The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

GRAND PRIX: Italian GP: Ferrari Heartbreak

05-09-2018

By Jack Target

Well that wasn’t in the script was it?

After Sebastian Vettel eased to victory in Spa as Formula 1 returned from its summer break, Lewis Hamilton extended his championship lead, overtaking a Ferrari with just eight laps to go to win in Ferrari’s own backyard.

The Ferraris had looked quick all week and were set up perfectly for the race on Sunday. Kimi Raikkonen grabbed pole as his teammate got in front of Hamilton to set up Ferrari’s first front row lockout in qualifying in Monza since 2000. Despite most Tifosi hoping for a Vettel victory before the weekend started, most would be forgiven for just hoping the German would be in front of Hamilton if it meant Raikkonen would get a long overdue victory. Blimey, any Ferrari winning was all they wanted!

But alas, a bump of a Ferrari and a Mercedes early on and the slowly deteriorating tyres of a prancing horse towards the end ruined those dreams for yet another year. If Ferrari do not win at home in 2019, it will be a decade since they last tasted victory in front of their wildly passionate fans.

It had been turning in to a fine weekend for Ferrari. They looked quick in practice and again during qualifying on Saturday. Vettel and Raikkonen had a stranglehold of the top spots, despite being pushed to the limit by Hamilton. In a bizarre couple of moments, all three drivers set track records one after the other…twice! But much to the delight of pretty much every F1 fan in the world, it was Kimi who grabbed pole. Not only did he set the track lap record, he recorded the fastest lap ever driven by a Formula 1 driver in the history of the sport.

Further down the field it was a great day for Williams. It has been a struggle for these historic team so most would have been glad to see them have a bit of success this weekend. It ended up being a weekend of firsts in 2018 for the Claire Williams team. Not only did both drivers get through to Q2, Lance Stroll became the first Williams driver of the year to get in to Q3. He would go on to get a point, finishing 10th on Sunday but after a bit of drama with Romain Grosjean’s Haas he was bumped up to 9th with his teammate grabbing the last available championship point. Sergey Sirotkin’s point was not only his first in F1 but it also meant every driver this year has at least one point next to their name. Bravo!

To Sunday and all eyes were on the front row. Could the Ferrari’s hold off Hamilton? Would Kimi stay in front of his teammate? For how long?

Raikkonen started pretty well and managed to cut off any threat from Vettel as the top two got through safely. However the silver arrow of Lewis Hamilton was right in the mix and was alongside his German rival as they went in to the second chicane. The Brit just about got his nose in front on the outside when Vettel drifted out, touching the side of the Mercedes before spinning and losing a chunk off his front wing.

It was a devasting blow for Vettel who could not afford to lose any points to Hamilton and also for Ferrari who had lost their safety blanket of two cars in front of Hamilton so early on.

When the safety car came in a few laps later there would be a sign of things to come. Hamilton had kept within touching distance of Raikkonen from the restart and overtook the Finn on the main straight. However, Kimi was able to regain the lead through the chicane to the sound of cheers from the grandstands. Now he just had to hold on without the support of his teammate whilst being chased around by the world championship leader.

Kimi’s teammate Vettel was clawing his way back up the field and had a good tussle with Daniel Ricciardo. Unfortunately for both it wasn’t at the top where they probably deserved to be having battles, but in 14th. Eventually Vettel won and passed his former Red Bull teammate. For the Aussie, the misery continued as just over halfway through the race he suffered yet another mechanical problem. Ricciardo had sacrificed a lot of penalties recently and he has just not been rewarded with a car that can function, let alone compete. It is moments like this that we can see why he decided to jump ship and move on.

Another driver with the same sinking feeling is Fernando Alonso. After announcing that he would retire at the end of the season, he suffered yet another mechanical problem as his race lasted just ten laps. It is moments like this that we can see why he decided to jump…hang on I’ve just said that. Depressing stuff indeed for two of the most exciting drivers on the grid.

Back at the top Kimi was the first to get some new tyres. This prompted the decision from Mercedes to keep Hamilton out there. They knew he was still a couple of seconds shy of getting a quick pit stop in with a chance of overtaking Raikkonen, but it was a gap he could not make up. In his favour though was Valtteri Bottas, moving up the grid to first place, just in front of Raikkonen. The Finn in the silver arrow was about to frustrate his fellow countryman in an attempt to help his teammate.

Stuck in a Mercedes sandwich, Raikkonen saw Hamilton reduce the gap so much that with 20 laps to go, there were just 1.1 seconds between the top three. Finally, with 16 laps to go, Bottas went in to the pits, allowing the top two to fight it out for the win.

The pair battled it out, both struggling on their tyres but Raikkonen was struggling more. It would prove costly as Hamilton eventually got past him and sped off to win. It would be Kimi’s 100th podium in F1, but oh how the Tifosi would have craved the taste of victory in Monza.

The result had a big impact on the title race as Hamilton now leads Vettel by 30 points. He could crash out of the next race and still lead the championship. Vettel ended the race in 5th but was promoted to 4th thanks to Max Verstappen’s timed penalty (accompanied by some rather funny radio messages).

There would be more drama after the race too as Renault put in a complaint against Haas, claiming the floor of Romain Grosjean’s car was illegal. They were found to be right, leading to the Frenchman’s disqualification and those precious points for Williams.

For one and a half races after the summer break, things were looking pretty rosy for Ferrari, but now they face a tough challenge if they are to come back from a massive points deficit. There are still seven races to go and Ferrari will fancy themselves in Singapore, but more consistency will be needed if the Mercedes is going to be knocked off the top spot.