- Dear Jean Graton, can you rewrite this season in a "Michel Vaillant" adventure?

Lorenzo vs Affamata 1 and 2

From my couch to your display, my review of the first ever Tuscany GP

45w ago

Un cordiale saluto to all of you readers, and welcome to another review from Down Under. I'm your host, the Lorenzo in "Lorenzo vs" and this was Mugello 2020.

The Track

A bloody ripper track

A bloody ripper track

For the first time ever, Mugello hosts a F1 Grand Prix. After years of motorbike racing, the fastest cars on the planet will race on the Ferrari owned racetrack. The occasion? Ferrari’s 1000th GP.

A track that required a mid-high downforce setup to stick on the road for the long-range high-speed corners. The lateral load on the tyres forced Pirelli to bring the hardest tyres in the bunch, the C1, C2 and C3. And the drivers loved it! How cool did it look in TV? It had that great old school vibe, with all that gravel just over the kerb, ready to punish any error. No tarmac to be exploited, no track limits to be policed (aside for Biondetti).

Flat out for 17 seconds, from Borgo San Lorenzo, right and downhill Casanova, left Savelli. Then Arrabbiata 1 and 2, fast double right and finally breaks on for Scarperia.

So good that everybody wishes F1 will come back to it when this pandemic will end, and fans will be allowed to take their place in the hills. I would for sure: a nice seat on the main straight, with track unfolding in front and behind me. How cool is when the start is in the middle and the whole track is all around it?

One more treat for the almost 3000 people in the attendance was the roar of the mighty Ferrari V10 in the F2004 taken around the track by Mick Schumacher, leader in the F2 standings. While us watching in TV, had to endure David Croft, Ted Kravitz and Martin Brundle making fun of the name of the corners, messing with pronunciation and translation after being aided by his Sky Italia colleagues. Arrabbiata, for example, means angry. But for Crofty it meant both angry and hungry on Friday and Saturday, and angry with hunger on Sunday. He was allegedly suggested that translation by his colleagues on Sky Italia. No dictionary lists hungry or angry with hunger as meaning of the word arrabbiato/a. I do get arrabbiato when I hear Sky Italia’s Sangiorgio and Valsecchi talking in English…

The Race

Taxi's Daniel Morales was absolutely right, but at least we had a red car leading the Formula 1 Pirelli Gran Premio della Toscana Ferrari 1000 2020 at Mugello in Italy

Taxi's Daniel Morales was absolutely right, but at least we had a red car leading the Formula 1 Pirelli Gran Premio della Toscana Ferrari 1000 2020 at Mugello in Italy

It was a three-act race: great start from Charles Leclerc, jumping from 5th to 3rd. A bad start from Max Verstappen, caused by technical issues that his mechanics tried to solve on the grid minutes from the start, saw him dropping behind and being hit by Räikkönen. The accident began when Gasly tried to squeeze his AlphaTauri between Kimi’s Alfa Romeo and Grosjean’s Haas. The three made contact and collected the innocent bystander Red Bull. Gasly and Verstappen were out of the race. Just few meters in front of them, Carlos Sainz spun after contact with Lance Stroll. Vettel, with nowhere to go, hit the McLaren and the two drivers lost their front wings. The Safety Car, painted in red for this week, a way for Mercedes to pay homage to Ferrari, took the lead until Lap 6. Valtteri Bottas compacted the pack and took everybody at low speed to the Safety Car line, the point from where it is possible overtaking again in restart situations. But with the group so close, looking at what Bottas was doing was hard. From the replay it is possible to see George Russell stepping on the throttle to close a gap he had in front of him, then moving to the right and hard breaking. All hell broke loose behind him: everybody behind him accelerate, thinking the race has indeed restarted, but it was not. Antonio Giovinazzi found himself into the gearbox of Kevin Magnussen and then bounced on top of Nicholas Latifi’s Williams. Involved in the crash was also Carlos Sainz. The race was interrupted by the Red Flag.

Few issues were noted. The Safety Car turned its lights out very late, not giving Bottas enough time to slow the pack down. The Finnish took the 18 cars right down to the line at constant speed, something that was in his rights, also due to the characteristic of long straight. To defend his position, Bottas picked the last moment to speed up and defend himself. Race director Michael Masi reviewed the incident and issued a reprimand for, in order, KMag, Kvyat, Latifi, Albon, Stroll, Ricciardo, Perez, Norris, Ocon, Russell, Giovinazzi and Sainz for inconsistent application of throttle and brake. The race was restarted by standing start from Lap 10. Everything was ok, with Bottas leading from Hamilton and Leclerc, but Hamilton took Bottas’ slipstream and overtook him at the first corner, San Donato. Leclerc held his 3rd until Lap 18, when Stroll used DRS and got the Monegasque before San Donato. On the same piece of tarmac, Albon took Perez for 6th. One lap later, Daniel Ricciardo pulled the same move on Leclerc, with the Ferrari dropping back in 5th. A second Red Flag was issued at Lap 43 of 59 when Stroll lost control of his car at Arrabbiata 2 for either a puncture of suspension failure.

Third and final standing start at Lap 47, with Hamilton leading from Bottas, Ricciardo, Albon and Perez. The Australian jumped Bottas and the Mexican took Albon, too. But Alex Albon regained his position with a great move at the outside of Poggio Secco. One lap later, Bottas used Dan Ric’s slipstream and overtook him at San Donato. The move was replicated by Alex Albon at Lap 51, with the Thai driver gaining 3rd position and his first podium ever. Hamilton took his 90th victory, followed by Bottas, Albon, Ricciardo, Perez, Norris, Kvyat, Räikkönen, Leclerc and Vettel. Kimi was then dropped in 9th place, having been awarded a 5 seconds penalty for turning into the pit entry after crossing the pit entry line.

Despite how good Leclerc’s Ferrari looked in qualifying, quicker than polesitter Hamilton between Savelli and Scarperia, and how lucky he was in not being stopped by the yellow flags in Q3, Ferrari lacked in racing pace. Race simulation shown that would have been the case, but the Monegasque was optimistic about his chances. The race was tough, with his Ferrari chewing the tyres. The red flags have not helped the burgundy racers. No upgrades were introduced because, as Binotto said, there is not much upgrades would do to this car. 2021 will be better.

McLaren was one of the most active teams between Monza and Mugello, in terms of upgrades. However, they missed in luck with Carlos Sainz, their reference driver despite he will leave for Ferrari at the end of the season, DNS in Monza and DNF here at Mugello.

Renault was surprisingly good, despite Mugello being a mid to high downforce racetrack. They were surprisingly bad in Monza, so this come as a great surprise for the French team.

George Russell increased his record, scoring a whopping 30-0 against his teammates in qualifying.

And speaking of records, Kimi Räikkönen is now the most experienced F1 driver having beaten Michael Schumacher’s record for total number of laps as well as Fernando Alonso’s record for total number of km raced.

The Prelude

Frau Farbissina - Lies! All lies!!

Frau Farbissina - Lies! All lies!!

Silly thoughts, transfer market and symbolic celebrations dominated the 4 days preceding this race weekend.

Let’s start with Ross Brawn, on Monday. In his Column, the Formula 1 Managing Director Ross Brawn, one of the greatest F1 engineers ever, noted how the Italian Grand Prix in Monza has shown why reverse grid should be considered as solution to improve the show. In Monza, Lewis Hamilton found himself last due to a Stop & Go penalty and had to recover to get into points position. It was exciting for sure but suggesting a sprint race with reverse grid à la F2 would be damaging for F1. By looking at F2 where all the cars are the same, undeserving drivers have their chance to start from the front and be overtaken by better drivers. In F1, with different cars, the difference in performance would be much greater. We would watch races on steroids, packed with overtakes and excitement. But this is F1 and not wrestling, not Hollywood and not a Michel Vaillant graphic novel. Although I love all these things. Just allow the teams to improve their performance without limiting how many and what kind of upgrades they can bring. The budget cap should help to, limiting the power of rich team. But having a situation where Ferrari has its hands tight because frozen rules is ridiculous and damaging for the sport. Not for Ferrari, they are an established brand. But for F1, because it depends by Ferrari.

There was a funny exchange of views between Hamilton and Dr Helmut Marko regarding Pierre Gasly’s chances to return to Red Bull. The 6-time World Champion told the press that Pierre was mistreated by Red Bull. An opinion to which Marko replied telling the world that Hamilton suggested Chris Horner, Red Bull Team Principal, to replace Gasly with Albon during a flight. Marko added that he does not care about Hamilton’s opinions and that they will not swap their drivers again. Their focus is on making AlphaTauri stronger and finding its leader. Could be Gasly? Follow me on the next paragraph.

Driver’s market, here we come. Starting with Red Bull and AlphaTauri, Horner and Marko should confirm Albon next to Verstappen in the main team, and Gasly in AlphaTauri. But what about Kvyat? Will he be replaced by the Japanese star Yuri Tsunoda? Will the whisper in the wind Nico Hülkenberg get a F1 seat in Faenza? Or is it anybody else in their mind?

Wednesday 9th of September: in an exclusive interview with Michael Schmidt on Auto Moto und Sport, Racing Point Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer tells that they have decided their line-up for 2021 two years ago. At direct question from Schmidt “is Vettel out of the contention?”, Szafnauer replied “he was never in”. Thursday 10th of September, Sergio Perez tweets that he will not race for Racing Point in 2021. At his tweet, an official press release signed by Szafnauer wishes him the best for the future. Following, Sebastian Vettel announces, and get announced as the driver to replace the Mexican in Aston Martin from next season. So yes, perhaps Szafnauer decided Racing Point’s line-up two years ago, not Aston’s…This puts Perez in the list of possible drivers to replace Kvyat in AlphaTauri, despite Red Bull has not hired a driver outside their junior program since Mark Webber in 2007. However, it was confirmed by Marko that the two parties had a meeting. Whatever it means, only time will tell. Back to Sebastian’s move to Aston Martin, it opens new questions about who will oversee that team. Will Toto Wolff, shareholder of the brand, leave Mercedes and get involved in Stroll’s AM? Will Adrian Newey leave Red Bull together with Aston Martin, and join their F1 team? Will Andy Cowell be offered the role of Team Principal to prevent him from signing with Ferrari? And what will happen to Szafnauer? He is rumoured to be the next Williams Team Principal.

Back to Perez, what other seats are virtually free for next season? Alfa Romeo and Haas. Perez, former FDA driver, joins a long list of drivers racing for those 4 seats. Räikkönen has been asked to keep racing by Vasseur, Alfa Romeo Team Principal. In case Kimi will decide to stop, together with Perez and the whisper Hülkenberg, Kvyat is in the race for that seat, having worked in Maranello in 2018. The position of Giovinazzi is at risk, with Mick Schumacher, Callum Illot and Robert Shwartzman needing to reach F1 after their great 2020 in F2. As for Haas, Steiner has yet to pick his next two drivers. He is likely to pick one from the FDA pool of young blood, and one experience to lead the team. Magnussen and Grosjean are still in the list.

Ferrari and motorsport traditions

Italy in a picture

Italy in a picture

Before getting into the amount of press coverage that Ferrari had this week, let me point out something that motorsport fan will love. National Racing Colours.

Back at the beginning of motorsport, every manufacturer had to colour their cars with their national colours. America had red, then they changed it to white and red; red went to Italy, with Fiat, Alfa Romeo and then Ferrari, Lancia and Maserati; Germans were white and blue, then they shaved the paint off their cars to lose 1 Kg and meet the maximum weight limit for Grand Prix car, becoming Silver. Then there were Great Britain with their British Racing Green, and France with Bleu de France.

In F1, we have the red Ferrari. There since 1950. Alfa Romeo is white and red. We have the Silver, black for this season, Arrows Mercedes. We have Haas, which has some white on it. And from next season we will have two new teams: Aston Martin and Alpine.

Rumour see Aston Martin getting rid of BWT pink livery, to embrace their heritage and race in green. While Alpine, which will replace Renault, has been confirmed to be racing in blue. How cool is that?

Speaking of Alpine, Renault CEO Luca de Meo, has explained why Renault is getting replaced by Alpine. It is a marketing move to promote the relaunch of the old racing brand in Renault’s possession. They will follow Ferrari’s original mentality of “racing on Sunday and selling on Monday”, and they are convinced that the budget cap and Fernando Alonso’s profile and expertise, will help making them a success.

Ok, Ferrari. The legendary Scuderia has celebrated his 1000th Grand Prix at Mugello, one of their two own racetracks. A light and musical show, with dancers and flag twirlers, was held in Firenze, in Piazza della Signoria. Some championship winning cars were displayed and one show SF1000 was donated to the City of Firenze, to be auctioned for charity. Former drivers, mechanics, engineers and managers were also invited. A great occasion for the press to focus on what it could be…

…if in 2001 Jean Todt would have approved Giancarlo Minardi’s idea to makeover his Minardi F1 Team into Maserati F1, a Ferrari satellite team where let their young drivers and engineer grow. Minardi said that Agip, which left Ferrari at the end of 1995, was interested in investing in that team. Montezemolo had his doubts, but Todt was categorically against the idea. Understandably, Jean Todt is the man that suffered defeat after defeat from 1993 to 1999 and that in 2001 asked Rubens Barrichello to gift Schumacher of a 2nd place in Austria, fearing a McLaren’s resurrection. He did the same in 2002, with Rubens gifting the German a victory this time;

…if Montezemolo would have not fired Aldo Costa, who later designed winning cars for Mercedes; if he would apply veto to hybrid engine, with Ferrari and the whole Fiat Group ignorant of what hybrid technology was; if Montezemolo would have accepted Stefano Domenicali’s requests for more investments, that were denied and drove the team principal to resign and be replaced by Marco Mattiacci, former CEO of Ferrari North America and Asia Pacific and ignorant of competitions;

…if Marchionne would have not interfered with Arrivabene’s team, forcing the Scuderia to adopt a horizontal technical structure that caused frictions between Tombazis and Marmorini, both fired. Tombazis was accused to have designed a narrow chassis, forcing Marmorini to redesign the cooling system of his engine, which caused reliability issues; if Marchionne would have not fired James Allison, Lorenzo Sassi and Giacomo Tortora, now top men at Mercedes.

Salty topic. One thing for sure, Italian tifosi are still loving the Prancing Horse despite errors and poor performance. And that will never change.

That’s All, Folks! See you next time.

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