Drenched qualifying costs Ferrari
Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel’s best chance of getting past Lewis Hamilton on Sunday would have been to make sure they started ahead of him, but on Saturday in Monza they just couldn’t come close to accomplishing this. While Hamilton and the Red Bulls led the way in Q3, both Ferrari drivers struggled, finishing over 2 seconds off the pace in 7th and 8th.
While both drivers moved up due to penalties ahead, they still started on the third row in 5th and 6th, and as such couldn’t really have much impact on the leaders at the start. Further delays getting past the high qualifying Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll meant that, by the time Vettel fought his way through to 3rd, Hamilton was already the best part of 10 seconds ahead of him.
Mercedes just too quick in Monza
Much to the dismay of the tifosi, who waited hours on Saturday to see their heroes in red take to the track, Ferrari were just no match for Mercedes around Monza this weekend. Things looked ominous in practice, but Sunday’s race really showed that Mercedes have their low downforce package working extremely well compared to their championship rivals.
Once Vettel got into third, the gap described above only got larger as the race went on, and by the time he crossed the finish line, Hamilton was over 36 seconds ahead of the German, a massive gap when compared with how closely Vettel was able to follow the Mercedes in Spa.
Clearly then, when Vettel said that Ferrari have no circuit left to fear he forgot to add an asterisks saying ‘apart from Monza’. Things were always going to be difficult though at a place where Mercedes’ power was going to play a crucial role, but with tracks such an Singapore coming up, the red man can most likely look forward to a much stronger showing as F1 heads to Asia.
But what about Bottas in 2nd?
Valtteri Bottas did a great job today to fight through initial traffic to come home just behind his teammate to complete a dominant 1-2 on Ferrari’s home turf, but could he have won the race?
The Finn started in 4th, and after a brief tussle with countryman Kimi Raikkonen on the opening 2 laps, he was able to work his way past Ocon and Stroll to sit 2nd by the end of lap 3. From here though, he never really looked like challenging his teammate up front, and the gap between them sat at around 4 seconds for much of the race. The only time Bottas led the race was during the pit window when Hamilton pitted first.
Before the race, Bottas said that he didn’t think that Mercedes should use team orders yet in terms of the championship, but today’s drive looked rather stage managed, especially towards the end where their advantage over the rest of the field allowed them to slow their pace.
This is understandable really from a Mercedes point of view. This result was simply too valuable to throw away; With the way things finished, both their drivers gained ground on Vettel, with one of them now leading the championship. That said, however, if Bottas had showed the pace to genuinely challenge Hamilton, especially in the earlier stages (after the pit stops you got the feeling the result was locked in), then things might have been different.
Do you think ayone else could have won the race today? Let us know in the comments below!