The second Grand Prix after the summer break takes place in Italy, in Monza, in the temple of speed, the fastest circuit on the calendar concurrently with Spa. In the outcome of the victory, Ferrari is preparing for another weekend that can only promise well. The layout has favourable characteristics for the Maranello stable, confidence in a replica of the weekend just passed. Before the Italian Grand Prix, AC Milano and SIAS organise a big event in Piazza Duomo. 10,000 fans gather on Wednesday, September 4, 2019, in the centre of Milan to welcome Ferrari's past, present and future. The event, called Ninety Years of Emotions, celebrates not only the ninety years of Ferrari but also those of the now historic Monza circuit that signs on stage the renewal of the contract until 2024. There are many guests: from the starting drivers, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, to the most historical ones such as Jean Alesi, Gerhard Berger, Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, Mario Andretti, Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello and Alain Prost, to FDA pilots Mick Schumacher, Giuliano Alesi, Marcus Armstrong, Robert Schwartzman, Callum Ilott, Enzo Fittipaldi and many others.
There is no shortage of men on the upper floors: the President of ACI, Angelo Sticchi Damiani, the Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari, Mattia Binotto, the Vice President of Ferrari, Piero Ferrari, Stefano Domenicali, Maurizio Arrivabene, Jean Todt. The only absence is the president John Elkann, otherwise, the entire history of Ferrari is present. On the small stage in front of the Duomo are exhibited some of the most iconic cars that have made the history of this team such as the 1967 312 F1, driven by Chris Amon, the 312 B3 by Clay Regazzoni, the 126 CK by Gilles Villeneuve, the first turbocharged Ferrari to win a Grand Prix, the IndyCar prototype, the F2002, a single-seater that won a record number of races winning the Drivers' Championship with Michael Schumacher and the Constructors Championship with the contribution of Rubens Barrichello. That's not all, a parade of historic cars was also organised, from the Alfa Romeo 6C driven in the thirties by Tazio Nuvolari to the 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza, which pass through the screams of the crowd until they arrive at the Duomo. Angelo Sticchi Damiani, president of ACI, explains:
"Unforgettable, memorable, unrepeatable ninety years, the great story that has made the sport of the car unique in the eyes of the world. This is the Italian Grand Prix, thanks also to an extraordinary circuit like that of Monza: the fastest, most difficult and most spectacular track in all of Formula 1. It is this extraordinary story that we celebrate - together with Scuderia Ferrari and some of the greatest drivers of yesterday, today and tomorrow - in Piazza Duomo, in Milan. A goal, very important and very prestigious, of course. Not a checkered flag, but rather a green light that will light up to project us towards another 90 years of strong passions, great emotions and unforgettable seasons, which will inflame the hearts of sportsmen, enthusiasts, fans and Ferrari drivers from all over the world".
Mattia Binotto, current team principal of Ferrari and a man with many critical eyes focussed on him, continues:
"The Scuderia Ferrari is made of uniqueness. Its history, of which this year marks 90 years, is unique because it is that of a team that has been able to excel in every category in which it has competed. He won more than any other team in Formula 1 and was able to excel even in the most gruelling competitions, from the Mille Miglia to the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Targa Florio; it was able to excel even in uphill racing and even in motorcycling, at the dawn of its history. Scuderia Ferrari is made up of unique people and has collected triumphs on all continents thus winning an equally unique fan base, which counts fans in every part of the world. It’s in Italy, however, that our adventure is created, and it is therefore in the heart of Milan, in the week of our home Grand Prix, that we decided to embrace all our fans, extraordinary people who never abandon us, even in the most difficult moments, and who is one of the most beautiful representations of what #Essere Ferrari means".
An event that evokes many emotions and strengthens the bond that unites fans to this historic brand, as Vettel said everyone is a Ferrari fan, even if they say they are not, they are and among these fans, some have left the ship, including the former president of Ferrari, Luca Montezemolo, who admits:
"Yes, I miss Ferrari a lot".
The former president receives the warmest welcome, accompanied by the choirs of the crowd "one president, there is only one president", with him Ferrari took home 19 world titles (11 manufacturers and 8 drivers):
"Surprised? More than anything else moved, it means that so many good moments remain inside. I was very pleased about their invitation, it means that there isn't jealousy of the past. The 19 titles are not only a good memory for me, but also for the fans. I miss Ferrari a lot, but we have to live not only on memories but on the future. Leclerc? It reminds me of a young Lauda, who learned quickly from mistakes. World Cup closed? In this sport, you can never say it".
Ferrari is certainly a great story that remains in the hearts of everyone, as well as its fans. Piazza Duomo also celebrates the first victory of the season, Charles Leclerc has stopped the fast in Belgium and is ready to repeat himself:
"The victory was a moment I was waiting for and dreamed of as a child, now I had some time to realise what happened, but not too much because I'm focussed on Monza. The first victory is a long-awaited moment, especially when you're at Ferrari, it's a liberation for me and it's also important for the team. Now I dream of a double at Monza".
And he adds:
"In five years I still see myself in Ferrari and world champion. You have to aim hard to grow, it's right to do it".
For the Monegasque, it’s the first Italian Grand Prix at the wheel of a Ferrari and the fright in front of the red tide is felt:
"We're very full, it's impressive to see so many people and everyone in red. Last year it had already been very nice to drive for Alfa Romeo, in Monza, but now I can't imagine what it might mean to do it with Ferrari. Our top speed is good, in qualifying we can be very strong, we have to manage them well to do pole, aware that Mercedes in the race is very strong. Ferrari is like a religion, it's not like that with other teams. There's a whole nation behind a team, if you're Italian and you don't cheer Ferrari you're almost not normal".
Sebastian Vettel is also confident. Spa's weekend did not go as expected, due to a lack of feeling with the car he had to change strategy and compete for the good of the team, slowing down Mercedes and helping Leclerc with his first victory.
"Yes, we're loaded. Monza is always very exciting, there are so many people, so many fans. The ovation towards me? Monza is always like that, normally it isn't. And it’s a pleasure. Ferrari is Tifosi. At Monza, we will try the double. Impossible for a German to promise something, just Michael maybe. But I feel in the family".
Thoughts after meeting a guy with the Cavallino and the name of the German driver tattooed on his chest.
"We want to do very well here after Spa, we also have a strong car. The first victory obtained in Belgium is important for the team and Charles. It's been a difficult year for us, we're not happy with how it went, so we're happy with the result of Spa. Let's hope that here too it goes similarly, with another of our very strong beautiful races. Maybe this time we are the favourites. Is there a risk of rain? The weather can be decisive but we can't do anything about it".
He is also asked the question about the future:
"I don't know if in five years I'll still be in Formula 1, now I like it was ten years ago, maybe more because I'm in Ferrari. For me now it only matters this weekend".
The next day the two drivers of the Maranello team move to Monza, with a little more pressure and motivation to give the fans the promised double. A feat not so surreal, after all the speed is there, the riders also and in addition have already taken off a great weight from their shoulders. Verstappen will start from the last row following the replacement of the power unit, previously tested on Kvyat and Albon. The winning key at Spa was teamwork, so it is necessary to maintain this mindset and ensure the same collaboration between the two drivers during the Grand Prix, a strength that could also prove to be the Achilles heel. Charles Leclerc comments:
"I didn't do much to celebrate the victory in Belgium, but it's a beautiful feeling. It gives me confidence and now I can focus on the future and aim for more victories. At Spa it was a very difficult weekend, we knew that even with the performance we had it would be complicated because Mercedes were very strong on race pace. But we put everything together and there was a lot of teamwork, both mine and especially Sebastian Vettel's, who kept Hamilton behind for a couple of laps and helped me. I'm glad I hit this first victory, it's always difficult to take the first step but when you can you take a lot of weight and I'm proud of this. But there's not much time to think about it again, we're here and we have to focus on the work to do in Monza".
And regarding his relationship with Vettel, he adds:
"The relationship is good, we found the right compromise between competition and collaboration to improve the car and work for the team. Every time we're on track I want to beat him and he wants to beat me but outside we share information, and talk, we try our best to help the team get the car where we would like it to be. What if Seb leaves Ferrari and Hamilton arrived in 2021? For now, I'm very happy with him, of course, he's important in a team. But I'll adapt to anyone who comes close to me. Can relations between us be ruined if one of them is better? We found a way to live together, as people we have a great relationship with, and as drivers, we want to beat each other. I hope the relationship remains intact. I knew he was a good person from the beginning. In my first year at Ferrari Driver Academy, he wrote me a letter at Christmas to thank me for the work in the simulator. I was 16 years old, it was the most beautiful gift I could have. A vote in my season so far? The first races were from 6, then I think I went up to seven and a half and now I want to improve this vote further".
Vettel, on the other hand, does not like to unbalance himself and declares:
"The Italian Grand Prix for Ferrari is the most important race of the season for us and here I have many memories, starting from my first victory in Formula One in 2008. Here with Ferrari, I got on the podium but never on the top step. It's an important race for us, I'm sure the audience will give us a nice boost and it's the right opportunity to give something more. We hope to do something 'heavy', we have a nice opportunity and we think we're ready but I don't see it as an opportunity to either go or split it, there are still a lot of races ahead and then there are so many elements that can make a difference in a GP. We must be cautiously optimistic and realistic, trying to start ahead to have the best opportunities. I can't make predictions but, being a similar track in terms of the set-up of the cars, we hope to be as competitive as at Spa. In qualifying, we seem to have a certain advantage but in the race, the values are very close to Mercedes. The key is to understand how to manage the tyres, find the right set-up to be comfortable and get the most out of the car. I expect a tight battle but I think we can have something to say".
While the same question is asked to the teammate, the German driver answers:
"My relationship with Leclerc compared to Raikkonen? There are more words... It's very strong, it's fast, it's mature. It's one thing to go fast to normal things, it's one thing to do it under special circumstances: this makes a difference in a driver. It's good for the team and also for me because I enjoy the fight. So far he has been kind and honest, we don't hide things and this is crucial for the team. We want to get Ferrari back to the top with a car that wipes out the others, we still don't have it but we work together for this purpose Charles and I, together, we do it. We try to collaborate to push the team, the car is not yet at the level we would like, it is not a car that can win all the races, but I think that one day we will have it and we can fight anywhere to win. We didn't do the season we wanted, we started the second half well but we have to be realistic: Mercedes is always the favourite because it is in a position to win every race, something that we miss and that we must achieve".
Ferrari then arrives in Monza with clear ideas. The Maranello team will mount the spec 3 of its power unit, already introduced in Belgium but only used by Alfa Romeo and Haas. The choice is given by the evidence that you want to make the most of the speed on the straights, the strength of Monza and Ferrari itself, as Mattia Binotto declares.
"Monza is a track where we run at very high average speeds, with long straights and heavy braking, with a low downforce package. This weekend, we plan to debut the third evolution of the power unit. We saw in Belgium that, to win, we have to do everything perfectly and our goal is to do exactly that in Monza too. There will be no room for mistakes. Our home race is always important, but this is particularly true this time, as we celebrate 90 years of Scuderia Ferrari. Running in front of our home fans is always an extra boost and an additional motivation to do well. Besides anything else, there is no podium like Monza and we think there is no better crowd than the Italian one".
Antonio Giovinazzi, the only Italian driver currently on the grid, was also present at the Milan event. He is also part of the Ferrari Academy and is confident to reach that seat in the future.
"The home Grand Prix is important to me, it's my first time here in Formula 1. The news is beautiful that it will remain on the calendar for another 5 years".
In 2016, the Alfa Romeo driver won in Monza in F2 with the Prema Power team.
"That was one of the best races of my career. I started last and managed to win in front of friends and family. As a kid I was following the Grand Prix and cheering Ferrari, now I can't wait to get on track, I hope to get a good result. There will be a lot of people to support me and I can't wait to enjoy this weekend".
The journey to get to Formula 1 has been turbulent and, although 2019 does not mark its first time on a car of this calibre, it is still its first full year in an official team in the mother category.
"I was lucky enough to get here. In Italy, there is little support for younger drivers".
In contrast to the euphoria surrounding Ferrari, there is Lewis Hamilton, not as well received by Italian fans. The five-time World Champion aims for his sixth title, getting closer and closer to the idol of the Italians, Michael Schumacher, in a season that seems already written.
"At Monza it's difficult, there are more straights and the last time at a circuit so we finished second. We'll have to be able to reach Ferrari's speed. After the break, we knew it would be hard. In Belgium, they were faster than we thought. Seeing their fans is incredible. Monza is one of the five historic circuits, the atmosphere is crazy, and there are many fans. It’s going very fast The best season of my career but the World Cup is not closed, I've never been so constant, even if maybe in a couple of races I didn't go well. It becomes more and more difficult as we get closer to the end. But I only look at my final position, I take one race at a time. I know there will be others stronger, everyone is fierce and wants to win. There are still thousands of miles to cover. We have to manage the body and the time, the races are exhausting".
Michael Schumacher's seven titles, this is Lewis Hamilton's next goal to beat. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff declares that Lewis Hamilton is and remains the staple of the Anglo-German team and that therefore this goal can be achieved:
"He has a spectacular personality. He's the only driver who has heard at a technical meeting not to look at the data because he had driven badly. And he's a 5-time world champion, perhaps the best, with Schumacher. Beat Michael? If we keep giving him a good car, I think he can do it. He's almost six, he's thirty-four years old and I think he has at least 4 more to compete at a high level. Lewis is part of this team and will not make any money-based decisions. He will always choose the best car he can have. He remains our priority".
Speaking of the next Italian Grand Prix, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admits:
"I don’t want to unbalance myself too much, however, among those that remain this is the last very difficult track for us. Monza is a historic circuit and is the home of Ferrari. 95% of the public cheers red. I told the boys that, if we are lucky, we will have to stay calm and humble. And if it rains, we and Red Bull will be the favourites".
Toto Wolff has no problem admitting that the race for the world title was shot on some key episodes:
"On the third day of the second round of testing, we managed to unlock the potential of the car and on the last, we equalled Ferrari times. In Australia, they underestimated us, while Ferrari thought they were far enough ahead. Then the inertia came from ours. Leclerc in Bahrain should have won without the engine problem. A gift, but reliability is important. In Baku, in Ferrari, they bet on the medium tyres in Q2 and Charles slammed. Then there was Vettel's chicane cut in Canada: it was three races that changed the dynamics of the championship".
At Monza, Red Bull Racing decided to mount the new specification of Honda's power unit on Max Verstappen's car. This involves a heavy penalty on the starting grid. Pierre Gasly, on Toro Rosso, also driven by a power unit of the Japanese company, also fell to the same fate. Despite this handicap, Max Verstappen is confident:
"On Sunday I’ll have to overtake some, and I like it. This is a manly circuit on which to try a comeback, and we will be forced to fight a little more than normal. But we also gained more power. Let's look at the rest of the season and the future aware that we can still improve, to be competitive starting next year. Comparing the situation with that of past years we could say that if I had a bad start I would not have lost the position, while with a good start I would have been able to earn one. Now, if I leave well, I keep the position, while if I have a bad start I lose one or two positions. And that's a little unpleasant. I can't go into detail about what it is, it's a bit of a secret. The technical team knows what the problem is, but it's really difficult to solve. If all goes well, now with the new engine it should be a little better. But it's about the start just released the clutch, the phase between the first and second gears. That moment is difficult".
And talking about the Belgian Grand Prix, the Dutch driver emphasises:
“It was a weekend of contrasting sensations at Spa, but I’m happy to have a new appointment to get back on track right away. Monza is a superfast circuit, which makes it a lot of fun to drive, but it will be a challenge for us and, as for Spa, it is not the best track for us. For me, the best parts are the high-speed sections and the braking of the Parabolica which is not easy, but when it succeeds it's nice. Monza has so much history and the fans are among the most passionate we see all year round. There's a lot of red in the stands, but we hope that the orange army will also be present to support us to the maximum this weekend".
At Monza, Alex Albon is questioned by the media about his performance in Belgium and the comeback that saw him as the protagonist. The Thai driver replies:
"The first stint was really difficult, with the medium tyres I struggled. I was worrying a bit because I wasn't recovering on anyone in front, but once we averaged it was quite simple. We had a good car available, I overtook some drivers, and it was a lot of fun".
And speaking of the last manoeuvre on Perez, the Red Bull driver admits:
"It was complicated, but it was the last lap and it's increasingly aggressive. He moved, and he was certainly marginalised, but as we told the stewards it wasn't harmful. He was close and in other circumstances, he would have been a little too aggressive, but since the track was dry there was a way out, I passed on the paved section and his manoeuvre was not too bad".
Looking to the imminent future, Alex Albon will face the Italian Grand Prix with Red Bull Racing:
"I can't wait to be in Monza. I lived in Italy for two years when I ran with go-karts, so I have a lot of friends there. Last week was a bit confused and there was a lot to learn, but now I will take some time to reflect and see what I have to work on with the team. Fifth place was a great result, but there are things I have to work on and improve, so I'll do my homework before this weekend to try to understand the car. Monza will be a continuation of the work done at Spa and I will keep learning as much as possible. I think it's a good thing that Spa and Monza are consecutive races because I'll have the chance to jump to the simulator and have fresh in mind what I learned in Belgium. This way I don't need time to understand the car again. I think we'll focus more on qualifying, which I couldn't do at Spa for the penalty, and it will be a lot of fun. Monza is not the easiest track for us, but now that I have driven the car I will already have a smoother FP1, getting to know the guys on the team better. I hope there is less media attention on Thursday and that it's a little quieter situation for me. As for the track, I don't really like driving there so much".
At Monza is inevitable to talk about the drivers market. Asked about the future choices of the American team Haas, which see Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg on the runoff, team principal Guenther Steiner replies:
"If I said last week that there are three drivers on my list and one of them is no longer on the market, you can easily guess what my options are now. We're not desperate yet, it's a difficult decision that takes a little longer than usual. We know Romain very well, but of course, we also noticed what Nico did. We need to keep an eye on the bigger picture and the development of the team".
From the point of view of the team, someone had raised doubts about the idea of putting Hulkenberg and Magnussen side by side after the disagreements between the two in the past, but Steiner doesn't seem worried:
"If there is no competition, the driver doesn't try to get the best out of himself. Besides that, it's their problem, as long as it doesn't affect the team. What we certainly won't do is evaluate Romain on individual performances. We know his strengths and he also knows what he has to work on".
Taking into account market rumours, Nico Hulkenberg specifies:
"My plans for the future are not yet fully defined, but there are discussions in progress. It will still take some time, the situation has remained unchanged compared to last week but I am not in a particular hurry. There must be an ideal sports perspective for me and I don't want to sign something lightly. There are several options, but there is nothing to talk about. I'm convinced that luck is balanced over a year, sometimes you have it against and sometimes you have it in favour, so I don't think things should be fine to guarantee me a seat for the next year. I simply have to do my job, focus on myself to get the most out of the car and express myself at my level. At Spa, we had a complicated weekend, but in the end, the result was quite satisfying because I took home four points and this is important for the championship. Let's continue in this direction also in Monza, we'll see how the car goes without being sceptical. As for me, from here on I want to try to get the most out of every weekend, living each race individually and attacking to the maximum".
Kevin Magnussen was discussed. The Danish driver in the past had disagreements with the German driver who currently races for the Renault team. But this is not what we talk about with the Haas driver in Monza, but about the fact that, after what happened in Spa with the death of Anthoine Hubert, some drivers would not have wanted to race. Kevin Magnussen, in this regard, has a different idea:
“I didn’t have those thoughts. I wanted to drive but clearly, the situation was not pleasant. I'm afraid of death, not just in the car. I'm not a complete idiot, although sometimes it might seem like it. It was crazy how much difference it made when I wore a helmet and took to the track. You reach a special state in which there is no fear. It's probably something we've gotten used to and developed over many years. You completely turn off that part of the brain. I'm sure some scientists will be able to explain what happens. With Jules, it was a strange accident and he didn't die there at that moment. Everyone was more prepared. He hit a fucking tractor banging with his head. It was very unlucky, this one instead, seemed like a classic running accident, so it was a reminder that this is always a dangerous sport. It was a huge shock to watch Anthoine's family stand with his helmet, just terrible, I hope to never have to try something like this again".
Sunday, September 8, 2019, will be held in Monza, in speed time. In this regard, Lewis Hamilton expresses his feelings about the circuit and the Italian country:
"Monza is one of the historic circuits of Formula 1 and it’s really special because there are a lot of fans and the atmosphere, the energy it transmits are also crazy. Then go to this track with corners like the Ascari where you go very fast. After the break, we knew it would be tough both in Belgium and here and that we would have to handle the situation. At Spa, we were faster than we expected, but here it will be even more difficult because there are many more straights. I also asked to remove a piece of aileron to go faster and reach Ferrari's top speeds, but I still hope to be able to find a good compromise for this weekend. For me, Italy is certainly one of my favourite countries thanks to its very long history; recently, for example, I also saw a documentary on the Roman Empire. And then there is very good food, if I lived here I would find it difficult not to gain weight. These days I ate the best pasta and ice cream. Since I was a child I have always been an admirer of Ferrari, its car and the passion of the fans. I watched Formula 1 on TV and then living all these things live here at the Grands Prix is sensational. I also like the Italian language, maybe if I found an Italian girlfriend who could help me. This weekend will be difficult. The weather will go up and down, so it could make it easier or harder. I hope we will have a hard-fought race like the last one, but not where we approach the last lap but face a sort of battle already during the grand Prix. Sometimes we arrive on weekends and the team expects that we will be ahead, but then we end up behind. At other weekends we expect that we will be behind and then we are in front. So I won't know until we get out of the pits and start to see the time coming".
Asked if he might be tempted to drive for Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton answers:
"I don’t know if it’s being tempted. I think it's part of the game plan. I was just asked how I would feel if I ended my career without having raced for Ferrari: honestly, when you are part of Mercedes, you are part of a family all your life, provided that you stay with them of course. If you look at Stirling Moss or Fangio, they are still honoured within the family. You're part of their story and they take care of you for the rest of your life. This is important to me Loyalty is a very, very important part of me. But if there was a point in my street where there is something I want to change, then it could potentially be an option. I don't know if it's at the moment".
And finally, the British driver talks about his current seasonal performance:
"I think I’m living the best season of my career. I've never had such a constant performance during the year. Maybe there were a couple of races in which I didn't go too well, but in general, I was very constant. Considering also that the car didn't seem the strongest at times, in truth, it has improved a lot and the team is very happy, but it becomes increasingly difficult as you go towards the final part of the championship. In general, as far as I'm concerned, I don't notice how many points I have during the season. The only thing I look at is the position I am in when I see the maxi-screens and I arrive at the circuit, I have to be the first. I take one race at a time, I always know that there will be some stronger drivers and I don't know how the rest of the world championship will go. I always try to fight hoping that then comes the final victory. At the moment it seems very far away. There are eight races left at the end, there are many looking at how difficult the championship has been so far. There are many kilometres still to travel and many countries to reach, Singapore, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, the United States, and Abu Dhabi. Keeping your energies at a certain level and better managing your physique and time is not easy".
Continuing the speech related to the current season, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff comments on the performance of the Anglo-German cars at the Belgian Grand Prix:
"From a performance point of view, our weekend at Spa gave us a lot to work on. We were beaten in qualifying and, although our pace seemed promising, we couldn't win. However, considering our performance in Belgium last year, it seems that we have taken a step forward. This year we don't have the fastest car on the straights, but we've made some progress in low-speed corners and the way our car handles the tyres. So there are also positive aspects to take away from Spa. We don't expect the Italian GP to be a simple weekend. Monza is the F1 power circuit, which rewards high power and low drag. Although this season we had the fastest package on the grid, this is not ideal for a track where speed on the straight is a key factor in differentiating performance. However, we also saw that Ferraris look strong on high-speed tracks on Saturdays, but they don't look as strong on Sundays and that's where you get the points. We won't be the favourites in Italy, but we'll do everything we can to fight with the red team this weekend. Monza is a very special event thanks to the historic track and the fantastic atmosphere; you don't have to be a fan of Ferrari to appreciate the great passion of the fans. They might cheer for a different team, but in the end, they feel the same love for racing that drives us all. We can't wait to live an interesting weekend in Italy, to mark the end of this year's European season".
Mattia Binotto, team principal of Scuderia Ferrari, turns a thought to the many supporters who were able to celebrate the first success of 2019 last Sunday in Belgium:
"Presenting for our home Grand Prix after the victory of Spa-Francorchamps is undoubtedly the best way to get to Monza, especially to thank the fans who have supported us so much this season, so far not the easiest. We are facing a circuit with very high averages characterised by long straights and violent braking, on which a low downforce package is used. This weekend we plan to introduce our third power unit. We saw in Belgium that to win we have to be perfect on every front and our commitment is to do the same in Monza. There will be no space for mistakes. The home GP is always an important event but it is even more so this year since we celebrate 90 years of Scuderia Ferrari. Running in front of our fans always gives us an extra boost and further motivation to do well. After all, there is no more beautiful podium than Monza just as there is no better audience than the Italian one".
Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel will try to repeat what he did in Belgium. The winner of the Belgian Grand Prix, on the eve of the Italian one, expresses his feelings regarding the first career victory:
"It was a very difficult weekend, for different reasons. Clearly of what happened on Saturday, I also knew that with the performance we had we would struggle in the race. Mercedes were very strong in the long run. A complicated weekend, but in the end, we managed to put everything together. I have no idea why he didn't speak during the race. The engineers thought there was a breakdown, but I just had nothing to say, I just focussed on working behind the wheel. There was a lot of teamwork, on my part and especially from Sebastian, who did a fantastic job keeping Lewis behind for a couple of laps, and this was very helpful to me in the last phase of the race. I'm very happy to have achieved this victory. It's always difficult to take the first step, but once you succeed you take a lot of weight off your shoulders, and I'm very proud of that. But now there is not much time to think about it, because we are already here. Only four days have passed but we are already in Italy, and we must focus on the work to be done. It was a moment I dreamed of as a child. Now I had some time to realise, but not even that much, because the focus is on Monza. It means a lot to me, the first success in Formula 1 is always a long-awaited moment, especially if you drive for a team like Ferrari. It’s a release and it's good for the team too. It's the first and a half because we all know that in Canada, Sebastian deserved the victory. I realised even more what it has meant since I was a Ferrari driver. Seeing how much Ferrari represents in Italy for people, almost seems like a religion. In Italy, someone who doesn't cheer Ferrari is almost not normal. It's a great honour for me to represent this brand. I didn't do much to celebrate this victory, I hope I can do it after this race. As I said, there was no time to celebrate that much. I didn’t buy anything It's something that if you don't reach it you feel very far away, but when you reach it gives you a kind of injection of confidence. It's great that he finally made it and now I can focus on the future, with the hope that many more victories will come".
Addressing a thought to those who helped him achieve these goals:
"For me, the family was very important, my father made me start karting at three and a half years old, everything started from there after there were other important people. Jules (Bianchi) helped me a lot at a critical time in my career, when I didn't know what to do. He introduced me to Nicolas (Todt), who also played a very important role in my career, giving me many opportunities. And then the Ferrari Driver Academy, from GP3, definitely helped me".
And what about the future:
"I always hope in Formula 1, of course, dressed in red as a champion. That would be perfect. You always aim high, and it's the right approach. If you don't aim as high as possible, you'll never achieve your goals. And that’s what I do".
Speaking of the relationship with his teammate, the Monegasque driver admits:
"It's very good, I think we reached the right compromise between competition and collaboration to try to improve the car and work for the team. I think this was extremely important. Every time we get in the car I want to beat him and he wants to beat me. But when we are out of the car, we can share information, and talk together, try our best to help the team progress and bring the machine to the level it should have. It's very methodical, it pushes in every detail. And it's something I didn't realise before I got to Formula 1. In Formula 2 you happen to think: There is a bit of understeer, let's solve it for the next session, then go play at the Play Station. Now, in Formula 1, it's a little different, and surely Seb pushed me a lot on this aspect. I like the car to move, maybe a lot, too much. And that probably disadvantaged me on some tracks. I think that's the main difference between us. Especially when you arrive at a team like Ferrari, but it also applies to Alfa Romeo. You work with so many people, so there must be a minimum of maturity because you have to be credible in front of so many people".
Finally, in anticipation of the Italian Grand Prix, which will be held in Monza, Charles Leclerc admits that Ferrari could have some advantages, but:
"Surely our top speed is very good, so in qualifying, we can be very strong, and the wake does a lot too. We also have to manage everything well to do pole here. Mercedes was very strong even at Spa, so it won't be easy. I think we'll have the speed, but management will be very important".
Sebastian Vettel will also try to win the challenge with the Mercedes at Monza:
"I can't make predictions, but the track is similar to Spa. Or rather, it's different but it's similar in terms of car equipment. We hope we can be as competitive as we were there. On a relative level, it's hard to say. We saw the trend, as in qualifying we seem to have a certain advantage on this type of track, while in the race the values are very close. They were very fast last weekend, so I expect the main challenge for us to manage the tyres, find the right set-up and balance to be comfortable in the car and then get the most out of it. I can't make predictions but I think the battle will be very tight. We think we can have our say, and we hope so. Mercedes was in a position to win every race, for us it wasn't the same thing. But let's hope to be very fast this weekend. We got on the podium sometimes, but never on the highest one. This is a very important weekend, the biggest for Ferrari. We saw yesterday the passion that exists and we will see it all weekend. I'm sure it will give us a good boost. How difficult it is to predict, but certainly this is the right race to give something more. We have a good opportunity and we think we are ready".
Is the Italian Grand Prix the last chance to win this year?
"I don’t want to see it like that. We still have a lot of races ahead, but I don't want to look at between ten races, but this weekend. We are not the clear favourites, some signs can put us in a good position, but we must be cautiously optimistic and realistic. There are many elements: the dry ride is one thing, but there are many laps on Sundays. There's the weather... so many other factors. I see it as an opportunity; We want to start in front because that's the best opportunity. This kind of game is expected here. However, there is little that can be done to prepare, because then it depends on the timing of the session. The lap is quite short and there may be more flexibility, but we'll see on Saturday. I don't know if it will be dry or wet. If it rains, of course, it's useless. Last year it certainly made a difference, but you have to be in the right position. It also depends on the tyres. You have to see if it's more important to put the tyres in the right window or try to catch the slipstream".
Seb already won his first career Grand Prix at Monza in 2008, with Scuderia Toro Rosso:
"It was special. With an Italian team, powered by Ferrari. It was a magical day, I thought: winning is like that here. I was wrong: at the next victory in Monza, with a non-Ferrari car, I was booed. Ferrari is unique. When I was a child, Michael was always on television with a red car. Getting here was a dream, and I think it's hard to find words to describe Ferrari. It's a spirit, a state of mind".
Regarding Charles Leclerc's extraordinary performance, the German driver admits:
"I think it was positive that he surprised so many people outside the team, but inside Ferrari, we know him because he was part of the Ferrari Academy for a long time and it was clear that he had so much potential. He had a very positive season with Alfa at his debut in F1 and it's nice to see that he immediately found the pace of the best. From the team's point of view, it is important that we work together and not against each other. So far things work well from this point of view and this is important because otherwise, we would have wasted precious energy. This is a key factor and it's very positive. Last weekend was very important to him, although it was ruined by the circumstances, by Hubert's disappearance, so it wasn't a nice weekend. But it was his first victory, I'm sure he will be in F1 for a long time and that there will still be a lot of victories for him".
And speaking - and jokingly - about the differences between the relationship with Leclerc and Raikkonen, Seb says:
"More words. No, jokes aside, as Charles said, let's work together to push the team. The car is not yet at the level we would like. I said before that we didn't have the car to win all the races and that's our goal. It plays both of us if we push in the same direction because I believe that one day we will have that car that allows us to fight for victory everywhere. It's very important to work together. It's not fair to me when there are problems outside the car. Also for the team, it is important to develop the car. In the car surely Charles is very strong, he was stronger than me at Spa. And so I don't like it (laughs). I hope there is fun here, but this is our job. He's very fast, and he has a different driving style, so there's always something to learn".
Speaking of the F2 accident at Spa, Sebastian Vettel says:
"What happened in Belgium couldn’t get worse. It will be examined in great detail, I think it's correct, that's what we all expect. Giving conclusions now would not be fair. We must have a complete picture, there are many elements to consider. I'm a fan of races at Spa with a great track and an extraordinary story. Some of those curves are unique, but surely after what happened, we have to examine them carefully and take the time to understand exactly what happened before concluding. Stewart's comments on too many freedoms at the start? He competed in the chaining of negative situations that led to the accident. When the drivers died, I don't say regularly but much more frequently than what happens now. You certainly can't compare his era to ours. He competed at that time and knows what it felt like and can judge whether it's different now or not. We can't judge him the same way. As far as I understood, it was a kind of concatenation of negative situations that led to the accident. Every Saturday and Sunday we had moments when even driving, we reflected on what happened. In some ways, however, it's part of motorsport, which is dangerous. It's part of the thrill of this sport. The last few years have been an alarm clock, with the cases of Jules and now Anthoine. This shows that there are some things still to do better. Even if someone may think that now it's even boring. I prefer to have boring F1 championships if you could bring back the drivers who passed away, this is certainly not in doubt".
Turning the page and evaluating what will be the new cars present in the new formula that will start from 2021, the German driver admits that he does not have a precise idea of how they can be:
"I don’t know how faithful those images will be. There are no clear rules yet, so it's quite useless to approach the photos. Maybe that's more like someone would like it to be the car. There is a great opportunity to improve things and we as drivers have illustrated our main points. The debate was very nice and it is a show of respect that for the first time decision-makers asked for our opinion. We pushed to make things simple and have close battles in the race. Whatever the look of the car will be secondary: if the races are beautiful, everyone will like cars. Does it Influence my decision to stay in F1? Yes, of course. I don't know how long the new rules will last, but my contract expires next year. Everything that happens next will be based on the new regulation, so I'll have to look at it. Beyond what concerns me, there will be an opportunity to find yourself in a better situation for the future. But it's not that everything is horrible now. Every change, however, is always an opportunity to do better or worse and we hope to do better".
Sebastian Vettel is finally invited to identify the key figures that made his arrival in Formula 1 possible:
"Now the most important person is Mattia because he is the boss and so he decides how the car goes. In general, the family. It's impossible to start without the support of family members. Then, as far as I'm concerned, certainly a lot of help from Red Bull, Dr Marko. I was very lucky because I never needed a manager. I’ve always been free".
In anticipation of the Italian Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole supplier of tyres, carries tyres of C2, C3 and C4 compound tires. Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, says:
"Like Spa-Francorchamps, Monza is also a particularly demanding circuit for drivers, single-seaters and tyres. Compared to 2018, this year we have several nominations for these two races. For Belgium, the choice was harder than last year, while in Monza it is slightly softer. Kimi Raikkonen's 2018 pole was the fastest ever and given the constant increase in performance this season, we expect new records. Monza is a circuit on which it is rather difficult to overcome and last year we saw how fundamental it can be to set up a correct race strategy. In the last two editions of the Italian Grand Prix, it rained over the weekend, adding a further unknown to an always very hard-fought race".
There are two areas where the Drag Reduction System is allowed: the first on the straight of the pits, with a point of the determination of the detachment between drivers established before Turn 11 (Curva Parabolica); the second on the straight before the Variante Ascari, with detection point placed before Turn 7 (second Lesmo Curve). In addition, the former Formula 1 driver, the British Derek Warwick, is appointed deputy commissioner for the race. He has already performed this function in the past, the last at the German Grand Prix. As mentioned, Red Bull Racing decides to mount the new specification of Honda's power unit on Max Verstappen's car. This involves a heavy penalty on the starting grid. Pierre Gasly, on Toro Rosso, also driven by a power unit of the Japanese company, also fell to the same fate.
McLaren decides to mount the third evolution of Renault's power unit on Lando Norris' car. English is so penalised on the starting grid. After the Belgian Grand Prix, Woking's team manages to save the engine of Carlos Sainz Jr., who will receives no penalty. Therefore, in this regard, Lando Norris declares:
"Despite the disappointment of the last race, there are some positive aspects that we can highlight from our performance on Sunday. We had a more competitive pace than expected in the race and I was going to get the best result in my career. I aim to bring this level of performance again next weekend, to fight for points at Monza. It's a circuit that I know quite well having already raced in PL1 and F2 last year, and also in the other minor categories. It's a really fast track, the fastest of the year, so one of the most exciting circuits on the entire calendar".
Carlos Sainz scored only once at the Italian GP, in 2018, thanks to the eighth place obtained with Renault:
"After a difficult weekend at Spa in every sense, I can’t wait to face the next race, which fortunately arrives in a few days. We know that we have some areas to work on and we are focussed on maximising our performance over the weekend. The spa was a clear example of how the group centre battle will be tough until the end of the season, so we will have to keep pushing. Monza is a historic and incredible track and Italian fans are among the most passionate in the world, so the atmosphere on the track is always very special. I can't wait to get back on track and give 100%".
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl finally comments on the expectations that the British team has for the Italian race:
"We are ready to face Monza, the final stage of European races before the final part of the season. There are some lessons we can learn from Belgium, including a better understanding of the areas to be improved. We also need to continue to make sure that our reliability is the best possible, and we are continuously working on the operations on track".
Regarding the Renault team, Nico Hulkenberg reiterates that the French team has prepared properly to face the Italian Grand Prix:
"Monza is a high-speed track that requires a lot from the engine. We have a low level of downforce on the car, the lowest of the season, to allow maximum speed on the straight. At Spa, we had a difficult weekend for some reasons, but in the end, taking home four points was positive. We demonstrated our skills both in qualifying and in the race and we will aim even higher at Monza. Our goal is to have a strong weekend to conclude the European appointments of the season with a good number of points".
Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo is also confident:
"The fans are always special at Monza and the passion you live here is incredible. There are red spots and chaos everywhere, but it's pretty nice to see everyone go wild. I always look forward to the drivers’ parade because it electrifies and gasses you before the race. I'm also glad that the weekend in Belgium is over. Our race practically ended with the accident at the first corner as it was difficult to recover from the damage we suffered. However, we showed a good pace in qualifying and Nico managed to win fundamental points. Running on Sunday after what happened on Saturday was challenging, but I'm glad I did. Monza means that we have an immediate opportunity to do it again and we hope everything will be fine".
Lance Stroll has always scored points at Monza, thanks to seventh place in 2017 and ninth place in 2018. The Canadian driver is therefore anxious to be able to prove his worth again:
"I’ve always liked it since F3 Monza and I had a great feeling with such a fast track, I hope I can confirm the excellent level expressed in Belgium to fully enjoy a unique atmosphere that deserves to stay on the calendar forever. With little downforce, the car moves a lot, especially in braking and you have to have a lot of confidence in the car to go strong in Monza. Therefore, the work to be done in free practice is fundamental".
Sergio Perez also wants to carry on with enthusiasm the work done so far by the British team:
"In Belgium, it did me good to get back to points. The updates work and we can be competitive again in this second half of the season. I like Monza, especially the two corners of Lesmo and the Parabolica, where you have to take advantage of every centimetre of asphalt. Then you have to pay attention to the paving because in an instant you risk compromising the tyres in the strong accelerations coming out of the chicanes. Fans are fantastic and remind me of the atmosphere you live in Mexico".
In Monza, in addition to the Maranello team, another Italian team is also called to figure well in front of its audience. It’s the Scuderia Toro Rosso, which continues with the two drivers discarded by Red Bull Racing, Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvjat. The Russian driver comments with a little regret about the debut of Thai rookie Alex Albon at the wheel of Red Bull:
"I don’t know why you call it a good start. He spent 36 laps behind me behind the wheel of a Red Bull Racing and had also started in front of me. I don't know, maybe in the future he'll do better".
When asked if he's paying attention to Albon's progress, Kvyat answers:
"Normally I don’t, but I had to do it because we fought for the whole race at Spa. If he had been at Toro Rosso yes, it would have been great for him, but he was on a Red Bull, so... I don't know (if Gasly could have done better), I'm just commenting on what I saw. Maybe it was the maximum, it was probably the most that the car could have reached that day. But the fact is that we fought and that I kept behind a Red Bull for most of the Spa race, where the car matters a lot. It was a very pleasant race for me, to tell the truth".
For Pierre Gasly, August was a complicated month, due to the relegation from Milton Keynes' team to Faenza's team, and Hubert's disappearance:
"It was a pretty busy time for me and I’m still living it. I’m facing it On the eve of the Spa it was a very intense and frenetic day. I had to try to understand a whole series of news in Toro Rosso, having returned to the team. I also had a new staff working on my car and it was a very intense weekend. I tried to provide the best possible performance right away, but that's what you're trying to do. Now I know I have eight more races with Toro Rosso. I'm trying to focus on myself to improve and offer the best possible performance for the team. Surely what happened at Spa was heavy. Maintaining concentration was difficult. Especially at times like that, it's complicated for everyone. Mentally it was tough and it was important to express myself in the best way in the race for the team. I think we can be happy with the points scored in our first race again together. I think it's pretty clear what the goal of the season is: I have to be fast and take home as many points as possible for the team. We are in a good position in the championship and I will have to do everything I can to give the maximum booty of points to the team. Is Red Bull more relaxing than Red Bull? No, that’s not the case. As a driver, you always want to give your best with the car you have. The goals are always the same from the point of view of my performance".
Winning at Monza is always an emotion, whether you drive a Mercedes or a Ferrari, the result is always the same. The circuit is filled with fans and is coloured red every time a Grand Prix is played: a show even for the most bitter enemies. This is the fastest Grand Prix of the whole season, comprising fifty-three laps that require a lot of top speed and good traction. The weekend starts in the best way for Ferrari, as Charles Leclerc confirms himself at the top of both free practice sessions on Friday. The real protagonist, however, is the weather, given that a light rain leaves the circuit wet and particularly slippery, and causes three neutralisations during FP1: Kimi Raikkonen, who clashes with the parabolic barriers, Sergio Perez, who crashes at the exit of the Ascari variant, and Pierre Gasly, who is the victim of a tailhead in the centre of the first variant.
Despite this, Charles Leclerc closes the first session at the top of the standings with a time of 1'27"905. The drivers lap on dry tyres only when there are seven seconds left before the end of the session, and Ferrari opts for the use of Medium tyres, while the other teams prefer the use of the Soft tyre. The Monegasque precedes Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris' two McLarens in the first place, Lewis Hamilton, a victim of a tailhead during his attempt with dry tyres, Alex Albon, Daniil Kvyat, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel in the eighth position. In the second free practice session, the Monegasque driver gets even better by lowering his time and bringing him to 1'20"978, just 0.068 seconds faster than Hamilton. This time Sebastian Vettel manages to be already competitive and finishes the tests in third place, but still 0.2 seconds behind his teammate. Valtteri Bottas follows fourth place, who precedes Max Verstappen and Alex Albon. The Thai driver is once again the author of excellent performance. A great Friday for the Maranello team, but not entirely positive. Mercedes proved more competitive than expected on a track that should enhance Ferrari's characteristics. In this regard, Charles Leclerc comments:
"It's a good feeling to be the fastest after Friday, but I'm not sure the situation will remain that way. Mercedes are quite fast, they did their lap well in difficult conditions after it had started raining again, so on equal terms, things could go differently. There's still a lot of work to be done".
Vettel is a little less satisfied and has not yet found the right balance with the car.
"In general it went quite well, but we have time to improve even more. My tour was not perfect because there was a lot of traffic, and everyone threw themselves out for fear of rain as soon as the green light took place. The qualification? We'll have to think about preparing the tyres on the throwing lap and look for some wakes. The enthusiasm of the fans? The key is to make sure they are at the end of the race as well. I don't know how it will go, I can't make predictions. I have balls, but none of the crystal".
Given the results, Scuderia Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is once again forced to explain the situation within the team, with particular regard to the hierarchy between the two starting drivers.
"There is no clear or clear order between Vettel and Leclerc. We just have to provide them with the best care possible. Having two top drivers is a nice problem to manage and we hoped it at the beginning of the year, a nice climate was created and the awareness that the team comes first. Belgium has shown that when we need to help each other, Seb's gesture is as World Champion but it is neither obvious nor trivial, he did it with pleasure. The goal is to maximise the points of the team, aware that everyone runs for themselves. Sometimes your teammate can take points away from opponents. I don't hide that talking about it with the drivers was embarrassing in the first races. We weren’t used to I, today is a shared fact. At Spa, it was a team victory. Sooner or later Charles could pass Sebastian. Sebastian made a big comeback in Germany and even in Hungary, he managed to do better than Charles. There is no hierarchy Charles was often faster in qualifying on the dry lap, but in the race, Seb is very strong. When he left Red Bull Vettel no longer felt part of the project; today he is part of our family. His contribution to the growth of the team and the machine is important. Next year with Seb we will sit at the table to understand his intentions and compare them with ours. We have the certainty of having a talented young man already under a long-term contract. Hamilton? I'm glad he appreciated Ferrari like so many drivers. If Vettel leaves, we will make the best decision. Verstappen? I grew up in Michael's era, at his side were Barrichello, and Massa ... I think that you have to have a great first guide and another driver able to win races and score points. Hamilton and Bottas’s type. Having two drivers so strong creates management difficulties".
And returning to talk about the results obtained at Spa, Binotto admits:
"Spa? It was our demerit not to have won before. There were opportunities, if we had exploited them, the budget would be more balanced. After the summer we told ourselves that it would be difficult to get to the title, but that we should try to win more races and finish second among the manufacturers. Spa and Monza are fundamental in this regard. And here, as in Belgium, there are the wishes for a great weekend, we will be perfect".
Ferrari team principal gets his hands in front after seeing the cancellation of the margin on Mercedes, rather worrying.
"We didn’t promise a one-two but there are wishes to do well. In Belgium, we won with only a second ahead of Hamilton, which means that there is no margin. You need a perfect weekend to win and it's far from obvious. We don't want to make proclamations, but to win as many races as possible from here to the end of the season".
Meanwhile, however, Lewis Hamilton is surprised by Mercedes' reduced gap from Ferrari:
"The small gap from Ferrari is surprising and honestly I didn't know what to expect from this weekend. There is not a big difference from the last weekend, we expected them to be fast on the straight, and they are, but there are enough corners where we can recover. They're not so fast in the corners and that balances things a bit. In addition, we do better on the race pace. I still think it will be a rather difficult race, but we are on a similar level and this is positive. We won't prepare a specific set-up for the rain, but we will try to prepare the car to be as fast as possible on the single lap and see what happens in case of rain. Now we just have to analyse the data to find the best combination, try and see where you can improve and where I can improve as a driver".
Valtteri Bottas is also convinced that the team can have a great opportunity, given the relatively small gaps:
"I think we have an opportunity, but we’ll have to do everything perfectly. The weather affected the tests, sometimes it rained in some corners and this prevented us from obtaining detailed data on the efficiency of tires and cars. The car didn't go so bad, I didn't have the wake in my fast lap. The long runs have been quite positive".
On a day characterised by intermittent rain, Max Verstappen does a similar job to the other weekends of the season, even though Sunday in the race he will have to start from the bottom of the grid due to the decision to mount the Spec 4 of the Honda power unit.
"In the wet, I would certainly have more opportunities to come back from the bottom of the grid, but even in the dry, we proved to be very competitive if we evaluate the pace we kept today. During the two sessions, we worked as always, carrying out a normal program. The weather complicated things a bit, but the car gave me good feelings. There is not much to complain about, clearly, we have to make progress in terms of balance, but on an unfavourable track on paper, I think I have a good chance on Sunday. The new engine is certainly better, difficult to quantify how much, but it has more power".
For Alex Albon, the first two practice sessions were complex. However, the Thai driver feels confident:
"It was a bit of a complicated session, but the feeling with the car is good, even if the low downforce is never nice for driving. We'll make changes for tomorrow, but it didn't go wrong. We'll see tomorrow, especially what Ferraris will do in qualifying. But we're there, we can undermine their competitiveness".
Who had the biggest problem is Lando Norris, who was stopped by an oil leak:
"We had an oil leak and, as a result, we lost a lot of precious minutes to repair the damage. Unfortunately, I still managed to get out in the last 15/20 minutes and do some laps on the dry track, understanding the car a little more. We focussed on the race pace, given the penalty that awaits us on Sunday for the change of the power unit, so it's as if I wasted time for the qualifying simulation. However, I would have liked to ride a lot more, since the weather conditions will be uncertain for the rest of the weekend and on a fast track like this you need to become very familiar, especially under braking. It was a messy session, I hope tomorrow will be a cleaner day".
Carlos Sainz's thought is different:
"In the first session, I felt very comfortable with the intermediate tyres and also when switching to the slick tyres, a condition that could also occur on Sunday in the race. Even in PL2, the conditions were mixed, so we decided to save a set of Softs to be exploited in tomorrow morning's free practice. In the long run, I had good sensations, but comparing the times we catch eight-tenths from Ferrari in the first sector, made up of only two straights. This exposes us to certain problems because we are starting to lag with the engine. We didn't expect to be so slow, but this is the situation".
It was a complicated start for Kimi Raikkonen, who at the end of the first two practice sessions declares:
"It wasn't a great start with my accident during FP1, but to be honest we didn't waste precious time because the extremely variable conditions continued to disturb no one could do a proper job. The same story in the afternoon, so even if the car responded well and we put good times on the lap, we have to wait until tomorrow to see exactly where we are".
Antonio Giovinazzi also doesn't seem satisfied:
"The conditions were not ideal today. The rain made everything a little more difficult, but in the end, it was the same for everyone and it was nice to do a few laps in the wet. It will be interesting to see what the weather will be like tomorrow and Sunday, but our attention will not change: we just have to work hard to achieve our goal. Qualifications will once again be tight. We will do everything we can to find the best set-up tonight and to get a good result in qualifying".
It was a positive day for Pierre Gasly:
"It was a good first day. Now I feel more comfortable with the car and this morning we were able to do a few laps even with wets and intermediates and try different things, especially to get an idea of how the car behaves in the wet. We found the track completely dry only in FP2 and we finished with an excellent seventh final time. The race pace was quite encouraging and it's positive since I'll have to start from the cross-country on Sunday. If we can improve something more, we could have an exciting race".
Daniil Kvjat also confirms the good impressions of Scuderia Toro Rosso:
"I think it was a good Friday, in which we managed to complete so many kilometres. We were able to complete the program we had prepared and the car behaved quite well, I think we can try to further optimise the package for qualifying and see if we can squeeze it a little more. In general, I was quite satisfied with how it went today, so we have to continue to work in this direction".
Nico Hulkenberg does not agree, who found some difficulties with wet asphalt with Renault:
"It was a discreet day in the end. Our program has been a bit jeopardised over time. But everything went well today. I felt comfortable with the car this morning, all in all, it behaves well, and we had the usual adjustments to make here and there. Overall, on a positive day, I was quite satisfied both in the wet and in the dry. I'll welcome time as it comes".
For Daniel Ricciardo, the work done was positive, and the Australian driver had a good impression of his Renault:
"Monza is always fun and it’s nice to be here again. It was a pretty positive day, and it was nice to drive in the wet. The morning went pretty well and the afternoon was solid. We probably did more laps than we expected, since the weather seemed worse on the radars. I was happy to put together additional laps and the car behaved well. I was comfortable both in the dry and in the wet, and I had good behaviour with both sets".
Complex day for Lance Stroll, only fifteenth at the end of FP2:
"The day was jeopardised by the weather. We haven't scored enough laps, so it's hard to say where we're about the other teams. It's a shame for the fans who came to see action on the track. The mixed conditions made it difficult to lap, and even when we mounted the dry tyres in the afternoon it started to drizzle, so we had to wait. Many drivers got their best performance at the beginning of the session when it was dry, but we were on the other tyres at that time. When we mounted the qualifying tyres it started raining and so we didn't show anything today. We'll see what the data tells us and where we can improve over the night".
Sergio Perez, nineteenth in FP1 and sixteenth in FP2, is even worse:
"I started on the wrong foot with the accident in my installation lap in the first free practises. Fortunately, we didn't miss any laps in PL2, when the track was a little drier. We have collected a good amount of information for tomorrow, with the hope of being able to bridge the gap in qualifying when the conditions could be very different".
Danish Haas driver Kevin Magnussen seems already satisfied:
"It was a good day, we tried both the wet and dry conditions. Things went well in both cases. It was a bit chaotic with the times, but I don't consider the rankings much. The sensations were good on the race pace. The car behaved well and had a good grip. Nothing phenomenal but good enough. After all, not a bad day".
And his teammate, Romain Grosjean, also confirms the good feelings felt by both Haas drivers:
"The afternoon went well. During the morning we tried to do a few laps with the intermediates, but I don't think we were very competitive, the settings were not calibrated for wet conditions. The afternoon session was surprising, to be honest, I didn't expect to be so comfortable in the car. The pace was good, and the overall sensations too, it was pleasant. We did a long run, and I was satisfied with it. It's been a good day, let's hope it continues like this tomorrow".
The situation doesn't change for Williams. Even in the presence of rain, Robert Kubica does not distance himself from the last positions.
"Today the weather played a big role, and we completed some laps with mixed conditions. The pace was predicted, Monza is a high-speed circuit, and we are not principles in that respect. The car behaved better than in any other circumstance of the year, which is surprising given that this is a circuit where you normally struggle to do well right away. Anyway, Italian fans create a nice atmosphere and it's nice to go back to Monza".
And teammate George Russell also confirms that today was not favourable to continue the work of the British team:
"Today was an unsuitable day for the weather, but with every lap on the track, you learn something. The first free practice was quite constructive since we compared a low downforce wing with a standard. FP2 was quite positive when it comes to the race pace simulation: I'm not very satisfied with my performance with a little load of gasoline, but all in all, I think we gave our best on a difficult day".
During the afternoon, Lewis Hamilton met the press and the media, with whom he talks and expresses several curiosities. To the question about the new era that is coming to life soon in Formula 1, and what stimuli Hamilton can have the British driver answers:
"I already know that I want to continue. At least at the moment, I think so, I love what I do. Two years ago I had some doubts about how I would feel, but I have more and more fun every day. I like to navigate this beautiful thing called life and position my life differently, focussing on new things I like to do. I'm very excited about what's coming in 2021. Motivation has never been in question and I look forward to seeing how this sport will change. If they will do a good job or a bad job and how can I be part of this change for future generations".
Lewis Hamilton is one of the best drivers in tyre wear management. Is it a matter of sensations, or are there other aspects?
"It’s pure sensitivity. There's nothing you can achieve by looking at the tyres. It has to do with sensitivity and the type of track. Then there are other parameters to consider. For example, asphalt has different levels of abrasiveness, more or less intense, and also the corners can be more or less aggressive on the tires. Other parameters are the level of use, the breaking point and the braking balance, the level of engine power utilisation, and what type of gear you are using...there are many things to combine. But in the end, it's a matter of sensitivity".
And is it something you can learn or can you just improve?
"Certainly it’s something you can learn, it’s not something you get to suddenly. It takes time, just as on the qualifying lap you learn that the pace in the launch lap must be different from one track to another. Even how much you can push before the rubber starts to give way. Aerodynamic balancing is also important. If you remove the front wing depending on the race and you find yourself with an understeering car, in the end, the rear tires also begin to give in. Then drain the rear looking for a neutral trim but then find yourself with oversteer. There are so many aspects to look out for".
How difficult was it to live a race weekend in which there had just been a fatal accident in Formula 2? It is always thought that these accidents can no longer happen.
"Instead they can happen and that’s why I posted that message on Instagram. In Japan, we had that tragic accident (in Jules Bianchi, ed) but when I was eleven years old and I was racing on karts, one of my peers died in an accident on the track. So I had already had this sad experience early. For a driver, it's something that hits you very hard, in the depths of your soul. That evening I couldn't sleep, I couldn't believe what had happened that day. Then I also think we lost Charlie Whiting and Niki Lauda this year and the world went on anyway and this makes me think that sometimes life is very sad. Of course, these accidents no longer happen very often. They were once very frequent and the public saw pilots as superheroes dodging death. But even if we live in a very safe age, the danger is always there. The possibility is always there. In life, it's human to take a lot of things for granted, and it's our way of being. I arrive in the morning and start talking to my engineers entering the work cycle of the weekend. It's normal. And if I had an accident in which I were to hurt it would be a shock to many. But I'm aware when I get in the car that my days are not endless".
Should GPDA be more active on safety in Formula 1?
"Only last year has the GPDA begun to be more united. Previously it was just a disunited group of people, there weren't all the pilots and we didn't work together. Now we discuss common issues and work in groups. But only now (and he claps his hand on the table to reinforce the message ed) have we started to have representation in FIA meetings. I think they had already invited us in the past but we weren't interested in participating. Now I was at the last FIA meeting in Paris where we were heard for the first time. So I'm sure we can now work alongside the federation, and there are many things to work on. In addition, for example, after the driver's briefing on the track, we often meet other people for safety issues such as helmets. And we are taken into account. We must then look at other areas of motorsport where safety can be improved. Like Formula 2 cars, for example, they're probably not safe enough, they have to be more resistant".
Hamilton, where do you find the motivation to still run with such intensity after achieving so many successes?
"Since perfection is never achieved, and the continuous search for perfection is what I like about Formula 1, there are always possibilities to improve things. It's certainly not easy to keep raising the bar. It's easier to chase the summit than to try to stay there but that's what we have to do. And I'm a super competitive person, I'm like that. I don't know if you do any sports, but I'll give you an example. I play tennis with my father and I always beat him but he's getting better all the time. So I have to improve my technique, and my service (while he says it mimics gestures with the racket ed). And today in Formula 1 all these kids arrive who are very awake, just like I was at their age. But I have to try to maintain youthful freshness, combining my experience to maintain my leadership over them. I love this challenge".
Does Lewis Hamilton expect a difficult race at Monza?
"We know that here with all these straights Ferrari will be very competitive, but often when we get to the race I can make the tyres last a little longer than expected. And if our pace was close to theirs we could have a good race and qualify well. If it rained, it would be much better for us to be able to get into the fight".
How should the British driver adapt when he runs alongside other drivers who have nothing to lose and are fighting for victory in a single race?
"For me, the goal is to score as many points as possible for the team. When you're a little further behind you try to take a few more risks to gain a position, but when you're at the top of the championship instead you think longer-term. But even when you're young in general you're more aggressive. Today my perception is different and when I'm in the car I think about how much space I have to leave for another driver and the fact that behind me there are two thousand people who worked to give me that car and they count on me knowing how to make the right decision. Without being selfish, therefore, without trying to gain an extra position, which is not bad in itself, but can cost the team the constructors' championship. As I got older I became a team player and I better understood that I can't win all the races. When I was a kid I thought: No! I want to win them all! But then you understand that the championship is a marathon and not a sprint race. And that's a philosophy you don't have when you're in your twenties".
Hamilton is now fully integrated into the Mercedes team. Can you ever imagine going elsewhere?
"Yes, I can imagine it but I know how long it takes to build what I have now with this team. When I arrived at Mercedes I found a team with a very open mind and growing. Only from the second year did we start working to achieve who we are today. I know that in another team all this would have to be rebuilt. I definitely wouldn't find the way of working that I have here that allows me to achieve today's results. These are really small things that make a difference. At first, for example, in the garage, I didn't have a helmet ready next to the car and I was always in the middle of the mechanics' feet with a helmet in hand. Small things like I said, but that makes a difference in the way you prepare to get into the car. My table in the office and close to that of the engineers. They are often stubborn and fixed with their data. They tell you "This is the data and we have been doing things like this every year for twenty years. So you do as I tell you. But sometimes you have to shake them up and say, No! This time we have to try a different path. It takes a lot of time to break these mechanisms. If I went to another team they would tell me "Who the hell is this here that tells me how I should do my job? But you have to build a relationship of trust to be able to work together".
Lewis Hamilton considers his career complete even without ever having raced for Ferrari? Lewis thinks about the answer, takes time, and then answers:
"I think so. You have to think that when you are part of Mercedes you are part of a family all your life. So 100% I could finish my career today and be happy. And I would drive a Ferrari on the street (laughs. Evidently, he's not convinced because he reflects on the answer and asks himself the question, ed). Would I be angry if I had never driven for Ferrari? I don't think we should dwell too much on situations that we don't know. Of course, I see Ferraris on track and I love their colour. The passion of the Ferrari team under the podium when there is one of their drivers is different. But I don't know if this is written in my future. Time will tell".
Ferrari's good time continues even during FP3 which takes place on the morning of Saturday, September 7, 2019. The first position is obtained by Sebastian Vettel, who recorded a time of 1'20"294, ahead of Verstappen and Bottas. The tests begin with a delay of ten minutes following Alex Peroni's accident in F3. The driver's car flew into the air landing on the iron railings, for this reason, the race direction decided to remove the Bollard to the Parabolica. During the tests, several Mercedes engines encounter technical problems. In this regard, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says:
"We started analysing the data to understand what happened, but we only had five days to do it. We have an idea of what might have gone wrong, but we haven't completed a thorough analysis. Question marks remain".
After what we saw during practice, I can think that Scuderia Ferrari can grant another victory to the Italian public, at Monza. However, Ferrari's team principal, Mattia Binotto, tries to appease the spirits:
"Our advantage is superior in qualifying and lower in the race. At Spa we won by only a second of margin, so to repeat this result we will have to be perfect. There is always a bit of apprehension, especially since reliability has been a weak point for us this year".
Nevertheless, after the tests, the souls of the crowd begin to light up during qualifying in an atmosphere full of Italians starting from the tributes on the helmets, suits and liveries. Among these, we also find a nice Lando Norris, who in honour of his childhood idol, pays homage to the Motorcycle World Champion Valentino Rossi with a replica of his sun and moon both on the helmet and on the boots, as well as to turn around the paddock with a funny fisherman's hat signed The Doctor. Given qualifying, Race Director Michael Masi makes a change after the events of the F3 Grand Prix. To avoid massive slowdowns in search of a wake introduces a minimum speed to maintain during the launch lap. The qualifying session starts at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 7, 2019, and unlike Friday, there is no rain. Monza is a circuit where the wake is fundamental to ensure a fast lap, and as expected many drivers go out in pairs between teammates, just to make the most of this effect. Ferraris start from Q1 with Medium tyres, while Mercedes tries to qualify for Q2 with Soft compounds. Leclerc immediately leads with a time of 1'20"126 and reconfirms his excellent pace. Only fifteen minutes after the start of the session, the first red flag is displayed.
This is because Sergio Perez stops on track in Turn 3, thus being eliminated from Q1 and finishing qualifying behind his teammate for the first time. Sebastian Vettel paid the price: the German driver was improving thanks to the wake granted by Leclerc, but the Ferrari driver was forced to return to the pits. Perez is not the only one with problems on the track: when he resumes the test session, Max Verstappen also starts to proceed slowly due to a probable engine problem. Q1 then ends with the elimination of Grosjean, Perez, Russell, Kubica and Verstappen, who would have already started last for the replacement of the power unit. Mercedes and Ferrari take to the track for Q2, with Valtteri Bottas giving Lewis Hamilton the trail, and Sebastian Vettel does the same for Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque marks the fastest time, 1'19"553, and once again leads the time standings, followed by Hamilton, Vettel, Ricciardo, Bottas and Albon. Stroll, Norris, Giovinazzi, Gasly and Raikkonen are at risk of elimination, the last following an off-piste in the second sector. At two and a half minutes to the end, the drivers are still all stuck in the pits. Nobody wants to take to the track first and offer the wake to the opponents.
Then, however, Alexander Albon takes to the track first, followed by the two Ferrari drivers who take to the track in pairs, with Leclerc preceding Vettel. As for the Mercedes team, it is once again Valtteri Bottas who gives the slipstream to Lewis Hamilton. The German driver is the fastest in the first sector with the help of his teammate, but despite this, both Ferraris do not finish the last lap and Hamilton takes advantage of this by overtaking Leclerc by just 0.089 seconds. Q2 ends with Giovinazzi, Magnussen, Kvyat, Norris and Gasly excluded from the final session. Therefore, Hamilton, Leclerc, Vettel, Ricciardo, Bottas, Albon, Sainz, Hulkenber, Stroll and Raikkonen are competing for pole position. The first driver to hit the track for Q3 is Sebastian Vettel, ahead of Charles Leclerc. Meanwhile, this time it is Lewis Hamilton who provides the slipstream for Valtteri Bottas. The slipstream game begins: as already seen during F3 practice, the drivers battle it out for the best positions. In fact, Sebastian Vettel goes long at the first corner taking the runaway. Now behind the Ferrari driver are the two Renault drivers, then Leclerc and Raikkonen. Sainz gets in the way of the two Mercedes drivers, while Vettel finds himself leading the pack, so without a slipstream, and sets a time of 1'19"457. Meanwhile, his teammate takes provisional pole thanks to a 0.039-second lead over Hamilton and 0.150 seconds over Vettel.
Shortly afterwards qualifying was interrupted a second time, when Kimi Raikkonen crashed into the wall at the exit of the Parabolica. Valtteri Bottas and Alex Albon find their times frozen by the session's neutralisation through the display of the red flag, while Sebastian Vettel risks having his time cancelled, as he may have crossed the white line delimiting the track's trajectory with all four wheels. While waiting for qualifying to resume, Bottas is awarded the time: contrary to first impressions, the Finnish driver crossed the line before the red flag came out. Bottas was third 0.047 seconds off the lead, while Vettel was fourth 0.1 seconds behind, and the top two - Leclerc and Hamilton - were just 0.039 seconds apart. With five minutes to go, following the green flag, nobody wants to come out of the pits. The time is getting tighter and tighter and the risk of not being able to cross the finish line in time for a final attempt is growing. Only with two minutes to go does Hulkenberg pluck up courage and exit the pit lane, while all the others queue up. But the German driver proceeds very slowly and like him many other drivers. It is one of the most bizarre situations ever seen in Formula One qualifying. Nico Hulkenberg cuts the first corner very slowly. An even slower Stroll tries to stay behind him. No one wants to favour the others with the contrails.
In Ferrari, the plan was to have Leclerc in front of Vettel so that the latter could take advantage of the wake, but Sainz gets in the middle of the two with his McLaren. The positions between the two Ferrari drivers reverse and no one goes to the lead in the pile, and everyone is waiting for someone else. Vettel, impatient and without a good time, signals to pass to his opponents, so the Spaniard passes it and with him also passes Leclerc, but surprisingly all the drivers except the latter two take the checkered flag and therefore do not make one last attempt. An embarrassing outcome for everyone, too caught in the search for the wake and avoiding giving it to some opponent. Qualifying ends with Charles Leclerc's fourth pole, as well as second in a row. Lewis Hamilton will start in the front row alongside the Monegasque driver, followed by Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz, Alex Albon, Lance Stroll and Kimi Raikkonen. After qualifying, Lewis Hamilton declares:
"I'm honoured to be in the front row and to be able to fight with Ferraris, it's good to have stood in the middle of each other. It was disappointing in the final not to be able to launch ourselves, but we waited too long and time ran out. That throwing lap was very dangerous, even if fun. We wanted to stay behind to take advantage of the wake, we needed it, however, I repeat, the front row is positive".
His teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who almost always gave him the ski during the practice session, ranks third:
"I was lucky to have realised the time in the first run for a few seconds, then instead in the last lap launched I took the flag, however looking at the race our simulations were good, we are happy with the result, but tomorrow is the day that counts".
But the real protagonist of this weekend is Charles Leclerc. After the victory in Belgium, the Monegasque driver also won pole position at Monza, surrounded by all the fans of Scuderia Ferrari:
"It's an honour to be on pole in front of all of you. It's a shame I couldn't make the last spin, there was a big mess. It's incredible to see so many people, since Wednesday at the Milan event, it's fantastic, I'm happy for pole, but it was a real shame that in the end there was all this confusion. We didn't want to block the opponents. Seb was able to take pole and we didn't want to sacrifice one car for another. McLaren and Renault were going 20 km/h, there was no place to go. Seb passed me there with the mess, then I stayed behind him until the last straight when they told me to overtake him and I did, but there was no more time for the ride. Tomorrow will be an important day, the race pace during the long runs was good so I'm confident".
This is a fact that translates into a general investigation, at the end of a qualifying session considered embarrassing by many. Sebastian Vettel is enraged, only fourth, without waking at the beginning of Q3 and in the last desperate attempt. In the first lap launched everything had gone as planned: Vettel in front, signing the fourth-fastest time without a wake, Leclerc behind, taking the provisional pole. But in the second attempt, where the roles should have been reversed, Leclerc seemed more hesitant and with the addition of traffic Vettel remained without the precious help of his teammate.
"It's useless for Charles to overtook me near the Parabolica to give me the wake: it was too late now. He had to be in the front right away. On the last throwing lap, everyone slowed down and I signalled to push, but Charles also slowed down. Anyway, I'm happy with the car, qualifying went well, the car was great, and I did a great lap but I didn't have the wake. That's the difference between taking a pole and not doing a pole today. With Charles, I think we didn't do what we thought today. Nobody gave me the wake, today I was a little lonely. I'm not fully happy because I thought it was clear what we had said before. I was the one who told everyone to get up, people slowed down, Charles slowed down and in the end, I didn't cross the finish line. Anyway, it's a good result for the team and we'll see what we can do tomorrow".
Scuderia Ferrari's team principal, Mattia Binotto, finds himself having to give explanations, especially after the praise at the beginning of the weekend about the importance of the team game.
"Too bad for Sebastian. The second attempt is the one in which he should have made the most of the wake. Things didn't turn out as we predicted them, then what happened happened. Seb was very fast today, I think he could have done a great qualification. He felt it, he was convinced he could do very well. Being in this position is not what he hoped for. I understand your frustration. After the things to do after qualifying, we will talk to him and try to understand what could be done differently. These are situations that arise, I don't say unpredictable because we knew that everyone would come out at the last minute and try to stay ahead. The wake counts a lot, we saw him this morning trying qualifying, it's at least four-tenths and it was crucial to make good weather. We have to look at everything honestly, for us it's all life. We will cover the data and some situations, even in the first run, there are some to be clarified, and then we will evaluate. A pole is always a pole, it remains a beautiful result. I'm so sorry for Sebastian. Having said that, being in front of everyone at Monza is the first joy, the roar of the fans was heard. Someone on a pole on the first try is there in front of the end wondering who makes me do to shoot. We want a double tomorrow, and today's qualifying doesn't complicate the plans. It will be a long race, fought. Starting first and fourth, the start is key. You can do well until the first chicane, the stretch is long, then there will be opportunities at the pit stop and with our speed maybe even chances on the track. Meanwhile, there will certainly be something to clarify in tonight's debriefing".
The commissioners' investigation will close with three reprimands for Sainz, Hulkenberg and Stroll. A better outcome than that seen in F3, where seventeen drivers were penalised out of participants. The thought of the Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, at the end of the qualifying of the Italian Grand Prix, however, is different:
"Have you ever seen such a thing? No? Neither do I. Such a thing was not even worthy of a junior formula. The problem was that everyone was trying to have a good wake and it became a nervous game for those who came out first. Then someone came out first but only to reduce speed even more by passing through the off-track chicane. It was like a group of kids and everyone looked like idiots. Hulkenberg drove the group and then passed straight through the chicane and then some other cars stood ahead to reduce speed. It wasn't a show worthy of Formula 1. We have limited the damage, we are in a position where if we finished the race like this, I would sign. But there's all the Grand Prix ahead of tomorrow. We have a good car and we have to keep our foot down and score important points".
But Charles Leclerc is not collecting the accusations, having also been involved, and he replies:
"There was no intention on our part (to block the opponents, ed). There was also Seb who was able to take the pole position and we didn't want to sacrifice one car for the pole of the other. It was pretty complicated I think that situations like the one that happened after the second corner should not happen, there were two cars side by side that went to 20 km/h and we couldn't overcome them. I think most of the drivers behind would have liked to pass, but they didn't have the opportunity. This situation generated a big mess towards the end and that's why some machines failed to start their spin. The plan was that in the first run Seb would wake me and in the second I would give it to him. I got out of the pits in front of him, then there was the huge mess after Turns 1 and 2. McLaren and Renault stopped in the middle of the track and we had nowhere to go. Seb overtook me there with the mess because we were quite aware that time was tight, then I stayed behind him until the last straight where I heard on the radio: You can overtake Seb. So I passed it, but then I didn't even have time to start the lap. It was a shame, but I don't think I could have done much more".
This is Daniel Ricciardo's opinion:
"The truth is that no one wanted to give the trail to the other. Standing in front meant putting it back two-tenths despite the free track. I don't think anyone deserves a penalty, it was an extreme case. We will have to talk about it to prevent this from happening again. No one has earned anything from us today. I was at the bottom of the group, I didn't want to stay there and I tried to pass but it's not easy to know what those in front of you are thinking. It's not so obvious to pass five cars in front of you while everyone is fighting for their position. It would have been better if they had sent us out a minute earlier we would all have had more time. At the last corner when I saw all those cars in front of me I thought it would be a very complicated lap, I should have been involved in some problems. But when I saw the red light at the end of the straight and realised that it had gone bad for everyone, I consoled myself a bit. It may be that the aerodynamic changes that have been introduced this season to avoid aerodynamic disturbances have made it possible to run closer and this has made the wake even more important here in Monza. We can be two seconds from the car in front of us without feeling any disturbances. Maybe last year we had to stay a little further behind. I don't know it's very strange Our car goes very well on low load circuits. I was quite confident about this Grand Prix. We also did well in Montreal and we had done our best qualification with fourth place. We are fifth here in Monza and Spa, another fast track, we were sixth. I see a certain trend in short. Of course, even in Monaco, where the load is important, we were fast but there the driver counts".
Alex Albon also confirms and adds:
"I wanted to go outside and try to do at least one lap, to see how competitive we could be in Q1. But as soon as I left Turn 2 I lost power, so I had to abort my attempt. It's not the same as I've had in the past. It looks like something different. At first the first will move a lot away, on a track where there are few corners and you can't buy lap time, so it's really difficult to fill the gap. I hope it's raining tomorrow. Anyway, we'll try to have a good race. Everyone was looking for the wake It's worth a lot with these machines, so no one wants to go first. Also, we didn't finish the previous lap because of the red flag. I'm sure everything seemed pretty ridiculous on TV, and it was in the car too. You know in Q1 that you have margin, and so you take it up to Q3, and that's right. We'll see, my race pace wasn't as good as dry lap performance".
The driver found most guilty, Carlos Sainz defends himself by saying:
"Are we all under investigation? Well, it’s normal When things like that happen... We're getting to a point where everything's a little ridiculous. There will be people who will have fun with this show, others will not, but I wonder, what is the qualification for? I had at least already completed a tour, but others hadn't done it and who seemed like they just didn't want to do it. We go from half a second to seven-tenths so we all wanted it. Without much is lost. But I preferred to take my ride without a wake, rather than not doing it. I knew I only had a three-second margin at the end and when I saw that no one was going I decided to leave".
Max Verstappen, unable to score a time during the practice session, hopes it will rain on Sunday, to take small advantage of it:
“I would prefer a wet race, Monza is not a track suitable for us. On the other hand, we have the new engine, cooler and with a power upgrade. I didn't want to leave last in Belgium, for my home race. Even if it went wrong anyway. I've never seen the opportunity to win. What do we miss? We are third in the pilots' world championship. It’s not bad As power on the straights Ferrari is ahead, Spa and Monza seem made for her. But on tracks like Hungary they suffered. Compared to Mercedes at the beginning, our RB15 was not so good, but we recovered. Many drivers say they dream of racing for Ferrari. I say I want to race with the fastest car possible. If it were red I would love to be in red, if it were grey in grey, if it were blue, the same thing. Ferrari is a great brand, but a driver ultimately wants to win. Leclerc and I together? We could coexist, as teammates there would certainly be respect, Charles and I both want to win. I don't deny that there could be clashes, but we wouldn't get to what Nico and Lewis did for example in Mercedes".
His former teammate, now at Toro Rosso, Pierre Gasly, closes the qualifying session in fifteenth place. Nevertheless, he defines himself as satisfied:
"It was a positive Saturday for us. Since we will have the penalty tomorrow, we focussed on the race pace this morning, trying to get a good idea of the behaviour of the car fully loaded with gasoline. However, we decided to give it a try in qualifying, to see where we were. I felt comfortable with the car and we were quite competitive, finishing noni in Q1. In Q2 we used the tyres used in the previous session to finish a few laps, knowing that we would still start from the bottom of the grid. The car behaved well, and we also showed a good pace, despite the penalty. I think we can have good opportunities in the race tomorrow, and I can't wait to see what we'll be able to do".
While Daniil Kvyat, despite starting thirteenth, is not so happy.
"Unfortunately, today was not a representative day of our real step. On the last lap of Q2, we had several cars ahead of us and it was a bit chaotic. I found a lot of traffic on my lap, in which the cars in front were making mistakes and aborting their laps, and even in that situation I almost managed to earn Q3. It's a shame because I think we could have passed the cut, and so we complicated our lives. We tried something different, but it didn't work, so it's a lesson for the future. It won't be easy, but we'll try everything as always to get to points tomorrow. Our race pace didn't seem so bad, and our package seems competitive here, so if we prepare well and complete a race like Spa's we could aim for a good result, to redeem today's one".
Kevin Magnussen, with Haas, will start in front of the Russian driver.
"It was a discreet day, but I’m sorry because Q3 was a tenth ahead of us and there was the feeling of being able to get in. In Q2 I went out behind Albon, who was much faster than me and I could only take advantage of his wake for half a lap. Recently we suffered a lot on the race pace and we can only hope that it won't happen tomorrow too. Friday's simulations seemed encouraging, so let's hope the same situation will be repeated in the race as well. We're not far from the Top-10 and, if all goes well, we can fight for the points".
Romain Grosjean, who was excluded in Q3, declares himself very disappointed:
"I am very disappointed with the elimination in Q2. The car was better than it had been in the PL3 and even in corners, I felt fast. I missed some top speed compared to Magnussen: I don't know why, but this cost me a few tenths. My lap was good, I had some traffic in the variant of the Roggia that made me waste some time".
Lance Stroll is happy to have returned to Q3 but admits to being sorry for the situation that has arisen, in which he found himself involved.
"I’m happy to be back in Q3 after some time. However, it's a shame not to have been able to mark a time with that situation that has been created. I think everyone underestimated the timing: we all wanted a wake and in the end, we took the flag. Congratulations to Sainz who made a fair assessment. I have had good memories here in Monza in recent years and I hope to get a good result tomorrow too, maybe taking advantage of the uncertain weather".
At the end of Q2 Antonio Giovinazzi was excluded due to a delay of only 0.002 seconds. The Italian driver, disheartened, talks about this delay, admitting:
"I don’t know where I could lose those two thousandths. Let's say I had a problem with the variant of the Roggia. There a Renault came out carrying a lot of gravel in the trajectory and I probably lost a tenth and a half, which certainly cost me Q3. Tomorrow there's the race, let's not start from behind, we have the choice of free tyres and we have to be optimistic. Tomorrow is the day when you score points, today I could be eighth and maybe finish sixteenth in the race. So instead we can play it a bit".
Kimi Raikkonen, on the other hand, does not apologise. The Finnish driver could not score any time during Q3:
"I made a mistake and paid the consequences, as it should be. It's very far from ideal for tomorrow but we'll see. The weather could further shuffle the cards. The chaos of Q3? I don't care, I wasn't involved".
Unlike his teammate, Sergio Perez was eliminated in Q1 and will start from the seventeenth position:
"It’s a shame, we missed an opportunity. I think something broke in the engine, but still, I think because I didn't talk to my engineers. I suddenly lost power and had to stop the car. We'll see what we can do tomorrow. We hope to be able to limit the damage as much as possible and make a strong race to try to score points".
Disheartened, Robert Kubica admits that he would not have already expected compared to the last time marked:
"We knew it wouldn’t be an easy session for us. The sensations in the car before the session were not so bad, but then in qualifying the balance changed completely and it was a bit of a disappointment. We have to see what the weather will be like tomorrow and try to seize every opportunity".
Lando Norris, who closes the day for the fourteenth time, is already aware of the penalty that will force him from the bottom of the grid:
"I had little to do in these qualifications. Qualify ahead of Gasly and Verstappen, don't get out in Q1 and give Carlos a good trail until Turn 1 in Q2. That was what we had prepared. I would say that the work has been done and we will leave as far as possible, among those that start from the bottom of the grid. Scoring points would be nice, but there are many cars to overcome and they are cars that can sometimes be faster than us on the straight. Usually, in the race, we tend to do better than in qualifying, so we hope to pass Turn 1 intact, have a fun race and see the checkered flag".
Sunday, September 8, 2019, arrives quickly, the paddock is already in fury for the race and is filled with known faces. The strategy involves a single stop. Almost certainly, in the second part of the race, the Medium compound tyres will be mounted, but the use of Hard tyres is not to be excluded. After playing the anthem of Mameli, an Italian national anthem follows the spectacle of the tricolour arrows flying over the Monza racetrack. The wait is high, as are the expectations of the fans, especially after the Milan event. When the traffic lights are off, the Italian Grand Prix officially begins. Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas leave well. The Finnish driver joins the Ferrari driver, while Lewis Hamilton precedes Sebastian Vettel who is looking for a space to slip in. The British driver regains his position on Bottas at the variant of the Roggia and incredibly Vettel is overtaken by Nico Hulkenberg. In the rear some cars slow down drastically: among them, there is also a Racing Point, which being behind Verstappen, much faster, ends up being buffered. The Dutch pilot damages the front wing and finds himself forced to take the escape route. Lando Norris also lost a lot of time on the first lap and is now having to follow the group from the seventeenth place.
After a disastrous start, Sebastian Vettel manages to regain his position at the beginning of the second lap and launches himself in pursuit of the Mercedes that precede him. Although Hamilton and Bottas do not seem defeated at all, Charles Leclerc gains 0.2 seconds and in a short time begins to bring the gap to 1.5 seconds. Meanwhile, Alex Albon passes Carlos Sainz in the second chicane, but the Spaniard immediately returns the favour in Turn 6. The two drivers come into contact and Albon ends up in the gravel, losing positions. Antonio Giovinazzi takes advantage of it and gains a position. After eleventh, the Thai driver now tries to overtake Kevin Magnussen, while Daniel Ricciardo passes his teammate, Nico Hulkenberg. The two Renaults are in fifth and sixth place at the moment. Vettel recovers ground on the two Mercedes drivers and takes himself just under a second from Bottas. Unfortunately, however, the German driver compromises his race on his own, loses the car at Turn 10 and ends up in a spin and ends up off the track. Returning to the race, the Ferrari driver also centres Stroll’s Racing Point and damages the front wing. The Canadian driver, enraged, certainly does nothing better and after complaining about Sebastian Vettel's behaviour, he performs the same manoeuvre and returns to the race without checking that there was no one, forcing Pierre Gasly to make a mistake to avoid it.
After stopping in the pits to replace tyres and front wing, Sebastian Vettel crashes to last place. A disaster: it's the second year in a row that in Monza the German driver ends up in a spin. Not only that: both Vettel and Stroll end up under investigation by the stewards and shortly after it is announced that the four-time World Champion will have to serve a Stop and Go of ten seconds, while Stroll will have to serve a drive-through. Meanwhile, Alex Albon passes Kevin Magnussen well during the eighth lap, cutting the chicane, but he does not return the position, so he is awarded five seconds of penalty. Meanwhile, Alex Albon passes Kevin Magnussen in course of the eighth round, cutting the chicane, but does not return the position, therefore he is awarded five seconds of penalty. At the moment the ranking sees Leclerc leading the race, followed by Hamilton and Bottas. Behind the top three are Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Sainz, Giovinazzi, Albon, Kvyat, Magnussen, Perez, Stroll, Norris, Gasly, Raikkonen, Russell, Verstappen, Kubica, Vettel and Grosjean. The Ferrari driver pays his penalty on the thirteenth lap; for him now the race can not go worse, while in front his teammate stretches away bringing it to almost two seconds on Hamilton. While Verstappen started last, he has already come back and is in thirteenth place, behind Norris.
It’s a very difficult race for Charles Leclerc, who continues to hear the presence of Lewis Hamilton. In the next laps, the British driver reduces the gap between the two to 1.5 seconds. The Monegasque driver can not make the slightest mistake. During the seventeenth lap, they go out from the pits of the mechanics of Mercedes but is a fake and the Ferrari team reacts. In the meantime, Kimi Raikkonen was given a penalty by the stewards, after starting with a set of wrong tires. The Finnish driver will have to serve a Stop and Go of 10 seconds. During the twentieth lap Lewis Hamilton anticipates the moves of Charles Leclerc and the pit stop, returning to the track just behind Daniel Ricciardo. The Scuderia Ferrari’s response is immediate. The Monegasque driver was recalled to the pits and returned to the track in front of Lewis Hamilton. Now the Monegasque driver has a set of Medium tyres, while the British will continue with a set of Hard tyres. The gap between the two is almost non-existent and the Mercedes driver is preparing to overtake, but Leclerc closes the trajectory. Valtteri Bottas is encouraged to increase the pace, so he can help his teammate once the pit stop has taken place.
Charles Leclerc overtakes Nico Hulkenberg at the parabolic and Lewis Hamilton takes the wake of both on the straight, passes the German driver and attacks Leclerc at the Roggia, but the driver of Ferrari leaves no room and he’s still ahead. The struggle between the two has no end, the reigning champion tries again in curve 3, and goes inside the opponent, but once again finds the road suddenly barred, so much so that a small contact finishes by half on the grass. The British driver is forced to take the way of escape. A move that will make discussed is to give the black and white flag to Leclerc. Once past Ricciardo, the two have only Bottas in front of them, but it still has to stop. His stop comes towards mid-race, and the Finnish driver returns behind Ricciardo. Sainz also made the pit, but the front wheel was mounted badly and the Spanish driver was forced to stop at the exit of the pit lane. The race is neutralized. At this phase, Charles Leclerc must be careful about the restart, because Lewis Hamilton is very close. But Leclerc takes advantage of the presence of Sebastian Vettel to take the wake and maintain the first position.
A few laps later and the race is neutralized for the second time because Daniil Kyviat stops just before the first chicane. The Grand Prix resumed at the beginning of the thirty-second lap. Max Verstappen, who started last, passed Pierre Gasly and earns the twelfth position, after that, he chases Lando Norris, while his teammate and after serving the penalty, is already sixth. Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton gains ground thanks to the display of the yellow flag that allowed him to recover ground thanks to the following mistake made just before the flag was flown. The two contenders for the victory are separated by just under a second, but Ferrari on the straight is strongly competitive, to the point that Lewis Hamilton decides to open on radio and ask to be able to exploit more engine power to its engineers. The ranking sees in the top ten places Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton separated by 0.5 seconds, then Bottas, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Albon, Giovinazzi, Perez, Norris and Verstappen.
The pressure is huge, and for the Monegasque driver, there has not been a moment of pause since the beginning of the race. This leads to the first and only mistake made by the Ferrari driver, who blocks the front tires to the first variant and cuts the chicane, finding Lewis Hamilton very close and ready to take advantage of the opportunity. The British driver tries the attack on the outside and crosses trajectory with Charles Leclerc, but the Ferrari driver does not give in and stays ahead, pushing once again the British driver to open the radio and complain about the dangerous driving of his rival. As the two battle, Bottas gains ground and with the new tyres are found to be less than three seconds from the head. At this rate, Hamilton will be forced to give up his position to his teammate, who at the moment is the fastest driver on the track. With twelve laps to go Bottas is 1.5 seconds from Hamilton, who is struggling more and more to keep up with the Ferrari driver.
Under pressure comes the mistake of the English driver, who blocks the tyres in braking, before facing the chicane after the main straight, and loses the position in favour of the Finnish driver. Bottas throws himself in pursuit of Leclerc, being only 1.5 seconds away. Meanwhile, Kevin Magnussen retires when they only send eight laps to the end, due to hydraulic problems. In the final laps Lewis Hamilton gives up and begins to lose ground drastically compared to Charles Leclerc and team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, the British driver then decides to aim for the bonus of one point trying to score the fastest lap, therefore making a three-stop pit from the end. At the passage of Leclerc in front of the central grandstand, the Italian fans are already standing; although Valtteri Bottas is close already feel the taste of victory, and also because the Finnish driver continues to commit small mistakes that go to increase detachment. The tension increases, but Bottas makes another mistake at the Waalweg path and loses a second. Charles Leclerc crosses the finish line in the first position: it is Ferrari’s first Monza from 2010 when to win Fernando Alonso. The team principal of the Scuderia Ferrari, Mattia Binotto explains his joy on the radio for Leclerc’s victory by saying:
"Charles, it's Mattia, for today you are forgiven, you are all of us".
After the liberating scream, Charles Leclerc thanks:
"Thank you very much, thank you all, you are the greatest, mamma mia there is no words, thanks for everything, you are the best forever".
Behind the Monegasque driver passes under the checkered barrier Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, the two Renault by Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg, Alex Albon, despite the penalty, Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, architect Antonio Giovinazzi, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll, Sebastian Vettel, George Russell, Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean e Robert Kubica. Ferrari regains the victory in Monza after nine years of abstinence and it is Charles Leclerc to repeat, after his first victory in Belgium, at Spa, which has crowned the youngest diver in history to win with Ferrari. The driver Monegasque started from pole and has mounted the Hard tires in the middle of the race, defending himself for all the fifty-three laps first from the attacks of Lewis Hamilton and then from Valtteri Bottas and crossed the finish line from first place. Charles Leclerc compliments Lewis Hamilton, who has nevertheless defended himself for all the fifty-three laps before the attacks of Lewis Hamilton and then by Valtteri Bottas and crossed the finish line from first place. Charles Leclerc congratulations from Lewis Hamilton, who still secured the fast lap bonus and took home a nice haul for himself and his team.
"Congratulations to Leclerc and Ferrari, had so much pressure from me and Bottas but was too fast in the straight even with our Drs open and we couldn’t get past it. Stay behind to Ferrari for so many laps has me destroyed the tires. But for us, a second and a third-place remains a good result, a nice haul of points for detaching the Ferrari in the championship constructors. For the sixth world title? I try to do my best race after race. My advantage is full-bodied but I’ll have to focus on the next races".
"I gave everything but there was any way to overcome Leclerc: I have given everything I had and I used all the possible mappings but was not enough to win. . Our strategy was good, I think. I went a little longer in the first stint and I had opportunities at the end. I gave everything and tried to take Charles. But there was no way to overcome it, they were too fast on the straight".
And later he will add, dealing with the topic related to the renewal of the contract that made him freer to run peacefully:
"I wouldn’t say that changed mine approach but, surely, there are more external disturbances from this point of view. I don’t need to think about it, I don’t need to make phone calls between races, so it gives you some kind of peace for when you work in the Grand Prix. I feel and I know I have the confidence of the team for the end of this year and 2020: it’s a good feeling and we can focus on work, so it’s a better situation than I had before the break".
Leclerc crosses the finish line in a cry of liberation put his hands on the helmet, raises his fist to the sky and screams for happiness. After the qualifying session ended in controversy manages to give the best victory for the team and the fans.
"What a race! I’ve never been so tired. May I speak Italian? It was a very difficult race, I cared so much about doing well here for the team and the fans. Winning here is a dream, it was already last week for the first time, but in terms of emotions, winning here is ten times more. Thank you all, I haven’t any words. I made a couple of mistakes, but I ended up in first place and I’m glad. But I have to be careful with these mistakes, fortunately, none compromised my position. I never got so tired in a race, there are no words to describe the emotions that I felt in the car and in front of the fans. It was very difficult with the two Mercedes behind, in the end, I struggled with the tyres, but the strategy was right. In Parabolica we were strong. Lewis was struggling behind me and on the straights, we were really strong. I didn’t have an easy start to the season and I did a bit of a mistake. Certainly getting into Ferrari in the second year of Formula 1 was a bit early for me. But in the end, I’m glad I got their trust and proved I deserved it. I don’t know how I will celebrate this victory. Definitely with the team that deserves it. The black and white flag didn’t influence me at all. I knew I was on the edge of what was acceptable and I’m glad I got the win. The last couple of laps I was seeing people and I said to myself to be focused. Yesterday’s qualifying? I didn’t want to hurt the team".
Next, he will add:
"There are no words to describe what I felt in the car and also on the podium with all the fans. It’s awesome. I’m so glad I got the victory here. It was very difficult, especially because there were two Mercedes behind, so they made the game of going a bit longer and a bit shorter and at the end of the race we struggled a bit with our Hard tires, but we made the right strategy and I managed to keep them. I know I made some mistakes. I think in the last 7-8 laps, I said to myself: I have the hard and there was Valtteri who anyway made some mistakes behind, so I thought maybe we can make it now. The last two laps I started looking around, seeing all the people getting excited, but I was like, Charles, stay focused, and we made it".
During the return lap, on the radio the team principal Mattia Binotto told Leclerc: We forgive you, referring to how much has happened during the qualifications? But the winner of the Italian Grand Prix excludes that there was something to be forgiven:
"Because in my opinion yesterday was seen in the wrong way. Because I didn't do anything wrong yesterday and there was nothing I wanted to do for the evil of the team and he said it more to laugh than anything else because he knows it went like this, but it wasn't my fault".
Charles Leclerc manages to move everyone, even Scuderia Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto, who picks up his phone from under the podium and pours a few tears:
"I confess, a few tears to the hymn came. We invested in him and he about us. It was a beautiful ride from the beginning to the end. They are races that remain impressed. He built, Charles, you defended it, we said we would have sold expensive skin. The best choice was the tires white, the hardest ones while the others have chosen yellow (Medium). We knew that in the early laps we would have to defend ourselves with teeth, Charles at that time was great, and then the hard tires at the end stint we were given the chance to breathe, which we would not have had otherwise. We dared to make this choice and to put it into practice, and today we deserved all this. The boy was very good. The first team principal win at Monza was exciting. I shed a few tears during the anthem, I think it’s normal. It’s been a long time since we won here, and we hope to repeat ourselves soon and often. On Leclerc, is to say that a star was born. If anything, the star was born twenty-one years ago, and now the boy is growing race after race and is proving it. We’re investing in him and him on us. Together in the future, we can, and hopefully, we will create something unique".
Then he adds:
"Plan B for Charles? It meant lengthening the first stint. The reason why we chose the Hard is that we have estimated that the usury was not critical. Go with the Mediums after the first stop would have been critical instead. For Singapore, we are working in Maranello on a higher package. When I told Charles today you are forgiven I was referring to what happened in the last few days in which we have spoken among ourselves. For the next races there will be races where we will be competitive and others where not but is hard to say now. We need to develop and giving to the car and our drivers the best opportunities. Today the victory came not only thanks to the power unit but also thanks to our low downforce package. We don’t have to think about what happened in qualifying yesterday but watch further".
And speaking of Vettel, Binotto says:
"Sebastian made a mistake, is clear that he paid it and it paid us as a team, as a result. I am convinced that he would have made a nice podium too. These mistakes are normal, the important thing is to think about them because when those things happen we have to be sure they don’t happen again. He will have other opportunities, he is a fast driver, a world champion is not taught to drive. The last disagreements have been clarified, although certain things should remain confidential. In any case, the events of Saturday will not spoil the relationship between Sebastian and Charles. On the other Seb has made a great contribution to overcoming this thing: he said he is ready to turn the page and look forward. A great gesture. It's important that does not happen again".
Piero Ferrari was also present at the Grand Prix, in the front row in the pits:
"I trembled, sweated, then rejoiced with everyone. We had pressure, we imagine him. My dad would have liked Charles so much. It is impressive to see a young man who in the first season in Ferrari manages to win. He was great, better than that I don’t think he could. The pressure was on us watching TV in the pits, I think for him it was very strong, but he knows how to behave. My father would certainly have liked it very much. A young man who comes in Ferrari and the first season wins, more than. So what can you ask him? In my experience, you don’t get results like that if the driver-machine combination doesn’t run perfectly. The team also has to be perfect. At these levels, you can’t afford mistakes".
And speaking of Sebastian Vettel, Piero Ferrari adds:
"I feel very sorry for him, I don’t understand what is happening to him. But we have to be close to him, he has to be close to the team and he has to feel the trust of everyone. I am sure he will recover, he is a great champion. My father left the drivers free to race, to do what they thought, on and off the track, but on one condition: to not damage the cars. First the Scuderia Ferrari. Then the rest. It was his fixed point, his North Star. I think he would have made a speech to the two drivers stating with force this principle. Leclerc's first driver? I will never make these statements".
The young Ferrari driver receives compliments from everyone. Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri comments:
"It's a fantastic feeling. I'm so happy for the team and the fans after nine years of waiting. For this reason, it’s a very exciting victory and rewards all the work done internally and Charles was great. We started the season with Vettel number one and Leclerc number two, but things evolve. I don’t like to argue with those who criticise Sebastian, because I am confident that he will come back. I think there have been some tensions in qualifying and I think Mattia was referring to that one. But Charles is a winner, if we go back in history, they’re all winners. If you look at Michael, he was tough, too. I’m happy with Charles and he did a great job today. There were some areas to strengthen, but the team is united. In the past, there was a revolving door approach and my job is to change the way of doing it".
Ferrari president John Elkann calls it the most beautiful gift for ninety years of the Maranello team:
"Winning in Monza, at home in front of the our fans, it’s an extraordinary emotion. It’s the most beautiful gift with which we can celebrate our ninety years. Very good Charles, and congratulations to Mattia and all the Scuderia for this unforgettable day".
In short, a lot of congratulations, also from his agent Nicolas Todt:
"It’s a very special day. For a Ferrari driver to win in front of his Monza, with the pressure we know, is a fantastic thing, especially for Charles who has so little experience. And his first year in Ferrari, an amazing thing. I’m very happy. He doesn’t seem to feel the pressure. When you have Hamilton behind you for almost 53 laps, being able to resist knowing his ability to drive is something very special. Charles showed that he could also raise the level. It affects his maturity. Everyone can make mistakes, it happened to Lewis today, and it will happen, they are men, however, his coolness and ability to be strong in the important moments are what defines a champion. He’s showing that he’s about to become one. We already have a long-term contract with Ferrari. I think Charles is the driver with the longest-term contract with his team, so we’ll talk about it at the right time".
According to the Pirelli Motorsport Director, Mario Isola, in Ferrari they were also brave enough to try with the Hards:
"Ferrari was brave with the Hard tyre because on Friday they haven’t tried it and here, at Pirelli, we thought the duration was similar to the Medium. They know it, they know how to use it, but in general, all the mixes went well today".
Then he adds:
"There is happiness in seeing what is happening here in Monza and for a championship that maybe is not closed. Mercedes less perfect? We saw how fast the Ferrari was on the straight. Leclerc was very good at managing the rear in traction because That’s the secret here in Monza. Friday was faster and wetter, some conditions kept changing. Here the track is not as aggressive as at Spa, there is less downforce and therefore the tyre aims to slip. You have to make work well to make it last the number of laps, that Ferrari has done, but that has paid".
While the crowd of fans lends itself under the podium, Sebastian Vettel returns to the pits, for him the race was a great personal disappointment. He left fourth, but he had a chance to arrive at the podium, unfortunately, he committed a mistake that sent everything up.
"I’m not happy with myself, I have lost the rear coming into the corner, then I lost it over again and the race was compromised. I struggled to restart, it was impossible to see who came from the left and I was a bit stuck on the curb. If I was in a bad mood for what happened yesterday? No, I was in a good mood, I don’t think it impacted what happened yesterday on today’s race. I don’t know anything about penalty points. Looking ahead we are certainly not the favourites for the championship but we are still racing where we can be competitive. We have the speed so we must develop the car to be competitive for the rest of the year".
The German driver received ten seconds of stop-and-go penalty, while Stroll had a simple drive-through, raising much controversy on a public trail. Accidents are very similar, if not equal, but have been analysed by the AIF and have been analysed in two different ways. The race director Michael Masi, to avoid confusion and controversy, explains the reason behind the difference in the penalty imposed on the drivers.
"The difference between the two is that Vettel got back on track in a very dangerous way and then caused an accident. Instead, considering Lance and Pierre, it was just a dangerous return. This is the difference behind the two different penalties".
But Lance Stroll thinks otherwise since he later tried to recover ground after being hit by Vettel, finishing however to push Toro Rosso off the track by Pierre Gasly. The race of the Canadian driver is then been completely compromised due to the drive-through imposed by the Commissioners to be back on track in an insecure way.
"I think we should have received the penalty, I don’t understand why it didn’t happened. I don’t think it was the right thing, because we did the same thing. Vettel was blocking the track coming back on like that. I tried to avoid it, but it caught me at the rear and I turned. From there I tried to get back on track, but I had no way of seeing who was coming. I was just trying to get out of the way, but something very similar to what appeared to Sebastian, come to me too. We would score great points, but everything went wrong. We were in seventh place, with a good margin on eighth place, but things have changed quickly. that's how the race goes".
Consequence aside, it's is another mistake on Vettel in a season that sees him in great difficulty. Canada was one of the few races that saw the German at best, but even on this occasion, things did not go as expected. The feeling with the SF90 is not there and in the meantime, Leclerc states that:
"To me, the rear lighter doesn’t mind, he makes me put the car where I want".
It’s another story for Vettel. In Belgium, he has been acclaimed by the team play, in qualifying at Monza was lacking, but in the race, there were no apologies, because twice out of three Vettel had no pace. Binotto has underlined most times that his drivers are free to compete, but they have to collaborate for the sake of the team. Nevertheless, the paddock talks about a change of orders, Vettel would lose his status as leader and Leclerc would occupy that space.
"The drivers' contracts are renegotiated only if there are the reasons and conditions for doing so. We invested in Charles for the future and he did the same with us".
The negative comments come obviously outside the team, rumors about a retreat have not yet subsided since the beginning of the season and, after the mistake made at Monza, they increased even more. So much so that Camilleri took the side of the German:
"I don’t like that we are trying to exclude Seb from the team. He is a great driver and I am sure he will come back".
Leclerc then surpassed his teammate even in the league by thirteen points. The Monday after the race, the Monegasque driver is on the front pages of all sports newspapers, depicted as the new star of Ferrari and many other names that put, even more, overshadow the four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel. Even the director of Scuderia Ferrari, Lauren Mekies, declares:
"The emotions were so many for us, running in front of our fans is always a unique emotion. In addition this year we celebrate 90 years and this week started incredibly with the party that we did in Piazza Duomo in Milan with our fans and the whole Ferrari family. Then yesterday 150.000 people.. Running in front of these fans was an honour and Charles tried to repay this support with victory, so we are very happy. Charles is with us for many years and was part of our Ferrari Driver Academy since he was a teenager. We know him very well, he grew up within the team. He has an incredible speed, as we saw on Sunday, plus is showing a level of maturity and lucidity in the race, which is above expectations. Via radio has us asked a few questions, just that it served him to defend himself and gave us this show of incredible strength. For us, it’s a path of growth that doesn’t stop there. Charles is doing things that haven’t been seen in a long time. Who remembers me? May I say that reminds me of a Sebastian at the beginning, for his natural speed and the ability to take steps ahead every two or three races? Charles in every two or three races is going more strong as pure speed and is learning more about the machine, to go even stronger. In recent memory, I would say has more similarities with Sebastian when he started. It’s true that if it was decided to put him in the car for Ferrari means that the expectations were high, but it’s also true that he’s getting over it. It already has an incredible level of speed and maturity, with regular progress. It’s definitely above our expectations. We have an important role in helping him, to give him the right atmosphere and environment to grow. He likes to compete as he did yesterday, but when he takes off his helmet is the quieter and most human person you can find. We will see more improvements for Charles, in speed and battles. What he did yesterday was also the result of Max Verstappen’s battle in Austria. Sebastian is working very well with us this year. He knows he has a teammate who’s a potential champion and they’re working very well together. Then the mistake yesterday was unlucky, it happens. But nothing changes about the incredible work that both our drivers did together on the road".
The praises don’t exclude criticism, which in one way or another always arrive. Starting with Lewis Hamilton, who complained to the FIA about the dangerous driving of the Monegasque driver. The Mercedes driver revealed that he had thought about the drivers' ranking during the duel, and had been careful not to risk, otherwise if he had already had the safe title in his own hands would have acted differently. This does not alter his behaviour, from the next race he will be more aggressive.
"I don’t think there’s any problem if it’s so that we can race then I’ll race hard. As long as we drivers know that we are allowed not to leave room for other cars then we do so. As long as no one contradicts us and until we are given a clear message, then we will be free to run and receive only a warning. The battle with Charles has been long. Not particularly eventful, they are always been there, a second, a second and a half. I tried, I gave everything, but he was too fast on the straight. Also when I had the DRS open I couldn’t recover, so I couldn’t do much. It’s not a question of difficulty in putting under pressure the young drivers, as I said it was just faster than me on the straight. I don’t think I missed the race for my mistake, my tires were still running low. So Valtteri would overtake me, I would have passed because it was very faster than me, one second per lap, so it would be smart to let him go and give him a chance to win the race. He finally passed me anyway because I went off track, so no problem. There is a need to be consistent with the rules. I think in Race Direction they woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. With Charles, we had a couple of moments when we were very close, but I think we will discuss it privately".
The Mercedes principal team, Toto Wolff, who is not too happy about the management of the issue, suggests that a penalty would not have been so absurd:
"I already have many problems to solve in my life, I don’t want those by Michael Masi. We want hard battles, but where is the limit? They could have given him both penalties, one for pushing out Lewis, the other for being aggressive. In terms of driving has driven a little over the limits, but what do you want to… give him a penalty here in Monza? I think there would have been a riot. We would have needed to be escorted by the police to get off the circuit. I want to give him and his team credit for winning. I thought that Valtteri would have a chance, but following them on the straights, even in open DRS, was difficult. From a general perspective, it’s great to see Ferrari win at Monza. Leclerc had a tough race but brilliant and Ferrari had the stronger package. We tried to both our drivers, but they have won".
Paolo Poli, director of the circuit Scarperia, announces the possibility of submission of the Tuscan circuit.
"The first objective will be to renew the agreement with the Motomondiale for the appointment of the Italian Grand Prix. But then in five years, we’ll also think about bringing Formula 1 to Tuscany. National partnerships will be needed, as Monza has done by signing the agreement with Formula 1 for the coming years. It should be remembered that, unlike other Italian circuits, the Mugello isn’t state management. Here from 2006 to 2016 Ferrari has made huge investments to raise the quality of infrastructure and the professionalism of those who work there to present themselves to customers around the world at an increasingly high level. The bar is constantly rising and we are ready to keep up".
The celebrations keep going after the conclusion of the Grand Prix. In Maranello the flag wasn’t not only raised for the first win of the season but also the sales are rising. The director of the commercial and marketing area of the Ferrari, Enrico Galliera, declares:
"We also sold a lot of last years. Indeed, we made the record. And it certainly wasn’t the best of our track years. Because there is never a direct relationship between F1 results and our sales. But I have to admit that this morning, after the victory of Monza, also here in the Ferrari factory there is more enthusiasm, we work in another way".
Galliera is involved in the presentation of the last two born of Ferrari, the F8 Spider and the 812 Gts that according to him:
"Tradition wants it that the purists of aggressive driving prefer the coupé and lovers of glamour choose the spider".
The two cars were presented at Universo Ferrari, the new space born in the Fiorano track area and, despite the differences, both can be defined as aggressive: the 812 Gts boasts an 800 horsepower 12-cylinder, the most powerful spider engine in the world, while the F8 stops at 720 horsepower. Both are under three seconds in acceleration 0-100 km/h, and both exceed 340 km/h in speed. Maranello's launch choices this year have been very bold, with these two models it already reaches 4 new cars in 2019 and in November the fifth will arrive.
"We produce a lot, we sell a lot but we always represent an infinitesimal part of the market. And this allows us to safeguard exclusivity".
In short, a weekend of conquests for Ferrari, and with these, the circus stops for a week waiting to arrive in Singapore, where the fifteenth Grand Prix of the season will be held on Sunday, September 22, 2019.
"Have you been attending the Italian Grand Prix in Monza?"
This begins with the taxi driver who supports Charles Leclerc outside the Monza circuit, who doesn't realise that he has the winner of the Italian Grand Prix on board, and will cautiously reveal his identity only at the end of the race. However, it was also a challenging weekend for the Race Director, Michael Masi, and the FIA, still struggling with the problem in Q3. Considering what happened in qualifying, it was decided to postpone the meeting to Singapore, so that we could find a solution to the problem and prevent it from happening again. The request comes directly from the commissioners, but in the meantime, Masi declares that an analysis has been opened thanks to the simulations, as a similar fact has also taken place in Spa.
"It's an issue that we discussed later at Spa and I believe that everyone in the room, sports directors and drivers, has realised that there is no simple regulatory solution. We will discuss this in more depth in Singapore and some teams have already done simulations, so they have ideas on how to run for cover because it is in everyone's interest".
It must be considered that a pre-qualification measure had already been taken, after the events in F3, but to the regret of Michael Masi himself few drivers, indeed no one has taken it into account.
"At the end of the day, they are elite sportsmen trying to get the most out of it. We can call them gentlemen, but we can't help but recognise that once they lower their visor, everyone thinks they're doing their best".
Max Verstappen is also disappointed with the result, at the end of the race declares:
"The problems he had during the qualifying of the Italian Grand Prix didn't cause damage, it was just a security alarm. Unfortunately, sometimes the qualification mode doesn't work, so we're forced to reset the system. It has happened again in the past. Sometimes I think we play too safe. A little too often the engine reaches the limit and stops. With other engines, this probably doesn't happen. At the same time, however, we didn't have any major reliability problems, but I'm convinced that we should take some more risks. I think without penalty we could have fought with the boys in front of you. I was able to follow them on the screens and I also knew what their lap times were. I must say that without wake they were not so faster than us, and on a track not favourable to us like this is a rather promising signal".
During the race weekend, we returned to see the black-and-white flag, which warns the driver that at the next impropriety he will be disqualified. Former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen is in favour of this reintroduction:
"We got used to those flags running in karts, but for some reason they had been blocked in Formula 1, the flag was designed for these situations, so it's good that Formula 1 recovered it. I think it's stupid to punish someone immediately simply because it's said that way in the rules. We have various flags and this one is probably a hundred years old, so let's use it. If you do something extremely stupid then you won't see the flag but you will receive a penalty. But for the little things, it's enough to warn".
The attention of Max Verstappen's teammate, Alex Albon, obviously falls on Sainz's manoeuvre, which cost him a position:
"It was an approximate move. I was happy with overtaking the Roggia, but he came out better and passed me again. I wanted to overtake him and I knew I could try again at the second of Lesmo, but he pushed me out. We weren't fast on the straight and we had to invent something different in corners. I feel like my pace was better than Spa, so I'm happier".
The former teammate of the Dutch driver, Pierre Gasly, who reached the eleventh finish line, declares:
"Starting seventeenth I knew I had a difficult race ahead of me. It was a rather eventful day, we started well and finished the first laps in the thirteenth position. Things seemed to be going pretty well until Stroll got back on track just as I was passing by and so to avoid it I had to go to the gravel. I lost two positions and a lot of time. We paid for him at the end of the race, since I finished just three seconds from ninth place. It wasn't ideal, but I think we showed good performances throughout the weekend and we had the pace to finish in points while starting from the rear".
While Daniil Kvyat, forced to retire, certainly cannot rejoice in today's result.
"Today was going to be an extraordinary race, we were fighting with Red Bull at the time of my retirement, so there were some good points up for grabs. I was confident I could finish well in the top 10, I was doing the same times as the drivers around me and I was on fresh tyres. It's a shame to lose valuable points, but we've had a lot of great Sundays lately, so we know we can fight for good results".
It got worse at Romain Grosjean, only sixteenth at the finish line.
"Today was very difficult. I was hit from behind in Turn 1 at the start, I had to cut by passing through the blocks of polystyrene and I found myself last. I tried to push to recover, then I did a spin at Ascari. I entered the pits and asked the team to remove a lot of downforces, my car was very unbalanced on the front, but we didn't solve it. We stopped again and removed a 1% downforce, but it wasn't enough. Surely something went wrong, we will have to analyse everything, the balance we had today was not what we had on the rest of the weekend".
While Kevin Magnussen admits that his race was going well, before his retirement:
"Until I retired, I was doing well. I was struggling to keep others behind, which is normal for me at this time. We were in a good position, but many had problems. We were in the top 10 from the beginning to the end of my race, it wasn't a result that reflected our true value but at least we were trying. It seemed like we could do something, of course, I'm downcast, in the end, we had to retire".
George Russell, the author of another wonderful race, closes in fourteenth place in a race otherwise very difficult for Williams:
"Our pace was surprising, especially considering that Monza is one of the three worst circuits of the year for us with our low speed on the straight. We certainly have some positive aspects to take away, this shows that we did a good job with the set-up, with the tyres and everything else under our control. I think we can be quite satisfied with the result".
As mentioned, a very difficult race for Willams, as Robert Kubica confirms:
"It wasn't easy, overall the weekend went up and down. In general, the race started quite well, but then I struggled with the left front tyre in corners. We had some battles and I tried to defend myself as much as possible, but I struggled to stay in the wake of the other machines".
Nico Hülkenberg confirmed the competitiveness shown by the Renault team on the Brianza track:
"We knew we were in good shape. And we rewarded ourselves with more points than we have ever earned since I joined the team. With a heavier load, I struggled with the rear, while Daniel passed and then pulled me with him, making us move away from the centre of the grid. Singapore is a grip circuit, so we hope to have an updated package that can help us. Today we had a fourth-place car, I think Vettel helped us with the tail-head. The next one will be a downforce circuit, we'll see. I would like to thank the guys at Very who build the power units for getting good engine feedback after all the problems we had".
In conclusion, Sergio Perez was the protagonist of a great recovery from eighteenth to the seventh position:
"Another good result with important points brought home. It was a great recovery, given the problems I had in qualifying. Everything went well and I have to thank the excellent strategy of the team and the timing of the Virtual Safety Cars. The last 15-20 laps were difficult, with Verstappen so close that he put me under pressure. We recently made good strides with the car and I can look to the future with optimism to score points regularly".
This concludes an Italian Grand Prix that will remain imprinted in the minds of many people, especially of Ferrari faith. The Maranello team, after nine years, comes back to win at Monza, and there is no doubt that the date of Sunday, September 8, 2019, will remain indelible in the hearts of many new fans of Scuderia Ferrari and Charles Leclerc.