Late Look at the 2019 Italian GP
Having just returned from a vacation in my home country, I only just now got around to watching the 2019 Italian GP, which was simultaneously a disaster for Sebastian Vettel fans but at the same time a good result for the local die-hard tifosi.
After struggling earlier in the year, Charles Leclerc put his car on pole position once again to make it two in a row, though pole often means less than nothing in Monza, where the long straights invite opponents to overtake even from very far back.
But Ferrari hadn’t had a win in Monza, its home race, in quite some time, having been repeatedly trounced by Mercedes in the hybrid engine era, so one imagines that Leclerc’s pole position would certainly have generated some optimism.
Qualifying had also ended very strangely, with the top drivers all tripping over themselves to get their final lap started at the last possible moment. Instead almost all of them failed to get across the line before the session time ran out.
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What’s more, Leclerc didn’t give Vettel a tow as Vettel had done for him, against what he been agreed beforehand; and since Vettel was only about a tenth down on his teammate even with that disadvantage, it’s reasonable to assume he would have been the one starting in front with all things being equal.
Nothing is ever equal in F1 though, and Vettel certainly didn’t make himself look good on Sunday. Only a few laps into the race, he spun at the Ascari chicane and then disrupted Lance Stroll as he rejoined the track (who, moments after complaining about it on the radio, somewhat comically did the same thing to Pierre Gasly, emphasizing just how little a Formula 1 car’s mirrors really show). The ensuing penalty ensured it would be impossible for Vettel to get a good result.
Leclerc thus had to fend off both Mercedes drivers without the help of his teammate, but he managed it thanks to some rather fierce defensive driving that earned him a black-and-white flag, which is essentially a warning that he shouldn’t try to pull off the same move that earned it in the first place and seemed to have been reintroduced to F1 in response to the Canadian GP disaster. I was certainly a fan, as it made it possible to have a great battle uninterrupted by subjective sporting regulations.
Ferrari thus won its home race for the first time since Alonso’s victory in 2010, and Leclerc passed Vettel in the championship standings, though catching up to Hamilton before the season ends seems virtually impossible.
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Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.