Come to Monza they said and see an epic battle for the fight for supremacy! And it’s exactly what happened albeit with McLaren dominating the proceedings ahead of a Mercedes and Red Bull in a contest that was not about Lewis versus Verstappen, but about Norris and Ricciardo.
Though what transpired toward the end was less of a battle and more of stellar team-play as the orange liveried cars dominated the proceedings, and beautifully so, in the land where it’s often about -and one sees-red.
So what were the key talking points from the 2021 Italian GP, round fourteen? Let’s find out!
Daniel Ricciardo- the man of the moment who never gave up!
The last time that Daniel Ricciardo ever won a Grand Prix prior to his ecstatic and tightly controlled run at Monza, 2021 was the 2018 Monaco GP.
But in claiming a well-deserved win, the famous Honeybadger of the grid, the one and only smiling Aussie Daniel Ricciardo romped home to collect his eighth Formula 1 win. And in the process of doing so, took his first, and shall we say, the much-awaited maiden win with McLaren.
Once a driver who many felt was Ferrari-bound before Sainz’ decision was announced, only for the world to be surprised by his foray into the legendary racing outfit, 2021 hasn’t really been Daniel’s season with many doubting that the Perth-born driver’s mojo was gone and that, he could no longer control the race proceedings to win.
Lando Norris, on the other hand, who took home yet another podium, his fifth overall, and already his fourth this season, has looked the driver totally in control of the MCL 35M.
That’s when Ricciardo fought back, never to defeat critics but, perceptibly, for the sake of his own form to collect a mega win at Monza.
Though none of this would have happened had the 32-year-old not have backed himself to get off to a flier, racing against former teammate, Verstappen, whom he’d beat right in the opening lap, making most of the clear part of the track, beginning from the right-hand side to take the race-lead.
From thereon, what followed was demonstration of excellent control and that familiar unflappable confidence and the Aussie invincibility that has endeared Ricciardo to millions around the world.
The biggest talking point of Monza: Crash> win?
Titans don’t always contest to finish the race on top. Sometimes, by virtue of a mistake or ill-luck, they happen to collide and, as a result, take each her out of the reckoning.
It’s sad, but it’s true and, in Formula 1, it’s the bitter truth.
Think Senna and Prost and their crashes during the peak of their rivalry at McLaren; incidences that were too obvious to be termed ‘racing accidents.’ Think Rosbserg versus Hamilton at Spain, 2016, an incident which the 2016 world champion later admitted was his ‘error.’
Though, it remains to be seen what judgment might the stewards rule on a crash that not only changed the complexion of the 2021 Italian GP but brought back Lando Norris, eventually in the fight against Valtteri Bottas in the driver’s championship.
Among the biggest talking points from the 2021 Italian Grand Prix was the collision between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, the two lead authors of the ongoing season’s world championship battle.
Just as Hamilton was exiting the pits, with Verstappen fast catching the defending world champion, the two came to blows seconds after the Mercedes driver’s first stop.
Verstappen, in an effort to dart past Hamilton stuck to the outside, his racing line, whilst Hamilton, in a bid to deny Verstappen the track position came through to the left hurriedly, thus visibly denying the Red Bull any space, therefore, or a chance to overtake.
Was this the right thing to do, since the duo were approaching a sharp right-hander anyway. So should Lewis have remained on the outside of Max? Who knows, who can say with certainty?
Though what followed as a result of both drivers’s unrestrained effort to attack, wasn’t a pretty site.
Verstappen, who bumped over the orange sausage kerbs took a flight and landed, as a result of his collision with the Mercedes, on Hamilton’s head.
If there was an occasion to thank the invention of the Halo, once again, then this was it. Probably Lewis was lucky and got away, which was absolutely brilliant news for everybody.
Though the end result wasn’t an encouraging picture with both top drivers crashing out having come to blows in a move that’s sure to leave both Max and Lewis fans divided over the subject of who’s to be blamed?
Not that Daniel Ricciardo would complain one bit.
Let the stewards decide the verdict on that one.
Saturday’s brilliance for Gio turns into remorseful Sunday
For someone who started his home race from seventh on the grid, thus equalling his best-ever qualifying position in his F1 career, Antonio Giovinazzi’s race finish was anything but heart-warming.
In gathering a thirteenth, it could be said, the Monza race was a disaster for the very affable and simple Antonio Giovinazzi.
This was sad from the point of view of his career, which he’s trying to save with all his might.
Though what would hurt the Martina Franca-born driver endlessly was that having been considerably fast and seemingly in control as seen on Saturday, where he didn’t allow Perez, of all drivers, to race past his Alfa Romeo, Giovinazzi just wasn’t at his best on Sunday.
Having been contacted from the rear by the speedy Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jr., Givonazzi spun out and crashed into the barriers, succumbing to a back-to-the-grid position having been seventh on the grid,
Though what didn’t help on that occasion was that the Alfa Romeo driver, seconds before his contact, came back to the track rejoining the grid in an unsafe manner having run over the kerbs. Resultantly, a five-second penalty for his antics only exacerbated his woes.
The entirety of the episode left one guessing as to what might have happened had Givonazzi stayed on the grid? Was his car on Sunday so inferior as to have not even stood a chance to bag, let’s assume, a tenth?
Moreover, what’s the surety about Giovinazzi, termed Italian Jesus by many, to remain at his blessed home called Alfa Romeo for a 2022 drive?
How Vettel and Alonso served a major lesson at Monza to uninformed fans?
There are great drivers, there are legendary drivers, and there are icons. Perhaps you know where to place the two ‘old men’ of the grid.
Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, who’ve been great adversaries not since today, but from the days before there came such a thing as the ‘turbo-hybrid’ era in the sport, have often locked horns at Monza. And one recollects their great battle here back in 2013 where the German, then with Red Bull, beat Alonso, then with Ferrari, by over five seconds to claim his Italian GP battle.
Though on race-day for Monza this time around, Vettel and Alonso, despite ending way below any podium positions were involved in stellar overtakes.
Firstly, Fernando Alonso made a couple of daring moves on both Aston Martin cars, taking back lost ground from Vettel in quintessential attacking way in the opening few laps of the Italian Grand Prix.
Later, the Spaniard would hold on strongly to his eighth on the grid, thereby earning four more points for his Alpine racing team.
On the other hand, Vettel and Ocon had a particularly tense moment just after the mid-way stage in what was a closely-contested scrap for ninth and tenth. Ultimately, Ocon would edge out Vettel, but by virtue of sheer consistency in overtaking for much of his year, Sebastian Vettel would climb the top of a precious table.
That’s drivers with the highest number of overtakes this season, an ecstatic table that features two of the oldest drivers of the grid, Vettel with 90 overtakes, outscoring Alonso, who has against his name 82 overtakes.
That’s when Fernando Alonso never sat behind an F1 car for two consecutive years. Anyone- and there’d still be countless- who doubt what the oldies can do in a sport that is being driven by the youth alone or predominantly should perhaps focus on this piece of stat.
Valtteri gets his eighth podium of 2021 in a driver-of-the-day performance
Having driven for Mercedes for a period not less than half a decade, Bottas can never cry foul that he didn’t have the car or the resources to succeed.
Yet, Valtteri Bottas often finds himself cornered by team orders or when not, then undone by his own faults.
Not an irrational fanboy theory, but pretty much the truth about a talented Finn, who can heat up racing on occasions where even Lewis can’t. For instance, the Monza-bound 2021 Italian GP, where in mounting a brilliant comeback drive- right from the rear of the grid to the podium- Bottas did the indomitable, if not the unachievable.
It’s one thing to break into the top ten having started from twentieth on the grid, but something of a very high level when you manage to bag a P3 in the end.
Then, it’s not about the car alone; it’s also about the will to succeed and never give up.
Surely, had the multiple changes in his car not had happened, then Saturday’s sprint winner may certainly have enjoyed a different race outing than what he managed at the completion of 53 tremendously-entertaining and exasperating laps at the Temple of speed.
Bottas’ brave recovery drive, one that got Mercedes their only points this weekend deserves to be highlighted as one of the key talking points from the 2021 Italian GP.
Yet, in making most of his chances, displaying dauntless will to succeed, the driver bagged a valiant third and deserves to be appreciated.