Race: Gasly wins at Monza, yes you heard right, Gasly

Date published: September 6 2020

Pierre Gasly Italian Grand Prix

Pierre Gasly benefitted from a penalty for Lewis Hamilton that cost the Brit an almost certain Italian GP win, instead handing the AlphaTauri driver a path to his maiden grand prix win.

He took the chequered flag ahead of Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll.

It had been 2,730 days since Formula 1 last saw a non Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull winner; 146 consecutive races.

While it initially looked as if Sunday’s race around the Monza circuit had been won by Hamilton by Turn 1, he was handed 10-second stop-go penalty for pitting behind a Safety Car while the pit lane was closed.

That was the first of two Safety Car periods in the grand prix, the second – which became a red flag situation – was for Charles Leclerc’s high speed crash at Parabolica. His DNF was part two of Ferrari’s miserable home race with Sebastian Vettel out early with a brake failure.

As the Formula 1 teams prepared to line up on the Monza grid, Williams did so for the last time with the Williams family, Frank and Claire, at the helm. After 16 championships and 739 grands prix, the team handed control of last remaining privateer team over to new owners Dorilton Capital. Marking the moment it was deputy team boss Claire Williams who waved George Russell and Nicholas Latifi out of their respective garages.

Pole sitter Hamilton made the most of his 10th Monza front row slot as he easily led off the line with Carlos Sainz using the hole the Brit made in the air to slid up to second ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who was then passed by Lando Norris, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo.

Bottas reported “puncture, puncture or something like that” with replays showing he had contact with Norris on two separate occasions. Mercedes told him is tyre pressures are fine, adding that he’ll be running a “long” first stint.

Max Verstappen lost seventh to Stroll but retook the position with Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly completing the top ten after three laps. His team-mate Alex Albon was down in 15th place after clashing with Gasly at Turn 1 on the opening lap. However, it was the Thai-British driver’s squeeze on Romain Grosjean that earned him a five-second penalty for ‘failing to leave a car width to the edge of the track’.

Unable to make up any positions in the opening five laps having started P17, Sebastian Vettel came under attack from Russell. As the Williams driver lined up Vettel, the German’s brakes failed and he went crashing through the polystyrene boards at the chicane before limping back to the pits and coasting to a stop. “Brake line exploded,” was the four-time World Champ’s assessment as he recorded his third retirement of the season.

12 laps into the 53-lap Italian GP, Hamilton was leading Sainz by seven seconds with Norris a further three behind. Perez was right behind the Brit followed by Ricciardo, Bottas and Verstappen. The five drivers separated by less than four seconds.

Bottas was in trouble with Mercedes informing him that his W11 was running hot, too hot. That meant the Finn had to keep moving out of Ricciardo’s slipstream to cool the car a tad. “Go off line if you can,” he was told. Bottas told Mercedes he “can’t race with these engine settings, it’s a joke”.

Further back Albon took 13th place off Leclerc only for the Monégasque driver to pull into the pits for hard tyres. If Ferrari was trying to undercut Kimi Raikkonen, yes that’s who Leclerc was battling, it didn’t work as Raikkonen pitted and came back out ahead of the Ferrari. Another Ferrari-powered car, Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, become the second retirement as he parked his VF20 bringing out the Safety Car.

Hamilton was the first into the pits, swapping his softs for mediums. McLaren kept both Sainz and Norris out with Perez also continuing. Sainz was leading the grand prix, McLaren’s first P1 lap since 2014.

There was some confusion, though, as the pit lane was closed given that the marshals opted to push Magnussen’s car towards the pit lane with Hamilton and Antonio Giovinazzi under investigation for pitting.

With the entry clear McLaren double-stacked Sainz and Norris with everyone else following them in excluding Hamilton, Stroll, Gasly, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Leclerc and Latifi. Only Stroll was yet to pit of the leading seven with the McLarens down to eighth and ninth ahead of Bottas.

While Hamilton stormed away from the chasing pack, Leclerc attacked the Alfas to run fourth with Raikkonen also passing Giovinazzi. Sainz, Norris and Bottas made short work of Latifi.

Leclerc’s charge ended on lap 25 when he suffered a huge crash at the Parabolica, hitting the tyre wall at high speed. He lost the back end of his car, counter steered and the front tyres bit causing steering lock and an almost straight line into the barriers. With his SF1000’s nose buried in the barriers, Leclerc said: “Was a big crash”.

Ferrari’s nightmare home weekend was over while the race was red flagged as the marshals pulled the car out of the barriers.

Meanwhile the stewards announced a 10-second stop for Giovinazzi with one to follow for Hamilton. “Are we going to get a penalty?” Hamilton asks his Mercedes team. “I believe we are going to get a penalty.” Mercedes were correct, Hamilton received the same penalty, which is worth about 30-seconds when all is said and done.

Race Control announced that the grand prix would resume at 4:20pm local time with field lining up on the grid in running order. Hamilton, still to take his penalty, was on pole ahead of Stroll, who was given a free tyre change under the red flag, Gasly and Raikkonen. “Suck it up,” was Mercedes’ advice to Hamilton.

As expected Hamilton stormed away with Gasly up to second ahead of Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Stroll, who went off at the chicane, Sainz, Norris, Bottas, Ricciardo, and Ocon. Hamilton came in for his penalty, falling from 1st to 17th, 23s off the car in P16 which was Albon. Giovinazzi lost P3 when he came in for his penalty, coming out behind Hamilton.

On an afternoon when F1’s big names fell one by one Verstappen, who had been down in 14th, retired on lap 31, parking his RB16 in the Red Bull garage with a mechanical issue.

Back at the front Gasly was leading by almost four seconds with Sainz up to second. After a few frustrating laps, and told to be “patient” with Raikkonen, he overtook the Alfa Romeo. Stroll was the next to pass the 2007 World Champion with Norris quickly through too and then Bottas.

As the laps counted down Sainz closed the gap to Gasly tenth by tenth while Hamilton, who had been down in P17, worked his way through the field to run inside the points on lap 47.

With five to go Sainz was 1.5s behind Gasly with both drivers vying for their maiden grand prix win. Stroll was a further two seconds behind as Norris held off Bottas in the battle for fourth.

Told by their teams that they had everything available in the fight, Gasly managed to hold off Sainz for the victory. He crossed the line 0.4 seconds ahead of the McLaren driver.

It was AlphaTauri’s second F1 grand prix win, the first having come back in 2008 at the Monza circuit. Stroll was third.

Norris was fourth ahead of Bottas, Ricciardo, Hamilton and Ocon while Kvyat and Perez completed the points.

Sadly Williams failed to score with Latifi 12th and Russell P14.

Result
1 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri
2 Carlos Sainz McLaren 0.415s
3 Lance Stroll Racing Point 3.358s
4 Lando Norris McLaren 6.000s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 7.108s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 8.391s
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 17.245s
8 Esteban Ocon Renault 18.691s
9 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 22.208s
10 Sergio Perez Racing Point 23.224s
11 Nicholas Latifi Williams 32.876s
12 Romain Grosjean Haas 35.164s
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 36.312s
14 George Russell Williams 36.593s
15 Alex Albon Red Bull 37.533s
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 55.148s

Did not finish
Max Verstappen Red Bull engine
Charles Leclerc Ferrari crash
Kevin Magnussen Haas mechanical
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari brake failure

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