third position".
For Ferrari, however, it is good that there are no spectators at Monza: the show would have been disappointing, especially if you think of the extraordinary result of last year. Sebastian Vettel, who commented on what happened in qualifying, knows it well:
"The big problem today was the traffic. Some people started to overtake and there was a hell of a blockage on the track, especially in the last lap. I think that today the main mistake was to come out of the pits so close to the others, but obviously the games are already done and there is no way to fix it now. We found ourselves stuck, I couldn't have done anything else but try to find some space, which is impossible to gain in such an crazy phase. The race is tomorrow, it will be hard for us as we expected, but never say never. We will try to get back on track and give our best as always".
For his teammate Leclerc, this track is very important, as in 2019 he managed to win and enjoy a well-deserved crowd bath. The Monegasque is aware that the car has important limits, and that thirteenth position is the best possible in these conditions:
"We had planned everything well. We knew since Q1 that the slipstream is essential on this track. I have evaluated well with all the engineers when and where to go out so I can't say that we went out unprepared. In terms of the result we hoped to be further ahead, but I can't say I'm disappointed given the structural limits of the car. The lap was good and also the gap to the car that was pulling me was right. We evaluated many things with the team, it is not a good progress but we have to be confident in the future. Staying motivated is fundamental".
Speaking about the strategies ahead of the race, the Monegasque adds:
"The choice of tires can help us tomorrow, but others ahead of us will also make free compound choices and so it could be difficult to overtake especially in the first corners of the race. We will see what will happen".
Also commenting on the bad day for Ferrari is its sporting director, Laurent Mekies:
"Surely it is difficult, we know, it is not a surprise, we know that the situation is very complicated, and our focus is just to try to build another future and find new solutions that allow us to get out of this period. That's what we are thinking about today, nobody is satisfied obviously, but the focus cannot be on today's qualifying but on how to get out of it. Our difficulties can be seen on many different tracks, for us it's time to focus on how to make a more competitive car for the future. When you're on Saturday night and the car is what it is, our grid position is what it is, our duty is just to try to take advantage of any tire management or strategic opportunities tomorrow, but whether that leads us to a position in the points or not we'll only understand tomorrow. Tonight we will study which tires to mount and try to understand what the strategic possibilities might be".
On Sunday morning the sun shines on Monza, and the paddock is crowded with teams and drivers ready to fight to put the Mercedes domination on hold at least for today. As usual, Pirelli releases precise indications about the tire strategy, suggesting as the best tactic the one with one stop, so they would start with Soft tyres, and then mount the Medium ones around lap 29. Otherwise it could be possible to start with Soft tyres and then switch to Medium tyres around lap 31.
A Medium-Hard strategy could also work, but it will lead to a significant disadvantage at the start compared to the Softs. The first ten drivers will all start on Soft tires, which is why they are likely to opt for the first strategy. Raikkonen, Magnussen, Grosjean, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi will start on Medium tires, while only Kvyat and Vettel will choose Hard tires.
At 3:10 p.m. everything is ready and the cars start for the formation lap. Three minutes later, at 3:13 p.m., the Italian Grand Prix begins. At the start Sainz Jr. overtakes Bottas, who started very slowly. Hamilton, on the other hand, runs away without major problems, setting the pace for the rest of the group. Lando Norris, meanwhile, shows up on Bottas with an exceptional overtaking move on the outside of the Variante della Roggia, placing himself third, while Perez and Ricciardo get the better of Bottas. The Finn tries to justify his bad start, complaining via radio about a puncture, or something wrong with the car.
Hamilton leads the race, followed by Sainz Jr., Norris, Perez, Ricciardo, Bottas, Stroll, Verstappen, Ocon, Gasly, while the start was quite anonymous for the two Ferrari drivers, who remain in their respective positions: Leclerc thirteenth and Vettel seventeenth. During the third lap Verstappen recovers the position on Stroll at the First Variant, just when the Mercedes engineers warn Bottas that everything is fine on his car. Magnussen, meanwhile, chooses to stop already at the pits to mount Hard tires, while Verstappen comes back behind Bottas. At the seventh lap Sebastian Vettel experiences some moments of fear.
The German communicates via radio the malfunction of the brakes, while the flames start to spread on the left rear part of the single-seater. Vettel, unable to brake, goes wide at the Parabolica and then cuts across the First Variant, hitting the polystyrene panels. After just seven laps Sebastian Vettel's last Italian Grand Prix with Ferrari ends, and instead of leaving the circuit he will continue to watch the rest of the race from the stands. In the meantime, Hamilton brings his lead over Sainz Jr. to five seconds, while Perez goes after Norris for third place. Bottas, on the other hand, remains behind, keeping a fairly mediocre pace.
On lap nine, Albon receives a five-second penalty for not giving Grosjean room to overtake him, so he will have to stay in the pits longer when he makes his stop. After the first ten laps Hamilton continues to lead the race, followed by Sainz Jr., Norris, Perez, Ricciardo, Bottas, Verstappen, Stroll, Ocon and Gasly: the Brit, leading the pack, continues to increase the gap to his pursuers, now 7.2 seconds behind Sainz Jr. A little later Bottas and Verstappen try to threaten Ricciardo, taking advantage of the DRS zone, while the Australian is 1.1 seconds behind Perez. Bottas' Mercedes begins to suffer from overheating problems, forcing the Finn to leave Ricciardo's slipstream to cool the car.
At the nineteenth lap, Charles Leclerc comes back to the pits to mount the Hard tires, shortly after being overtaken by Albon and slipping to fourteenth position. Just as he was returning to the track, however, the race was neutralized, as Magnussen retired with technical problems, parking his car at the exit of the Parabolica. The position makes the recovery of the car complex and for this reason the Safety Car is called on track. This opens a lucky window to make the pit stops, but strangely few take advantage of it: Hamilton returns to mount Medium tires, while Sainz Jr., Norris, Perez, Ricciardo, Bottas, Verstappen, Stroll, Ocon, Kvyat, Albon, Grosjean and Russell continue.
The reason is soon revealed: due to the position of Magnussen's car, the pit lane has been temporarily closed, but Hamilton - who underlines via radio his perplexity to his track engineer - encouraged by the latter to go back to the pits, as well as Giovinazzi. On lap 23, the pit lane is reopened and the drivers begin the classic series of stops. At the time of the restart the only ones not stopped are Stroll, Gasly, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen and Leclerc, who occupy respectively the positions from second to sixth. In first place remains Hamilton, who immediately escapes to the lead. But his escape doesn't last long, as Charles Leclerc ends up against the protections at the Parabolica, following a very violent accident.
The Monegasque driver loses control under acceleration, unable to do anything to diminish the force of the impact. Luckily Leclerc responds via radio to his engineers after a few seconds, reassuring them about his health condition, and gets out of the car on his own. As a result, the race is temporarily suspended, to give the marshals time to fix the protections, damaged after the violent blow. While waiting for the go-ahead for the restart, at 3:54 p.m. the race direction announces the decision to give Giovinazzi a ten second penalty for entering the pit lane, even though it had been closed, and shortly afterwards a ten second Stop&Go to Hamilton for the same reason.
Lando Norris is also investigated without consequences, guilty of having slowed down excessively in order to take space in view of the double pit-stop of the two McLaren cars. Shortly afterwards the race direction establishes that the start will be given at 4:20 p.m. from the grid, with twenty-seven laps still to run. While the drivers wait, Lewis Hamilton has a lively discussion with his engineers, and then decides to go to the stewards to ask for an explanation of the penalty, accompanied by his faithful assistant Angela Cullen. After that, the Briton is forced to hurry back to his single-seater, on board a scooter, to restart a few minutes later.
At the restart, the choice of tires to be used to complete this last stint of the race falls mainly on Medium. Hamilton, Albon and Grosjean will start on Hard tires, while Raikkonen, Giovinazzi and Ocon will pick up the pace on Soft tires. From the first ten positions will start Hamilton, Stroll, Gasly, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Sainz Jr., Norris, Bottas, Latifi and Ricciardo. When the lights go out, Stroll starts badly, slipping to fifth position, while at the head of the pack Hamilton escapes, followed by Gasly. Sainz Jr. passes Strollo at Lesmo 1, but the Canadian driver recovers his position at Ascari corner. Three minutes after the restart, Hamiton decides to stop and serve his penalty, returning to the track in seventeenth and last position.
Starting from lap twenty-nine, Pierre Gasly surprisingly leads the Italian Grand Prix. Followed by Raikkonen and Giovinazzi, who still has to serve his penalty, then Sainz Jr., Stroll, Norris, Bottas, Ricciardo, Ocon and Kvyat. Verstappen, in great difficulty and out of the top ten, pits on lap 31 and retires. The two Mercedes cars also fail to have a good pace, as Bottas is stuck in sixth position and Hamilton in fifteenth. Raikkonen meanwhile tries to defend his second position from the attacks of Sainz Jr., already in the DRS zone. But at Monza, contrary to popular belief, overtaking is not easy. Russell knows it well, too, forced to cut the chicane after an attempted overtake on Grosjean. Sainz Jr. finally got the better of Raikkonen at the Parabolica, taking second place. Shortly after Raikkonen was also passed by Stroll, Norris and Bottas.
With thirteen laps to go Gasly was firmly in the lead of the pack, 3.1 seconds ahead of Sainz Jr. The Spaniard, however, gained a few thousandths with each lap, soon reaching 2.5 seconds, but having to watch Stroll behind him, threatening. Raikkonen's choice of Soft tires proved disastrous: the Finn was also passed by Ocon and Kvyat. On lap 49, Sainz Jr. is now 1.2 seconds behind Gasly, while Hamilton passes Perez and takes ninth, then passes Kvyat as well. The Spaniard asked his engineers to use the maximum power of the power unit, in view of the final assault, but Gasly responded by gaining a few tenths of a second on his pursuer. Arriving at the last lap, Sainz Jr. tries to open the DRS but Gasly defends himself well in turn 1, remaining in command.
A few more meters and the unthinkable becomes reality: Pierre Gasly wins the Italian Grand Prix, in a race masterfully conducted for almost twenty-five laps. Twelve years after Sebastian Vettel's extraordinary victory in the incessant rain, a car from Faenza triumphs again in Italy. First victory in his career for the Frenchman, as it was then for Vettel. It is not only a demonstration of Pierre Gasly’s talent, but also a great act of resilience for the French driver. The same driver who, after the farewell from Red Bull and the death of a great friend, has never stopped believing in his talent.
Behind him, a disappointed Sainz Jr. completed the podium, together with Stroll, and followed by Norris, Bottas, Ricciardo, Hamilton, Ocon, Kvyat and Perez. Whoever was expecting something different from the usual Mercedes domination today, surely never would have thought of this. Today is the day of Pierre Gasly's redemption, in a race as chaotic as it is surprising. Very little was needed to open the track to the Frenchman: a clumsy start by Bottas and a strategy error for Hamilton.
Disappointment then in Mercedes, but great celebration in Faenza. The Anglo-German team paid for the absence of an engine mapping able to facilitate overtaking, as seen during Lewis Hamilton's great comeback, but even worse went to the two Red Bulls, who could not take advantage of the negative day of the Mercedes: Albon was only fifteenth and penultimate, while Verstappen retired for technical problems when he was anyway in trouble behind Bottas. In a Monza without fans and without Ferrari, the Mameli hymn still finds a way to be heard. It succeeds thanks to Pierre Gasly, enthusiastic but still incredulous, when he finds himself commenting to David Coulthard's microphones the result obtained in the race:
"Honestly it's unbelievable, I don't even realize what happened. The race was really crazy, we managed to make the most of the red flag. The car was fast, we had some fast ones behind us but we have been through so many emotions in these eighteen months. At the first podium last year I said wow...and now the first win, here in Monza. I'm struggling to realize. I have no words really, this team has done so much for me: they gave me my first opportunity in Formula 1 and my first podium, I gave them my first win. I can't describe how happy I am. I can't thank everyone enough, AlphaTauri, Honda. It's a fantastic day. First Frenchman to win since 1996? It's true. It's been a long time since there was a French win and it's something I always wanted to change, but I didn't expect it to come now with AlphaTauri. We've been working to improve step by step and I'm too happy".
Behind him came second Carlos Sainz Jr., happy with the race but disappointed to have missed out on a victory in which he had believed so strongly:
"Great result, but I'm half disappointed with this second place. To think that we had a chance to fight for the win is incredible. We were very close. In a normal race we would have been delighted with second place behind Lewis, because we had a great pace. This is what we deserved, but with Pierre in front I said to myself: how did this happen? We had bad luck with the Safety Car but we managed to recover well with the red flag. I'm very happy with second place, we've been fast all weekend, I dominated the rest of the grid easily today and I'm very happy with that. To finish three or four tenths behind Pierre, after restarting and recovering. We have to be proud of the pace of the car. Without the red flag I would have finished second behind Lewis today, but that's how it went".
Lance Stroll closes the podium, achieving a prestigious result that had been missing for a few years:
"I'm happy. It's been a few years since I've been on the podium, so it was nice to be back. The race was really crazy, I'm happy for Pierre, I think he deserved this result, he started very well and he was constant until the last lap. This result is in some ways a bit of a disappointment because I could have perhaps done something more, but I had absolutely no grip at the start and many people overtook me. I fought with Sainz Jr., I passed him and then he passed me again, there we lost some time in the battle, but I'm still happy with this third. Today the win was not far away but third is not a bad result. Restart? Bizarre. We're not used to a mid-race break. But I'm happy to have taken the podium".
Giancarlo Minardi, the historic founder of the Minardi team, which has changed many names over the years, can only be proud of his legacy:
"I don't have anything to do with this motorsport adventure anymore, but I can't but be happy with today's result, I've been inundated with phone calls and messages: I didn't expect it. If I think about our shed where everything was born, next to it there was the Tavernello factory. Today my old factory has been replaced by a new one, which they've built just a few meters away. And yes, Tavernello is always there".
After him, in fact, there were those who believed in Minardi's dream and invested in it, remaining in Italy:
"I'm going by memory: I have left a company with a hundred or so people, now they have tripled (or more) this number. Many of my old collaborators have retired, fifteen years have passed and in motorsport it's an era. But I'm happy that my legacy is what I see today, and I congratulate Franz Tost and the work of all his staff".
As for the penalty imposed on Hamilton, race director Michael Masi defends the stewards' actions against the accusations of those who felt the penalty was too severe:
"We had also talked about it in the pre-race briefing".
He also claims that the information on the closed pit lane was visible to the drivers on the light panels positioned at the Parabolica but also available to the teams on the time and communication monitors of the race direction. The penalty was therefore the result of an error by the Mercedes team, which was not ready to warn Hamilton. But, apart from the penalty, it was also Lewis' choice to go personally to the race judges to discuss the penalty, taking advantage of the red flag caused by Leclerc's accident. Also in this case, the Michael Masi turns off the controversy:
"Honestly, I wasn't there with the stewards but, from what I understand, Lewis accepted the penalty after reviewing the images on the monitors. His race in the race direction? There are no such prohibitions in the regulations but, fortunately, it doesn't happen so often that a race is suspended with a red flag. In any case, the policy of our marshals is that of open doors. When someone has questions, they are always ready to explain".
From his point of view, Team Principal Toto Wolff analyses the situation by admitting:
"There was a strange sequence of events that perhaps we could have predicted. The decisions taken were very unusual, but they were absolutely within the rules. There was a bit of confusion in the display of the pit lane closing signals, which in fact ruined Lewis' race. I am not happy about what happened, but we have to accept it".
And Lewis Hamilton, with great honesty, at the end of a very complex race comments:
"Let's say I limited the damage. We didn't do a good job overall. We made a bad mistake at the pit stop and we paid dearly for it. I sincerely didn't see the signal to close the pit lane and we didn't understand each other. I will learn and we will learn from a similar false step. In any case I finished seventh and with the fastest lap in the race. I would say that I could not do more, in fact I did not think I could even get in the points starting with almost half a minute gap. At a general level I'd say I'm satisfied, Max Verstappen finished with zero points, so everything is ok in the standings".
Disappointing, maybe more than expected, is Scuderia Ferrari's weekend. Vettel, forced to go against the Styrofoam barriers to stop, does not hide it:
"It was a nightmare worse than I expected, I don't know what happened, but it's a nightmare. It's very difficult for us drivers and for the whole team but we are in this situation and we have to try to do the best we can to have a worthy end to the season. We have a lot of work to do and we have to focus on that. It's clear that if I could choose I wouldn't want to be here but in the car and not at the back of the pack but in front. However, sometimes you can't choose and you have to deal with reality. It's sad but we have to do it. My last one in Monza? I think it's good that there are no fans, but this is life and it always depends on which side you look at it from. On a personal level there are not many positive aspects. We have to keep our heads up and look forward to the positive aspects, even if they are few. The next Grand Prix? We can't expect too much, in the last few races we've struggled to get the car running at one hundred percent. I hope Mugello will go better, but expectations are very low. We hope to have a quiet weekend without any trouble. This would already be a good starting point".
Leclerc feels angry, also because he knows he put his own spin on the incident:
"Did I ask too much of the car? I don't know, maybe I did. I gave my best and that's all. The car was difficult to drive, I made a mistake and now we have to improve. It's two difficult weekends, it's very difficult right now. I hope the next race in Mugello will be better, on paper it is. Now I have three-four days to recover. Am I doing well? More or less".
But Ferrari's team principal, Mattia Binotto, in addition to not hiding his disappointment, does not promise anything good ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix:
"It's the worst possible conclusion to a difficult weekend. There is nothing worse than not finishing the race, especially for a reliability problem like for Vettel. We must not forget but learn from our mistakes, this season will teach us something for the future. Mugello? It's an important race for us, but after two weekends like this it becomes difficult to promise anything. The management? The confrontations are continuous, we will do it again and always in a constructive way".
Thus ends a special Italian Grand Prix, with the craziest podium in the history of recent Formula 1. For Ferrari is yet another day to forget: it was a long time since both the Maranello cars did not cross the finish line at Monza. Now we can only hope that in the next appointment at Mugello, for the 1000th Grand Prix of the Scuderia Ferrari, the team can recover.
On such a difficult day for Ferrari, it is necessary to put aside frustration and analyze the facts with coldness and lucidity. Ferrari's CEO, Louis Camilleri, continues to swear loyalty to Mattia Binotto, and this is because the Swiss engineer actually has little to do with Ferrari's momentary debacle. The roots of this discomfort go much deeper and are to be found many years earlier, in the post-Schumacher era, when Formula 1 took the route of the hybrid engine. At that time, while Mercedes converted its entire production to embrace this new technology, Ferrari continued to produce endothermic engines. So with six years ahead of them, it's clear to see why Mercedes is so unstoppable today, with a far superior engine compared to its rivals.
It is time now to move on and head for the next stage. Sunday, September 13, 2020, in fact, a Grand Prix will be run at Mugello for the first time in the history of Formula 1, on a track designed for two wheels and temporarily adapted for single-seaters. It is therefore expected to be an interesting race, together with the celebrations for the 1000th Grand Prix held by the Scuderia Ferrari. Maybe, who knows, it will be the occasion for a rebirth.