2021 Italian GP Review

McLaren take their first win in 9 seasons after chaotic race

11w ago
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After free practice, it looked as though this weekend was going to be a Mercedes white wash and this stayed true in Friday qualifying with the Mercedes locking out the front row with Bottas somewhat surprisingly beating his teammate Hamilton. The sprint race was fairly comfortable for Valtteri as he took a lights to flag victory, the same could not be said for Lewis however as he got off to a poor start and was unable to recover eventually coming home in a disappointing 5th place. To add to Mercedes woes they had decided to take new engine components on Bottas' car, meaning he was demoted to the back of the grid for Sunday and promoted Verstappen to an unlikely pole position, momentum appeared to have swung Red Bull's way as victory suddenly looked like a possibility. However everything was thrown up in the air in Sunday's race as a fast starting Ricciardo leaped ahead of Verstappen into turn one to take the early lead of the race, meanwhile Max's championship rival Hamilton was down in 4th behind Norris. Both Lewis and Max were unable to find their way past the slower McLarens and had to stay put behind them until the pit stop phase on lap 22. This is where the chaos began as both Max and Lewis had slow pit-stops, Lewis pitted later and when he exited the pits he was right next to his title rival going into turn one. Neither one backed down and they ended up colliding in the chicane with Max's car mounting onto the back of Hamilton's in a spectacular crash which put both drivers out of the race. The safety car was brought out to clear the cars and once the racing resumed it was Daniel Ricciardo who lead ahead of Leclerc who was soon to be overtaken by Norris to put McLaren in the position to claim a 1-2 finish. Both drivers put in a fine performance until the end holding off the faster cars of Bottas and Perez to take an excellent victory for McLaren, their first since 2012. It also marked a return to form for Daniel Ricciardo with this being his first victory since the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix.

Driver Reviews:

Mercedes:

Hamilton:4/10, By his lofty standards he will be far from happy at the events which transpired this weekend. He was poor in both qualifying's(normal and sprint) which in turn ended up costing himself what would've most likely been a pole position and an easy victory. He failed to make a substantial enough impression during the race by not being able to get past Norris in the early phase and chase after the leaders, ultimately this left him vulnerable and ended up costing him as he collided with Verstappen coming out of the pitlane into the turn one chicane.

Bottas:7/10, I think the fact that Bottas' second pole this year happened to coincide with the race he decided to take engine penalties sums up his season. He showed amazing pace in qualifying and this translated into the race as he made light work of midfield runners and quickly filtered his way towards the front. The safety car was advantageous for Bottas as he was able to close the gap to the leaders and jump up to 5th meaning with 20 or so laps to go on the restart he was in with a shout of winning. Ultimately he was unable to take advantage of the opportunity but still came home to claim third which I'm sure him and Mercedes will be more than happy with that given their starting position.

Red Bull:

Verstappen:5/10, Red Bull appeared to be on the backfoot coming into qualifying however a superb lap from Max and a solid sprint race performance meant that they found themselves in pole position for the start. A fast starting Ricciardo demoted Max back down to second however he was breathing heavily down his neck and was still very much likely to take the victory. However things unravelled from their as a slow pit-stop put him back from the lead battle and left him to squabble with Hamilton over third place, this of course played out poorly for Verstappen as he collided with Hamilton and both retired from the race, meaning yet another potential race win for Max went up in smoke.

Perez:4/10, If I had to choose a word to describe Perez's weekend it would probably be scrappy. He had fairly good pace in practice and looked like he'd be challenging with the leaders this weekend, however qualifying dispelled that notion as he was left languishing down in P8 for the start of the race. He made some good progress off the start and began closing down the leaders and after the safety car he looked as though he could be in a position to win the race, however like Bottas before him he was unable to take advantage and got stuck behind the McLarens. To compound this he received a 5 second time penalty after an illegal overtake on Leclerc earlier in the race meaning he lost out on a potential podium finish and was left in a disappointing P5 when all was said and done.

McLaren:

Norris:8/10, It had been a disappointing run of results for Norris of late with just one point in his previous three races, but an excellent weekend for the McLaren team brought his poor run to a close. Both he and Daniel we're quick and felt they were able to challenge at least the Red Bulls, this was shown in both qualifying and the sprint race as some impressive pace allowed Norris to line up P3 just behind his teammate. On Sunday he kept his nose clean and exhibited some impressive speed as he had to keep faster cars behind him for much of the race, an excellent drive for young Lando as he continues to impress in his third year at McLaren.

Ricciardo:9/10, This was a breakthrough weekend Ricciardo as for the first time this season we saw the Daniel we've grown used to over the years. Qualifying went very well for Ricciardo as he set an almost identical lap to his teammate Norris, which is far closer than he had been to Norris' pace all season, he then capitalised on Hamilton's slow start in the sprint race and jumped from 4th up to second for the start. Things got even better for Ricciardo as in the race he got an amazing start and jumped ahead of Verstappen and actually managed to keep him behind for the whole of the first stint. After Max and Lewis crashed out, McLaren and Ricciardo could taste victory as they suddenly became favourites for the win. After the restart Ricciardo and his teammate Norris we're able to control the race keeping the faster cars behind at arms length to take a memorable victory, and Ricciardo's first in a non Red Bull team.

Aston Martin:

Vettel:4/10, It was a poor weekend by Vettel's standards but he'll certainly be feeling sorry for himself as things just didn't seem to go his way. He got off to a decent start to the weekend as he qualified 11th marginally ahead of his teammate Stroll, following this he had a fairly quiet sprint race as he was able to keep his 11th place for the start on Sunday. However, things got a lot more hectic on race day as an aggressive move by his teammate on the first lap meant Vettel lost momentum and dropped back down the order. He found it difficult to climb his way back up and overtake like many others did on the day as he eventually managed to find his way home to finish 12th, this wasn't without drama though after he had two collisions with Schumacher and Ocon throughout the race leaving him with small amounts of damage to his wing and floor.

Stroll:7/10, In a fairly hectic race Stroll managed to keep his cool and display good race pace to claim a sizeable points haul for Aston Martin. Qualifying wasn't the best for him as he managed just 12th, marginally behind his teammate but he more than made up for it in the sprint race jumping up to 9th for the race start. The race was fairly quiet as he didn't really have anyone near him for large periods of the grand prix, this worked to his advantage as he was able to stay out of trouble and maximise the cars pace to come home 7th and claim 6 valuable points in Aston Martins race for 5th in the constructors championship.

Alpine:

Alonso:7/10, Another solid points finish for Alonso as he's become 'mr.consistent' this season racking up top 10 finishes week after week. Qualifying wasn't great as he only managed 13th but was still ahead of his teammate Ocon as the pair started side by side for the sprint race In which he made up good ground to get himself up to tenth for the start. In the race he again showed consistent pace, kept his nose clean and was able to come across the line in an impressive 8th position.

Ocon:5/10, It was by no means a bad race for Ocon, however he may've hoped for slightly more coming into the weekend. Both qualifying and the sprint race we're underwhelming as he finished 14th and 12th respectively, essentially last of all the 'midfield' runners. Things didn't improve too much in the race as his pace was average meaning he wasn't able to make up much ground, on top of this a silly collision with Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel meant he earned himself a 5 second time penalty. In spite of all this he still managed a 10th place finish earning himself and the Alpine team a singular point.

Ferrari:

Leclerc:7/10, The weekend got off to a pretty dreadful start for Leclerc as he complained of engine issues for most of the time he spent on track in FP1 and qualifying, however he powered through to claim an excellent 5th in the sprint race, one spot ahead of his teammate Sainz as Ferrari locked out the third row. Given the Ferrari's highly publicised engine woes it was expected that they would be off the pace this weekend, however both he and Sainz kept a respectable gap to the leaders for the entirety of the race with Leclerc at one point looking as though he could challenge for the win, alas it wasn't to be as Charles had to settle for P4.

Sainz:6/10, This weekend was quite significant in Sainz's Ferrari career as it was his first in front of the famous Tifosi. The occasion didn't seem to get the better of him on Friday as he had the legs on his teammate Leclerc and claimed 7th for the sprint race. Things took a turn however on Saturday as a heavy crash in FP2 gave the Ferrari mechanics a big repair job before the sprint race, fortunately though they were able to repair Sainz's damage and allowed him to take part. He ended up taking sixth place for the start and that was where he ended up finishing too as he had quite an unremarkable race being stuck in no-mans land for large portions of the Grand Prix, I'm sure he won't mind however as he adds another 8 points to Ferrari's challenge for 3rd in the constructors.

Alpha Tauri:

Gasly:5/10, A lot has been made of Gasly's impressive season this year with many plaudits being awarded for his performances in qualifying, this weekend was no exception as he qualified 6th on Friday substantially ahead of his rookie teammate Tsunoda. That was about as good as things got for Gasly however as on lap 1 of the sprint race the front wing collapsed underneath his car going through Curva Grande after contact at the first turn, resulting in him spearing off into the barrier. The team did manage to fix his car for the race however he had to retire very early as he appeared to be suffering with handling issues possibly due to the crash the day before. This was a stark contrast to the grand prix just a year previous where Gasly took his first victory in a crazy race, not too dissimilar to what we saw this year.

Tsunoda:2/10, It was another terrible weekend for Tsunoda who would've wanted to put on a show for his team following the announcement that he'll be staying at Alpha Tauri for 2022. In qualifying he was unlucky as he was denied a place in Q2 for a track limits violation on his fastest lap, and the bad luck continued after a collision on lap 1 of the sprint race left him on the back foot which was reflected in his finishing position as he only managed 15th for the race start. A miserable weekend was capped off by brake issues which he suffered just before the start meaning he wasn't even able to participate in the grand prix. A miserable weekend for Alpha Tauri as for the first time this season they came away from a race weekend with 0 points.

Alfa Romeo:

Giovinazzi:6/10, Antonio has been under a lot of pressure lately as his future at Alfa Romeo appears to be hanging in the balance, however he hasn't let the pressure get to him as for a second consecutive weekend he's show excellent speed and shocked quiet a few in the paddock. He had an excellent Friday and Saturday as he qualified tenth and then made the most of it in the sprint race leaping up to 7th for the start, far above what you'd expect from the Alfa Romeo car. Things got tricky for Antonio at the start however as a collision with Carlos Sainz left him without a front wing and pretty much ruined his race, he did as best as he could to recover but only managed to come home in a miserable P13. He's putting in some good performances lately is Antonio, but is it too little to late for the Italian.

Kubica:3/10, A disappointing weekend for the experienced Pole however people weren't exactly expecting too much from Robert. On Friday he was far off the pace qualifying down in P19 whilst his teammate was up in the top ten, and that set the tone for the rest of the weekend as he hovered around the back of the field for the eventually claiming P14. That was probably the last time we'll see Kubica in F1 which is quite sad given the promise he showed in his early career pre his 2011 rallying injury.

Haas:

Schumacher:4/10, The weekend was slightly scruffy for Schumacher when you compare it to how the his season has been up to this point. He outpaced Mazepin and Kubica on Friday which is pretty impressive considering the Haas' limitations, however a poor Saturday performance lead to him losing those two places meaning he started last in the race. He had a quiet Sunday for the most part mainly racing at the back with his teammate but when he was actually racing with other drivers after the safety car ended, he collided with his close friend Sebastian Vettel and picked up some damage on his front wing. In summary, a sub-par weekend for Mick compared to the high standard he's set for himself so far this season.

Mazepin:2/10, This was the archetypal 'Mazepin' race so to speak as he failed to show any improvement from the weekends previous this season. Qualifying was pretty poor for Mazepin as he was over half a second down on his teammte Mick in last place, however he managed to recover somewhat in the sprint as he jumped a few spots and was able to take 16th for the start, his highest so far in his F1 career. The race again similar to Mick was scruffy with the two actually colliding with each other on lap 32, this adds to a number of scuffles both drivers have had with each other this season which won't help the 'difficult' relationship that the two reportedly have. Nikita's awful weekend came to a close early on lap 41 when he retired with a power unit failure.

Williams:

Russell:6/10, Somewhat ironically, after announcing his move to Mercedes for next season he ended up being outqualified by his teammate Latifi for the first time as the two locked out the seventh row of the grid. Race pace or lack there of has been a large criticism of both Williams and Russell for the last few seasons however they have been steadily improving that over the past few rounds and today they were able to bare the fruits of their labour as George took advantage of this added pace to take an excellent P9 to make it 3 points finished out of 4 races for the Grove based operation, a highly impressive feat considering where the team were at the start of this year.

Latifi:5/10, Long been scrutinised for his qualifying woes compared to his teammate Russell, Nicholas was finally able to put some of those demons to bed beating George and starting P13 for the race. He came home 11th in the race which may sound underwhelming but given the machinery he's in he showed impressive race pace and proved to many doubters why he has been given the seat for next season alongside Alex Albon.

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