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2022 F1 Round 16: The Italian GP

Here we go again gear-heads, back to Italy again for the second time this year; this time at Monza known as the Temple of Speed. This being the home circuit for Ferrari, this is obviously the one that the ‘tifosi’ come out and show out in full force. After another dominating race by Max the table in the constructor’s championship leaves little hope for the remaining drivers and it will look like the Dutchman will retain his crown.

The main story line going into the week was the crazy amount of grid penalties, nine driver incurred penalties for using too many component parts to failing to slow down after a yellow flag. This rendered qualifying rather boring with all the top six drivers hit the top six positions on

the grid, Charles would take home another P1 but would that be enough for him to repeat as winner like 2019. Another twist to the story of Monza would be the reserve driver, Nyck de Vries would be making his F1 debut as a consequence of Alex Albon’s appendicitis sidelining him for the foreseeable future.

How would the newcomer fare? Would the Monza curse make appearance for the third year running? With six rounds left would Max put himself in a position to wrap up the championship with a few tracks to spare?

All these questions were answered and more.

The Winners:

Max Verstappen:

Having started in P7 because of his penalty rendered his P2 quali performance useless but whenever has that been an issue for the RB18 and the flying Dutchman? He sailed into podium positions within laps of the start and with a virtual safety car on lap 12 and LeClerc pitting for a free set of soft tyres sealed it for the reigning champ. He was superior in speed and made no mistakes which is what we are accustomed to witnessing over these last two seasons. This is Max’s fifth consecutive win and his eleventh win of the season so far. The engineers at Red Bull have crushed it this year giving the best driver the perfect car.

Charles Leclerc:

Being in contention for a large part of the season meant that there was hope for Ferrari that hadn’t been for some time. Changes to the rear wing to give more downforce led to him being fastest in qualifying P1 but the tyre degradation was still an issue and then there’s Max always breathing down your neck. Ferrari will be happy with the points obviously but they must be disappointed on a weekend where they were at home in Monza and more importantly didn’t make silly mistakes, they still came up short.

George Russell:

Seeing George back on the podium is becoming a familiar appearance. This is now 15 out

of 16 top five finishes and that is a feat which would see this team or any team for that matter have a win. George drove consistently as he does in practically every race as with the record he currently holds but it largely goes unnoticed for me because I am not witnessed to many overtakes or spectacular moves. It’s not that he isn’t capable because you look back at my articles there are moments where I am fully impressed with his skills, it’s just this race I couldn’t pick a particular moment. The facts remain that he has done much better than his teammate this season which I didn’t see coming and once the car gets it’s much needed upgrades this pairing will be a force to reckon with.

Nyck De Vries:

He was the shock of the day not only because of Alex Albon’s appendicitis was he thrown in to the deep end, he was placed at P8 and managed a top 10 finish for his first ever Formula One race, out racing his teammate Latifi; so kudos to him. He basically did better than Latifi the entire year in one race, bravo!.

The Super Over-takers:

Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton each had penalties forcing them to start P18 for the former and P19 for the latter. First with Carlos, he had a good day at the office I believe as he flew up the track taking no prisoners, it was fantastic driving. Charging all the way up to the podium spots but missed out before the safety but he looked unstoppable which was probably a sigh of relief for the struggling team managing to get P4 out of that start.

As for Lewis, he managed to make it from P19 as mentioned all the way up to P5 without much hesitation for the bottom of the pack. Solid performance but it something we come to expect from a 7-time world champion.

Now gear-heads, off to the losers from the weekend!

The losers:

The DNFers:

This week saw pivotal retirements so I am going to lump them all together as one big loser. This was the German’s final race in Europe if he doesn’t come back to racing and this will leave a sour taste in his mouth. Having to retire the car because of engine issues is for me raising red flags on whether Aston Martin are going to be in good shape for having the demanding Spaniard in Alonso in his old seat. What a pity for Seb, I am sure that he would want this race back.

Fernando Alonso was all teed up to have another banner day as he was in P6 and continuing his fine form of scoring consistent points for Alpine in a number of races. On top of that he was tying a record of racing in 349 races set by Kimi Raikkonen, was something that should have been celebrated but it wasn’t to be for the Galician driver. Having to retire the car for performance issues on a day when he was equal this record will hurt. Equally this will be a race where both he and his teammate don’t finish in the points, something that was a normal occurrence for the majority of the season. What a pity!

Ricciardo came into this race with some momentum as he was able to get a P4 start on the grid next to Lando in P3 and after the first manouvered his way past him to get into P3. And that’s the highlight of the day in a positive light because quickly he lost ground and ultimately had to retire the car on the 47th lap that led to the unspectacular finish. It’s a shame that the curse of Monza claimed another previous year winner that would be retired in his next race. I bet a bit of Daniel wishes this season finished with all the drama to get a fresh start and get back to be the driver we all know he could be.

Final Thoughts:

Alright, gear-heads, this race left a sour taste in my mouth as I felt that the ending was cruel. As a result of the safety car on lap 47 and the inability to remove the car safely with cars running around the track meant the race would finish behind a safety car. Once a safety car is deployed no car can overtake essentially your car is frozen at the position you were when the car was introduced and most cars pit as it is less time lost when doing this but you do risk your position. Which was what was supposed to happen last year but the cars were reset with Max on fresher tyres and the rest is history. As a somewhat new fan this is a horrible way to finish and it left a bad taste in my mouth. But according to the rules this is protocol and it is what it is.

William’s reserve driver Nyck de Vries stole the show on his maiden drive for Albon and it left him with more points than his grid teammate Nicolas Latifi. Latifi is now the 21st ranked driver of the season and admittedly I am not sure if anyone has performed worse but this feels historic. They must move on from him and replace him with someone who could actually make this car finish higher which it has proved to do a couple times already this year. De Vries will also remember today as he was named Drive of the Day and for good reason. Bravo son, well done!

Now it’s off to Singapore in Round 17. These are new stomping grounds for me as a new fan of the sport so I am pretty excited to learn more about it.

Check in next week to find out who left track as a winner or loser. Till next week gear-



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