Team-Mate Wars: Italy

Date published: September 8 2016 - Editor

After Lewis Hamilton's botched start in Monza, it was Nico Rosberg who crossed the chequered flag first.

Star of the Race: Nico Rosberg

Overtaking Move of the Race: Lap 47: Daniel Ricciardo on Valtteri Bottas at Turn 1

Race: Rosberg
Season: Lewis Hamilton 8 – Nico Rosberg  6
Monza has so few corners that team-mates shouldn’t really be that far apart in qualifying. Two chicanes, two Lesmos, the Ascari chicane and Parabolica – six corners then back across the line. Cars should really qualify two-by-two down the grid. The Mercedes locked out the front row, but the half a second between Lewis and Nico showed a monumental gap in talent at the Italian circuit…

And then Lewis’s muffed start showed what a monumental mistake he is still capable of. And that was it, race over. The meteoric turn of speed he showed on Saturday over one lap couldn’t be sustained in the race because the tyres started to get too hot. He may have been capable of catching Rosberg but his Pirellis wouldn’t allow it. The last six races may have been won from pole position but not today.
And Nico was faultless.

Race: Vettel
Season: Vettel  9 – Raikkonen 5

It’s nice to see well-matched Ferrari team-mates, but Vettel just had the edge. He also had a fantastic start. Such was the strategy advantage that the Silver Arrows had built into their race from Saturday – starting on the Soft tyres – that all Lewis had to do was sit and wait till the red ones pitted.

Red Bull
Race: Ricciardo
Season: Ricciardo 6 – Verstappen 4

Nice to see that Charlie Whiting did indeed have ‘that fatherly word’ with Max on Friday ahead of the Italian GP. After the race in Spa when he swerved into the trajected path of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, there had been some supportive voices in the paddock for Max’s robust defence of 12th place.

"The main thrust of what I said to Max is that whilst we like the competitive type of driving he's providing us with, he needs to be careful not to go over the top," Whiting told Autosport afterwards. "Sometimes he is just a little bit too aggressive, shall we say.”

No worries about that today, more about his car’s ability to get off the line. It kicked into anti-stall and left him stranded.  Unlike his team-mate who stormed to P5. The honey badger completed one of the most unlikely overtakes into Turn 1 on Valtteri Bottas later in the race. Coming from a long way back you have to be very precise and Daniel didn’t stuff up his braking, which could have easily ended both cars’ races had he got the slightest of locks.

Race: Bottas
Season:  Bottas 10 – Massa 4

Bottas took advantage of a great qualifying performance, putting Williams back in what they might regard their rightful place of P4 behind the Big Three. Felipe Massa will feel he underperformed on Saturday, which led to him failing to beat Sergio Perez in the race, even though he came within a second of the Mexican at the flag. Singapore up next and Felipe’s usually good there.

Race: Button
Season: Button 6 – Alonso 7

Jenson outqualified Fernando but was pushed wide by a Sauber at the Lesmos and was condemned to spend time at the back of the field. It’s a fabulous anomaly that once you get relegated to the back of the fastest GP (Monza) it’s virtually the same as being stuck at the back of the slowest GP (Monaco).

He gradually hauled himself past Alonso who had the extraordinary pleasure of getting a Fastest Lap for McLaren-Honda, a 1:25.340. The last time they got one of those Max Verstappen was probably dribbling over a squeezy purple dinosaur in a soft play area. Back at the Red Bull Energy Station. (Only joking Max fans). It was actually Honda’s first fastest lap in 24 years.

Force India
Race: Perez
Season:  Perez 7 – Hulkenberg 7

Sergio wasn’t distracted by the paddock stories, because with Felipe going and Jenson staying put, presumably there was a tempting seat on offer at Williams. He outqualified Nico and as with so many Monza snore-athons, that was more or less that. It’s a good job that it has so much history and so many passionate fans to generate atmosphere.

Toro Rosso
Race: Sainz
Season: Sainz 8 – Kvyat 2

With a 2015 engine on board and all the team’s development going into 2017, it’s almost like the two Toro Rosso drivers are driving very young Historic F1 cars. Sainz is treating his early museum piece with as much optimism as he can, while Kvyat sound s like a man who believes he’ll be substituted at any moment for a Red Bull GP2 driver or, worse, a GP3 driver.
Is it too late to bring JEV back…? (this is rhetorical, I don’t want mail).

Race: Grosjean
Season: Gutierrez 4 – Grosjean 10

Esteban produced a mighty qualifying performance to get his Haas into Q3 – thanks to a large extent to the upgraded Ferrari engine in the back (and good for Ferrari that they supplied the main team and the customer). Romain Grosjean’s currency as a potential Massa replacement would have been dented by that.
Esteban blew it all at the start when he took off from the line in 7th gear (or what looked like 7th gear) and went straight to the back of the field along with Jenson Button, who took a punt off a Sauber.

Race: Palmer
Season:  Palmer 6 – Magnussen 8

After Magnussen’s high-speed exit at Spa last week it was no real surprise that he got outqualified by his team-mate at Monza. He hadn’t managed to get past him when Felipe Nasr adopted the kind of line out of the first chicane that you might do on a Track Day ‘Experience’ when you had no idea what might happen if you crowded another car to the edge of the circuit.
Monisha Kaltenborn has rubbished the stewards’ decision to penalise Nasr for the move, which should surely bring the team some kind of censure next race. The FIA in the past have amplified penalties when they’ve not been taken on the chin. It’s fine for us to say the stewards are single-cell organisms, but when you’re a team boss the stakes are completely different.

Race: Wehrlein
Season  Wehrlein 1 – Ocon 1

Sensational qualifying from Pascal (something Williams may well take note of) and a good race, until he got that ‘Mayday! Mayday’ message on team radio.

Race: Ericsson
Season: Nasr 6 – Ericsson 7

They qualified within a gnat’s of each other but it was Nasr who took the early walk back to the pig pen to put the best spin on another error.

Arse of the Race
Felipe Nasr’s removal of Jolyon Palmer from the race. “He used to do it to me when we were team-mates in GP2” said the Renault driver with commendable calm after the race.

My Start Went ‘Woof!’
Lewis Hamilton and Esteban Gutierrez

Why Engineers Shouldn’t Be Allowed On The Radio
The noise that Tony Ross emitted after Nico Rosberg’s  win was on a par with your nerdiest science teacher  trying his hardest to be cool when told he’d just won tickets to the trad jazz weekender. You wouldn’t get street smart, hard-as-nails Jock Clear making that kind of noise.

Media watch

Radio 5’s Jack Nicholls: “Win No.21 for Nico Rosberg puts him ahead of fellow Finns Mika Hakkinen  and Kimi Raikkonen, although of course Nico Rosberg is German…”

Tom Clarkson button-holed ‘Bernie buddy’ Christian Horner and asked him about the rumoured takeover of F1 by Liberty Media.
Tom Clarkson: Do the teams get a say in who owns F1?
Christian Horner:  It’s nothing to do with us.
Tom Clarkson: But you are the actors on the stage.
Christian: Yes, but we don’t own the theatre.