Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 3. syyskuuta 2017

Italian GP: Ferrari was toothless against Mercedes´ "insane" pace!

After yesterday´s pouring rain the conditions were dry and sunny, when the race day came. All drivers opted for the red-marked super soft compound, except the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo, Renault´s Palmer and McLaren´s Alonso. They started the race on the yellow-marked soft Pirellis. Nine drivers altogether had been handed different grid penalties, so I wasn´t entirely aware of every driver´s grid slot. After all the penalties Verstappen started from P13 and Ricciardo from P16.

Against all odds, both Stroll in his Williams and Ocon in his pink Force India got an impressive start. Stroll was even challenging pole-setter Hamilton for the lead, but the Briton cut right ahead of the Canadian, which forced Stroll to lift his foot off throttle. Ocon immediately saw his chance and moved past Stroll, taking P2. Behind the top three there was an intense and wheel-banging battle between the Finns. First Kimi made a move on his compatriot Bottas, jumping 4th. Only a moment later Bottas snatched his position back from Kimi. The Finns´ rear tyres touched, but the fight was fair.

Verstappen had taken a stunning start from P13, and the flying Dutchman had gained 5 positions right away, making his way up to P8. Max was hungry to pass Massa, but the Brazilian had no intension to let the Dutchman through. Massa left no room for Max, which led into contact between the two. Max suffered a front-right puncture and got damage to his front wing. So Max´s luck definitely hasn´t turned around! Luckily he managed to limp into the pits, but an extra pit stop with a front wing change cost the Red Bull ace a lot of valuable time, making him drop to the back of the pack.

The Silver Arrows were absolutely flying around the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Hamilton was pulling a gap to the others right from the very start. Bottas was flying as well; in no time the Finn had made his way past both Stroll and Ocon, jumping already second in the race. Kimi was complaining on the team radio of problems with the rear of his SF70-H. Sebastian made an easy-looking overtaking move on his teammate and moved fifth. Sebastian was driving with passion on the home turf of his team. The German attacked both Stroll and Ocon -jumping third in the race. However, it soon became obvious, that Sebastian had no chance to match the lap times of the Silver Arrows. At this point Sebastian was already 8 seconds down on Bottas.

Kimi, who was continually struggling with the rear of his car, was the first top driver to pit on lap 16. He re-joined the track on the soft compound in P11. Williams´ Stroll pitted a couple of laps later, for a similar tyre choice. Kimi benefitted from the undercut, as Stroll re-joined the track behind the Iceman. After the pit stop Kimi´s pace seemed more convincing, and the Iceman made an overtaking move on Ocon, making his way to P6. Sebastian, Hamilton and Bottas pitted on the sequential laps -all for a fresh set of soft tyres. Red Bull´s Ricciardo was the last top driver to pit, as the Australian had started the race on the more durable soft compound. Ricciardo re-joined the track behind Kimi in P5, but there were only 2.5 seconds separating these two. Ricciardo´s pace on the fresh super soft Pirellis was crushing and he attacked Kimi almost immediately. Kimi tried to defend his position, but there was nothing the Iceman could do. Ricciardo moved fourth and started to chase down Sebastian, who was 11 seconds ahead.

Mercedes´ dominance in Monza was absolutely dumbfounding. Hamilton had a 3.5-second gap to his teammate Bottas, but Sebastian was already massive 28 seconds down on Bottas! It was absolutely frightening, how superior the Silver Arrows were today! Ricciardo smelled Sebastian´s blood but ran out of laps to get within DRS distance from his ex teammate. Hamilton took his 59th career victory, and Valtteri made it a dominant 1-2 for Mercedes. Sebastian crossed the finish line in P3 -crushing 36 seconds behind race winner Hamilton! Nevertheless, it was very emotional to see Sebastian on the podium in front of the passionate tifosi. Ricciardo finished fourth, Kimi fifth, Ocon sixth, Stroll seventh, Massa eighth, Perez ninth, Verstappen being the last points scorer today.

Hamilton´s victory meant, that the Briton snatched the lead from Sebastian in the drivers´ championship standings for the first time this season. I definitely hope, that Singapore suits Ferrari in practice as well as it does on paper, because Sebastian really needs a victory to fight for the championship! In terms of the constructors´ standings, Ferrari is definitely the underdog, as they are already 62 points down on the title rivals Mercedes. But I count on Ferrari bouncing back both in Singapore and Malaysia, which should both suit Ferrari extremely well. Sebastian seemed very confident in the post-race interview in terms of Ferrari´s performance in the remaining races. I hope he knows something that I yet don´t! But I have to say I have a good hunch in terms of the last third of the season!

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