The 2020 Italian Grand Prix
I'd love to recount my initial reaction to the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, but I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of what I said come the chequered flag, was of the unprintable variety. For about 20 laps it seemed as though this year's trip to Monza would be little more than a pre ordained snooze fest. The latest in a season that has belonged to The Silver Arrows. Bottas was inexplicably swallowed up by the pack, Vettel's last Italian GP with the Scuderia ended with brake failure, Sainz seized the initiative while that man Lewis Hamilton marched on to an almost certain 90th career victory. That was until lap 19 when Kevin Magnussen suffered a reliability issue and pulled up on the exit of Parabolica. The safety car was then deployed but the hitch came in the form of the HAAS's position. It's proximity to the pitman meant that it was to be pushed into K-Mag's box, but that process necessitated the closing of the pitman. An instruction that neither Mercedes nor Alfa Romeo seemed to acknowledge. Hamilton immediately peeled into the pits with Antonio Giovinazzi following suit. Eyebrows were immediately raised for it wasn't until lap 22 that the entire field came in.
As you'd expect, a dozen and a half cars coming in at the exact same instant led to an almighty upending of the running order.
All of a sudden, Stroll was up to second, Gasly was on the podium, the two Alfa Romeo's were fourth and fifth with Latifi in the points, Bottass down in tenth and Max stranded in 13th. Yeah you get the gist. Things were already looking odd when, on lap 25, Charles Leclerc, having worked his way up to fourth, lost the back end going into the final corner and flew into the nearest barrier. The severity of said impact warranted a red flag at which point both Hamilton and Giovinazzi had been handed 10 second stop-go penalties. As proceedings recommenced, Hamilton and Gio were sent to the back of the grid as all of a sudden, Pierre Gasly was leading the race with our lord and saviour in second place ahead of Carlos Sainz jr. The inferiority of the C39 soon began to show as Kimi was left powerless to defend from his rampant opposition. As the iceman dropped out of the points and Lewis closed in on the points, attention turned to the front as Sainz, having cleared the likes of Stroll and Raikkonen was now gunning for the lead.
The only problem?
The four second margain with which Gasly had fortified himself.
Armed with a distinct pace advantage, Sainz began to reel him in, four seconds gradually became two, and as the gap fluctuated around the mid one's, the solidity of Gasly's dogged defence became clear. Sainz was gaining on him sure, but he had to prise every last hundredth of a second from the Frenchman's cold dead hands. The pressure he applied was immense, Gasly's response immaculate and despite dipping into DRS range on the final lap, Sainz would fall just short. Pierre Gasly took a stunning debut win by just 0.415 seconds.
With this emphatic win, Gasly has ascended what many regarded as an impregnable wall. A stunning rise through the ranks of Toro Rosso, stopped in it's tracks by a shambolic 2019. Hunted of by Verstappen and demoted to the junior outfit, the ever persistent Frenchman gets the better of his teammate, bags a remarkable debut podium to close out the season and just to round it off, he snags victory by the slimmest of bargains in 2020. Where Gasly goes from here remains to be seen but one thing is certain: The precociously talented youngster we saw in 2018 is now well and truly back.