One day is a long time in Formula 1, as Ferrari’s Tifosi discovered in an Italian Grand Prix that was stolen in dramatic fashion by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
Ferrari arrived at Monza with the fastest car and this fact was underlined on Saturday – the Scuderia scoring its first front row lockout on home soil since 2000, and Kimi Raikkonen leading championship protagonist Sebastian Vettel.
It was Ferrari’s race to lose and entering the Della Roggia chicane on the opening lap, Vettel lost it.
From third on the grid, Hamilton attempted to swoop around the outside of his title rival, edging ahead as the two turned into the corner. Vettel understeered into the side of Hamilton and looped his Ferrari.
Raikkonen was left to fend off Hamilton for the remainder of the race. A Mercedes strategic masterstroke served to accelerate Raikkonen’s tyre degradation, opening up a golden opportunity for Hamilton to snatch the lead away from the Ferrari in the closing stages to break Tifosi hearts.
Hamilton needed no second invitation, scything passed the Ferrari to claim an unexpected ‘away’ victory, while Vettel could finish only fourth and drops to 30 points adrift in the championship.
Here are our DRIVER RATINGS for a thrilling Italian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton - 10
Qualified – 3rd
Finished – 1st
Hamilton has once again underlined that he has the potential to win the 2018 drivers’ championship in what is an inferior car. Nearly beating Vettel to the front row in qualifying, Hamilton was bold on the opening lap and later demonstrated the patience required to execute his strategy to perfection. This was a textbook Hamilton performance – the type of weekend worth £40 million per year.
Kimi Raikkonen - 8
Qualified – 1st
Finished – 2nd
Raikkonen will never have a better opportunity to win again in F1. A great lap and perfectly judged tow propelled him to a well-deserved pole on Saturday and a strong defence of the lead on lap one allowed him to consolidate his position. Ultimately, his weekend unravelled immediately after the pitstop, as he pushed too hard on soft compound tyres too early in the stint and uncharacteristically blistered one tyre after another. It meant that when Hamilton loomed in the mirrors, Raikkonen had no defence.
Valtteri Bottas - 7
Qualified – 4th
Finished – 3rd
Despite not being able to match Hamilton for pace at any point in the weekend, Bottas was instrumental to Mercedes’ ultimate success at Monza. Delaying his stop may have looked like an obvious ploy to back Raikkonen into Hamilton – the tactic certainly worked in this regard – but Bottas’s pace on old tyres was strong. He was, therefore, able to pit late and attack Verstappen with a much fresher set of tyres at the end of the race. His excellent tyre management meant that he could serve his own race and help his team-mate at once.
Sebastian Vettel - 6
Qualified – 2nd
Finished – 4th
A poor lap to end Q3 left Vettel fortunate to hang onto a front row start. The clash with Hamilton was simply another Vettel mistake – the Mercedes had seized the high-ground for the chicane with a bold move around the outside. Vettel seemed to underestimate the understeer he would have when pinched at the apex of the corner underneath his team-mate’s front wing. The recovery to fourth was suitably strong, but the initial mistake defines the weekend.
Max Verstappen - 6
Qualified – 5th
Finished – 5th
Verstappen’s race pace was pleasantly surprising for Red Bull – it was expected that on the calendar’s most power sensitive venue, Verstappen would be caught in no man’s land between the lead battle and the midfield tier. Equipped with the spec ‘C’ Renault power unit, Verstappen was able to keep Bottas behind throughout the opening stint. Unfortunately, his race unravelled with a misjudgement and clash with Bottas, followed by a petulant response to the resultant five-second time penalty – it cost him a podium.
Esteban Ocon - 7
Qualified – 8th
Finished – 6th
Ocon was victim to his own excellent start – he was able to pull alongside Grosjean, but had to back out as the track narrowed en route to Turn 1. It meant that he slipped behind Sainz and dispatching the Renault quickly was pivotal to Ocon’s race, as he aimed to run a long first stint. Ocon managed to extend his supersoft run, albeit was unable to pass Grosjean in the closing stages for sixth place – fortunately for Force India, post-race technical checks at Haas ensured that it didn’t matter.
Sergio Perez - 7
Qualified – 16th
Finished – 7th
Perez may have finished behind his team-mate, but to have ended up eighth with a severely damaged car following side-to-side contact with Kevin Magnussen in the opening stages was quite the achievement. Particularly considering that his Q1 exit was a result of a number-crunching error on the pitwall. Like Ocon, Perez managed his tyres through a long first stint and executed the optimum strategy well in tricky circumstances.
Carlos Sainz Jr - 8
Qualified – 7th
Finished – 8th
Sainz bounced back well from a difficult weekend in Belgium. On arguably Renault’s weakest circuit, given Monza’s power sensitivity, Sainz maximised his result. Seventh place in qualifying was a superb result and while he did head backwards during the race, he was powerless to resist the Force Indias given the teams’ respective strengths.
Lance Stroll - 8
Qualified – 10th
Finished – 9th
On a track which downplays the aerodynamic shortcomings of this year’s Williams, Stroll needed to deliver a solid weekend and he duly performed remarkably well at Monza. Stroll is more than simply a pay driver – despite what large swathes of F1’s fanbase will have you believe – and he demonstrated his talents with an excellent qualifying to progress to Q3. He followed it up with a determined drive on Sunday, overcoming a slow pitstop to finish five seconds ahead of team-mate Sirotkin.
Sergey Sirotkin - 7
Qualified – 12th
Finished – 10th
Less than 0.3 seconds adrift of a Q3 appearance, it was clear that Sunday would provide Sirotkin’s best chance of yet of scoring a maiden F1 point. While he ran inside the top 10 early on, he was eventually edged into 11th and followed his team-mate in the final stint without being able to close in. Grosjean’s post-race disqualification gifted Sirotkin 10th, but it was a well-deserved gift, given the tidiness of his recent performances as well as his continued positivity in what is clearly a challenging debut year.
Charles Leclerc - 7
Qualified – 17th
Finished – 11th
After Marcus Ericsson’s DRS failure in second practice, both Sauber drivers competed with one hand tied behind their back for the remainder of the weekend. The team had to ditch it’s Monza-spec rear wing in place of a standard – less efficient – alternative. Considering the huge loss of track time on Friday afternoon to compound the issues, Leclerc’s 11th place was the result of a strong race.
Stoffel Vandoorne - 5
Qualified – 20th
Finished – 12th
McLaren’s 2018 package was perhaps the least suited to the high-speed demands of Monza. Regardless, Vandoorne was once again well adrift of his team-mate throughout the weekend. Qualifying in last place, he lost significant ground to Leclerc’s Sauber in the closing stages and ended up 10 seconds behind him at the checkered flag.
Nico Hulkenberg - 5
Qualified – 14th (started 20th)
Finished – 13th
Starting from the back of the grid at one of Renault’s least favourable tracks, Hulkenberg was always going to find breaking into the top 10 difficult. The team attempted a rather desperate strategy by pitting him after the opening lap – he wasn’t able to stretch the tyres up to the end of the race and had to pit with only 10 laps to go. It was a desperate, half-baked strategy.
Pierre Gasly - 7
Qualified – 9th
After qualifying in a sensational ninth place and being the first driver to reach Q3 at Monza in a Honda-powered car in the V6 Hybrid era, Gasly seemed on course for another stunning weekend. However, an optimistic lunge from Ricciardo broke Gasly’s floor early on in the race and in struggled for pace for the remainder, slipping to an eventual 14th which failed to reflect his strong pace in a healthy Toro Rosso.
Marcus Ericsson - 6
Qualified – 19th (started 18th)
Finished – 15th
Ericsson’s huge accident following his DRS failure in FP2 essentially condemned his weekend to misery. While he emerged unscathed, Sauber were unable to use the Monza-spec rear wing for the remainder of the weekend and as a result, both Ericsson and Leclerc suffered hugely in terms of straight line performance. Ericsson finished nearly 20 seconds behind Leclerc in the race after having had to pit on the opening lap following contact with Hartley’s Toro Rosso in an unfortunate squeeze at the race start.
Kevin Magnussen - 4
Qualified – 11th
Finished – 16th
A weekend to forget for Magnussen – his worst of the season by a margin. He was entitled to steal track position away from Alonso in the dying moments of Q2, but in doing so, he took an unnecessary risk and banked his entire qualifying on the fact that Alonso would not retaliate. It ultimately led to a Q2 exit rather than a potential sixth place on the grid and as a result, left him fighting battles – and picking up damage – that he wouldn’t have been involved in during the race. His clash with Perez was Magnussen’s misjudgement – he had lost the high ground for the corner and should have conceded the place. It was a mistake which ruined any chance of points.
Daniel Ricciardo - 6
Qualified – 15th (started 19th)
Finished – DNF
Given that Ricciardo’s qualifying was a write off before the green light courtesy of multiple grid penalties for taking the new specification Renault power unit, the only period in which Ricciardo’s performance can be judged is the first half of the race before a clutch issue forced him onto the all-too-familiar sidelines. His recovery drive had put him on a trajectory to finish sixth, albeit with a rather clumsy overtake attempt on Gasly damaging the Toro Rosso’s floor and probably Ricciardo’s pride.
Fernando Alonso - 6
Qualified – 13th
Finished – DNF
To haul the McLaren MCL33 into Q2 around the high-speed Monza was a sterling effort from Alonso. Unfortunately, he blotted his copy-book in his bizarre Turn 1 tangle with Magnussen ahead of his final run. In the race, Alonso made a superb start to launch into the top 10, albeit forming a sizeable train soon after as power unit cut-out issues began to develop.
Brendon Hartley - 5
Qualified – 18th
Finished – DNF
Hartley’s year of unrivalled misfortune continues, as he was the victim of a pincer movement at the start of the race. Sandwiched between Vandoorne and Ericsson, Hartley was left with a broken suspension within the first few yards of the race. His qualifying pace was once again a concern though. He ended up 0.6s adrift of Gasly’s final effort.
Romain Grosjean - N/A
Qualified – 6th
Finished – DSQ
It would be unfair to grade Grosjean’s performance for the weekend – he has been deemed by the FIA’s technical delegate to have been driving an illegal car. Haas is appealing the verdict which was Grosjean’s disqualification from sixth place on account of his floor not conforming to regulation. If his sixth-place is reinstated, we will update with a score.