Lorenzo vs Monza 2020
Nothing fancy in the title: Lorenzo reviews the Italian Grand Prix
I followed the whole preshow formalities and few laps of the Italian Grand Prix on the phone with my dad. To watch F1 in Italy, you must subscribe to Sky. He doesn't. But yesterday the Grand Prix was live and free. I mean, it was the Italian Grand Prix and there were no people in the stands; the least that they could do was broadcasting it for free TV, no?
And every time that the camera was on a Ferrari, my dad would comment about how gorgeous those look. Monsters, while all the other cars didn’t look as good. Those Ferrari were jumping on kerbs like they were on the flattest piece of tarmac. They looked bloody fast in his eyes…until they were not alone on track.
He went for a snooze when Vettel’s rear left brake hose exploded and the German found himself out of the race, leaving me witnessing what F1 is without Ferrari…and what F1 is without Mercedes.
Italians...great at sport jinxing
Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz, Lance Stroll. That was the podium of this edition of the Italian Grand Prix. The first of the Mercedes was Bottas, 6th. Both Ferraris did not make it to the chequered flag. What happened? It happened that the Ferrari engine in KMag’s Haas stopped working and the driver parked the car in the grass next to an opening of the guardrail at the beginning of the main straight, few hundreds of meters from the pit lane entry. The marshals could not fit the car in that gap, so they opted to push it towards the pit lane, which forced race directors to send the Safety Car on track. Nothing unusual so far.
Having the Safety Car on track could bring the teams to change their strategies and call their drivers in for tyre changes. That couldn’t be allowed when marshals were pushing Magnussen’s car in the pits! So, they decided to close the pit lane with a couple of LEDs screens showing a red cross.
Enter Lewis Hamilton. No, literally. Lewis Hamilton was not told about the situation and he entered the pits and had his tyres replaced. Same did Antonio Giovinazzi, but he is a minor pawn in our story.
Few laps after the Safety Car period ended, Charles Leclerc lost the rear end of his Ferrari and crashed into Parabolica. A track was required to remove his Ferrari, and the tyre wall needed to be rearranged. So, race directors called for the Red Flag. Everybody to the pit, lined up at the pit lane exit, ready to return to the track for a new standing start. But here’s the twist: it was confirmed that Hamilton and Giovinazzi pitted when the pit lane was close. 10 seconds Stop & Go for both drivers. Hamilton takes his scooter and goes to the racing tower. He reviewed the footage and agreed with the penalty. Fair is fair.
Once the race was restarted, he took his penalty and started a furious comeback, finishing 7th.
Gasly's maiden victory
Emotional rollercoaster: revenge, mourn and the fair retribution to his family's sacrifices
Pierre Gasly took the victory. It is the second time that Scuderia AlphaTauri takes a victory, both times in Monza. It was in 2008 and the former Minardi team was called Scuderia Toro Rosso took the first, and for now only victory for a Ferrari engine in a customer chassis. Seb Vettel, in the Red Bull junior program, took pole and victory. Then he was promoted to the main team and won 4 F1 World Championships. Too many, probably half of those were not completely deserved. But that is just my opinion.
Gasly’s story is different. He is not a Maldonado, the last man to win “at random”. He was placed in Toro Rosso in 2017, racing 5 of the last 6 Grand Prix. He was then appointed officially for the 2018 season, scoring points in 5 occasions. Promoted in Red Bull for the 2019 campaign, he was crushed by his teammate Max Verstappen and demoted, despite scoring points in 9 occasion over 12, to Toro Rosso for the last 9 GPs. He would go and score points 5 more times, including an incredible 2nd place in Brazil.
Sweet, sweet revenge for the Frenchman who has been adopted by the Italian media due to this exploit in Italy with an Italian based team, and because he chose to live in Milano while the other drivers pick Switzerland and Monaco for tax purposes.
What will Dr Marko and Chris Horner decide for next seasons? Confirm Albon in Red Bull or give a second shot to Pierre?
And what about Kvyat? Is he gonna lose his seat in AlphaTauri for F2 Japanese sensation Tsunoda, 4th in F2, heavily pushed by Honda?
F2, Ferrari hopes for the future
C'mon, can you blame me?
Mick Schumacher won the F2 Feature Race from 7th on the grid. He managed a great start, taking 2nd place at the end of the Rettifilo. The victory came when Ilott’s engine stalled in the pits. The German repeated the performance starting 8th in the Sprint Race and finishing 4th, gaining 3rd place due Dan Ticktum disqualification.
What is the scenario for the German, now 2nd in the F2 standings? With Leclerc and Sainz confirmed with Ferrari, there are 4 Ferrari powered cars available: Alfa Romeo and Haas. 4 seats for 8 drivers.
There are three FDA drivers in F2 ready to make the jump: Ilott, leader of the class; Schumacher, 2nd; Shwartzman, 3rd. Now, Alfa Romeo and Haas cannot afford to have two rookies in the car. Their ideal situation would be having an experience driver siding a new entry. Kimi Räikkönen, 41 next month, has not decided if continuing his career in F1. After the way he raced in Monza, I would suggest him to keep going. The Finnish, 2007 World Champion on Ferrari, showed racing etiquette defending his position against fastest cars. Antonio Giovinazzi keeps making up places at the start, a trend confirmed in Monza, too. But he has not showed results that would guarantee a place in the sport. Same consideration for Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean. And with Nico Hülkenberg available and willing…
Withdraws that raise more questions than answers
The need for a rule review has been called by Lando Norris, and it is common feeling that his cry should not be ignored. When the red flag stopped the race, Lance Stroll was 2nd behind Lewis Hamilton. Lance found himself in that position because he didn’t stop during the first 25 laps. And with Lewis to return to the pits for his Stop & Go, the Canadian had the best chance to win the race.
Yes. In a dry race, every driver must do one compulsory pit stop to change tyre compound. Lance didn’t. Because the rules in place allow the teams to change tyres under red flags. Lance Stroll returned to the grid 2nd and he was set to take the victory. Perhaps instant karma hit him in his best moment, and he found himself 6th at Prima Variante chicane.
Speaking of reviewed rules, both Racing Point and Ferrari have withdrawn their appeal in the Copygate case. The FIA has decided to ban 3D camera and scanners, as well as the exchange of technical documents between teams. It feels weird, doesn’t it? What happened to the machismo shown by Lawrence Stroll, telling the world he never cheated in his life and claiming that his team is clean and would have won in court? What happened to Ferrari’s quest to show that perhaps Racing Point was guilty of copying as much as the team that allowed them to copy? Especially considering that Friday Mattia Binotto, Ferrari team principal, said that if he was in charge at Mercedes, he would have protested the copycats at Racing Point.
On the same topic, despite the party mode ban, Lewis Hamilton gave 0.8s to 3rd qualified Carlos Sainz. Their engine is something else. And the bullish Toto Wolff launched his challenge: after this technical change, with the purpose of slowing them down, Mercedes will improve more, racing the whole 2021 championship in “quali-mode”. Another new entry in qualifying was the maximum lap time for in and outlaps. For Monza, it was set to 1:43 and it was introduced to avoid situations, like last season’s Italian quali, where cars back down to find clear air but generating slow and dangerous traffic. It hasn’t worked. Ask Ocon and Vettel.
The Review: Jean, Ross, Chase, Enzo
What would he said?
Can I say it once more? There is no F1 without Ferrari but there is F1 without Mercedes. The 2020 Italian Grand Prix is the perfect example of my theory. In their technical difficulties, Ferrari has changed the whole narrative of the race. While Mercedes’ supremacy has made unnecessary to the sport.
Magnussen’s engine dying, the Safety Car, Hamilton’s penalty, Leclerc taking risks at the restart and ending up in the wall, the red flag, Bottas’ strange lack of pace. The ingredients for Gasly’s victory and Sainz’s pain. Yes, because Carlos was less than thrilled in ending up 2nd at 0.4s from the winner. He needed one more lap to take his maiden victory. In Italy. Home of his next team.
Norbert Haug blames the competition: they can’t keep up with Mercedes. The fans, some with bias, blame the FIA for their incapacity of policing F1. Look at the secret agreement with Ferrari and the constant suspicions about Mercedes’ engines.
Toto Wolff took it lightly: he was given a microphone and said that Monza 2020 was a Mercedes’ defeat but a victory for F1. Agreed. Mercedes, and FIA inability of guarantee strict rules and data reviews, are killing a sport that was exciting up until Singapore 2019.
Ferrari, victim of a bit of entrapment, is now facing a tough paradox. The richest team in F1 cannot spend its budget to improve its cars, due to restrictive rules of a sport that must: save money; work as laboratory for automotive innovations; represent the pinnacle of motorsport; put 20 cars in the conditions to fight for victory. It is utopia. Like Hamilton and Christian Horner asking for softer tyres, to allow the drivers to race foot down and stop for a minimum of two times. Seriously, what are we asking for from Formula 1? Drivers winning on a three-stop strategy against a driver on a two-stop strategy, with abundant overtakes and without fuel refilling? Cars strictly designed on computer and wind tunnels that would be performant for the whole season? Tyres with incredible grip without being tested on current spec cars? It is ridiculous.
Before this race, I tried to image what would Enzo Ferrari ask his team at this point of the season. With nothing to lose and three Italian Grand Prix, the Drake would have ordered a B-car. Perfectly legal under technical regulation. A winning car, and who cares if the FIA disqualifies us for breaking sporting regulations. Look at Racing Point, they got away with a slap on the wrist. No, it would be proving that Ferrari doesn’t deserve the mediatic attack and some fake sympathies from the paddock. It would be proving that it is not necessary building cars in England to be able to win. It would be provoking whoever designs the sport goals. A patented Enzo Ferrari’s move.
The 2021 engine is already running in Maranello, and it has been running for a while. The solutions are there. Ferrari is not in a crisis. They can’t produce the needed upgrades. That is the problem. And it is F1 problem.
Closing, Renault F1 has decided to change their name to Alpine. It is a marketing move, with the French manufacturer trying to revive the Alpine brand. Cyril Abiteboul will become boss of Alpine and leave is role of F1 team principal to someone else. Also, Claire Williams has decided to resign from her position as team principal of Williams Racing after selling the team. It’s the end of the last F1 dynasty. The romantic era of F1 is over.