For the fourteenth round of the Formula 1 World Championship, the circus moves to Monza for a race that closes a hat-trick race that opened in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, passing through Zandvoort, Holland. The Italian Grand Prix is held at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, a circuit full of history in the world of racing. Located inside the park of Monza, the circuit is the third oldest permanent circuit in the world, after Brooklands in England and Indianapolis in the United States of America. It is also the historic seat of the Italian Grand Prix, held here 87 times out of 92 total. Since its inception in 1950, with the exception of 1980, the Monza circuit has always hosted Formula 1. From 1949 to 1968 it was also home to the Grand Prix of the World Championship Nations. It is the circuit where the most Formula 1 Grand Prix have been held. Since 1991, with the changes to the Silverstone circuit, the Brianza track is the fastest among the world’s record is 1'18"887, scored at an average of 264,362 km/h, the highest ever in the history of Formula 1, established by Lewis Hamilton on Mercedes in the qualifying of the 2020 Italian Grand Prix. This time trial, however, is not considered official because not established in the race. The circuit is also used for numerous events, charity races, concerts and on some occasions it was also the departure or arrival of a stage of the Giro d'Italia. The circuit has a capacity of 118.865 seats. In the past, the 10 km layout was used, with an elevated curve inclined by 80% (about 38 people), but abandoned in 1961, the season in which the accident that cost the life of the then Ferrari driver was recorded, Wolfgang von Trips, and to twelve spectators in the stands. The circuit’s gold list sees Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton tied, with five victories each, followed by Nelson Piquet with four. Following the Dutch Grand Prix on Monday 6 September 2021, Valtteri Bottas and Alfa Romeo Racing announce that from next season the current Mercedes driver will be replacing fellow countryman Kimi Räikkönen, who has announced his retirement from Formula 1, After nineteen seasons, absolute record, on the eve of the previous Dutch Grand Prix. At the end of the championship, Bottas, teamed up with fellow Mercedes driver from the 2017 season, Briton Lewis Hamilton, will have accumulated exactly 100 races from teammates, behind only duo Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello with Ferrari, 104 Grand Prix, established from the 2000 season to that 2005. Kimi Raikkonen will close a fantastic career at the end of the season. After making his debut with Sauber in 2001, he was signed to McLaren for six seasons, from 2002 to 2006. Then the first experience in Ferrari in 2007, where he had the task of collecting the legacy of the legendary Michael Schumacher, who left Ferrari after more than ten years and five World Championships won. That year the Finnish driver won the Drivers' World Championship, the last so far for Ferrari. In 2009 he split from the Maranello team, followed by a brief break between Rally and NASCAR; then, however, the Finnish driver decided to return to F1 with Lotus, in 2012, and in 2014 he returned to Ferrari alongside first Fernando Alonso and then Sebastian Vettel. Raikkonen eventually left Ferrari at the end of the 2018 season, returning to Sauber. In 352 Grands Prix he has won 21 victories, 18 pole positions and 46 fast laps. On Tuesday 7th September 2021 the Scuderia AlphaTauri confirmed the starting pair, the Japanese Yuki Tsunoda and the French Pierre Gasly, also for 2022. In this regard, the team principal, Franz Tost says:
"I am pleased to announce that at Scuderia AlphaTauri we have decided to continue with both our drivers for the 2022 season. During these years together, Pierre’s growth was impressive: he managed to climb on all three steps of the podium, starting from second place in Brazil in 2019, and then winning our home Grand Prix the following year, in Monza. This year he already got a podium, the third place of Baku. I am convinced that more will come and that’s why we are excited to have him with us for another season. In addition, he made his F1 experience available to help Yuki grow. This year we saw how the relationship between them - made of competitiveness on the track and friendship outside the race tracks - proved effective for the team. Yuki is a rookie and as such he is continuing to learn every day: the feedback from the engineers confirms that he is absorbing all the information he is given, constantly improving. It is only at the beginning of this journey and, therefore, it is good that I can continue what we started together. It is fantastic for us to have consolidated our driver line-up already at this stage of the year, so that we can now focus on the rest of the 2021 season that sees us involved in a tough battle in the middle of the group".
Pierre Gasly, who is confirmed for the sixth season by the Faenza team, is also satisfied:
"I am delighted to continue with Scuderia AlphaTauri for another Formula 1 season, especially in light of the progress we have made as a team since I arrived in 2017. The good performances of this season suggest that there will be others for the rest of the year and for next year, especially with the regulatory changes of 2022. I am thrilled with what we can achieve in the new era of F1. So far this year we have done well and I think we can do even better in 2022".
And Yuki Tsunoda thanks for yet another opportunity:
"I’m really excited to stay with Scuderia AlphaTauri for another season. It is an incredible opportunity, I am very grateful to the team and Dr Marko for giving me the opportunity to further enhance my experience in Formula 1. I have a very good relationship with Pierre, I have already learned a lot from him this year, His experience helped me develop my skills. It’s great to continue my F1 journey at his side. I recently moved to Faenza and I feel comfortable with the team: I can’t wait for next season".
Following the announcement of the signing of Valuterei Bottas by Alfa Romeo, George Russell and Mercedes announced on Tuesday 7th September 2021 that they had signed a multi-year agreement starting from the 2022 season. Visibly excited, the British driver says:
"Surely it’s an emotion, but it’s also surreal for me, I’m part of Mercedes from the minor categories and also in Williams they took care of me".
Talking about Lewis Hamilton, his future teammate, George Russell adds:
"I don’t delude myself, I know it will be hard, but with the new regulations we will also have to collaborate. I am excited to work with him. Lewis and I talked this week, and it’s a privilege for me to be joined by him. I believe in my expectations for the future but at the same time I know how difficult it will be to challenge a seven-time world champion. I’ll use next year to learn as much as I can. I learned of the decision in the week before Spa, from the choice to the signing of the contract then the step was short".
The following day, Wednesday 8 September 2021 the Canadian driver of Williams, Nicholas Latifi, is confirmed to the joy of the British cars also for the 2022 season. Latifi will be joined by the current reserve driver of Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri, the Thai Alexander Albon, who will return to be the starting driver after a season. Jost Capito, CEO of Williams Team, comments:
"Announcing our line-up for 2022 is fantastic and I am delighted to welcome Alex to the team, confirming Nicholas' confidence for next season as well. We are happy for the choice, which mixes experience and youth and will help us in the next steps we intend to make. Alex is one of the best young talents in motorsport, already with great experience in F1 behind him. He has already reached the podium on several occasions, showing all his speed, and we are confident that he will feel immediately at home in Grove. Nicholas has impressed us over the past three years with his hard work and positive attitude. He continued to improve and grew, as demonstrated by his points finish in this championship. We hope now to finish the season in a positive way, before devoting ourselves to 2022".
Saturday 11 September 2021, is announced by Liberty Media that the São Paulo Grand Prix, scheduled Sunday 14 November 2021, which marks the debut in the calendar of the Formula 1 World Championship, will be the third and final event of this season in which the format that includes the Sprint Qualifying will be tested, after the first use occurred in the British Grand Prix, and for the second time at the Italian Grand Prix. To make the announcement is Stefano Domenicali, CEO of Liberty Media:
"When we talk about sprint races, the idea is to offer something different. We had in mind to do some tests this year: one was done at Silverstone, one here at Monza and the next will be in São Paulo. After these tests we will see what the next step will be. The fans who came to Silverstone were all ready for Friday’s qualifying. The result of that first event was very positive, it brought a lot of attention and also new sponsors, it allowed us to sign an agreement with Crypto.com".
Domenicali also talks about future plans for Formula 1:
"The direction is right. For 2022 we aim for a calendar of 23 races, of which a third have the format of this type, which increases the unpredictability. Formula 1 is healthy, has returned to attract young people and attract interest from organizers and manufacturers, the latter enticed by budget cap. We decided to focus on hybrid and sustainable fuels. In Monza there will be another meeting with the Houses to discuss the engines of the future. We found ourselves witnessing a beautiful championship, even if on the eve only a few expected it. Now I hope the duel remains uncertain until the last race. Lewis won his first title in 2008 and is still here to fight for the eighth crown. A champion with a thousand interests, who was not afraid to expose himself on issues of social relevance. Drivers are our value. It also applies to Max, who managed to channel the passion of all the Dutch, or Norris and Russell, who are becoming beloved characters in England after Hamilton".
Regarding a possible replacement of the Brazilian Grand Prix with the Losail circuit in Qatar, Domenicali says:
"The mayor of São Paulo assured us that there are conditions to run in the Brazilian metropolis, with the public at large. Qatar? It is an option that we are considering for this year, next week I will tell you".
The CEO of Liberty Media also talks about the future that awaits the Monza circuit after the flop of ticket sales for this season:
"I hope that the data I have read is not objective and that people respond enthusiastically, even the teams expect it. Monza has always been a special race, regardless of the color of the jacket you wear. This year, the nations in which we managed to host the public have always recorded great events: from Silverstone to Hungary, from Spa to Zandvoort. The response to Covid has been different in different countries. Monza was granted 50% of the capacity, but sales began only at the end of July. Could the high prices have affected it? I don’t know, elsewhere there hasn’t been. In the case, it’s a choice of local promoters, we have no say. I would like the history of Monza to be projected into the future. We are discussing with the organizers just to understand how to relaunch the Grand Prix. I can hardly think of a Formula 1 without Monza, but events are also business and there must be an economic return that justifies them. Ferrari is too important not to think about a great positive effect when it returns to the top. The enthusiasm that the brand manages to generate in the world is fundamental for Formula 1. This is also understood by the teams that today compete for the World Championship. Reviewing a competitive Ferrari would benefit the whole system".
Economic losses also confirmed by the president of ACI, Angelo Sticchi Damiani:
"We will lose about 16.000.000 euros, we must rethink the future".
Instead of the classic red tide that accompanies Ferrari, this year in Monza there are orange grandstands. In fact, as reported by the president of the Monza Circuit, Giuseppe Redaelli:
"30% of the coupons sold were purchased from the Netherlands".
Also on Saturday, September 11, 2021, Ross Brawn confirms that starting next season will be mandatory a fixed number of free practice sessions reserved for young drivers.
"All teams will have to field a young debutant in a number of free practice sessions yet to be established during 2022. We will be very attentive to the requirements that these drivers will have to meet to fall within the parameters that we consider necessary to get on track. We’ll have to define the concept of debutantes. It’s nice to help young drivers make their way in F1, in any case I don’t think that there are too many valuable young drivers. We recently welcomed on the grid Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Lando Norris just to name a few".
In anticipation of the Italian Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole supplier of tyres, brings to Monza compound tires C2, C3 and C4, the three centers of the range, the same type used in the last two editions. Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car racing at Pirelli, said:
"We have seen in the past that different strategies are possible at Monza, and with sprint qualifying being another important variable of the weekend, teams have to completely rethink their strategy for the weekend. It is a rear-limited circuit that puts the focus on traction, so the main challenge is to prevent the rear tires from slipping and overheating too much, since with a low aerodynamic load the cars are less glued to the asphalt. The weather will also play a role, as this aspect is amplified by the high temperatures".
On the eve of the Italian Grand Prix, the Federation announced that at the end of the race held in the Netherlands, to carry out the technical checks, was drawn among the top ten cars classified Red Bull Max Verstappen. They were found to comply with the Regulation. There are two areas established by the Federation in which the use of the Drag Reduction System is allowed along the Monza circuit: the first on the right of the pits, with the point of determination of the gap between drivers established before turn 11 (Alboreto curve); the second on the straight before the Variante Ascari, with detection point placed before turn 7 (second Lesmo turn). Given the previous problems occurred in the past editions of the Italian Grand Prix, the Federation recommends that drivers follow some simple indications not to incur penalties: in case of missed mileage of the first two corners (Variante del Rettifilo), drivers are instructed to use the external escape route through the four rows of polystyrene blocks, so as to re-enter the track in safe conditions; if you miss the rope point at the entrance of turn 5 (Roggia variant) Going straight, the drivers will be forced to stay to the right of the yellow line and the stake, returning to the track safely using the external escape route, with time erased from the race direction. In addition, the limits of the track will be marked at turn 11 (Alboreto curve): leaving the track the time will be immediately erased by the sports stewards.
In addition, at the end of the free practice session on Friday, the Federation establishes that in case of a cut behind the rope point of turn 5 (Roggia Variant), the lap time will be invalidated by the commissioners. Before the start of Friday’s free practice session, Nikita Mazepin’s car replaced the energy recovery system, mounting the second unit. On the cars of Max Verstappen, Robert Kubica and Antonio Giovinazzi the exhaust systems are replaced, mounting the sixth unit, as well as on the car of Lando Norris, where the fifth unit is mounted, on that of Fernando Alonso, where the eighth unit is mounted, and on that of Pierre Gasly, where the seventh unit is mounted. All drivers will not be penalized, as the components installed in their cars are among those replaceable within the maximum number established. The Italian Grand Prix is held in its classic position on the calendar, at the beginning of September. This edition of the Italian Grand Prix celebrates 100 years since the first Grand Prix held on 4 September 1921 in Montichiari, in the province of Brescia, not valid for the Formula 1 World Championship. Saturday, 11 September 2021, In fact, the anniversary will be celebrated with about thirty historic cars from Brescia, which will line up on the track. The race is run in the third consecutive weekend because the Federation, the stipulation of the calendar occurred before the start of the World Championship, has placed the return, 36 years after the last edition, of the previous Dutch Grand Prix between the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix, thus establishing the dispute of three races in three weeks in a row, as happened once in the 2018 championship, three times in the 2020 season, and also this season between the French Grand Prix and the Austrian Grand Prix, when the calendar was revised following the postponement of the Turkish Grand Prix, because of the restrictions imposed by the United Kingdom to travelers from the country because of the issues dictated by the pandemic of COVID-19, initially added to the calendar with the aim of replacing the Canadian Grand Prix previously canceled. Italy, after Austria, hosts two Grand Prix in their territory valid for the Formula 1 World Championship this season.
Due to the postponement of the Turkish Grand Prix due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which had initially replaced the cancellation of the Canadian Grand Prix, the Federation changed the calendar by introducing the Styrian Grand Prix instead of the Turkish race, held the week before the traditional Austrian Grand Prix.Thanks to the dispute of the Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna last April to replace the Chinese Grand Prix, also cancelled due to the medical emergency, Italy becomes the second nation to host more than one Grand Prix. The Italian Grand Prix represents, for the second time this season after the British Grand Prix, the testing of the new formula, which can be applied during 2022 to several other races, which includes the session called Sprint Qualifying (Sprint Qualifying), sponsored by the company Crypto.com that deals with the exchange of currencies based in Hong Kong, to be held during the race weekend, the duration of 18 laps for this event or maximum 30 minutes of settlement, which would form the starting grid of the Grand Prix. The Italian Grand Prix was chosen as the second round after Silverstone, of three scheduled this season. The winner of the Sprint Qualifying is given the pole position for the race, valid for the FIA Pole Trophy. The top three finishers do not get on the podium as traditionally happens for the classic Sunday Grand Prix, but are rewarded with a specific celebration. The new format in use for this race, approved by the F1 Commission in April, consists of a free practice session on Friday, followed by traditional qualifying; on Saturday there will be a free practice session followed by the sprint race of 100 km with free choice of tyre compounds and no need to pit stop, with the starting grid drawn up according to the qualifying of the previous day, with points up for grabs for the top three finishers (order 3, 2 and 1); on Sunday the usual Grand Prix with free choice of tyre compounds to start with the starting grid drawn up according to the order of arrival of the sprint race. Due to the use of the new formula, the FIA announced a different Grand Prix schedule, choosing the local timetables already used in the British Grand Prix. On Friday the first free practice session is held from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., with the traditional qualifying held from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.; on Saturday the second free practice session is scheduled from 12:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., with the new format of the Sprint Qualifying scheduled at 4:30 p.m.; on Sunday the starting time of the Grand Prix is fixed at 3:00 p.m.
The Italian race provides the opportunity for fans to attend the event, as already happened for the majority of the Grand Prix held in the central part of the championship, in Europe. Unlike the 2020 edition held behind closed doors because of the pandemic, spectators are allowed to attend the Grand Prix, but only those with the EU digital COVID certificate for the management of the health emergency, with a capacity of 50% for the stands and an estimated attendance of about 15,000 spectators per day. Last June, in fact, the President of Automobile Club Milano, Geronimo La Russa, announced that the Monza circuit from the following month returns to welcome fans at the stage of the World Endurance Championship, and that this event can host a more substantial presence of public. On the eve of the Belgian Grand Prix, the Parabolica curve of the Monza circuit was named after former driver Michele Alboreto, renaming it the Alboreto curve. The former Italian driver was vice World Champion in the 1985 season driving the Ferrari, before disappearing in 2001 while testing the new Audi R8 Sport in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The decision is made official the day before the race, when the second Sprint Qualifying of the season is held.
"The Parabolic curve of the Autodromo Nazionale Monza will be named after Michele Alboreto. The decision was made by Angelo Sticchi Damiani, President of the Automobile Club of Italy - after having obtained unanimous approval from the Board of Sports - and will be made official on Saturday, September 11, during the weekend of Formula 1 Heineken Grand Prix of Italy. The last curve of the Temple of Speed will therefore take the name of Curva Alboreto, exactly twenty years after the death of the Milanese driver, which occurred in 2001 during some testing tests in the Lausitzring. The ceremony of naming the curve in Alboreto will take place Saturday, September 11 in the presence of his wife Nadia and family, the President of ACI Angelo Sticchi Damiani, the President and CEO of Liberty Media, Stefano Domenicali, and the President of Autodromo Nazionale Monza Giuseppe Redaelli. The curve before the finish straight of the Autodromo Nazionale Monza is one of the most iconic of motorsport and helped make the circuit one of the fastest in the world. The Curva Parabolica was built in 1955, taking the place of two hairpin bends paved with porphyry cubes and joined by a short straight line. It took its name from the design and trajectory it described: a crescent-arch line, similar to a parabolic arc. After passing the narrowest entrance that follows the straight opposite to the starting straight, the drivers can walk the final stretch of the curve in full acceleration, sliding outwards and taking the straight line of the finish at full speed. Michele Alboreto can be defined one of the greatest Italian drivers of the last decades. Born on 23 December 1956, he began his sporting career in 1976, in the Formula Monza championship. In the eighties he debuted in Formula 1 and - after an experience in Tyrrell - he switched to Ferrari, with which he became World Champion in 1985. In his career he won five F1 Grands Prix but also competed in other championships including DTM, Formula Indy and World Endurance, of which he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1997. He died on April 25, 2001, at the age of 44, following an accident at the Autodromo di Lausitz, during some preparation tests for the classic. Alboreto had been appointed Vice-President of the CSAI and today the ACI Sport Federal School bears his name".
After missing the return of the previous Dutch Grand Prix due to the positivity at SARS-cov-2, the Finnish Alfa Romeo Racing driver, Kimi Räikkönen, is not present at this race either as he does not recover from the positivity, being replaced by the reserve driver, the Polish Robert Kubica.
"First of all, I want to wish Kimi all the best, I hope he recovers completely and returns to the cockpit soon. I can’t wait to race at Monza. It’s an incredible track where I got my first podium in 2006. Unlike Zandvoort, it is a track that I know well and this will help me, especially since the Sprint Qualifying format means we will have a short practice session. I’m happy with what I did in Holland and I can’t wait to help the team once again in Monza".
Finally, the former Formula 1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi is appointed deputy commissioner by the FIA. The Italian has played this role on several occasions in the past, the last at the Hungarian Grand Prix. For this Grand Prix, the German car manufacturer Mercedes supplies the safety car and the medical car. Max Verstappen talks about his relationship with Italy and his expectations for this race:
"I can’t wait to race, in Italy I have so many memories since I was a child with the go kart and the food is always great. Although the Monza circuit is traditionally not the best for our chassis and our power unit - it is a fast track and the braking zones are really important and quite difficult - I really like it and I hope that this year will better suit our characteristics. In addition, Italian fans are big fans of racing and can not wait to see them all there in the stands to incite".
The Dutch driver also talks about the current season, focusing on the title fight with Lewis Hamilton:
"From the beginning of the season we are ready, we have always given our best. We have already achieved good results after the summer break and we can continue to do well and make everything exciting because the fight for the championship is really tight. At the moment I don’t feel particular emotions to be leader of the standings, obviously I am happy to be in the running for the title, but I would like to be in front of the end of the season. Now the most important thing is to stay focused on every single race, do the best you can by collecting the most points. I always looked at myself, trying to improve and do my best. Maybe trying to fine-tune the little details. I think in the end it doesn’t matter how many titles you got in F1, it depends a lot on the car and the rest doesn’t matter. I stay focused on myself and the work of the team, with the aim of making the car faster and faster and doing so you can beat anyone".
Regarding the Dutch Grand Prix, Max Verstappen talks about the pressure felt to meet the expectations of an audience flocking to see him win:
"Zandvoort was one of my best weekends. During the season we saw how much perfection is needed to beat the Mercedes. I was relieved when I crossed the line".
The Dutch driver closes his speech by asking the fans of spectators who will be present on the stands:
"At the moment Ferrari is not at the top, but they are doing a good job to recover and for our sport it is important that Ferrari can come back to fight with us. I hope that the race can be spectacular and that we can support more than Mercedes, since we will all try to beat it. We hope to enjoy a good weekend. I also wish Ferrari to go well, they deserve it. Returning to Monza is always nice, the fans are super passionate. Of course they support Ferrari and it is obvious that this is so. When you run the audience you see less, Monza has a great history and great speed, it is not easy to do well in the curve with the car unloaded on the straights. Returning is exciting, also because in addition to the race you can taste good food".
His team-mate, the Mexican driver Sergio Perez, talks about the great comeback achieved at Zandvoort:
"It was a shame we didn’t get a better finish on Saturday, especially because we had the right pace to finish on the podium, but we still got several points valid for the constructors' championship. The circuit was a lot of fun to face, and it was great to fight in the back".
"Overtaking was the limit, but now it’s time to focus on Monza. In Holland it was a qualifying where everything that could went wrong. We talked a lot about it with the team. At least we changed the power unit and now we will run with a fresh unit. In Q3 tomorrow will be a fight to take the wake. At Monza I always went well, with the car downwind aerodynamically I am at ease and I want to live a solid weekend ending on the podium on Sunday. It is a unique challenge because everyone will try to fight very close: if we can find the right solution, this can make a difference, for better or for worse. We’ve seen the last few years how much it can impact in every way, so we’ll have to be careful. Mercedes will record high top speeds, so I don’t think this will be our favorite circuit, but fortunately we will still be able to battle".
Speaking of the sprint race format, the Mexican hopes for a weekend without mistakes:
"I hope for a simpler and better weekend for this format, especially because on the last occasion, at Silverstone, I made a mistake that ruined the whole weekend. I’m not planning anything, so I’ll just try to get a clean start and wait for the race to develop".
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner admits that Milton Keynes' team is considering using a fourth power unit between the Italian Grand Prix and the Brazilian Grand Prix. The decision will be taken at the end of the qualification. After a difficult weekend in Zandvoort, Lando Norris hopes to get a better result in Italy:
"I can’t wait to get to Monza, especially after the complex weekend of Zandvoort. I want to make up for it and hope to get back into the positions that compete for us, gaining as many points as possible by getting as high on the grid after qualifying. We will work hard to achieve this. This is another wonderful track. We are very happy to have faced these triple close appointments, all on extremely exciting circuits. At Monza we had good results in the past, so I really hope to be able to repeat again in this event".
Monza is also a special weekend for Daniel Ricciardo. In fact this is like his home Grand Prix, given his Italian origins:
"Monza is a beautiful track to tackle and to race, which often offers good opportunities. If you are faster than the car in front and you have enough speed, you can make a pass, which is what I will try to do. Italy is always fun, with great food and a circuit that presents a wonderful atmosphere. There will also be the second Sprint Race, which will be quite intense. We will only have one test before qualifying, so there will be a lot of pressure to bring home the most points, but we will need concentration and speed. I look forward to it".
Piers Thynne, Executive Director of McLaren operations, analyzing the upcoming Italian Grand Prix says:
"We come from three consecutive races that certainly represent a problem from an operational point of view. Lando’s same incident in Q3 at Spa put us to the test, but it was great to see the high level of collaboration between all the elements of the team. We came out of Zandvoort with only one point, but in Monza we will compete on a track that is favourable to our characteristics. The whole team is working hard to ensure the highest level of efficiency, especially in view of an unknown event like the Sprint Race. We will adopt the same strategy used at Silverstone, without forgetting the importance of aerodynamic components on a track like this".
Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, is optimistic following the result obtained at Zandvoort:
"Having placed two cars on the podium allowed us to increase the lead in the constructors' standings, as for the victory in the race we put in everything we could, but it was not enough. We know that the battle will be more intense until the end and we still have nine races on the calendar where we will have to express our highest level at every opportunity. Monza is a fantastic and unique track because it runs with the lowest possible downforce. We learned something at Silverstone during the debut of this format and we want to treasure the British experience at Monza. It will be an exciting weekend even if there will not be the same audience that welcomed us in Holland".
The Austrian manager announces that the Brackley team will face a grid penalty following the replacement of a defective power unit component:
"On our engines there is a component that fails. And it has yielded several times. We will have to mount another in Italy this weekend".
Then he returns to talk about the Italian Grand Prix and the fight for the victory of the World Championship, praising Lewis Hamilton:
"For me it is the best circuit in Formula 1, for features and environmentally. I like to see the fans, there is always a special energy. We are facing a very hard battle, which is also about strategy and every move becomes fundamental. I believe that the 2021 championship will not simply win the strongest or the fastest, but the team that will have made the least mistakes. We are at a very high level and we will have to get to perfection to win. Hamilton is a mental champion, he suffered as a boy from racism and found the energy to become stronger and stronger. For the team it is a continuous push".
Challenged by his team principal, Lewis Hamilton says he doesn’t feel like he’s the favorite for winning the Italian Grand Prix:
"Potentially I think we can be competitive. But Honda has made a big leap forward this year and Red Bull will be able to benefit on these straights. When I think of the Netherlands, it was a struggle, especially when it comes to managing tyres".
Fernando Alonso also talks about the Dutch Grand Prix and the characteristic elevated curve:
"It helps a lot in driving. It improves the tire management and the rest once were many circuits with banking. Zandvoort was a great race. There were many unknowns. We expected a red flag that never arrived. But Indianapolis banking is not comparable at all with Zandvoort. It’s very different speeds. I am a fan of curves with banking".
The Spanish driver also talks about his contacts at the start of the Dutch Grand Prix:
"My plan at the start was to go outside from the clean area of the track, keeping a straight line and then take advantage of the whole outside of turn one. Giovinazzi followed my plan, and I was forced to change my initial move. At that point, I had to come up with something at turn two or three. There were many cars and there was a time when I also passed on the grass. Already at turn three I found a good remedy to stay outside and gain speed on the way out. Sainz was in the middle and kind of blocked me".
"However, the fight between him and Giovinazzi, which continued until turn seven, allowed me to recover a position. In all this, I think Ocon hit me at turn one, Russell at turn two and Giovinazzi at turn six. In any case I had the tyres still in excellent condition, without punctures, and it was a good thing".
Speaking about his future prospects and his victory at Monza with Ferrari in 2010, the current Alpine driver says:
"Where do I see myself in ten years? I have no idea. I love motorsport. I think I’ll still be racing somewhere. In F1 the experience helps a lot. You know how to maximize the potential of the car. It’s not like running young. There you focus on your performance, which maybe are at the top compared to other moments. But you do not know how to handle well tires and car. Winning in Monza with Ferrari is a magical thing, I remember well my victory here. But the victory in Ferrari I remember with more pleasure is the one in Spain".
The current Scuderia Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc, talks about the format of the sprint race and says this could be a great opportunity for his team:
"The more departures there are, the more casinos can happen. In a weekend that will be more difficult for us the Sprint Qualifying can help us. Our strong point is to put the machine in place immediately, right from the start. I hope we can benefit from this situation. It won’t be easy, but this format can help us. In Munich we knew it was one of the best tracks for us, but when we were in the top-3 we didn’t believe it. Here it’s more realistic to say it’s not easy. It’s kind of like Spa. I think I’m going to need these last two years a lot. I’ve learned a lot. The way to work in difficult times is even more complicated. When all goes well, there is good environment, we are all happy. But when it is more difficult and you fight for positions that do not make you dream, you have to go fishing inside you to bring out the best performance and continue to push to the maximum. This is something I’m seeing on the team, and we’re gonna need it for when we fight for the title. I miss the challenges for the best positions, with Max there is always that competition we had in karting. But in general I want to fight for first place, I don’t care who. Just like I don’t care who wins between Max and Lewis. It doesn’t bother me that Verstappen can beat Hamilton before me, I focus on Ferrari and we’ll get to these levels. But surely, Max can win the championship, he has more points than Lewis and he has speed. It would be nice to see a young man conquer the World Cup. Carlos very constant. He’s pushing me so hard and that’s what we needed. He is doing a great job, he integrated into the team immediately and it is very nice to have him on the team. We know how to keep things off track. That makes us very strong. When we put the helmet we think of beating the other but off the track we are friends".
The Monegasque driver achieved his last success in Monza in 2019.
"The images of Monza 2019 make me think that I want to win again soon. This weekend will not be easy, but I hope we can relive this feeling soon. It’s always nice to come here, only in Monza we have this support so great. We have support everywhere in the world, but here it is incomparable. To see all these people cheering for us and waiting for us to give them the joy they deserve, I’m a beast. Now I can’t wait to be in the red car, which I always see as a dream. I think if I give 100% of myself things will be fine. I don’t want to think too much about the fact that I drive for Ferrari. It would give me too much pressure and it wouldn’t be good. Short-term dreams? It just makes me dream of winning. But then there’s the rational part that comes out and obviously this weekend we’re not playing for the win. But if I have to dream, that’s my dream".
An attachment to the Maranello team testified by Charles Leclerc’s confidence in the Ferrari project:
"I think it will be a difficult weekend given the characteristics of the track in relation to our car. But we had more than one surprise this year where we didn’t expect to be so competitive. We will give everything, from the first to the last kilometer, with the hope of giving and giving us a joy, even if on paper this is not the best circuit for Ferrari. We are aware that we have taken a step back after 2019 but from that moment on we have always worked in the right direction. This makes me confident about the future. We have been improving for some time and there is no reason to think about reversing the trend towards 2022. I believe in the Ferrari project, I never doubted, never lost enthusiasm. I know what my weaknesses are and I’m working on them all the time, every time I make a mistake I spend a lot of time analyzing and thinking, I try to understand exactly where wrong behavior comes from. Then, like many other drivers, I believe I have the potential to emerge. Sometimes I let go, the desire to do better leads me to make a mistake. It’s a flaw that has been seen, I think. In the most difficult moments I tried to combine something special, different from every other driver, to venture something that others can not do. But there is one thing I want to say: I have always grown up with the wrong assessment. The price is also high because you are a driver of F1 and Ferrari, but it is part of the game. Taking an extreme risk trying to earn a few tenth involves the possibility of obtaining the opposite result, of losing ground instead of progressing".
Carlos Sainz Jr., at his first race in Monza as a Ferrari driver, predicts that the Italian weekend may be one of the most difficult for Scuderia Ferrari:
"Even before driving for Ferrari I could feel how strong the support of the fans was for the Rossa drivers here in Monza. I can’t wait to discover these feelings the rest of the weekend. I agree with Charles that Monza will be one of the most difficult races for us, but I think the car this year is better than 2020 and we also had some surprises. At Silverstone we expected to be in trouble and then we did better than expected. We analyzed what happened to Zandvoort in the race, fortunately we found that the car was not perfectly in place. Now we have discovered the problem and it should be solved".
However, the Spanish driver talks about the welcome of the Ferrari fans present at Monza and his relationship with his team-mate, Charles Leclerc:
"Here I feel at home. The welcome I received was special. Until you feel that energy you don’t know. I asked many questions to Leclerc. He tried to explain, but until you live it, it’s not the same. Making a podium here, as a Ferrari driver, would be beautiful, but it must be said that we all think especially about next year. This year there is almost no development on the car. Monza is not Monaco, not the ideal track for us at the moment. But we will try. My first goal was to integrate into the team with everyone, even my teammate. At the moment when Ferrari is now, we need two drivers who push the team, have a good relationship with each other and push on the track to make the car progress. Now what we want is to be even faster. Changing teams you always have doubts. I knew that Charles was at a very high level with Ferrari and I was wondering where I would be. Try to be optimistic, but you don’t know where you’ll be. I don’t know what people think. I am of the opinion that to be chosen by Ferrari you are not so much underestimated. Ferrari chooses certain drivers. I know there are those who think that perhaps they are not at the level of the best, but I have been a companion of Max, of Norris, of Hulkenberg, of Charles. I know what level I’m at compared to them. I keep doing my job. I try to talk on the track with the results. If you ask the people I’ve worked with in different teams, I don’t think any of them underestimated me".
Continuing the talk about his teammates, the Spanish driver comes back with his memory and talks about Max Verstappen’s teammate experience:
"Verstappen? I see it as a special talent, you can clearly see what he’s doing in Red Bull. Not many people are able to be close to him. What pleases me is knowing that that year there (2015) we were very close. I have a beautiful memory of that season. We were two debutants and we were pushing hard in every session. Already in FP1 we were shooting as if we were playing the title. I had fun and I learned a lot. When I talk to him we remember those moments, they are good memories. We’re very competitive with Charles, but we also have a lot of mutual respect. We are in a prime location, before coming to Zandvoort I had a nice factory party for my birthday. That means Being Ferrari. For Monza I prepared a special helmet, old school, which represents the era in which I grew up, seeing Ferrari win in Monza".
On the eve of the Monza Grand Prix, Scuderia Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto talks about the 2022 engine project:
"Now is the time to start building and manufacturing the chassis to have it ready for December, as well as the gearbox and suspension. In short, the car concept has already been chosen. We are still working on the external shapes, the aerodynamics, the ailerons, the body but also on the power unit, here too the architecture is fixed but now it is a matter of developing the last details of performance and reliability, for January will have to be completed. And it will be very innovative. We will have a completely different and new engine that for us represents a strong discontinuity of the project, I must say also with courageous choices since in the next years the power unit will be frozen. For us it is the best product we were able to develop. We have changed the mechanical part of the engine, but also of turbo and hybrid combustion of which we are anticipating the evolution in 2021. Compared to the past, it is a significantly revised project on all fronts. We don’t know what the others are doing, but we are training well. The game will tell who did it best. I was an engineer, now I’m kind of a conductor. It’s not up to me to play the instruments, there are many others who do it much better than me, I have to give them everything they need to operate at their best. Being a good team principal means putting everyone in a position to do well, looking at resources, the human aspect, harmony. Team spirit is something that I really care about, it creates the right foundation for a winning group acting on the culture of people, as well as stimulating passion. I think it’s really an identity theme. As far as I am concerned, I have been forged by three intense years: Concordia’s pact, regulatory changes, the defence of the team from attacks on the 2019 engine, the not obvious replacement of Sebastian Vettel, the 2020 results. But in all this I am proud of the fact that I remained, also as team principal, one of the many Scuderia Ferrari drivers. I am one of them, no different from anyone, I know all my people and mostly by name".
Friday 10 September 2021, the only practice session takes place, before moving on to qualifying that will determine the starting grid for the Sprint Race. Lewis Hamilton is the fastest driver in Friday’s session. The Briton, who scored a time similar to the best of the same session in 2020, recorded the best performance with Medium tyres. Hamilton is 0.4 seconds faster than Max Verstappen, who is looking for absolute performance using Soft tyres. The Dutchman leads Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll. The third time would be the one scored by Lando Norris, but this is cancelled by the commissioners, as the British driver exceeds the limits of the track at turn 11 (Alboreto curve). Red Bull Racing’s other driver, Sergio Pérez, is only tenth, but is particularly competitive in the first phase of the session when using Medium tyres. It is only one the time erased for not having correctly covered the turn 5 (Variante della Roggia), using the external escape route, while there are ten times cancelled to the drivers for having exceeded the limits at turn 11 (curve Alboreto)during Friday’s practice session. In the first case the time of Charles Leclerc is cancelled; in the second case the drivers who run into the error are Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly (twice), Mick Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr. (once). At the end of Friday’s free practice session, broadcasts were replaced on the cars of Yuki Tsunoda, Nikita Mazepin, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi. However, no driver will be penalised. This is because Yuki Tsunoda and Nikita Mazepin used the previous transmission for six consecutive Grands Prix, George Russell did not complete the previous Dutch Grand Prix, and Nicholas Latifi, in the previous race, had to replace the previous transmission, which was mounted before the dispute of six races in a row. Between free practice and sprint qualifying there is time to do some interviews with the protagonists of the Italian Grand Prix. Among these is Fernando Alonso, who welcomes the format of the Sprint Race but suggests changes:
"Let’s see, so far we have only had the experience of Silverstone and it is still early to make a reliable assessment on this format. In England it went well, while we think that here in Monza it is much more difficult to overtake, so maybe the race on Saturday is a little less spectacular, but you never know, we hope to see a lot of action. After this year I think that Formula 1 should decide whether this format should go ahead and possibly on how many tracks to use it. Personally, as I said at Silverstone, I am in favour of these changes, because everything that improves the show and gives more entertainment opportunities for viewers and to see more action on the track is good. Now we will have qualifying on Friday, one race on Saturday and one on Sunday, so two starts, two rounds of reconnaissance, more moments of action and I think it’s good for everyone. On the other hand, if the order of the cars does not change, the risk is to have a train on Saturday and one on Sunday. The only way to make the weekend more spicy is to carry out the Friday qualifying with only one lap available, a Superpole, as was done in the past. In that lap, if you make a small mistake, instead of starting third or in the expected position from your car instead part eight for example. At that point, finding yourself out of the typical competitive position of your car, you have all the race on Saturday and all the Grand Prix on Sunday to recover it. Now we risk that all the cars are in order of performance on Friday and so on Saturday and Sunday and we find ourselves with a weekend too long to see a lack of action".
The Spanish driver closes the argument by talking about the situation that is created repeatedly in qualifying at Monza, because generally you try to take advantage of the wake provided by the other competitors or their teammate:
"Yes, this problem we anticipate to Friday than Saturday and we will have the stress of having to take the wake of all the cars. Last year they set a maximum time on the pit exit lap. I don’t know how the rules will be this year, but I think it will come to something similar, which worked quite well in 2020 and should work for this edition too".
Also his team-mate, Esteban Ocon, talks about the Sprint Race format and his relationship with the Monza circuit:
"I think it’s nice to try again here in Monza with a similar format. I think there are more opportunities than Silverstone for overtaking and making a good show. I always got good results in Monza. I also remember a good third place in qualifying in 2017 in the wet and also last year I arrived in points finishing in eighth place. The goal is always to get into Q3 and then to score points on the weekend. Our concrete goal is the fifth place in the constructors' championship. It is a bit sad not to see the usual large audience in Monza. Of course we are not players in a stadium but it is always nice for us drivers to take a look at the stands and the public before getting into the car. It gives you more motivation. However, Ferrari fans are never lacking, I saw many of them already outside the hotel when I arrived in Monza".
The French driver also talks about the car used this season and what we will see in 2022:
"We have a lot on the car. First we changed the chassis of the car but what emerged in an important way was a problem on the front shock absorbers. Changed that component, the car is back as competitive as at the beginning of the season. Alonso has already had the opportunity to test the car at the simulator but I still haven’t. I was busy at the simulator but to prepare for the trips of Spa, Zandvoort and Monza. I think I’ll have a chance to try it next week. Normally when there is a reset of the technical regulations the cars are always slower than the previous season, but then in the long run all the teams manage to improve the performance during the season. I hope that the performance pamphlet offered by these cars is still high. Obviously I hope that the level of performance of our Alpine will be higher than that of others".
Finally, Ocon returns to talk about his first victory this year at the Hungarian Grand Prix:
"When I crossed the finish line of that Grand Prix it was incredible. It was a moment when I thought about 20 years of work to get to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix. I think every driver has three dreams to realize: to get into Formula 1, win his first Grand Prix and then win his first world title. So I can say that I have realized an important part of my dreams as a pilot. Certainly the victory increases the level of awareness of their abilities not only for the driver but also for the team. We are all very motivated after our victory in Hungary".
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff talks about the prospects for the Italian Grand Prix and the continuation of the World Championship:
"Saying that we are favorites after FP1 is always dangerous, we have to be calm. This weekend, however, it will not be from inside or outside. This is an important weekend because you can make points on Saturday, but what would make the difference is a possible withdrawal. If you don’t finish the race and the other wins you lose 25 points. It means that for four races you can finish second. So reliability will be the most important thing this season. I think we are all fighting over the power units and maybe not only about reliability, but also about how these power units work. How much are they really degrading? There are thoughts, certainly, for the weekend but we have not come to a conclusion".
Speaking of qualifying, Robert Kubica hopes to find a favorable trail, but also claims to want to help his teammate, Antonio Giovinazzi:
"Nice to have the trail, but it’s also nice not to be disturbed, as in all things, you have to be lucky or smart. But many times it is more a matter of luck than of cunning. Antonio will come out behind me, I hope to help him. Obviously I want to do my qualifications, but as a rule he is always behind me. I hope to help him and not disturb him but I will not know this until we are in qualifying".
Scuderia Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto, talking about the future of Antonio Giovinazzi and Mick Schumacher, both linked to the Maranello team, and the Sprint Race format, says:
"We are very focused to find a seat in Giovinazzi next season. As Ferrari we do not enter into the merits of the diatribe between Mick and Nikita but still observe Mick. He is doing a good job to be his first season. In his second season we will expect growth on pace. I like the idea of the inverted grid because it would bring show on the track, which is what we want to offer our fans. Sprint Race? After the first test at Silverstone we were positive. I think it’s too early to say if it can be extended to all races. We need to be open-minded to discuss and gather feedback on this experiment and possible variants. We are currently working hard on the 2022 power unit, in particular on the hybrid part, the materials used and many other aspects".
Before qualifying began, Valtteri Bottas' car was fitted with the fourth power unit. The Finnish driver will therefore be penalized and forced to start from the back of the grid in the Italian Grand Prix. At the start of the qualifying session the air temperature was 25 °C and the asphalt temperature of 33 °C. Charles Leclerc was the first driver to score a time in Q1, followed by teammate Carlos Sainz Jr... The Monegasque seems to be complaining about problems with the brakes. Max Verstappen later set the fastest lap, but the Dutchman’s time was easily improved by Lando Norris. The arrival of the Mercedes upset the ranking: Valtteri Bottas first and Lewis Hamilton then, bring the limit to 1'20"543. Behind them is Daniel Ricciardo. Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi are fourth and fifth respectively, with the Italian one second behind Lewis Hamilton. Max Verstappen, meanwhile, complains about traffic at the Roggia Variant, which prevents him from completing a quick lap. Pierre Gasly, too, soon after, complains via radio, having been damaged by some slower cars, the Ascari Variant. The commissioners open an investigation into Nikita Mazepin, who stepped out of the pits while Charles Leclerc came in. Then the stewards will notice that the Russian driver obstructed Robert Kubica, at the first of the two corners of Lesmo. Meanwhile, Lando Norris scored the third best time, but this was cancelled by the commissioners because the British driver exceeded the limits of the track at turn 11 (Alboreto curve). Carlos Sainz Jr.. The Spaniard, however, is forced to cede the position to Max Verstappen. Charles Leclerc set the fifth fastest time, while George Russell managed to bring Williams into 11th position. Daniel Ricciardo then closed his lap and put McLaren in sixth, while Sergio Pérez was seventh, ahead of the two Aston Martins of Sebstian Vettel and Lance Stroll. In the final minutes Esteban Ocon managed to return to the top fifteen, as well as Antonio Giovinazzi, who scored the fifth best time, and Lando Norris, who moved to third position. George Russell, Nicholas Latifi, Mick Schumacher, Robert Kubica and Nikita Mazepin were eliminated in Q1. Then the race direction cancels the last time scored by Yuki Tsunoda, for exceeding the limits of the track at turn 11 (Alboreto curve): the Japanese is eliminated, while George Russell climbs in fifteenth position.
At the start of Q2, Leclerc’s car still has technical problems, but the Monegasque driver can still take part in the test. In the following minutes Max Verstappen stopped the time of 1'20"710, while Sergio Pérez did not go beyond the time of 1'21"146. Valtteri Bottas beats the time of the Dutchman (1'20"032) but, in turn, is preceded by Lewis Hamilton (1'19"936). McLaren drivers also manage to do better than Max Verstappen, placing 0.4 seconds behind Hamilton, as well as Pierre Gasly. Antonio Giovinazzi set the seventh fastest time, ahead of Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc. Two minutes before the end of Q2, all the drivers returned to the track, creating a rather chaotic situation, so much so that Lewis Hamilton almost collided with the car driven by Sebastian Vettel in the pit lane. At the end of Q2 the ranking was revolutionized to the point that, in the end, Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and George Russell did not enter in Q3. In Q3 Valtteri Bottas takes to the track ahead of his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, in order to guarantee a good run, even if more than six seconds separate the two Mercedes drivers. The Finn closes his lap scoring a time of 1'20"388, while Lewis Hamilton scores a time of 1'19"949. Pierre Gasly followed in third place, before Max Verstappen managed to reach 0.017 seconds from Lewis Hamilton’s time.
Shortly after, Daniel Ricciardo managed to score a better time than the one scored by Valtteri Bottas, and moved to third, but it’s not too long before Lando Norris managed to subtract the position. With the second attempt Sergio Pérez concedes the wake to Max Verstappen, but he can not improve. On the other hand, Daniel Ricciardo improved, but especially Valtteri Bottas, who set the best time. Finally, Lando Norris managed to score the fourth time and to precede his teammate. There are three times cancelled to drivers for not having correctly covered Turn 5 (Variante della Roggia), using the external escape route, and as many times cancelled for having exceeded the limits at Turn 11 (Alboreto curve), during qualifying. In the first case, the timing of Lance Stroll, Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda are cancelled; in the second case, the timing of Mick Schumacher, Lando Norris and Yuki Tsunoda are cancelled. At the end of qualifying, Nikita Mazepin, Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel were called up by the sports stewards: the first for hindering Robert Kubica, driving too slowly, during Q1; the second and third as you let the mechanics out of the pits in unsafe conditions when other cars arrive in the pit lane during Q2. The commissioners decide not to take action against Nikita Mazepin, while Aston Martin and Alpine are both fined 5,000 euros. After qualifying, the Red Bull Racing team principal, Christian Horner talks about the dangerous situation that has created in pit-lane during the session by appealing for safety, and the good team play put into practice by its drivers:
"This is a good team result. Checo played a key role today. He did a great job giving Max the wake. This probably cost Checo half a second. He could have been higher than where he is. We are quite satisfied with where we finished. The trail is crucial on this track given the so close distances between the cars. However, safety must also be guaranteed in the pit lane and this must be reviewed. Tomorrow’s sprint race will be exciting and then, of course, we’ll see what happens on Sunday. Max is on the right side of the grid tomorrow and hopefully he’s got a trail in at the first corner so it’s going to be a really exciting start for what is actually qualifying. Bottas took penalty for the engine, so we know he will be at the bottom of the grid on Sunday and we just have to see how the sprint race takes place. When a championship is so balanced you have to grab every point. We have had a couple of good weekends in this hat trick so far, so it is important that we close this phase with the momentum we have built".
Then the English manager talks about the possibility of a penalty, by Max Verstappen, for the replacement of the power unit:
"You have to see how things develop, we will necessarily have to face a penalty in the next four or five races. There are many uncertainties and there is no precise plan. We will certainly make this move in a circuit where overtaking will be possible".
After the third place for the Sprint Race, Max Verstappen says he is satisfied with the result:
"In FP1 we were struggling with the balance of the machine. So it would not have been realistic to hope for something more. Maybe we could have been a little closer, but I don’t think we can challenge them. It was not the best result but somehow this race is not an easy track for us, because of the long straights. We struggle on the deportation level. Third place is good. I was quite happy when I felt I was third. You don’t know what could happen in a race. So we’ll just try to keep the pressure. Before the race [on Sunday] a lot can happen. But here it is not like Zandvoort where we were really fast".
Sergio Perez struggled a bit more:
"We have definitely struggled in qualifying today, tomorrow our goal is to gain some positions and go back through the group. It’s going to be difficult, though, because we’re going to create a little train with DRS. Our long runs looked promising today and a lot can happen during a race, so we’ll see what happens".
For Charles Leclerc, too, it was not an easy session, as explained by Scuderia Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies:
"A very intense qualifying session, as always happens in Monza made even more tense by a problem with the electronic engine brake management that occurred on Charles' car already in his first run in Q1. We tried to identify the causes and, gradually, the situation improved but certainly Charles did not have an easy afternoon to manage. The result reflects what could have been the predictions of the eve. Let’s not forget where we were last year on this track in terms of performance despite the limited development possibilities that there were this season, a progress was seen. It’s still not enough for a team like ours but here too we could verify that the work we are doing is in the right direction. The weekend format offers a double chance to find a good starting position for the race and that is what we will try to do tomorrow afternoon".
Lando Norris is satisfied with his result:
"We can be confident ahead of the race but I hate when I hear that we’ve come 'very close', because it seems that you haven’t done a good job enough. I’m happy. Let’s start from a better position than we got last year. It’s a good placement, although I would have preferred to start from third place. To be honest it is not the best circumstance to be in because anything can happen quickly, especially when you do not know if the other drivers see you or not".
And also his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, and happy with the result obtained in qualifying:
"Being so close to Max, who is a driver who has gained six pole out of seven, is great now let’s look at tomorrow, because I do not want to stay fifth. During qualifying I was angry, and in the first two sectors I was more angry, because I knew I had to push in the last one. At the finish line I was convinced that I had finished third, at least until I was told the final position with the relative detachments. I will try to manage this anger both during the Sprint Race and in the race".
Before the start of the free practice session on Saturday 11 September 2021, Charles Leclerc’s car replaced the power unit. The Monegasque driver will not be penalized on the starting grid as the unit installed is equivalent to the first specification already used during the season. Valtteri Bottas' car is equipped with the third electronic control unit. The Finnish driver will be penalized with the loss of ten positions on the starting grid. However, the penalty has no practical effect as the Finn is already forced to start from the bottom of the grid following the replacement of several components of the power unit before the qualifying dispute on Friday. In this regard, Andrew Shovlin, head of Mercedes' track engineers, says at the end of the tests:
"In the break between FP1 and qualifying, we did not have endless time to investigate the cause of the possible problem, but enough time to prepare for the change, with the new power unit already ready in the garage. If we weren’t ready, we wouldn’t be able to complete the operation in less than two and a half hours. Coming in third means having to pass both McLaren, which here are damn fast".
On Saturday, with the cars already in the park closed, waiting for the Sprint Race, at the end of FP2 the two Mercedes precede the two Red Bull Racing. The best between the two drivers of the Anglo-German team is Lewis Hamilton, who focuses on the use of Soft and Hard tyres. Valtteri Bottas, on the other hand, in addition to Hard tires uses Medium tires. Max Verstappen follows less than 0.2 seconds from the time of the Finn. FP2 was interrupted in the middle of the session due to an accident involving Carlos Sainz Jr... The Spaniard comes out, at high speed, to the Variante Ascari. The car remains heavily damaged, especially in the area of the front suspension, so much so that it is in doubt the driver’s participation in the Sprint Race. The other Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc, is also forced to interrupt the session prematurely, due to a slight indisposition. There are four times cancelled to drivers for not having correctly covered Turn 5 (Variante della Roggia), using the external escape route, and four times cancelled for having exceeded the limits at Turn 11 (Alboreto curve)during the Saturday practice session. In the first case the times of Mick Schumacher (twice), Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton (once) are cancelled; in the second case the times of Carlos Sainz Jr., Nikita Mazepin, Lando Norris and Sebastian Vettel are cancelled. Haas is fined €700 for speeding in the pit lane. The Maranello team repairs Carlos Sainz Jr. ’s car in time for the Sprint Race, which crashed during the morning free practice. The Spaniard is in adequate physical condition to participate in the afternoon session. At the start of the Sprint Race Valtteri Bottas maintains the lead of the race, while Lewis Hamilton is the author of a bad start and passed by Max Verstappen and the two McLaren drivers, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, at the first variant. Meanwhile, Pierre Gasly hit Daniel Ricciardo’s car and damaged the front wing of his AlphaTauri, which he lost at the Grande corner. The Frenchman lost control of the car and finished the Sprint Race against the barriers. The race direction then decided to put the safety car on the track. On the third lap the track is completely clean and the safety car returns to the pits. At the restart Valtteri Bottas keeps the lead, while Max Verstappen remains in second place (which, given the penalty of the Finn, is worth the pole position for the Italian Grand Prix). Lewis Hamilton, who followed in fifth, approached Lando Norris. On lap nine Sergio Pérez attacked Lance Stroll at the first variation. However, the Mexican misses the braking point and must return the ninth position to the Canadian. Pérez’s overtaking maneuver succeeded in the next lap. Despite this, Sergio Pérez is put under investigation by the commissioners for the maneuver of the ninth lap, but is exonerated, since the decision to return, at least temporarily, the position to Stroll is considered correct. Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton tries to get closer to Lando Norris, but McLaren manage to be very fast in the straight. After 18 laps, Valtteri Bottas won the Sprint Race, winning three points, followed by Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. These two, considering the penalization of the Finnish driver, will start in the front row on Sunday. For Max Verstappen it is the eleventh pole position in his career, while Daniel Ricciardo returns to the front row from the 2018 Mexican Grand Prix. It is only one the time cancelled for having crossed the limits at turn 11 (Alboreto curve), during the Sprint Race, and it is that of Lando Norris.
For the top three finishers, the Sprint Race offers three points respectively to the first, two to the second and one to the third. This allows Max Verstappen to earn two points compared to his rival in the standings, Lewis Hamilton. For the World Champion, the favorite for victory in the Italian Grand Prix remains Max Verstappen:
"I think tomorrow Max will get an easy win, given how he put the weekend after this Sprint Race. I’ll have to try to get to second place somehow. Too much skating. I didn’t expect to be behind McLaren, it was my fault. I lost a few points today. I’ll have to try to do my best tomorrow, trying to limit the damage to Verstappen. I think Red Bull is a better car. It has been for the whole season. We are more competitive this weekend, but in the race Verstappen was after Bottas today".
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, after the Sprint Race results, prefers to focus on the future:
"On the positive side, Valtteri had a great race, with a very good start but on the other hand it was exactly the opposite. [Hamilton] fell a little asleep at the start. He just remained [bogged down]. It’s quite unusual for him. Max scored two points, of course, and Lewis none. And tomorrow he will start from pole position. So it could be that we threw away ten points over the weekend, however, still nothing is lost".
Speaking of the Sprint Race, the Austrian manager says:
"I think it was worth trying the Sprint Races but I’m not sure we’ll keep them. The reverse grids can be done in the junior formulas, where you want to see the overtaking capabilities of the drivers, but it’s not something we should approach in Formula 1. You could start Friday afternoon with FP1, do FP2 on Saturday morning, make a traditional qualifying in the afternoon and then the race on Sunday. Maybe you can re-introduce the warm-up on Sunday morning, to have a little more show for people. I would only shorten the free practice sessions so that there is more variability in the results, keeping the rest as it is. Everyone is confused by the sprint format, it does not give many benefits because nobody is ready to take a serious risk".
Despite everyone saying that Max Verstappen is the favorite to win the Italian Grand Prix, the Dutch driver says that it will be difficult to achieve a success in Monza:
"It won’t be easy to win because we don’t have the fastest car here. It’s going to be pretty tough, but obviously it’s a good starting position, that’s for sure. We have good confidence in the race pace but it is not as good as that of Mercedes".
Sergio Perez could not finish the Sprint Race beyond the eighth position, also thanks to a fight with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin in which the Mexican was forced to cut the chicane of the first corner:
"As for the incident with Stroll, I didn’t have any space, so I had to cut the chicane and hit the bumps, thus ruining my race. I gave him his position back the first chance I had, and I did. I was hoping to gain more positions but my start was not positive, and in addition it was very difficult to overcome. We’ll have to work tonight to find the pace we need, but I think we’ll have a good chance tomorrow. Let’s start from the eighth position, and we should have more opportunities to do well by also exploiting our strategy. I can’t wait to get back on track".
The Mexican driver also speaks negatively of the Sprint Race format:
"Nothing happens. I don’t see the advantage of having a race, I can imagine it’s also boring for fans and boring for drivers. It doesn’t bring anything to be honest. I think at the moment, as it is the current format, it doesn’t add anything. Obviously it was made to enhance the show. We’ll see if the fans are happy, the problem we have is that with the current Formula 1 cars to overtake you need a very large performance delta between cars. To achieve this, you need to have some kind of degradation. I think you probably have also chosen the wrong tracks. But I wouldn’t know where it would be a good place to try it. The problem is that it’s too short and there’s no degradation of tyres".
For Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, it will be important to convert pole position to victory:
"Everything was decided at the start with a great route by Max who managed to capitalize on a not very bright start by Lewis. We knew that McLaren could prove threatening at the start and at the first lap due to their speed, but we still managed to contain the attacks while maintaining the rhythm of Valtteri, also taking advantage of the wake of the latter. McLaren have proved their worth and this has been particularly evident with Lewis, who, while approaching half a second, has always been behind them. We are happy with the two points obtained today and the idea of starting tomorrow on pole, which we will try to convert to victory. Everyone will concentrate a lot for tomorrow especially for the choice of soft or medium tires. Softs can give you a four-meter advantage, and it will be interesting to understand what decisions the teams will make in this regard".
Lando Norris is very satisfied with his result:
"I could not have done better than that, at the start it was difficult with Lewis, so much so that I had to discard on the right. In doing so I lost the trail of those who stood in front of me, while those who were on my left were able to overcome me. This way I gained one position, while another I lost, but it’s okay. It would have been nice to be further ahead but with Daniel third and I fourth it is a good starting point for tomorrow’s race, and we also conquered a point. The First Variant is very complicated, you get to very high speed towards a narrow curve, where it is not easy to calculate the braking. If you’re inside like I was, you can brake five meters later, but then you go after the others. Fortunately, we were able to avoid contact, although I fear that Gasly has touched with Daniel. It will be equally complicated tomorrow, but we hope to be ahead enough so that no one is on us".
And about the possibility of fighting for the podium, the British driver analyzes the situation, and says:
"It’s hard to say without a good pace. The Mercedes on the straight is faster than us and an 18-lap race like this, when you can start with the soft tyres, is different from the one that will be presented tomorrow. There we will have to do 30 or 40 laps with the same compound, managing the tire without limiting myself to attack as I did today. Lewis might have passed me in a longer race but even if we had to get fourth or fifth it wouldn’t be bad. If we get on the podium even better, the important thing is to stay ahead of the Ferrari".
Daniel Ricciardo will start in the front row, alongside his Red Bull teammate, Max Verstappen:
"It is very nice to be here, we made a good start, as we have made others during this championship. We knew it was important, and we exploited that potential. I tried to overtake Max at the first corner trying to brake as late as possible, but he also had the same approach. At that point I joined him on the outside, but I was afraid of losing positions when I got out of the chicane, so I took a more central trajectory. That’s when I heard a contact from behind, and it’s one of those circumstances where I apologize to Gasly. It was nice to gain positions and have a good pace even though we didn’t have the pace of Valtteri and Max, but it still allowed me to create a consistent lead over the pursuers. So I got a great third place solo that will allow me to start from the front row tomorrow, but it’s not over yet".
Ferrari and McLaren are fighting each other for third place in the championship, but Carlos Sainz Jr. is aware of the strength of the British team at the Monza circuit:
"I don’t know if they are opponents for tomorrow because they start at the front and have 2-3 tenths of a step more than us. I drove that car here a year ago and I know how strong it is. And it didn’t have a Mercedes engine at the time. This year he has a Mercedes engine that gave him 3-4 tenths more. Tomorrow with a good start and a good strategy maybe we can try to get ahead of one of them. Honestly though I think they are ahead of us this weekend".
The Spanish also talks about the incident he was involved in during FP2:
"The blow was stronger than I expected. Now the neck is fine, but tomorrow morning, after sleeping, it will be worse. I’m going to have to do some massages. I got hit hard and the accident was very weird. We’re struggling in that corner, we’re oversteering. For that occasion I wasn’t pushing. And losing the car without pushing takes away your confidence. Today in the race in the first 5-10 laps I got there and I slowed down a bit. In the end I found a bit of confidence".
Charles Leclerc finished the Sprint Race in sixth place. Regarding the format of the Sprint Race, the Monegasque says:
"It’s always a tough lead. Looking at today’s race was not particularly exciting, but it still seems that there was some action in the very first corners. There are long straights, but also fast corners and having little downforce it is difficult to follow who precedes you when you are less than a second and a half, in particular at Ascari or Alboreto. My impression is that all the machines are in their performance order, with the fastest cars in front and the slowest behind. This makes it particularly difficult to gain positions. If we had a radically different Sprint Race, by which I mean a starting grid based on the inverted championship standings, then we could see a little more action".
Fernando Alonso is definitely happier, as he managed to gain three places on the starting grid:
"I think this track was actually better than Silverstone. At the start I think it was very tight today. The Monza track is narrow, so in the end we were all together in the first two corners and we tried to keep a bit of safety margin. But we still gained a couple of positions. They become three with the penalty of Bottas and if we can overtake three cars every 18 laps tomorrow I would put the signature. I think it will be difficult actually. We saw today how hard it is to get over here. Tomorrow it will all depend on the strategy, you have to choose the right moment to change the tires, stop and restart".
Antonio Giovinazzi managed to return to the top-ten again. The Italian driver points out all the differences between the race today and tomorrow, with the hope of being able to maintain the pace of the cars ahead:
"It was a different race, with 35 kg of gasoline in the car, without pit-stops or strategy, pushing from the first lap to the end. Already this morning we saw a good step on the car. The goal was to make a good first lap and gain positions on that occasion. We passed Perez, too, but then it was difficult to hold the position. Tomorrow we will start seventh in front of our fans, we will try to finish the weekend as best as possible. The sprint qualifying? In the end we always evaluate it according to our result. I didn’t like Silverstone, here it did. Tomorrow’s race? It will be long, different from today, with pit stops and strategy. We hope to keep up. I think that among the front cars only McLaren were on soft tires. Personally I was fine with the middle. Our only concern was the first lap, but in the end we didn’t lose positions, so everything was fine. It was not easy to overtake, as soon as you approach the car in front of you you begin to lose downforce. Personally I had fun because I gained some positions, but for the audience it probably wasn’t fun. I feel more comfortable with the car and when this occurs you can push harder. We are happy, because we did well on two different tracks, high and low load, showing to be fast in both conditions. As I said on Thursday, I must be satisfied with my performance. Whatever happens, I must be happy with myself".
Sebastian Vettel finished the Sprint Race in 11th position.
"I started very well but on the braking I did not find a gap and I blurted the tires. Since then, I haven’t been able to do anything else for the rest of the race. Honestly it was a relief to see the checkered flag without having to make a pit stop".
Lance Stroll managed to get ahead of his teammate:
"It was a fun race today. It was not an easy decision to use the soft rubber instead of the average because it guarantees a better start, but then degradation becomes a factor later. Tomorrow we will start the race fighting for the points and I think we can extract a little more rhythm from the car. Overtaking is difficult here, so strategy will be important. [Perez] He returned the position a little later than I expected and allowed Alonso to close the gap. But we were able to hold the tenth place".
George Russell also expresses his impressions on the Sprint Race format:
"My impression is that the sprint race is too short. The cars travel flat on every lap and this does not offer particular opportunities for overtaking. Normally, in fact, when in the real race there is a overtaking, it is because there is a difference in the wear and tear of the tyre compound. All the cars on the track, Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, are just a few tenths away from each other, so to have the opportunity to overtake you need a performance difference between the tires. We would probably all need softer tyres with which to do some management. At the end of the day, all drivers want the best for Formula 1, for the fans. I think we should review everything, but at present this format does not offer many opportunities to overtake, just because of its nature in which all drivers drive to the maximum. They are a number of factors, including the schedule. We run late in the afternoon, when the asphalt temperatures are cooler and this makes handling the tires even easier. If we anticipated everything in the middle of the day, the asphalt would probably be 10 inches warmer and this would introduce a minimum of tyre management during all laps, not just in the last two, which alone are not enough".
Yet F1 General Manager Ross Brawn defends the choice to propose Sprint Races:
"There have been many comments about this, but I think there are many positive aspects. He upset the order and reshaped the starting grid, also creating different assumptions ahead of the race. Formula 1 was rather brave to propose this experiment, offering the possibility to modify it during the course of work. Let’s not forget that for decades this sport has not undergone any change of format. I think it can offer a lot and there is still an appointment that will host a similar weekend. We will see how all these have gone so that we can better analyze them once finished".
On Sunday 12 September 2021, before the start of the Italian Grand Prix, the power unit was replaced on Charles Leclerc’s car. The Monegasque does not receive any kind of penalty as the third specification already used during the season is reassembled, while Pierre Gasly starts from the pit lane due to the replacement of the energy recovery system. Shortly before the start, technical problems also emerged on the other AlphaTauri, that of Yuki Tsunoda, who did not take part in the Grand Prix. All the drivers who start from the first rows use Medium tyres, with the exception of the two Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, who opt for the use of a set of Hard tyres. Daniel Ricciardo, who started in second position, immediately takes the lead, followed by Max Verstappen. The Dutchman was also attacked by Lewis Hamilton at the Variante della Roggia: however, the Briton had to cut the corner and could not get the better of the Dutchman, and then he was forced to take off by Lando Norris. Shortly thereafter, at the same point, Antonio Giovinazzi collided with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr.. The Italian driver’s Alfa Romeo crashes into the barriers, damaging the nose. Govinazzi is forced to make a pit stop, while the race director opts for the use of the virtual safety car, which ends during the second lap. At the restart Daniel Ricciardo keeps the lead of the race, followed by Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Sergio Pérez. On lap nine the Mexican driver of Red Bull Racing manages to pass Carlos Sainz Jr., always to the Roggia Variant. Meanwhile Valtteri Bottas, who started in the last row, is the author of many overtakings: on lap 14 the Finn is already in tenth position. On lap 15, Esteban Ocon defended himself against an attempt to overtake Sebastian Vettel, but his manoeuvre was considered dangerous by the commissioners, who penalized him by five seconds. Valtteri Bottas continues his comeback, passing Fernando Alonso, on lap 19. Three laps later the Finn also prevailed over Lance Stroll. During lap 23 Daniel Ricciardo made a pit stop. During the next lap, Max Verstappen returned to the pits, hoping to get back on track before the arrival of the McLaren Australian driver.
However, during tyre replacement operations, the right front tyre replacement mechanic encountered problems, and the Dutch driver remained stationary for over eleven seconds. Meanwhile, Lando Norris, in a tyre crisis, is passed by Lewis Hamilton who, thanks to the pit-stop made by Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, takes the lead of the race. During the next lap both Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris returned to the pits. The Mercedes driver’s tyre change is not perfect, but the Briton is back in front of his rival, Max Verstappen. The Dutchman, however, does not intend to lose the position against his rival and attacks the Briton to the first variant: Red Bull climbs up on a curb in the second corner and ends up above the British driver’s Mercedes; both cars end up in the gravel and the two contenders to the title are forced to retire. In order to make the track safe, the race director sends the safety car to the track. For Lewis Hamilton, it was the first crash-out of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix and the first stop since the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. take advantage of the situation to return to the pits and change the tyres. The Monegasque returned to the race in second place, behind Daniel Ricciardo. Lando Norris, Sergio Pérez, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Valtteri Bottas. At the restart Charles Leclerc lost the second position against Lando Norris. Shortly after, the Ferrari driver, despite a good duel, was forced to give up his position to Sergio Pérez. The Mexican, however, does not give up his position after having cut the Roggia Variant to pass the Monegasque driver. Shortly after, the Ferrari driver gave up another position in favor of Valtteri Bottas, while the race direction sanctioned Sergio Pérez and forced him to a penalty of five seconds. The two McLaren drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, continue to lead the race, followed by Sergio Pérez, Valtteri Bottas and the two Ferrari drivers, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr... Shortly after Valtteri Bottas approaches Sergio Pérez, who due to the penalty will lose the position in favor of the Finnish driver, but does not have the opportunity to overtake on track. The Mercedes driver attacked the Mexican driver at the Roggia Variant, but was overhauled by the Red Bull driver. The fight between the two seems to benefit Charles Leclerc, but he can not get closer.
A few laps from the end Nikita Mazepin retired, who parked his car at the Variante Ascari due to a problem at the Ferrari Power Unit. To allow the Commissioners to move the car safely, the race director decides to impose the virtual safety car regime. Completed the 53 laps, Daniel Ricciardo wins the Italian Grand Prix. For the Australian, it is the first success since the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix, driving Red Bull, while McLaren did not prevail since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix with Jenson Button. For the Australian driver this is his eighth career triumph. Thanks to Lando Norris' second place finish, the Woking team got their first brace from the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix, and became the first manufacturer to take a brace in the season. Completing the podium Valtteri Bottas, party nineteenth. Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz Jr., Lance Stroll, Fernando Alonso, George Russell and Esteban Ocon follow. It was from the 2014 Australian Grand Prix that two McLaren and one Mercedes did not rank in the top three, while the last podium with three Mercedes-powered cars was at the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix. There are three times cancelled to drivers for not having correctly covered Turn 5 (Variante della Roggia), using the external escape route, and seven times cancelled for having exceeded the limits at Turn 11 (Alboreto curve), during the race. In the first case the times of Nikita Mazepin, Sergio Pérez and Mick Schumacher were cancelled; in the second case the times of Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso (twice), Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel and George Russell (once) were cancelled. At the end of the race, Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Lance Stroll were called up by the sports stewards: the first two because of the accident that saw them involved in the second corner, while the third for not respecting the regime of double yellow flags. After listening to the drivers, the race director decides to penalize Max Verstappen with the loss of three places on the starting grid in the next Russian Grand Prix, and two points on the super license, while Lance Stroll receives a warning. Regarding the incident that occurred in lap 25 to the two contenders for the title, Lewis Hamilton expresses his regret for what happened:
"I left him the space outside corner one and two, he probably lost control there, and that’s when he flew over my head. It was an opportunistic gesture on his part, he knew perfectly well that we were going to collide, but he kept his foot down and kept pushing. I have to thank the Halo, it was a shame because I had passed Lando Norris and I was fighting for the victory, it was really a disappointment not to have finished the race".
The British driver is however satisfied with the work done by the commissioners, who decided to penalize Max Verstappen:
"I am proud of the Commissioners. I think I need some time to think about it, but surely what has happened creates a precedent. And I think it will be an important precedent for the safety of drivers, and it points out that there are strict rules to be respected. Things like this will continue until we learn from what happens on the track, and I personally don’t have a history with these kinds of accidents. Ultimately, when you get away with things like that, then you keep doing them. We’re all on edge. But every driver, present or past, when inside, will try to keep his position. Of course, when you enter the wheel-to-wheel curve and the car next to you is on the outside side by side, then you have to leave extra space. But there’s a known rule that says that the driver in front has the right trajectory in the corner, and the other driver has to give it to him. Surely we must analyze what has happened and make sure that the right decisions are taken. Nobody wants to see a pilot get hurt, and probably if we can put in place a better protocol, then in the future we can avoid this kind of thing".
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Deputy Commissioner in this Grand Prix, explains the reason for the decision to penalize the Dutch lead:
"As a driver I explain the dynamics to the other stewards, then together we evaluate the responsibilities. In Hungary the mistake was huge. In this case no. As stated in the judgment, it was a very optimistic maneuver by Max, with a forced overtaking. At the moment we are still in the context of the race accident. In a challenge at the limit can happen to make a mistake. The reality is that we are witnessing a good duel between two great champions for the title, as has not happened for some time".
"There are two great drivers and two great teams, but it is true that it would be better to lower the tone, also because at Silverstone and Monza could have been worse".
In the opinion of Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff, the Red Bull driver sought the conscious contact of not being able to counter Lewis Hamilton’s pace:
"Max committed what is called a tactical foul in football, he knew that in all likelihood Lewis would be in front of him and he would win the race. For example, if you look at what happened at turn four, Lewis had pulled back, because he knew that Max would be in front of him anyway. I am sure that Verstappen thought the same thing at the time of the accident, but nevertheless he did not give up, and from there there was contact".
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner clearly exonerates Max Verstappen, taking responsibility for a difficult pit stop that put the Dutch driver in a difficult position:
"Max had the opportunity outside of turn one but at that point he didn’t have enough space, and there was the accident. We shouldn’t have been in that position because we sent him back after a bad pit stop. Lewis made room for him during the turn, but later closed too much. It’s hard to apportion blame, but it certainly was an accident unlike Silverstone. I’m disappointed that Toto says it was a tactical foul. I just think it was a race contact where nobody got hurt, and for that we have to be grateful to the Halo. There is respect between the two drivers and they will discuss it in front of the stewards. They will start side by side also in the next races".
Then he adds:
"Both drivers knew they had to exit the chicane in the lead, given the difficulty in completing the overtaking. Max saw a chance while Lewis locked the door. I reiterate what I said from the outset, namely that both had their own responsibility in the accident and it is difficult to establish an overriding fault of one over the other. If the FIA wanted to make a communication they could impose the same penalty on both. Instead, Max was considered the most responsible and, since he didn’t finish the race, the only option was to give him a three-place grid penalty, which we still accept. It was a bad accident but both drivers immediately confirmed that they were feeling good. Lewis even tried to get back on track, so much so that even the Medical Car didn’t need to intervene. I’m grateful the Halo did its job. After what happened, now even the most critical have changed their minds about the importance of this tool".
The reason for the mistake made by the mechanics during the pit stop, which caused Verstappen to lose 11 seconds during the tyre change, is due to a human error:
"It was a rare human error caused by a new technical directive (applied to slow pit stops for safety reasons), something we will have to experience. Mercedes took advantage of this opportunity and they also missed slightly at Hamilton’s pit stop. An error that was decisive in getting it out wheel to wheel with Max"
The British manager also talks about the five-second penalty imposed by the race management against Sergio Perez, guilty of not returning the position gained on Charles Leclerc after using the escape route of the Variante della Roggia:
"It was hard because we would have expected a call from the stewards to tell us to warn the pilot about what he should have done. Obviously, this did not happen. Moreover, when the penalty was made official, Sergio could not enjoy a reassuring advantage over the pursuers. He was the third fastest on track and he finished fifth at the finish, it was a frustrating result".
A thesis denied by the race director, Michael Masi:
"That’s not true, they didn’t ask anything from the race management. I suggested that he consider giving the position back, and they said they would take care of it. At the same time, we are busy taking into account some aspects related mainly to the way it gained advantage, judging it 'holistic'. If you increase the pace and stop before the DRS zone, By letting a driver pass and standing next to him on the straight immediately after, he is surely judged differently than a manoeuvre made three or four corners before. Many times so you have to see how these things happen, and if they respect each other without following a strategic order".
After getting out of his car, Max Verstappen did not check the condition of Lewis Hamilton, despite the fact that the British driver remained at the intent of his car sore in the head after being hit by the rear tire of the Dutch driver’s Red Bull:
"Lewis was fine, trying to get back on track in reverse when I was out of the cockpit. You don’t do that if you’re injured. There are many reasons and many aspects to analyze but I’m still disappointed, I expected a better result. Now let’s move on".
About the incident involving the two title rivals, Carlos Sainz Jr. says:
"From my point of view I think that accidents like this are always avoidable. Two drivers do not come into contact if one does not want. Since they struggle so hard for the world title, you are more exposed to this kind of collisions, as happened in the past. I think it’s natural that in F1 you can see a greater probability of these accidents between two drivers in battle for the title. For me the dynamics are quite clear, but I will not give my opinion because I think there will be discussions in the next meeting reserved for drivers, where we will analyze what happened".
And Charles Leclerc has the same idea:
"It’s normal to see this kind of incident, they are fighting for the world championship and both want to win it without sparing themselves, I would do it under the same conditions. It is understandable to see this kind of dualism, just as it has happened in the past".
The Halo actually saved Lewis Hamilton. Helmut Marko admits that the use of the device proved to be crucial in this circumstance:
"At first I was sceptical but I must admit that, as in the case of Grosjean, the Halo was decisive in ensuring that things went right".
After a difficult start to the season, Daniel Ricciardo managed to win the Italian Grand Prix, redeeming himself in the eyes of critics:
"It was now, let’s say so. The departure was the crucial moment. Everything worked very well yesterday for me, honestly even with this start I had no guarantee to stay in front for the whole race. But I kept my foot down from the first stint, maybe not exaggerating, but just right to keep Max behind. I don’t think either of us could expect this double. But I’ve been expecting something good since Friday. I’ve actually been pretending all year to go slow and then surprise you here. In the end I don’t care about third and fourth places, I just wanted to win".
"Honestly after the summer break I found myself. After August I started to find myself. But this double is really crazy, even the simple podium would have been a huge result for McLaren. This is for the team, for all of us, for once I miss the words. I thought that a Ferrari would be on the podium, but at least there is an Italian name and it is quite nice. We will see the Shoey on the podium? Absolutely".
The Australian driver then points out that the meaning of this victory is greater than that of Monaco in 2018, obtained after having escaped him in 2016:
"I already felt it on Fridays. I had a feeling in my heart that I could live a weekend as a protagonist. I didn’t settle, I took everything. The meaning of this victory is even greater than that of Monaco. I’m really happy and now we’re going to have a week off. I want to celebrate properly and do what I want. Tonight at the table square, wine, whiskey, thank you all".
Even the team-mate, Lando Norris, forced on the podium to do the Shoey with Zak Brown by the Australian driver, is understandably happy:
"A big thank you to everyone, the fans and the team. It was a really great weekend. Four years ago, when I joined this team, that was the goal and we finally managed to get this double. A big step forward for us, I’m also happy for Daniel. The radio team? Every driver knows he wants to aim for victory only, but I’m here in the long term, I have to think about the team and it could not end better for us. I am happy for the team, for Daniel, and also for me: I am sure that I will have my chance in the future".
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl can only be satisfied with the result obtained in Monza:
"I’m just happy and proud of the team today. There was a lot of pressure today because we knew we had a good car and we also knew that if we were able to stand in front of one or the other car in the beginning - or were able to overtake - there would be a chance of doing something great. The team is doing a sensational job with an incredible spirit. Seeing this, step by step, is paying off is very nice. At the same time there is no reason to get carried away. It is important to celebrate, but we must not forget that in Zandvoort we were destroyed. We still have a lot of work to do, but the direction is the right one".
And McLaren CEO Zak Brown is of the same opinion:
"Andreas and I made a deal, he takes all the credit for the work and the win, but I’m going to lift the trophy. It was one of the best deals I made. Andreas is always very calm, which is a great thing. This is the kind of leadership you want in a Formula 1 team. As he says, last weekend was not very good, so I think we have to keep our feet on the ground".
Valtteri Bottas is also satisfied with his race, having been forced to start from the bottom of the grid:
"Starting from behind is never easy. I told the team that I would be able to get on the podium and so it was, I’m glad I scored more points than Red Bull. Beyond that, I do not think I could have done more, considering the starting position. We lost points for the Lewis-Max incident, but it went well for me. I didn’t see anything about their contact. How to comment on it? I don’t know, it was a shame, bad luck, I understand that it takes time to analyze it well, it will be talked about for a while. It was a very strong weekend for me, the pace was good, now we think about next weekend, we are eager to leave".
Scuderia Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto congratulates the McLaren team for third place in the constructors' championship and analyses the race of his drivers:
"We did well, we knew it was a difficult weekend for us. All in all it’s a decent result, and I want to congratulate McLaren. We were overtaken immediately after the Safety Car, but there is because we know that it is still that the top speed is our weak; if we look at the manufacturers classification is not a good result, but we must analyze what were the expectations, and we always managed to stay close to the leading group, which is the best aspect of the weekend. The pace was good, especially in the first sector, at the exit from Ascari we suffered towards the Parabolica, and then on the last and first straight we were quite vulnerable. The proof was the restart after the Safety Car, where we paid. McLaren has adapted well to this type of track, and it is not said that the same thing can happen to us in the next appointments. We always give our best, there are some possible leads and we’ll get there. There were twenty horses of difference and it has been seen but we must not lose morale, we are also working on next season. Too bad to lose points, but it was a solid race that must give us confidence. It was very nice to welcome the Olympic champions, they are an example of how you can win".
Carlos Sainz Jr., on the other hand, says he is a bit frustrated because, in his opinion, third place was an achievable goal:
"The first stint was difficult for me, I was always fighting and I wanted to push more. My back was going, and I wasn’t so familiar with the car after yesterday’s blow. In the second stint, with the hard tyre, it was different and I felt in the best conditions, I had resumed a great feeling even if I still suffered with the rear. I couldn’t get the right speed in the straight to get the others back and aim for the podium. Too bad, I’m a bit frustrated because today we had the opportunity of the podium after Hamilton-Verstappen contact. Too bad, we were close all weekend but we did not make it".
Fernando Alonso did the best he could after a race, he said, in which Alpine was uncompetitive:
"Today we maximized our potential by redeeming ourselves from an uncompetitive weekend for us after finishing Friday’s qualifying in 13th and 14th place. For me it was a bit of a solo race, but we both finished in the points, so it’s a positive result for the whole team. I think the race today has shown our best work in race management, strategy and pit stops. Now Monza is in the archive and we hope to find again our competitiveness in the races that will come to get even more points in the standings".
Esteban Ocon finished tenth. The French driver said at the end of the race:
"It was a confusing race for us but, despite the positive score, I feel unlucky to not have collected a greater number of points. At the start I managed to gain a couple of positions, but I was forced to give the position to Latifi, which involved a waste of time. Then, after a good fight with Vettel, I hit him at turn 4, which did not cause any damage but caused the Race Direction to penalize me by 5 seconds. I decided to discount them with the entrance of the Safety Car, and it was a shame, because under normal conditions I could get a great advantage. I don’t agree with the decisions made for both accidents, but these things can happen. The point won is not due to the work done by the team during the weekend. We could have done more".
Nikita Mazepin apologizes to teammate Mick Schumacher for a collision during the race, of which he assumes responsibility:
"He braked very early going into turn 4 and I just put the nose there, obviously he had to make the turn and turn. I’m sorry that happened. It was my fault, but like in a race accident, sometimes you snort at that spot. The driver in front has to turn, but you have half a car there. So it was totally my mistake. I think it’s obvious that I wasn’t happy that it happened. I was very sorry to have ruined the front wing because of this".
With rumors about the future of Antonio Giovinazzi that see him out of Formula 1 at the end of the season, Angelo Sticchi Damiani, president of ACI, calls for financial aid that can allow the Italian driver to keep his place:
"Antonio is really good. We couldn’t give him a chance to show how good he is. I expect that there will also be a push from the government in this direction, because elsewhere the governments move, the very heavy briefcases arrive. It is no longer like once the best goes on, the best goes on, but so do the richest. We have this duty: we have a good driver and we must defend him and give him the chance to excel".
Pierre Gasly expresses his disappointment following the break of the suspension during lap 3, which forced him to retire early:
"We had a brilliant start to the weekend, with another great qualifying performance, but after yesterday’s Sprint Qualifying it was all very disappointing. In the initial laps we noticed something wrong, but we couldn’t fix the problem before the race. We still don’t know exactly what happened, but unfortunately we had to pick up the car. It’s our home race, so double retirement is a blow. We know the car is competitive, so we just have to work hard and prepare for the next race".
It was no better for his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, who did not take part in the race:
"During the grid lap we noticed a technical problem, we tried to solve it directly on the grid, but it was not possible. So, we brought the car back to the garage to look for a solution before departure. My mechanics did all they could, but unfortunately I was not able to take part in the race. It’s hard to give up on laps and experience with this car, but now we have to move on and all my attention is on Russia".
Jody Egginton, technical director of AlphaTauri, adds:
"During the deployment lap Yuki reported a braking problem. As much as the guys tried to solve it, there was no solution, so we had to pick up the car. Then, a system problem on Pierre’s car forced us to withdraw the other one as well. It was frustrating, we couldn’t turn Pierre’s good performance on Friday into points. Likewise, Yuki missed the opportunity to do laps and track experience. However, our package has proved to be competitive and we will push hard in the next races, with the aim of recovering against our closest opponents".
Ross Brawn, known face of Formula 1, expresses apprehension after the incident between Hamilton and Verstappen and hopes that the World Championship will not be decided in the hall of commissioners:
"I am sure that the fans will be divided, it is clear that both drivers could have avoided the accident. I think this is another consequence of the fact that there are two guys who go head to head and do not want to give up an inch. It’s a shame they ended up in the gravel, because it could have been a great race and we were deprived of this. I’m interested to see what impact this will have on their title battle. We’ve already experienced Silverstone, which was a major and controversial incident. Personally, I wouldn’t say it changed the dynamic. There are two cocks in the henhouse at the moment and we are seeing the consequences of this. I don’t think either of us is gonna back out for the rest of the year. But I hope that the championship will be won on track and not in the barriers or in the stewards' room".
At the end of the Italian Grand Prix, the ranking of the Drivers' World Championship remains unchanged for Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, due to the accident that saw them involved. The Dutch driver remains at the top of the standings with 226.5 points, followed by the Briton with 221.5 points. Valtteri Bottas follows in third place, with 141 points, while Lando Norris rises to fourth place, with 132 points, segioto from Sergio Perez with 118 points. As for the Constructors' World Championship, the podium obtained by Valtteri Bottas allows Mercedes to climb to 362.5 points, and increase its advantage over Red Bull Racing by 18 points. As for the fight for third place, the McLaren team overtakes Scuderia Ferrari climbing to 215 points, against 201.5 of the Maranello team. The advantage of Alpine against AlphaTauri increases after the double withdrawal of Italian cars. There are still eight rounds left at the end of the Formula 1 World Championship, but the challenge between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton is slowly starting. The gap of only five points can certainly not give peace of mind to the Dutch driver, which among other things at the Russian Grand Prix will be forced to serve three penalty positions, favoring the possible comeback of the rival in the standings.