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2020 Italian Grand Prix review: the best race of the season

Written by Sport, Sport Features

As someone that is pretty bored of watching Hamilton winning, with Bottas and Verstappen a few seconds behind, the Italian Grand Prix was easily the best Formula 1 race that I have ever watched. With intense and varied competitiveness from nearly all teams (sorry Ferarri), you could say this race may show what the 2021 season of Formula 1 will be like as a result of the changes in regulations. 

From 1st place to 20th, here is my review of the Italian Grand Prix:

1st: Pierre Gasly

This win could not have been more welcomed by me. 

This was Pierre Gasly’s first Formula 1 win, and after such an emotional year the French driver most definitely deserved it.

Pierre Gasly previously raced for Red Bull, a significantly better team than his current team AlphaTauri. However, being the second seat at Red Bull with the team favourite Max Verstappen is never without its pressures. A pressure that the current second seat and Gasly’s replacement Alexander Albon is facing. Gasly was demoted to AlphaTauri midseason after a couple of crashes and overall bad performances. 

Despite being in a worse car, Gasly has performed significantly better at AlhpaTauri. Potentially the team dynamic is far better or the environment there is just more conducive to his personal success. You will often see Gasly outperforming his replacement Albon. 

Interestingly, at the beginning of the race, Gasly bumped into Albon, but after an FIA investigation, Gasly did not receive a penalty. Nonetheless, it caused Albon to take the long way around the corner, losing a valuable start. This collision most likely did not help the situation for Albon seeing Gasly win. 

In addition, a robbery at Gasly’s family home meant many of his trophies were stolen. As a result, Gasly revealed on Instagram that he would be taking his first-place trophy with him everywhere, saying “can’t steal a trophy if the trophy’s never at home.” 

It is not just the Red Bull and AlphaTauri switch that contributed to Gasly’s emotional win, but also the devastatingly sad loss of one of his best friends, Anthoine Hubert, in a crash at the 2019 Formula 2 Spa race. To be at the track when your best friend and old flatmate dies and then be expected to race yourself the next day is bound to have enormous emotional effects. 

This weekend it has been revealed that Hubert was one of the first people to text Gasly when it was announced that he had been demoted out of Red Bull saying “prove them wrong”. Well, that is exactly was Gasly did. 

Gasly’s win was the result of excellent strategy as well as incredible driving while he was fighting off Carlos Sainz. Overall, exciting and well-deserved.

2nd: Carlos Sainz

Another career-best was achieved, with second place being a career-best for Carlos Sainz. 

On the podium, you may have noticed he ostensibly appeared unhappy with such a position, as, with DRS, he was only 1 lap away from winning. 

Getting past Bottas so early on meant that I personally had money on Sainz winning the entire race, he was consistently at the front and it was, unfortunately, the pit lane closing and some less than desirable pit times that contributed to him not quite winning. 

Nonetheless, he later declared on Instagram that he was extremely happy with his second place, as he should be, and as is Mclaren I am sure. 

This career-best makes a fantastic birthday present for the Spanish driver whose birthday is this week. I personally voted for him to be the driver of the day, as did the majority of voters, with him being the driver of the day according to the F1 poll. 

Overall, I think we can all agree it was refreshing to see some colour on the podiums this weekend with Sainz’s blue and Stroll’s pink race suit marking the first time since Hungary 2012 that the podium did not feature a single driver from Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari. 

3rd: Lance Stroll

Say what you want about his dad owning the Formula 1 team, you have to be a good driver to get to third place over drivers in far better cars. His teammate was 7 places behind in the exact same car, meaning I believe Stroll is an excellent driver and very deserving of the podium. 

It was circumstantial for Stroll to earn this position, but it was his driving that allowed him to maintain that position, as he held back Norris and Bottas for the second half of the race.

4th: Lando Norris

This was a fantastic race for Mclaren. 

If you had told any F1 fan this time last year (when Charles Leclerc won the Italian Grand Prix for Ferrari) that Mclaren would have 2nd and 4th and that neither Ferraris would finish I don’t think many would believe you. 

It would have been great to see the British team have a double podium, but I am sure it will not be long before Norris gets his time.

5th: Valteri Bottas

This Mercedes driver is usually at least in the top three, but after being overtaken by Sainz when the race started, he never seemed to really pick up. He argued it was because the heat, and while Mercedes are known to suffer in the heat, the fact that Hamilton did not report the same issues suggests his driving was just not up to scratch. 

Bottas was beaten by younger drivers in worse cars but he is not the worse performing Mercedes of the weekend. 

6th: Daniel Ricciardo

I personally felt this was quite a disappointing race for Ricciardo. As an excellent driver and seasoned Formula 1 winner, he out of all of Formula 1.5 should have seized this opportunity and got a podium. 

7th: Lewis Hamilton

Yes, you read that correctly. Hamilton finished 7th. 

Hamilton started the race with a strong lead, but he entered the pit lane when the pit lane was closed, resulting in a 10-second stop-start penalty. 

I would argue there was a tone of arrogance, as we saw Hamilton scootering to the FIA office to discuss his penalty during the Red flag caused by Charles Leclerc’s crash. 

He argued it wasn’t clear that the pit lane had closed, which it very rarely ever is. However, only one other driver out of all twenty entered the pit, as the teams were told it was closed, as well as two signs showing it was closed. 

While it was not Hamilton’s fault, his strategist or engineer’s should have told him that is was closed, Formula 1 is a team sport, and so this was a team error, losing him his 90th Grand Prix win, which I am sure he will secure soon.

8th: Esteban Ocon

Again, an uneventful race for Renault racing, yet overall there is a sense of a wasted opportunity. 

9th: Daniel Kvyat

Kvyat, was a whole 22 seconds behind the winner in the same car. 

10th: Sergio Perez

I was sad and excited to hear that Sebastian Vettel would be replacing Perez at Racing Point, which will be called Aston Martin Racing. While it will be great for the team to have the four-time world champion, it was not nice to hear that Perez has had his term ended mid-contract when he really contributed to the growing success of Racing Point. Particularly with his lucrative sponsorships as the only Mexican driver, betting on the team when they had far less success. 

Perez finished 7 places behind his teammate Stroll and 10 places ahead of his replacement Sebastian Vettel.

11th: Nicolas Latifi

The Williams driver matched his career-based record of 11th place. I think most of agree that it would have been nice to see him just one place ahead in 10th to earn Williams at least one point before Claire Williams left the team. 

12th: Romain Grosjean
13th: Kimi Raikkonen

Despite the ostensibly unimpressive place, I think this race truly demonstrated how professional and skilled Raikkonen is. His Alpha Romeo car is obviously not the best on the track, but many drivers made some tight overtakes, relying on Raikkonen’s extensive skills to not crash into each other, namely Lando Norris.

14th: George Russell

It was nice to hear Russell’s heartfelt speech to Claire at the end of the race, and I look forward to seeing how Russell performs – if Williams as a team does get back to the front of the grid as everyone wants them to. 

15th: Alexander Albon

It was totally unacceptable in my opinion for Albon to finish second to last, out of all the cars that actually finished, in a Red Bull car. 

Again, the Albon and Gasly rivalry is one of the most fascinating, but the first lap scuffle is no excuse for his place in this race. Albon should really have capitalised from the nature of this race due to the build of his car. Verstappen has won this season in the same car. 

However, Albon is not the first driver in the second seat at Red Bull to struggle despite the strong build of the car, Ricciardo and Gasly were the same, and I think Red Bull should really reflect on this as a team.

16th: Antonio Giovinazzi
17th: Max Verstappen

It appeared that Verstappen slipped away quietly when engineers noticed a problem with his engine. This most definitely contributed to the competitiveness of this race.

18th: Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc’s crash scared a lot of us and reminded us of the danger of racing, therefore, it was relieving to hear him on the radio and see him hop out of the car. 

It was of course this crash, which Leclerc took responsibility for, that caused the red flag which heavily contributed to the competitiveness of the race. 

19th: Kevin Magnussen

This race we saw Magnussen sensibly and safely pull his car over near the pitlane. However, in Formula 1 for safety reasons, you cannot have cars lying around the track, so a safety car was out. 

For some reason, they decided to remove the car by pushing it through the pit lane, after closing it. Hence Hamilton received a penalty for entering the pit lane 12 seconds after it was closed. 

20th: Sebastian Vettel

Vettel’s early retirement contributed to the double retirement of both Ferrari drivers at their home race. 

This season, Ferrari and Vettel have not had a good time, yes, the cars have not been great but his teammate Leclerc has had a touch more success. Next season, Vettel will be moving to Racing Point who is actually two places ahead of Ferrari in the 2020 Constructor’s Championship so far. Hopefully, he will have more success there.

Featured image: Twitter @pierreGASLY

Last modified: 17th September 2020

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