Motorsport

Motorsport Monday: Duncraig Dan in Italy

Yes, this is real.

The Crusty Van Diemen Alex Peroni carrying on the tradition that Mark Webber started… of Australians being sent flying up in the air.

That mind-boggling crash was the direct result of clipping a random sausage kerb at the Parabolica, which was immediately removed, because why the hell it was that close to the racing line remains to be seen.

Amazingly, he only suffered a broken vertebrae, but was otherwise fine, thanks in no small part to the Halo.

The Formula One Italian Grand Prix

Circuit: Monza

Author: Will Pittenger (Wikimedia)

Italy- Home of the Bunga Bunga… and the Tifosi.

The 90th birthday celebrations for Ferrari, the 69th edition of the Italian GP to be held at Monza (One was held at Imola), and 50 years since one of the closest finishes seen in the history of Formula One- Jackie Stewart winning the race for Matra… and Bruce McLaren finishing 4th… just 0.19 of a second behind.

Continuing on the theme of last weekend, there were engine penalties, the most notable being Red Bull finally taking the hit for Max Verstappen and changing the Honda engine, forcing him to start from the rear of the grid.

The Dutchman then suffered another engine problem in Q1, which prevented him from setting a lap time… not that it mattered.

And of course, it is Monza, so one thing becomes very noticeable- Skinny. Rear. Wings.

Qualifying

Without a doubt, Q3 could very well be proof that the film Idiocracy will one day come true.

First, Kimi Raikkonen stopped the session with 6 minutes to go when he crashed for the second time in two days at the Parabolica (An incident that supposedly cost Bottas 2 tenths by being distracted), and then, after wasting 4 minutes, the 9 remaining drivers played a tactical cat and mouse game of ‘Who gets the tow at the fastest track in F1’ with 2 minutes to go, and as a result, every driver except Carlos Sainz missed the chequered flag and only set one flying lap.

The pinnacle of world motorsport ladies and gentlemen- Engineers not being able to grasp the concept of time.

The funny thing is, the exact same scenario happened earlier in the F3 Qualifying, which resulted in drivers being penalised- AND THEY STILL DID THE EXACT SAME THING.

Unsurprisingly, the Stewards went after all the drivers, while Vettel was also investigated for going all four wheels off the track on his earlier lap, and Nico Hulkenberg was investigated for leaving the track at Turn 1, having made a half-arsed effort to turn into the corner so he could go straight on and re-emerge behind.

Several drivers were reprimanded (Sainz, Hulkenberg & Lance Stroll) for holding everyone up, but eventually the session got the all clear, which meant Charles LeClerc was on pole for the fourth time in 2019 (Level with Hamilton and Bottas), and Renault got another good Saturday result, with Dan and The Hulk starting from 5th and 6th- The first time Renault had 2 cars start in the Top 6 since France in 2007!

It left me wondering, just what could go wrong to rob the French of a double points finish…. Probably being victims in a Turn 1 massacre.

Race

As part of this great Scarlet celebration, Jody Scheckter celebrated 40 years since he won the Drivers’ Championship in a Ferrari at Monza (In a 1-2 with Gilles Villeneuve), parading around that superb 312T that also won the ’79 Constructor’s title.

Of course, for so long until Schumacher, Jody was the answer to the question “Who was the last Ferrari driver to win a World Title?”.

At the start, LeClerc maintained the lead, while Hulkenberg jumped Dan into Turn 1, and then he went one better by pulling a blinder on Vettel at Roggia for 4th, but the power of the Ferrari got the German back ahead of his compatriot down the pit straight as the field started the 2nd lap.

Further back, Verstappen had another Turn 1 incident, losing his front wing after getting too close to Sergio Perez, and after starting last, he was well and truly anchored to the rear.

Dan reclaimed 5th from The Hulk down the straight to start Lap 5, which became a key moment, thanks to something that happened a short time later.

On Lap 6, Vettel inexplicably spun at Ascari chasing Bottas, allowing both the Renaults through, and continuing the weekend’s theme of drivers screwing each other, he emerged back into the path of Stroll in 7th, hitting the Racing Point, damaging the front wing of the Ferrari, and then somehow, Stroll payed it forward and sent Pierre Gasly into the gravel.

Copyright: FOM

An utterly stupid moment for Vettel, who dropped back to last, was also investigated by the stewards, and given a 10 second stop-go penalty, while Stroll was also penalised with a drive-through penalty.

Continuing on with the penalties, Alex Albon was docked a 5 second penalty in his next pit stop for illegally overtaking Magnussen at Roggia, and Kimi Raikkonen was given a Stop/Go Penalty for starting the race on the wrong tyres, which occurred because he reached Q3, yet had to start from the pit lane because of damaging his gearbox in the crash.

Out in front, LeClerc was comfortably holding Hamilton until the pit window opened on Lap 19, at which point Mercedes went for the undercut with the Brit and put him on Mediums, but Ferrari kept Charles ahead and decided to go to the end on hard tyres, which in hindsight, was absolutely the right decision.

On Lap 23, Hamilton attacked the Ferrari, and in an intense fight, he went off at Roggia after being squeezed on the outside, which earned LeClerc a bad sportsmanship flag.

Copyright: FOM

Ricciardo and Hulkenberg stayed out, and Sainz also went on a long run from 6th, yet when stopped on Lap 28, the McLaren mechanics didn’t properly attach the right front (I thought it was righty tighty lefty loosy), and for safety reasons he pulled over immediately and was forced to retire , causing a Virtual Safety Car.

Another good result lost for McLaren

Kvyat got up to 6th thanks to pitting under the VSC, but wouldn’t you know it, smoke appeared during his stop, which turned into a full-blown oil leak, and he was the next driver to retire on Lap 30.

Another VSC period allowed Renault to get a free stop for Dan in 4th, and conceivably, all he had to do was just get to the finish, having 17 seconds on Hulk, who got dealt the short straw by pitting in between both VSC periods, leaving him to fight off the charging Albon in the Red Bull.

The big moment came at Lap 36, when LeClerc locked up into Turn 1 and had to miss the apex, heaping more pressure on him from the Silver Arrow behind, and at the same time, Bottas had cut the gap to within 3 seconds of the leaders, and on younger tyres, it was on, until of course, he got the inevitable “Valtteri, it’s James” call.

Hamilton was right up behind LeClerc again on Lap 39, but the Ferrari was always the better car out of the Parabolica, with the turbulent air allowing LeClerc to maintain a gap, even with the Merc gaining DRS- A fact Lewis bemoaned regularly.

The shocks weren’t done, because on Lap 42, Hamilton locked up into Turn 1 after putting too much pressure on himself, allowing Bottas through into 2nd, who was even faster than the Ferrari, and on much younger tyres, meaning the race wasn’t quite done.

Ferrari and the Tifosi cheered that Hamilton mistake, and rightly so, because they probably knew the Finn would turn into ‘Floppas’ once he got close enough.

And right on cue, Bottas made a mistake at Ascari and lost time, but hit back with a Fastest Lap on Lap 47, and the Mercs decided to lock in Hamilton for 3rd, pitting for a fresh set of tyres on Lap 50 so he could go for the Fastest Lap Bonus Point and limit the points loss to the Finn to a mere 2 points- He got it comfortably.

Bottas made another mistake when he had to go deep into Turn 1 to avoid locking up, and that was all she wrote- The Tifosi went wild, as Charles LeClerc won again, the 11th Ferrari driver to win at Monza, and the first since Fernando Alonso in 2010, and it doesn’t matter if he suddenly fades into obscurity, he’s a legend to those crazy Italians.

Bottas and Hamilton completed the podium, and Renault got their best result of the year by a street, as the leading Formula ‘1.5’ cars home, with Dan taking a comfortable 4th (Amazing writing that, but it’s true), while Hulk managed to hold off Albon, to secure Renault’s first double Top 5 finish since Japan in 2008 (Alonso won and Piquet Jnr finished 4th).

Perez took advantage of the VSC and came from the rear to finish 7th, while Verstappen cleaved his way through the field for 8th, a fine effort, considering what happened to him on the opening lap.

The first time Mercedes have been beaten at Monza in the Turbo Hybrid era!

Post Race

Charles jumps into 3rd in the Championship, and joins the list of drivers to win their first two races consecutively- Bruce McLaren, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton.

Renault kept up the promise of Spa, and they finally had the weekend they had been longing for all season, and 4th and 5th was nothing they haven’t earned.

Apparently, it wasn’t brought about by that 1000hp engine on a track made for engine power… it was Dan’s love of pizza.

Also more importantly for the team, they clawed back a massive 21 points in the fight for 4th with McLaren, cutting the gap down to 18 points, and jumping Toro Rosso into 5th.

And after all that, all I can say is, THANK GOD DAN GOT A GREAT RESULT.


Of course, that’s the European races done for another year, next up in a fortnight: Singapore!

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