F1 – Italian GP – Qualifying

Ciao, MiniFans! The second sprint qualifying of the season is upon us, and it takes place in the Temple of Speed. The Friday qualifying, which uses the same format we are used to for the usual Saturday qualifying, left a pretty standard starting grid when compared to the rest of the season. Tyre choice was left up to the teams, so softs and mediums were spread around the grid, with a preference for the yellow tyres.

An 18-lap race that only gives a few points to the top three and could ruin your starting position for Sunday gives the impression that the drivers won’t be as aggressive as they could be but, as they say, F1 drivers are a different breed and slipstreams make Monza a different circuit. Hamilton’s bad start by losing three places seemed to predict the incoming mess: Gasly had a minor tough with the back of Ricciardo’s car, which made his front wing fall on one side and eventually force him off the track and into the barriers as soon as it fully dislodged, prompting a safety car in the first lap. At the back, Tsunoda had a small impact with Kubica, pushing him out of the track. The Alfa Romeo driver could go back to the track as the safety car remained in for a couple of laps as the debris was cleaned.

This second start, this time a rolling one and slowed down by Bottas as much as he could manage, was much cleaner. Bottas sped off and caught Verstappen a bit off guard, while both McLarens, in third and fourth, managed to keep their places. Hamilton’s DRS was countered by Norris’ soft tyres for quite a while. On the other hand, Bottas was setting fastest laps and easily managing the gap to Verstappen. Further back, Ferrari was staying in their places despite all the problems reported during the weekend for both of them, and Pérez was made to return a place to Stroll after he gained it by leaving the track, which allowed Alonso to get close to both of them.

Hamilton had to wait for an error made by Norris, as he wasn’t being able to overtake the McLaren, which could come in the form of track limits, as he was noticed over the radio that he had gone over them a couple of times. However, the mistake didn’t look likely to occur, as his driving was clean and wasn’t being affected by the seven-time world champion breathing down his neck.

MiniDrivers – F1
2021 Italian GP
Sprint Qualifying

The race mostly settled down in the last third, with only Pérez trying to recover one or two more places and an investigation pending about him and Stroll’s earlier incident and giving back the position. A clarification was asked to the FIA by Red Bull before it was deemed no further action was necessary. The finish line welcomed Bottas, Verstappen and Ricciardo as the top three and the only drivers who would get points in this race.

Hamilton got himself in trouble by not managing at least a decent start and losing three places to Verstappen and both McLarens. It meant that, in a circuit like Monza, his sprint qualifying was mostly doomed. Furthermore, his team had shot themselves in the foot, as Bottas would be starting from the back due to engine changes and could not help with restraining Verstappen, who would inherit pole position from the Finn and share the first row with his former teammate.