F1 – Italian GP – Race
The Formula One circus is attempting to find some normality today after the devastating events of last week. It’s the Autodromo Nationalize Monza that plays host to round 14 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship. The low grip circuit is one that requires maximum power and minimal drag; aerodynamic efficiency is rewarded here.
A one-stop race is expected meaning strategic variation is limited, so the start will be absolutely crucial today. It’s Charles Leclerc who will be at the front of the grid having secured his second consecutive pole position. Behind him are the two Mercedes drivers, Sebastian Vettel, and the two Renault’s – who performed superbly in qualifying yesterday.
As they got underway, it was Lewis Hamilton who made the best start off the grid, but strong defending from Leclerc allowed him to maintain the lead. That set the tone of the race with Leclerc having to sustain constant pressure from first Hamilton, and then later Valtteri Bottas. The defence from the rising star, who is still only 21 years old, was extremely robust and on the limit of what’s acceptable; crucially without ever exceeding the limit following two investigations from the stewards – and one warning.
Leclerc was able to turn his second consecutive pole, into his second consecutive victory. An incredibly special win in front of the team’s home crowd. Charles was a bundle of joy as the race ended, and who can blame him after the week he has had. Bottas came home 2nd, taking advantage of Hamilton’s tyre wear in 3rd. Daniel Ricciardo was much stronger than Nico Hulkenberg today, but the Renault team will be exceptionally happy with 4th & 5th. Alexander Albon had an eventful race, including one superb pass, ultimately finishing 6th. Great day for Sergio Perez – 7th place today – having started down in 18th. Rounding out the top ten were Max Verstappen, Antonio Giovinazzi and Lando Norris.
With the exception of one incident where Sebastian Vettel spun, and collided with Lance Stroll while rejoining the circuit, who in turn forced Pierre Gasly wide while rejoining – that was a tremendous race; exactly what the paddock needed following a horrible last week.
Lots of drivers (and other paddock personalities too) are still suffering mentally out there as we all try to process the consequences and ramifications of last weekend’s terrifying accident. The issue wasn’t just that we lost a driver, but the unique nature of that particular hideous incident is gut-wrenching. Anthoine will never be forgotten, and his spirit will always be with us in the paddock.
Charles was probably the closest driver in the F1 paddock to Anthoine, and boy has he responded in the best possible way. Will he make it three from three in Singapore?