Former Formula 1 racer, Sky Sports commentator Martin Brandl summed up the Italian Grand Prix …
In the 170 Grand Prix since McLaren’s last victory in Brazil’12, this team has been in hell and back. Having reorganized and regrouped, she again directed her forces and talents in the right direction.
Daniel Riccardo did not miss the chance to win his eighth victory in Formula 1, he did an excellent job – he was in the lead after a perfect start from the “dirty” side of the starting field, controlled the race, drove the best lap, earning 27 out of 29 possible – taking into account Saturday’s sprint, points.
On the podium, Riccardo was as good as ever! Sweaty boot with victorious champagne again! The start of the season turned out to be difficult for him against the backdrop of outstanding performances by Lando Norris, but we know that form is temporary and skill is forever.
I sympathized with Lando Norris. This could have been his first victory. In qualifying, he was ahead of Riccardo by a few thousandths, but in the sprint he had a bad start and was behind his team-mate. In the race, he hinted a couple of times that he could go faster than Daniel, but the team rightly acknowledged that the Australian in front was in control of the situation – and kept the order of the riders.
Norris’ youthful appearance and demeanor are just the outer shell of this extremely daring rider. His overtaking Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari in Curva Grande, partly on the grass, was absolutely fearless. If not for the accident at Eau Rouge, he could have achieved a much better result at the Spa. As Lando says, his time will come, but now he is one of the best in Formula 1.
At Monza, Lewis Hamilton failed to finish for the first time after 63 races in a row, in which he saw the checkered flag. However, judging by the speed and position of the riders on the track, victory would still go to McLaren.
To analyze the accident of Hamilton and Verstappen on the 26th circle, you first need to separate the consequences of contact, to which I will return.
In most cases, such contact leads to scuffs on the tires, damage to the suspension and body parts, sometimes one of the cars turns around or it flies off the track.
In this incredible season, once again, the circumstances were such that two contenders for the title were fighting for a position on the track on the same piece of asphalt. Verstappen lost the start to Riccardo and was unable to create a gap in the first meters, which he had hoped for. Hamilton had an unsuccessful start in the sprint and started the main race only fourth.
Red Bull had an unusually slow 11-second pit stop for Max, but in Mercedes, Lewis’s pit stop lasted four seconds – and on the 26th lap they were destined to meet.
Leaving the pit lane, Lewis kept to the right, so as not to be in the braking zone of cars rushing at high speed in a straight line. He knew Max was behind and left him enough room – the width of the car in accordance with the rules.
It was a key moment of the race, both riders knew that it would be difficult to overtake each other later, given the almost equal speed. Both wanted to stay ahead at all costs.
Max had the advantage of excellent visibility and warm tires, Lewis had just pulled out of the pits, and it’s hard to see anything in modern mirrors.
This incident could be repeated endlessly in slow motion, but in real time it happened very quickly. Both riders are experienced and fast, both are real fighters and are well aware of all the tricks and consequences. There was no time for conscious thinking, they acted on reflexes and instincts.
Max put pressure on Lewis from the outside of the first corner, confidently in control of the car – no blocked tires or slipping. The talk that Max had to leave the boundaries of the track does not stand up to criticism – in this case he would have to give up the position, and they both knew that they had to get out of this fight as leaders. But on the way to this exit there were irregularities and curbs.
Lewis turned, expecting Max to cross the trajectory, as was the case at the start of the race or, for example, in Imola. Max hoped there would be enough room. It was too confident a step, but it had to be taken. Perhaps Max should have thrown off the gas, but he did not have time, and besides, he wanted to overtake.
As a result, they touched the rear wheels. Perhaps Lewis should have left more room, but at that moment he was already moving towards the second corner. And why did he have to do this?
Commenting on the race live, I called the incident a racing incident, and I remain unconvinced. The stewards fined Max with the loss of three places at the start in Sochi, but they had a lot of data from the cars, angles from different cameras, interviews with both drivers to make a decision – and they felt that what happened was more Max’s fault than Lewis’s.
I will not undertake to count the number of lives that Halo has already saved. In my racing career, I got hit on the head three times from a car flying by – from Ayrton Senna in 1983 in Formula 3, and in Formula 1 from Patrick També in Monaco ’86 and from Jos Verstappen in Brazil ’94. The latest additions to vehicle safety have proven their worth, including during last year’s Roman Grosjean crash in Bahrain. The FIA and the teams are real fellows in this regard.
Valtteri Bottas had an impressive weekend winning the sprint and winning the race after starting from 19th place. He called this stage one of the best for himself with Mercedes.
The Williams team earned points for the third time in four Grand Prix, moving to the place of Bottas in Mercedes, George Russell confidently finished ninth. Ferrari had a good weekend with Leclair and Sainz in fifth and sixth place.
It seemed to me again that the weekend format with Saturday sprint added energy on Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday influenced the results of the race. And it is a much less artificial role than a reversing starting field or weight handicap. If the cars of 2022 are indeed easier to overtake, as we are promised, the sprint format could work much better.
The duel between Hamilton and Verstappen continues, we will see many more tense moments. Let’s hope it stays safe for both of them.