Extreme speed? Check. A red car on the podium? Check. Controversy? Oh boy, you had better believe that’s a check!
Join us as we take a look at all things weird and wonderful from this weekend’s Italian GP.
Nico Rosberg had a pretty disappointing weekend in Monza, with his special upgraded engine not being fitted to his car due to a chassis problem. This meant his car was already down on power compared with his team mate Hamilton, and he was displaced by both Ferraris in qualifying, lining up fourth.
The bridesmaid of 2014 had the front-row seat for Kimi’s dreadful start and had to take desperate avoiding action, which saw him overtaken by both Williams cars and Sergio Perez on the way down to Turn 1. Checo was easy meat on lap 2, but the white cars were much trickier to pass, with no fruits for his efforts until jumping both at his pit stop on Lap 20.
Things finally looked like they were on the up; he was in P3 with a handful of laps to go, and he turned up his engine to try and pass his compatriot Vettel for second place. Alas, it was not to be, and his engine drew its last breath in the form of a puff of blue smoke. Mercedes are not sure if the upgraded engine can be saved either, which means we could see a Mercedes-powered car use its fourth component for the FIRST TIME in 2015! No way! What a terrible season!
While we’re on the subject of first times, the unfortunate German in question became a first-time dad ahead of the Grand Prix, so massive congratulations to Daddy Nico and Mummy Viviane – that kind of makes up for a tough weekend!
With just a couple of minutes left in Q1, it looked like only one Toro Rosso driver would actually get a chance to set a lap, after the young Dutchman’s engine was changed between FP3 and Q1.
The team, wanting to impress on home soil (site of their only pole, victory and podium) rushed to get him out for an installation lap to check all systems were working, but the engine cover was not properly fastened down, and the airflow ripped the carbon fibre from the car.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 5, 2015
As you can see from the picture above:
1) Young Max received a penalty for his nude car, and…
2) F1 cars looks really awesome underneath!
Verstappen, F1’s youngest driver, also had a great battle with the oldest on the grid, Jenson Button, once again proving that his youth is in no way a hindrance to his capabilities.
Less of the flashing though, eh lad?
McLaren Honda’s nightmare season continued in Monza, with another handful of gird penalties each car, and a retirement for their bearded double world champion. On paper it was a bit of a write-off, although Button and Alonso did manage to produce a pretty enjoyable scrap during the race, even if it was just between themselves.
However, while the team had a bit of fun on Sunday, their lowest point arguably didn’t have anything to do with racing, instead materialising at a McLaren-Honda press conference the night before, after another underwhelming Q1 bow-out. The fragile relationship between Honda and McLaren has never been a secret, with frustration evident from the very first test in February.
However, Honda’s Chief Motorsport Officer couldn’t understand why he might need to apologise for a lack of performance, reliabilty or improvement all year, and was still adamant that the Honda PU is better than Renault’s, despite the ease with which Verstappen’s Toro Rosso outstripped Button in the early stages.
We adore McLaren, but they need to have a good sit down with Honda and get it together. “We’re heading in the right direction” has become the Japanese manufacturer’s version of “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”.
Prospects for a Ferrari podium were significantly improved with both cars qualifying in the top three, and in what is a rare occurrence for 2015, it was Raikkonen ahead of Vettel. However, those Finnish, er… smiles? Or whatever Kimi does instead of smile… were soon wiped away on Sunday afternoon when he pretty much stalled on the grid, leaving him right at the back of the field.
Inspired both physically and emotionally by Ferrari power, though, the Iceman cleaved his way through the field, and by Lap 20 he had got himself back up to 5th place, and after pit stops and frustrated engines shuffled the order around a bit, that’s where he ended up.
It didn’t all go perfectly – he made a mess of trying to get past Carlos Sainz early on, and nearly chopped his nose off attempting to navigate around Daniel Ricciardo at Ascari, but Kimi’s overtake show produced most of the action in Monza. Which is nice.
The future of the Italian Grand Prix has oft been the subject of much debate. Bernie doesn’t seem to care if it stays or goes, but literally everyone else in the entire world wants it to remain the passionate, thrilling and irreplaceable crucible of speed it has been for the past 65 years.
With a Ferrari on the podium, the Tifosi well and truly welcomed their new Ferrari hero into their hearts, much like Alonso’s baptism in 2010. Although Vettel was unable to match Alonso’s first-time win as a Ferrari driver on home turf, you get the impression that the Maranello devotees kind of knew a win was out of the question with the dominance of Mercedes. Regardless, they celebrated like the Welmeister was on top of the rostrum.
It wasn’t just drivers in red that got heaps of praise either – ex Prancing Horse employee Massa got raucous applause, and Hamilton wasn’t exactly jeered either. It shows that even though it’s Ferrari’s home, the spirit of Formula 1 and competition is strong at Monza, whomever takes the victory. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
(PS, Bernie, let’s keep this awesome track forever, capiche?)
After the race, it was reported that the pressure in the rear-left tyre on Lewis Hamilton’s car was under the level set in new Pirelli tyre pressure restrictions, by 0.3 PSI. It could have resulted in his disqualification, and it took the FIA stewards and Mercedes well over two hours to reach a decision after the race – but they got to keep the win. Confused about the whole mess? Me too!
Happily, we’ve come up with a step-by-step run through of what exactly happened after the race if you didn’t have the patience to watch the two hours of time-killing before the decision was reached.
*Not an accurate description of what happened, but it rhymes, which is cool!
A Badger in the Paddock!
Did you know that our lass Laura Leslie went to her first ever live Grand Prix this weekend? Be sure to check out her Twitter to look back at what she got up to, including a little nose around the Force India garage, and keep your eyes peeled for some great content about her first time at a race in the next week or so.