Italian Grand Prix – Qualifying


Monza is the second of another back-to-back-to-back triple header. Following HAM’s win in the Belgian GP he’s 47 points ahead of VER, and Mercedes are 106 ahead of Red Bull. [points standings]

The big news since Belgium relates to the Williams sale – “Sir Frank Williams and Claire Williams step down from Williams team” [BBC]
“Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams revealed had an offer from its new owners Dorilton to remain at the team.” [racefans]

In other news:

  • “250 doctors and nurses to attend F1’s Italian GP as spectators” [autosport]
  • Ferrari said they will drop their appeal against Racing Point’s punishment… but there are conditions!
    “In that respect we are asking and seeking clarity from the FIA,” he continued. “If, let me say, regulations will be put in place, or a technical directive for the future in 2021 where we are pretty sure it will not be possible to copy, we are ready to withdraw our appeal.” [pitpass]

The main difference this weekend is the “party-mode” ban is now in place, so they’re no longer allowed to give the cars more power in Quali and turn it down for the race – it’s one mode all weekend. This was obviously intended to slow Mercedes down but most, if not all, the engine manufacturers have this capability so it may increase the performance gap rather than reduce it!

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: BOT (1:20.703), HAM, ALB, KVT, VER
    VER spun across the gravel, into the tyre wall and broke the front wing [video]
  2. FP2: HAM (1:20.192), BOT, NOR, GAS, VER
  3. FP3: BOT (1:20.089), SAI, NOR, RIC, HAM
    Radio for SAI: “Carlos, looks like a reasonable start to the session, you’re the only car out there”; “OK, but say: ‘I am P1′”; “You are P1, purple in all three sectors” 🙂
    RIC parked his Renault due to suspected fuel pump failure, which brought out the red flags to pause the session [video]
    A few drivers have been summoned by the stewards for “driving unnecessarily slowly” into Parabolica [video] – the list includes HAM, GRO, LAT, PER, GAS, STR, ALB and SAI – they might as well just get everyone in a room and tell them all off!
    There is a maximum lap time (aimed at preventing them going too slowly on their out lap) but maybe it’s too generous?

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Air temperature 28°C; track 45°C; humidity 45%
MAG 1:21.618
GRO 1:21.402
VET 1:21.151
LEC was quicker but his time was deleted for exceeding track limits in Turn 11
MAG also has his time deleted
BOT 1:19.786
HAM 1:19.539
GAS’ time deleted; STR too
HAM and BOT were on medium compound tyres; everyone else on softs
ALB loses his time
Radio from OCO complaining of a dangerous pass
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are GRO, VET, GIO, RUS, LAT
Final run; they’re backing up at Parabolica again
Once they reach the start line, they’re all booting it and nearly 2-abreast into Turn 1
Chequered flag
Some potentially dangerous moves
Radio from RAI complaining of being blocked
HAM 1:19.514
GRO runs wide in
VET abandons his lap – he’s on the radio whining about the Alfa Romeo’s overtaking – errr, that is allowed!
Back of the grid: GRO, VET, GIO, RUS, LAT

Qualifying session 2
Apparently there was no action (penalty) for the drivers who had to see the stewards after FP3
Both Mercedes are on soft tyres – there was speculation they could get through to Q3 on mediums and start on the longer-life tyres
BOT 1:19.417
HAM 1:19.092
First lap times set by all drivers on softs
PER (P3) is 0.3sec behind BOT
(VER P5; LEC P13)
Race control: Q1 incident involving OCO, LAT and RAI will be investigated after the session
6mins left of Q2; everyone’s sitting in the garages; presumably they’ll all come out together in a couple of minutes and then whine about the traffic
Bottom 5 are KVY, OCO, LEC, MAG, RAI
3:30 left; Mercedes pair come out first and then everyone swarms out behind them, some side-by-side down the pit lane
Everyone on soft tyres again
Radio from NOR, “This is going to get messy”
RIC runs wide and kicks up some gravel
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are KVY, OCO, LEC, MAG, RAI
BOT 1:18.952
RAI P14
(SAI P3)
Yellow flag; no-one else improves
Middle of the grid: KVY, OCO, LEC, RAI, MAG

The last time neither Ferrari made it into the top 10 in qualifying here was in 1984

Qualifying session 3
Top 10 shootout is between BOT, HAM, SAI, PER, VER, GAS, STR, NOR, RIC and ALB
Green lights – final session is under way
BOT 1:19.121
HAM 1:19.068
VER P3
ALB P4
PER P3
STR P5
SAI P5
RIC P7
NOR P6
Order after the first run … oh, wait – ALB’s lap time has been deleted
OK, order is HAM, BOT, PER, VER, SAI, NOR, RIC, GAS, STR, ALB – ALB would have been P7
Mercedes send out their cars with just over 5mins left – that’s early
Everyone else scrambles to follow BOT and HAM – the pits are emptying
BOT 1:18.956
HAM 1:18.887
VER P4
RIC P5
SAI P3
NOR P6
There’s still over 1min left of Q3 but the soft tyres would be quicker on a second fast lap
Front row: HAM, BOT, SAI, PER, VER, NOR, RIC, STR, ALB, GAS

Interviews:
HAM: “Fantastic from the team today in terms of timing, when they put us out on track. It really demanded a clean lap, Valtteri was really, really close. I made some changes going into qualifying so I was a bit nervous about whether that was the right thing to do”
BOT: “I was running first this weekend, I don’t know about the tow, I didn’t have any. I didn’t get any gains in a straight line.” (Never mind that he didn’t give HAM a tow)
SAI: “That last lap I nearly messed up, I had a big moment and I nearly lost it. I really went for it, I risked a lot and it paid off. When I braked into Ascari I was like ‘woah’ that was way too late!”

Provisional grid: HAM, BOT, SAI, PER, VER, NOR, RIC, STR, ALB, GAS, KVY, OCO*, LEC, RAI*, MAG, GRO, VET, GIO, RUS, LAT*
*Reminder: incident involving OCO, LAT and RAI will be investigated after the session