2021 Italy Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: This season is definitely brewing to be one of the most talked about championship fights in F1 history.
EVENT: The tifosi were a bit laid back than normal, probably because the Ferraris weren't really strong contenders. Though, the crowd briefly sensed that possibility when the two championship contenders crashed each other out.
TRACK: Remove the chicanes. Just let them go balls out all the way around. Yeah, unrealistic, but we can dream.
QUALIFYING: Bottas gets fired and then wins pole, Verstappen has a Mercedes wall in front of him, Norris gets his speed back, Ferraris don't quite excite the home crowd, and Giovinazzi once again is a Q3 hero.
SPRINT START: The idea of being cautious in the sprint went out the window the second time around, Hamilton gets swallowed up, Gasly losses his wing and then his car, and Tsunoda taps Kubica into a spin.
SPRINT: It did what it was meant to do -- mix the grid up. Which had a significant impact on Sunday's race.
RACE: What a fantastic race. Upsets. Comebacks. Controversial crashes. Great passes. Failed pit stops throwing strategies out the window. And a happy ending. Everybody likes a happy ending.
START: Ricciardo shakes things up with a brilliant start to grab the lead, it goes great for Hamilton who can suddenly challenge Verstappen only to have it go wrong for challenging Verstappen dropping back behind the McLarens, and Giovinazzi's great starting position goes up in dust.
RICCIARDO: A massively popular victory. Daniel is back! And so is the (yucky) shooey.
NORRIS: A massively popular runner-up.
MCLAREN: A lot of people heavily criticized the hiring of Zak Brown as CEO, as well as criticizing Zak himself. But ever since he took over, he has made one move after another which has consistenly improved the team. And now, they got a 1-2 finish. Who's laughing now?
BOTTAS: The week Valtteri is let go from Mercedes. Grabs the qualifying pole. Wins the sprint. Has to start from the back due to an engine penalty. Moves all the way up to a third place finish with a brilliant drive. Talk about the epitome of too little, too late.
VERSTAPPEN: Max did not want to let Hamilton, with cold tires, get in front. Verstappen could not afford to lose out on that pass.
HAMILTON: Lewis did not want to let Verstappen, with warm tires, get in front. Hamilton could not afford to lose out on that pass.
RED BULL: The confrontation was ultimately setup due to their botched 11.1 second pit stop. The cars never should have been that close at that moment.
MERCEDES: The confrontation was ultimately setup due to their slow 4.2 second pit stop. The cars never should have been that close at that moment.
FERRARI: Both Ferrari drivers and cars were strong enough to take advantage of other's misfortunes to get decent finishes.
PEREZ: Left out to dry during qualifying in order to give his teammate the tow, Sergio mostly made up for it in the race.
STROLL: Salvaged an otherwise poor weekend for Aston Martin.
RUSSELL: Fell on the right side of the safety car lottery to get even more points for Williams. Most importantly, he (finally) earned the Mercedes drive for next year.
LATIFI: Fell on the wrong side of the safety car lottery. Nicholas deserved a better finish. Quite frankly, he has had two strong weekends in a row. He deserves some kudos.
GIOVINAZZI: Apparently he was told before this tripleheader that he had three races to prove himself. Quite frankly, he did just that. His poor finishes were out of his control, but he has probably driven his best two race weekends of his career.
ALFA ROMEO: Which will make their decision of who to team with newly hired Valtteri Bottas very interesting.
GASLY: From a marvelous, popular victory a year ago at Monza to just three racing laps this year (combined!). Racing fortunes are so, so fickle.
ALPHATAURI: Just forget Sunday ever existed.
HAAS: And now their two drivers crashed into each other. Awesome...
FIA: You really, really need to find a way to solve this qualifying queuing issue. (And no, single car qualifyng is not the answer.)
F2: Australian Oscar Piastri extended his slim points lead from five to 15 over Guanyu Zhou, thanks mainly to a pole and win in the feature race. Theo Pourchaire (sprint race 1 winner), Dan Ticktum (feature race third place who might have won if not for a late safety car to end the race) and Liam Lawson also had impressive drives.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Grin.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 2 -- Whenever a weekend has a sprint, which has happened twice, Verstappen and Hamilton crash into each other in the race. We have one more such weekend, tentatively scheduled for Brazil.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: The last time McLaren won was in the final race of the 2012 season at the Brazilian GP. They qualified on the front row, with Lewis Hamilton edging out Jenson Button. Hamilton dropped out after Hulkenberg crashed into him in the wet. Hulkenberg was given a drive through penalty, handing the lead and win to Button. The race before, Hamilton won at the USGP, thus making 2012 also the last time McLaren won two races in a row.
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: From the Australian GP organization, where the Aussie fans had to stay up till midnight to watch the end: That was worth staying up late for! 🙌
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Daniel Ricciardo at the post race interview, "Can I swear? I wanna swear. I've been a sandbagging S.O.B. all year. Third, fourth, fifth. Might as well win instead, so that's what I did."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Martin Brundle after the sprint, "I would much rather watch that than free practice three."
SCHEDULE: Whew. We need a breather. Then, we can go to no passing Sochi where F1, F2, and F3 are all in action.
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