Formula 1 2020 Italian Grand Prix was held at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, also known as Temple of Speed. It is one of the fastest-racing tracks in the world and holds the record for the highest average speed for one lap. The record for hosting the highest number of grands prix at the same place also belongs to the Monza race track.
The first race was held in the year 1921, and since then it has had the honour to host the race a record 91 times. Last year, Charles Leclerc won his debut for Ferrari at Tifosi’s home race, but this year it will be a painful one for the Scuderia mainly due to poor car performance.
Mercedes has won the most number of races on this circuit since the start of the hybrid V6 era. They locked out the front row with a new fastest lap record in the history of F1. On Sunday, however, there was no Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull on the podium for the first time since 2011. In the history of F1, this Sunday had the 3rd youngest podium, which was shared by Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri), Carlos Sainz (McLaren), and Lance Stroll (Racing Point).
Thursday Pre-Race Preparations: Williams family steps out of F1 after Monza
The weather is typically pleasant in Italy during the early September period. Teams usually fine-tune their Monza spec aerodynamic package by testing it during the Belgium GP weekend and then applying any changes they think are necessary from the data they get from testing.
End of an era – the Williams family announced that they would leave the Williams F1 racing team after it was sold to a private investment firm from USA, the Dorilton Capital. At the end of the Italian GP, Claire Williams stepped down from the position of Deputy Team Principal and so did her father Sir Frank Williams as Team Principal.
Williams racing team was the third most successful and oldest running F1 team after McLaren and Ferrari. During this time under the leadership of the Williams family, the team entered 739 races, won 9 constructors’ titles, 7 drivers’ championships, 114 race wins, 312 podiums, 128 pole positions and 133 fastest laps.
Friday Practice: Mercedes dominates practice rounds of the 2020 Italian Grand Prix
More than 80% of the lap is spent at full throttle, so engine power is the single most important factor for speed at this track. The Silver Arrows were the favourite to dominate the weekend, and they certainly did on Friday.
Single-lap pace placed Mercedes on top, followed by Red Bull 0.8 sec/lap slower. Renault and Racing Point once again looked like they would be on a tie as the third-fastest team with a 1 sec/lap gap from Mercedes. Alpha Tauri and McLaren were 1.2 sec/lap slower, while Ferrari was only the 7th quickest team, nearly 1.4 sec/lap slower than the leader.
Mercedes showed no drop in speed even on the race simulations. The advantage of Mercedes, in the long run, is not as big as it is on the short runs. Red Bull was still second albeit 0.5 sec on average slower than the Mercedes. Racing Point is 3rd on the list, Alpha Tauri 4th and Renault, McLaren, Ferrari all averaged 1.6 sec/lap slower than the benchmark.
Saturday Practice: McLarens duo speeds up behind Mercedes
This is one track where you can see a significant change in the pecking order from Friday to Saturday. There are so many wing levels and combinations you can run that it is possible to see a difference in the qualifying pace and race speed. Mercedes still finished the session fastest, but behind it were the two McLarens (Sainz and Norris) showing tremendous speed and probably a contender for the second fastest team.
Monza qualifying is very fun and exciting to watch. Mostly due to tremendous speed reached by cars and partially for drivers trying to pick up a tow from the car ahead, which is worth as much as four-tenths during one lap. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), the homeboy on his last Italian GP with the team, was knocked out of the Q1 session. George Russell and Nicholas Latifi (both Williams) along with Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) and Romain Grosjean (Haas) failed to go any further.
The Q2 session began with the Silver Arrows first out of the box, and they swapped to the red marked soft tyres for this part. Behind the two Mercedes cars, Carlos Sainz finished third quickest continuing with the speed the team showed in FP3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) made it ‘no Ferrari’ into Q3 by qualifying only 13th. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), Esteban Ocon (Renault), Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Daniil Kvyat (Alpha Tauri) all joined Leclerc and were eliminated at the end of the session.
Lewis Hamilton started the session by pumping in the fastest lap of the Monza racing circuit and exerted extra pressure on Bottas. Perez was third fastest at the end of the first Q3 runs. The Bottas decided not to take advantage of the tow from another car and once again was the first one on the road ahead of his teammate. The Finnish racing driver improved his time, but Lewis went even faster and took pole position number 94 with the fastest lap in the history of Formula 1, stopping the clock at 1:18:887. Sainz fired in the Lap of the Day to go third quickest behind the two Mercedes cars. Perez was 4th, Verstappen 5th, Norris 6th, Ricciardo 7th, Stroll, Albon and Gasly 10th.
Sunday Race: Unexpected finish to an exciting race
Pre-race breaking news started with Racing Point announcing that they would not appeal against the fine and points penalty they received due to brake ducts infringement. Another big story was that there would be no Renault F1 team on the grid from 2021 season; instead, it will be renamed as Alpine F1 team. The team also teased a new colour branding of blue and red similar to the Alpine Automotive brand.
The race started with Lewis making a good start and emerging first from the first chicane. Bottas didn’t do as well, and fast-starting Sainz and Norris flew by him. By the end of lap 1, Bottas was down to P6. The race settled down for the first ten laps, and Lewis was leading comfortably ahead of Sainz and Norris. Vettel retired on lap 6 with a brake failure.
Lap 20, Magnussen pulled to the right hand coming out of the Parabolica and was in the firing line of people coming into the pitlane. The safety car was deployed, and Hamilton pitted for new tyres but did not see red signs on the left-hand side indicating pitlane is closed. Everyone else stayed out, and when the pitlane was reopened, everyone dove straight in and made the change. Gasly who pitted before the safety car jumped into 3rd place behind Stroll who did not pit.
Racing resumed on lap 24, and the order was Hamilton, Stroll, Gasly, the two Alphas, the two McLarens and Bottas. Leclerc, while pushing hard, went off at the parabolic and crashed heavily into the tyre barriers. The impact dislodged the tyre barrier, and there was no choice but to red flag the session for repair. Hamilton and Giovinazzi who pitted when the pitlane was closed during the safety car period both received a 10 second stop and go penalty.
When the racing resumed half an hour later on lap 28 after the second standing start of the race, Lewis served his penalty and came out last some 23 seconds behind the pack. Gasly jumped to second and Stroll who had a poor start from P2 position was 5th by the end of lap 28. Gasly was in the lead, and Sainz was the fastest man in the top 10 after chasing the Frenchman in quest of his first race win.
Ten laps to the end it was a straight fight between Gasly and Sainz, but in the end, the Spanish racer fell short by a lap or two to take the first win of his career. He eventually finished 0.4 seconds behind Gasly who drove an absolutely sensational race to win the first race of his career. Twelve months ago, Red Bull dropped him at the same place in favour of Albon, and in an exciting twist of fate, he wins the race, while the man who replaced him finished outside the points.
Carlos Sainz took his career-best finish, and McLaren had their best result since Australia 2013 when Jenson finished P2. Stroll managed to navigate his way back to 3rd, and Norris finished 4th ahead of Bottas. Ricciardo finished 6th; Hamilton made a good recovery to finish 7th plus an extra point for fastest lap, Ocon 8th, Kvyat 9th and Perez 10th.
F1 Tuscan Grand Prix - Mugello
Formula 1 travels to the home track of Scuderia Ferrari in Mugello. It is a great old school track with fast corners and gravel traps. Follow us to Mugello next week, as Ferrari celebrates its historic 1000th race.