Tag Archives: Italian Grand Prix

F1GPItaly-2016

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Italy — Results & aftermath

Hamilton stumbles at start, Rosberg pounces; Vettel soothes Ferrari pride with P3 at Monza

As closely matched as the two Mercedes teammates and archrivals are this year, it only takes a small error for one to emerge victorious over the other. So it was on Sunday in Italy when Lewis Hamilton fumbled his Monza pole start in a style reminiscent of his early season clutch-bite problems, allowing himself to be swallowed up by the front part of the field. In an instant the championship points leader had fallen back to P6, a nightmare for the Englishman but a dream come true for Mercedes’ teammate Nico Rosberg. Unlike Hamilton, Rosberg made the perfect getaway and was able to fight off the two pursuing Ferraris on the opening lap, immediately pulling out a gap on the Prancing Horses and the rest of the field that he would never truly relinquish. In the end, Rosberg drove a perfect race and sailed to victory by a whopping 15 seconds, his first-ever victory at historic Autodromo Nazionale Monza, on a day when everything broke his way. That made it his second victory in a row after last week’s promenade at Spa and gave the German contender renewed momentum is his desperate quest for his first F1 title. After ceding the points lead during Hamilton’s remarkable July onslaught, Rosberg has won the first two tilts after the summer break to cut the deficit to a mere 2 points with 7 Grand Prix remaining. In this back-and-forth season, the pendulum of luck appears to have swung back his way yet again.

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

After his remarkable back-of the-pack to P3 finish last week at Spa, Hamilton could have been forgiven for thinking that he had all the luck firmly on his side, as well as perhaps fatally damaging Rosberg’s confidence with that miracle run in Belgium. But with one pivotal moment of wheel spin as the lights went out, he conceded all that momentum back to his closest competitor in a season when, once again, Mercedes are the class of the field by far. Despite Hamilton’s bobble the team stuck with their 1-stop tire strategy for him, enabling Hamilton to jump the Ferraris and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and come home a well-deserved P2, at least minimizing the self-inflicted damage. Still, Hamilton had to have been rueing what might have been and the missed opportunity to keep Rosberg down. Instead it looks to be game on between these two rivals until the bitter end and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it all come down to the final contest in Abu Dhabi.

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Ferrari had a classic damage-limitation day in front of their rabid home fans, the always enthusiastic tifosi. Faced with the inescapable fact that they are nowhere near as fast as the Silver Arrows especially on a high-speed circuit like Monza, the storied team from Maranello deployed a somewhat risky 2-stop tire strategy. But their drivers were able to execute it perfectly to at least keep Red Bull in their place and reestablish themselves in the battle for second place Constructors’ points. Team leader Sebastian Vettel took the last podium spot with a decent P3 while Kimi Raikkonen set a number of fast laps on his way to P4. All in all, it was realistically about as well as the Scuderia could have expected to do when faced by the outright pace of the Mercedes while competing at their notoriously speedy home track.

For Red Bull the day was a bit of a reality check, as they too saw the limits of their power plant on this brutally fast circuit. Daniel Ricciardo drove an excellent race within those limitations to take P5, while wunderkind Max Verstappen made a poor getaway and had to fight his way back into the points. In the end he was able to recover somewhat to come home P7 in a rather subdued race for the Dutch teenager a week after he received loads of criticism for his borderline reckless driving at Spa. But look for Red Bull to bounce back next week on the very tight and twisty street circuit in Singapore where their RB12 chassis should shine… if Verstappen can keep it out of the walls. Valtteri Bottas scored valuable points for Williams with a hard-fought P6 while his teammate Felipe Massa, who announced this week that he is retiring at the end of the season, came home further back in P9. The two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg finished P8 and P10 respectively, a valuable haul for the little team on a day when they made the most of what they had and kept the McLarens and Haas duo behind them and out of the points.

Top 10 finishers in the Italian GP:

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 53 1:17:28.089 25
2 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 53 +15.070s 18
3 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 53 +20.990s 15
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 53 +27.561s 12
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 53 +45.295s 10
6 77 Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS MERCEDES 53 +51.015s 8
7 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 53 +54.236s 6
8 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 53 +64.954s 4
9 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 53 +65.617s 2
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 53 +78.656s 1

Complete race results available via Formula1.com.

Italy marked the last of the European races this year. The next race is at the always exciting and visually stunning Singapore Grand Prix in two weeks time. Hope to see you then under the dazzling lights of the Marina Bay Street Circuit!

Hamilton-ItalyGP-Quali-2016

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Italy — Qualifying results

Mercedes lockout front row at Monza as Hamilton scores dominant pole, Rosberg P2; Vettel saves Ferrari’s honor with P3 in front of home crowd

The Mercedes Silver Arrows showed their true from at the ultra-fast Monza Autodromo in Italy during Saturday qualifying, with Lewis Hamilton laying down a scorching lap for pole, besting his teammate Nico Rosberg, who qualified P2, by half a second. It was Hamilton’s record-tying fifth pole at Monza, leveling him with F1 legends Juan Manuel Fangio and Ayrton Senna. After Hamilton’s miracle P3 finish last week at Spa when he carved his way through the field after starting at the back of the pack his pole once again laid down a marker for excellence and sent a clear message of dominance to his teammate and archival. Rosberg is going to have to take the belt from the champ and Hamilton, still leading in the points, ain’t giving it up without a serious fight.

Ferrari was the best of the rest of the teams, with Sebastian Vettel grabbing P3 and bettering his hot teammate Kimi Raikkonen’s P4. The pressure is really on at Ferrari in front of their home fans and in the midst of a disappointing season but it seems unlikely that the Prancing Horses have anything for Mercedes unless the two Silver Arrows teammates once again come to blows.

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas put his Mercedes power to good use to take an impressive P5 on the grid, while the Red Bulls showed their Achilles’ heel, the lack of pure pace at a speedy track like this one, with Daniel Ricciardo only good enough for P6 and Max Verstappen at P7. No doubt, though, the always well-prepared Red Bull team will have some strategic tricks up their sleeves to try to move their men up come race day. Force India continued their recent excellent form with Sergio Perez good enough for P8 and Nico Hulkenberg taking P9. Esteban Gutierrez had an terrific P10 fast lap for first year American Team Hass on the debut of their new rear wing, a very impressive result that saw him out-qualify not only his more experienced teammate Romain Grosjean but also both McLarens and the Williams of Felipe Massa.

And speaking of those latter two teams, both Massa and McLaren’s Jenson Button announced that they would retire from F1 at the end of the 2016 season. The two veteran stalwarts will be sorely missed but a new generation will be racing to take their spots. So it goes in Formula 1 just as in life!

Top 10 qualifiers for the Italian Grand Prix.

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:21.854 1:21.498 1:21.135 16
2 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 1:22.497 1:21.809 1:21.613 15
3 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:23.077 1:22.275 1:21.972 13
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:23.217 1:22.568 1:22.065 15
5 77 Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:23.264 1:22.499 1:22.388 12
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:23.158 1:22.638 1:22.389 17
7 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:23.229 1:22.857 1:22.411 15
8 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:23.439 1:22.922 1:22.814 15
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:23.259 1:22.951 1:22.836 18
10 21 Esteban Gutierrez  HAAS FERRARI 1:23.386 1:22.856 1:23.184 21

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live on NBC Sports Network here in the States beginning at 8:00 AM Eastern. Hope to see you then to how it all shakes out at the always thrilling cathedral of speed, Monza!

2015F1GPItaly

2015 F1 Grand Prix of Italy — Results & aftermath

Hamilton marches to victory at Monza for Mercedes; Vettel a joyful 2nd for Ferrari and Williams’ Massa joins the party in P3

After eprecisely the fast getaway he was looking for when the lights went out to start the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the only question left for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes seemed to be whether a minuscule post-race tire pressure measurement could keep them from victory. But the stewards determined that the scant 0.3 psi under the regualtions had been caused by the natural cooling of the tires and not deliberately executed by Mercedes for unfair competitive advantage. And so, after some tense and mysterious moments late in the race with Hamilton’s engineer cryptically telling the Englishman to push for time but not ask questions, which naturally led to speculation that there could be a problem with his new 2016-spec engine, all came good for the Drivers’ Championship leader with yet another dominant victory. Better still for Hamilton, his closest pursuer and teammate, Nico Rosberg, suffered catastrophic engine failure in the waning laps after Mercedes had turned up the wick on his well used 2015-spec power plant in an effort to take the fight to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for P2. So the German contender might be forgiven for thinking that the stars were aligned against him in these last several races, as he now finds himself not just 53 points adrift of Hamilton with only seven races remaining but also under pressure from the hyper-competitive Vettel in his rapidly improving SF15-T chassis. At least Rosberg can console himself with some big picture thinking after becoming a new father to a healthy baby girl between Spa & Monza.

Pix courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Pix courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Vettel not only celebrated a new family addition of his own with the recent birth of his second daughter but also a well-earned P2 for Ferrari at the Scuderia’s home circuit. While he never really had anything for Hamilton’s Mercedes, the German former 4-time World Champ was definitely the best of the rest. Even if Rosberg’s engine had not blown Vettel did not look likely to relinquish his precious second step on the podium. But his teammate Kimi Raikkonen had yet another day that must have left the tifosi tearing their hair out and wondering why the veteran Finn was retained by Maranello for next season. Raikonnen became the most high profile victim of the new “no clutch coaching” rules when he bogged down on the grid at the start. He almost proved all the warnings about the danger of that sort of stall, as well, when Rosberg and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas nearly ran into his backside. But the two pilots showed excellent car control and got away cleanly from the stationary Ferrari. By the time Riakkonen got it in gear the entire field had passed him and he was forced to battle from behind all day long. He did show good mental toughness in recovering from his self-inflicted wound, using aggressive driving and his car’s superior performance, as well as a superlative pit stop by his crew, to re-pass much of the field and take valuable points with a hard-earned P5.

VettelF1GPItaly-2015

Williams’ Felipe Massa, the Brazilian veteran and longtime Ferrari driver, held off his rapidly closing teammate to capture an emotional P3 at a track he called home for so many years. The hard-charging Bottas finished right behind Massa in 4th place, making it a tremendous points scoring day for Williams. The ultra-fast Monza circuit rewarded their excellent straightline speed while not punishing their usual lack of downforce. Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg finished P6 and P7 respectively for Force India, another fine result for the little team that could, while Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat took P8 and P10 for Red Bull despite starting near the rear after a passel of engine-change grid penalties. Marcus Ericsson of Sauber grabbed a very strong 9th place after after he was also penalized, in his case for impeding Hulkenberg in Saturday qualifying, and dropped to 12th on the grid. The young Swede has quietly put together an excellent second half of the season with points in his last three races and frankly outdriven his more heralded teammate Felipe Nasr.

Aside from Rosberg’s misfortune, the other DNFs in this full course yellow-free Grand Prix were both unlucky Lotuses within the first 4 laps and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, which expired late in the race. Continue reading

F1GPItalyQuali-2015

2015 F1 Grand Prix of Italy — Qualifying results

Mercedes’ Hamilton still top dog in Italy but tifosi thrilled to see Raikonnen & Vettel relegate Rosberg to 4th

At the festival of pure speed and racing passion embodied by the legendary Monza track in northern Italy, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton proved once again that he is the fastest man in the fastest machine. Debuting 2016’s advanced engine spec for the factory Mercedes team, Hamilton grabbed yet another pole in Saturday qualifying, his astonishing 15th P1 out of 16 sessions this season. But the Silver Arrows’ overall dominance was upended by Scuderia Ferrari on their home turf, with the recently re-signed Kimi Raikkonen taking a very strong P2 and his more vaunted teammate Sebastian Vettel coming home just a few tenths behind in P3. When Nico Rosberg, running this year’s standard Mercedes engine, could do no better than 4th fastest, the tifosi erupted in unbridled, typically Italian joy. If the two Prancing Horses can make a dynamic duo-type getaway like we saw in Hungary and swamp Hamilton at the start of the race, they may be able to pull off the upset and send all of Italy into paroxysms of joy. However, with an average lap speed somewhere north of 150mph, It could be quite difficult to keep Hamilton down for long at this circuit even assuming that the two blood red Ferraris can get away from him when the lights go out. The other possibility, of course, is that the new Mercedes engine is not quite ready to last an entire race flat out. As the old saying goes, we shall see come Sunday.

Pictures via GrandPrix247.com

Pictures via GrandPrix247.com

Mercedes-powered Williams had a decent day, with veteran Felipe Massa slightly outpacing his younger Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas, P5 to P6. Force India continued to impress with Sergio Perez grabbing the 7th fastest time, while Nico Huldenberg, who just had his contract extended by the team for two more years, ran out of fuel in the middle of Q3 and had to settle for 9th on the grid. Coming off his best race of the year at Spa two weeks ago, Romain Grosjean rode that momentum and was excellent for Lotus, just snatching P8 as the seconds wound down in Q3. Marcus Ericsson would have again found himself rounding out the top 10 for Sauber but he was judged to have impeded Hulkenberg during Q1 and penalized 2 spots on the grid, so Grosjean’s teammate Pastor Maldonado was elevated to 10th position.

Teams Red Bull and Toro Rosso were also penalized for exceeding their engine change limits and so all their cars will start from the back of the field tomorrow. Continue reading