This Grand Prix – Italian

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Hello and welcome to This Italian Grand Prix, a historic weekend where Max Verstappen took a giant step towards his second title, proving how Red Bull are operationally growing back into the team we saw a decade ago when they won four titles back to back to back. Going to Singapore in three weeks time he has the opportunity to wrap up his second title…

But there was this strange tone lingering especially by the commonwealth drivers who make up a third of the grid and several teams are based in the UK. The death of Queen Elizabeth will be a moment in our shared history Monza being the first race Barcelona (Pedralbes) in 1951 without her as head of state.

Queen Elizabeth II 1926 – 2022

The weekend went ahead in muted tones following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday. A minutes silence was held ahead of both practice and the race, with the tributes started pouring in as the news started breaking, she was head of state both in the UK, Canada and Australia, the head of the commonwealth.

Key figures from F1 expressed their condolences to the Royal Family over the Queen’s death, as they praised the impact she had on them and the wider world.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said: “Formula 1 mourns the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. For more than seven decades she dedicated her life to public service with dignity and devotion and inspired so many around the world. Formula 1 sends its deepest condolences to the Royal Family and to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.”

Lewis Hamilton wrote, “How do you find the words to describe the loss of Her Majesty The Queen? She was truly an iconic leader, an inspiration and a reassuring presence for most, if not all, of our lives. Since the sad news yesterday, I’ve been reflecting on her incredible life. She was a symbol of hope for so many and she served her country with dignity, dedication and kindness. She was truly like no other and I’m grateful to have lived during her time. Her legacy will be long-lasting and her passing deeply felt.

George Russell said: “I’m so sad to hear about the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her devotion to our country and her gracious leadership were inspirational to so many generations of people in the UK and around the world. My family and I send our deepest condolences to The Royal Family and to all those who admired her services to our country for seven decades.”

The McLaren F1 team changed its social media handles to black as a mark of respect, and it remembered the influence the Queen had. It also posted an image of the day that she opened the team’s current McLaren Technology Centre factory. Adding “The team at McLaren Racing mourn the sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whilst also remembering her incredible reign. Our thoughts are with The Royal Family and people around the world during this terribly sad time.”

Ferrari hailed her as ‘groundbreaking’ as it offered its sympathies to the Royal family and the British members of the paddock.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem issued a statement making clear how influential the Queen and Royal Family had been in helping support the growth of motorsport.

Saying “It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

“The Queen was undoubtedly one of the most respected heads of state ever to have lived, and I send my condolences, and those of the entire FIA community, to the Royal Family and all of the citizens of The United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

Weekend recap

FP1 saw Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari one-two in setting  a 23.410 on the soft tyres which put him almost eight hundredths of a second faster than Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz. George Russell was third three tenths behind Sainz with his teammate Lewis Hamilton fourth.

FP2 saw Sainz top the times with a 21.664 going a tenth and a half a head of Verstappen, who spilt the two Ferraris with Leclerc in third. Lando Norris looked to extract the most from his McLaren to go fourth fastest nearly four tenths behind Leclerc after going nearly half a tenth faster than George Russell.

FP3 saw Verstappen go fastest with a 21.252 that put him three and a half tenths ahead of Leclerc and Perez, but it set the scene for a mixed up grid with around half the grid taking a penalty. Sainz ended the session fourth ahead of the Alpine of Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Qualifying put the two title rivals Leclerc and Verstappen head to head to be fastest on track and who would start further up. It was the Ferrari driver who was a tenth and a half faster than the Dutchman, but it was his teammate Sainz who took pole after going ahead of Perez. However it Russell who starts on the front row.

Verstappen took victory after coming through the field to lead comfortable during the final stint of the race. He was leading the race by a comfortable margin when the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo stopped on track between the Lesmos, it was in a difficult position to recover leading to the race being neutralised with three laps to go.

Verstappen’s title rival Charles Leclerc finish second almost two and a half seconds behind the Dutchman. However, Ferrari operationally had their best race of recent, where the team appeared to work together to try and stop Verstappen from taking his eleventh win of the season.

The Red Bull driver charged from seventh during the early laps to find himself in the top three by lap three and from there he managed to pass George Russell before chasing down Leclerc and passing him seven laps after his final stop on lap twenty-five, as he struggled on his tyres.

Ferrari’s decision to pit Leclerc out of sequence under the virtual safety car on lap twelve committed him to the slower two stop and that wasn’t helped by the fact that Ferrari didn’t have the pace. At both stops Ferrari surrendered the lead to the Dutchman then controlled the race as the team were better on pace.

Why did it finish under safety car

The FIA has explained why the race finished under safety car despite the track appearing to be clear. Red Bull driver Verstappen had been leading the race after Ferrari polesitter Charles Leclerc made a second pitstop to change back onto a set of soft tyres.

He had been closing slowly on Verstappen, who was running a one-stop strategy on medium tyres, when Daniel Ricciardo stopped his McLaren between the two Lesmo corners with his car stuck in gear. The stopped McLaren was stuck on track and required a safety car because of the need to lift the car out of the way

The FIA has now responded to explain why the race ended under caution, stating that the severity of the incident was not great enough to warrant a red flag. A spokesman said, “While every effort was made to recover Car #3 quickly and resume racing, the situation developed and marshals were unable to put the car into neutral and push it into the escape road.”

“As the safety of the recovery operation is our only priority, and the incident was not significant enough to require a red flag, the race ended under safety car following the procedures agreed between the FIA and all Competitors. The timing of the safety car period within a race has no bearing on this procedure.”

Asked by to explain what had happened, Ricciardo said he had no warning that the car was about to shut down, explaining that there was “nothing I could do”.

he said, “It just switched off. I didn’t feel any warning signs, I was in Lesmo 1 and then just nothing. And because then it was off, I was in gear. I tried to pull over to the inside, off the racing line obviously to a safe area as soon as possible, but I couldn’t see anywhere where I could pull in so I just had to stop on the grass and that was it.”


Mercedes went into the weekend insisting that despite recent strong results its not taking it for granted. Last weekend, their was a feeling that Mercedes were able to fight for victory but we know the team are kind of shifting to learn the lessons for next years car so they aren’t in the same position next year.

CEO and team principal Toto Wolff is wary that there are still some tracks, especially bumpy venues like Austin, that can serve to trip it up. he said, “Our performance is fundamentally ingrained in the car concept as it is, but we are now understanding better how everything interacts.”

Following practice, George Russell suggested he though the team would not go for the “high risk, high reward” tactics in qualifying. With teammate Hamilton taking a grid penalty it gave the team the opportunity to use the car to give Russell a tow which we know is very powerful at Monza if you get it right, but we have seen comedic moments and we could get a minimum out lap time brought in.

He said, “I mean, if you nail it, it definitely does work. But there’s high risk, high reward really. So it’s not something we put on a lot of emphasis into. Qualifying sessions over time are when we learn quite a lot about the car and the tyres. And that’s clearly been somewhere we’ve struggled this year. So for now, I think we’ll both just go in and do an ordinary session.”

Russell said following qualifying the team doesn’t “deserve to be starting second” following a “frustrating” session. The Englishman was sixth in qualifying and was over a second behind Leclerc who was fastest.

The Briton feels this starting position wasn’t warranted by his pace in qualifying having been unable to “get the car in that sweet spot” as the W13’s inconsistency is once again plaguing Mercedes’ weekend.

Russell said, “We don’t deserve to be starting P2 after today’s performance. It was again a frustrating session because we can’t seem to get the car in that sweet spot.” He also said the behaviour of the car leaves them in no mans land, but as we have seen all year believes the car is quicker in race mode which we have seen all season.

Russell has continued to deliver with his consistency finishing the race in third and it was another smart drive staying out of that title fight, this season I think has proved why he was given a chance with Mercedes.

Red Bull

Porsche has confirmed it is no longer in negotiations to join forces with Red Bull in Formula One following several months of talks. The two were in talks about a fifty-fifty partnership from 2026 when the new engine regulations, however Red Bull was wary of giving up control of its team and instead offered Porsche the opportunity to invest in its new powertrains division.

In a statement on Friday, Porsche announced the deal had fallen through. Porsche statement said, “In the course of the last few months, Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG and Red Bull GmbH have held talks on the possibility of Porsche’s entry into Formula One,” the “The two companies have now jointly come to the conclusion that these talks will no longer be continued.”

I had the feeling in recent weeks since the Adui deal was announced their was some kind of problem and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said it was important for Red Bull to retain full control of the F1 team. I think this is about Red Bull wanting some independence and we have heard in recent weeks the team saying the project wasn’t going to plan.

This line I think sums it up, “Our position is obviously the team is the biggest marketing asset globally for Red Bull, and why would we compromise that strategically for the long term?”

Max Verstappen was unconcerned about Ferrari’s pace in practice believing Red Bull looks “quite good” over the long runs at Monza. Red Bull are the favourites having looked the best all season in  a straight line speed at these low speed circuit. Red Bull will look to repeat its form from Spa two weeks ago, where Verstappen charged from 14th on the grid to score a dominant win.

Verstappen after second practice, said “The car was quite good. I was just trying a few things from the car from FP1 to FP2 to understand if you could do things better. Some worked, some didn’t. And yeah, just general long-run practice of course with the little penalty we have. Everything seems to work quite well.”

Verstappen said following qualifying he believed the compromises the team made because of the penalties gave him a good chance of victory in the race. However says he missed out on topping the session because of a lack of top speed and a loss of grip through the first sector as his RB18 ran with a higher downforce rear wing specification carried over from Spa.

Asked by whether he was pleased with the concessions the Red Bull engineers had made, Verstappen said: “I think compared to some other cars, we still have very good top speed. It’s just the Ferraris are a little bit faster than us on the straights.”


Going into the teams home race, Charles Leclerc said the teams needs to avoid distractions and remain united. The team has seen its championship once again fall apart because of a number of mistakes and I think we seen a change of tone after the championship gap grew to a hundred and nine points.

Leclerc said, “There are always rumours around a Formula 1 team and especially with Ferrari but I think what is important in those moments is not to get distracted with whatever is being said. We are very united as a team and I think we need to keep on going like this.”

Ferrari’s chairman John Elkann has given his backing to team principal Mattia Binotto but urges the Scuderia to improve as “too many mistakes” have been made across the 2022 season. The feeling because of the strength of Red Bull and Max Verstappen is that the title is over, with the team facing a  lot of criticism in recents months over the various errors the team has made.

Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Ferrari chairman Elkann has publicly backed Binotto but acknowledged the team must cut out its mistakes.

Elkann said, “We have great faith in Mattia Binotto and appreciate everything he and all our engineers have done, but there is no doubt that the work in Maranello, in the garage, on the pit wall and at the wheel needs to improve. We must continue to make progress and that goes for the mechanics, the engineers, the drivers and obviously, the entire management team, including the Team Principal.”

Elkann still believes Ferrari can achieve its target of clinching both world championships before 2026, with proving it can build a competitive car for 2022 the first piece of the puzzle. I think that statement is not something we wouldn’t expect from Ferrari but I wonder if we get to 2024-25 we will see a shift to the new regulations.

Leclerc says his pole position was a surprise after taking it on merit after going near a tenth and a half faster than Verstappen, on his final attempt. Leclerc admitted his eighth pole of the season was a “very good surprise” after not expecting to be able to defeat Verstappen and Red Bull, given Ferrari struggled at the similarly high-speed Spa.

he said, “It’s a very good surprise today, especially where we came from in Spa. I did not expect to fight for pole here, so it’s great surprise to have pole at home. In FP1 and FP2 we tested a lot of things across cars with Carlos and we found different directions that were interesting.”

“We were really struggling at Spa, and we found some pace. It shows we are going in the right direction. The lap I’m extremely happy with. The first run I didn’t do a great lap but then I managed to put everything together.”

Leclerc admitted that a safety car finish was “frustrating”, but losing the race had been settled long before that. Ferrari had led the opening stage of the race but the VSC saw Ferrari put Leclerc on the alternative  two-stop strategy, with the extra stop and lack of pace compared to eventual winner Max Verstappen leaving him well adrift as the laps counted down.

The time it took to recover Daniel Ricciardo’s car took several laps before any attempt to resolve the order could be made. But  there was no scope to go for a last-lap fight once the cars were in order. Much to the annoyance of the local Ferrari fans, who booed the cars as they took the chequered flag, Verstappen came home unchallenged for his first victory at Monza.

Leclerc admitted he was eager for the race to resume but said that his defeat to Verstappen had been set in stone much earlier. he said, “I mean, the end was frustrating. I wish we could have ended up racing, but unfortunately we were second at that place, because of what happened before. So it’s a shame. But overall, I gave it all for P2 today. I wish I could have won in front of the amazing tifosi we have here, but I just couldn’t today.”


Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that he would be open to taking a reserve driver role with one of the top teams in 2023, and believes he can get back to winning ways despite his current “adversity”. Ricciardo form at the team is one of the reasons why he has been replaced for next year by Oscar Piastri.

I think that the Australian is the feeling is that his future isn’t in his own hands and the want of a competitive seat is not their. Does this option he brought up of a stabbatical help I don’t know because there are so many young drivers out their. While he wants a project he doesn’t want to be short-sighted and pointed out since leaving Red Bull in 2017 he has changed teams every two years.

Last year, McLaren took their first one two in a decade but Ricciardo and Lando Norris said they wouldn’t be expecting the same scenario where they were able to hold back faster cars. This weekend has been more competitive for the team allowing them to take advantage.

Instead, Norris thinks McLaren is fighting for seventh and eighth on Sunday afternoon.

Norris said, “Let’s hope it’s not too easy to overtake. I expect Max to come through quickly, Carlos as well. The Mercedes [of George Russell] will probably clear off fairly quickly so, as much as I hate to say it, if we could have a seventh and eighth now then I think that’s a realistic aim for tomorrow, but also a good result.”

Alpha Tauri

Alpha Tauri has condemned the “hateful behaviour” directed at the team and Red Bull Racing’s Head of Strategy, Hannah Schmitz, after Yuki Tsunoda’s DNF cost Lewis Hamilton a chance of victory at the Dutch Grand Prix. The days after the race saw things like #F1xed and fans draw comparisons to Abu Dhabi last year.

While the whole episode looked strange on TV, at the time a review of the onboard footage and radio conversations confirms that it was a simple case of the team and driver not knowing what had got wrong, and reacting as best they could to the unusual circumstances.

The team’s statement read, “It is incredibly disheartening to read some of the language and comments directed at our team and towards Red Bull Racing’s Head of Strategy, Hannah Schmitz.” It I think is the issue often talked about the hangover almost of how bitter last years championship battle got, and we will see the sport move on from last year.

Tsunoda is relieved to have lost his reprimands by taking a grid penalty at the Italian GP, but inches close to a race ban from accumulated penalty points. Last weekend the Japanese driver took a ten place penalty after picking up a fifth reprimand of the season for driving with loosened seat belt at Zandvoort.

Asked about the situation with penalties he was clear he feels he knows that now he can fight hard and accepted their were times where he did unnecessary things. anz Tost called Tsunoda’s Monza yellow flag penalty “not clever” and said he must be “more disciplined.” Tsunoda admitted that it was a silly mistake.


Ahead of FP3 it was announce that Alex Albon would be replaced by Nyck de Vries after the british-thai driver was taken unwell and admitted to hospital for his appendicitis.

A statement issued by Williams said: “Williams Racing can confirm that, after feeling unwell this morning and seeking medical advice from the FIA and local hospital, Alex Albon is now undergoing treatment for appendicitis.

“Following on from this, we can confirm that the team’s Reserve Driver Nyck de Vries will drive in place of Alex for the remainder of the Italian Grand Prix weekend. Alex is in good spirits and the team wishes him a speedy recovery.”

De Vires who replaced Albon for the race started thirteenth before going onto finish the race ninth. Reflecting on the weekend, the Dutchman said, “You spend so much time travelling and it never quite happens, so you almost lose the thought of actually expecting it could happen, and this was obviously not even before Friday, but very late on a Saturday, so it was very last minute.”

De Vries admitted he enjoyed the fact that penalties for others had moved him into the top 10. Adding “Yeah, that does make me smile a little bit, even though I’m hard on myself and think I should have done a better job. That is great. But I also want to make sure we do our homework tonight and get ready and hopefully we can build our race, have a good start, have a good first few laps, and then get into it, find a bit of a rhythm.”

Results Summary







1 Max Verstappen NED Red Bull 01:20:27.511 25
2 Charles Leclerc MON Ferrari +00:02.446 18
3 George Russell GBR Mercedes +00:03.405 15

Championship Standings

Drivers’ Championship
Constructors Championship
1 Max Verstappen 335 Red Bull 545
2 Charles Leclerc 219 Ferrari 406
3 Sergio Perez 210 Mercedes 371
4 George Russell 203 Alpine – Renault 125
5 Carlos Sainz 187 McLaren – Mercedes 107