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2021 Italian Grand Prix Star Performers | 2021 Italian Grand Prix

2021 Italian Grand Prix Star Performers | 2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Monza, 2021

Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Charles Leclerc were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Italian Grand Prix. Here’s why.

Stars

Valtteri Bottas

  • Beat Hamilton to qualify fastest for sprint qualifying race
  • Controlled sprint qualifying race to take three points with victory
  • Forced to start at the back of the grid after multiple power unit component penalties
  • Ripped through the lower end of the midfield with little difficulty
  • Passed Leclerc and inherited fourth from penalised Perez after an unsuccessful move on the Red Bull driver

Daniel Ricciardo

Report: Elated Ricciardo says he “never lost faith” before breakthrough McLaren win
  • Qualified in fifth for the sprint qualifying race, six-thousandths behind team mate Norris
  • Gained two places to third at start of sprint qualifying race, eventually securing second on the grid
  • Made another fine start in the race to pass Verstappen
  • Was the first of the leading pair to pit and looked set to keep his position over Verstappen before the Red Bull driver’s slow pit stop, going four-tenths quicker in the middle sector on his out-lap
  • Held his lead after the restart for first win in three years

Charles Leclerc

  • Struggled with engine braking abnormality throughout Friday but still qualified eighth, less than five-hundredths of a second behind his team mate
  • Abandoned second practice running after sudden dizzy spell
  • Gained one place in addition to Gasly’s retirement in sprint qualifying race to secure fifth on the grid
  • Held second at the restart but couldn’t contain Norris, Bottas and Perez in quicker cars
  • Promoted to fourth by Perez’s penalty

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Strugglers

Nikita Mazepin

  • Qualified 20th after going off the track on his fastest lap
  • Secured 17th on the grid in sprint qualifying race ahead of Kubica and Schumacher
  • Hit Schumacher in the race before retiring with a “power unit failure”

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And the rest

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2021
Report: Hamilton pleased stewards “set a precedent”, Verstappen “doesn’t fully agree”
  • Fastest in every Friday session – except for Q3, where he was unexpectedly beaten by team mate Bottas
  • Lost three positions at start of sprint qualifying race and unable to make pass the McLaren of Norris ahead
  • Running hard tyres from the start of the grand prix, he gained a place from Norris on lap one but lost it running wide in unsuccessful attempt to pass Verstappen
  • Passed Norris again towards the end of his first stint as his tyre choice paid off
  • Emerged from the pits narrowly ahead of Verstappen but was knocked off at the Rettifilo

Max Verstappen

  • Could not match the Mercedes pace in qualifying, yet still happy with third, three tenths from Hamilton
  • Inherited pole position from Bottas after passing Hamilton at the start but being unable to catch the other Mercedes
  • Couldn’t contain Ricciardo’s rapid McLaren at the start of the grand prix
  • Very slow pit stop cost him several places and left him fuming at his team
  • Was judged predominantly to blame for the clash with Hamilton and given a three-place grid penalty for the next round

Sergio Perez

  • Served a valuable function for team mate Verstappen, giving him in a tow in Q2 and Q3
  • Struggled for relative pace throughout qualifying, only just reaching Q3 and qualifying ninth
  • Ordinary start in sprint qualifying race dropped him behind Stroll and took 10 laps to pass the Aston Martin en route to eighth on the grid
  • Made more progress in the race, but was naïve to assume he’d be allowed to keep his position over Leclerc after going off-track while fighting the Ferrari driver, and received an inevitable penalty

Lando Norris

Lando Norris, McLaren, Monza, 2021
Norris fell in behind Ricciardo and kept Bottas back
  • Blamed a “small mistake” in Q3 for missing out on third in qualifying
  • Gained a place in the sprint qualifying race but was passed by team mate Ricciardo
  • Lost contact with his team mate in the opening phase of the race as he fought with Hamilton
  • Immediately re-passed Leclerc at the restart to resume second
  • Was probably quick enough to challenge Ricciardo but obeyed McLaren’s instructions for the pair to hold position and manage the pace to ensure their rivals couldn’t attack

Lance Stroll

  • Frustrated by traffic in qualifying but took 12th right behind team mate Vettel
  • Passed by Perez in sprint qualifying race but used soft tyres to hold off Alonso and take ninth on the grid
  • Only lost a position to the recovering Bottas on his way to seventh place
  • Was fortunate to avoid a penalty for his slightly slow reaction to waved yellow flags

Sebastian Vettel

  • Just missed out on Q3 by three-hundredths of a second
  • Flat-spotted both front tyres at start of sprint qualifying race, dropping behind Stroll and Alonso to 12th on the grid
  • Lost places to Ocon and Latifi at the beginning of the grand prix and was shoved off-track by Ocon later in the race

Esteban Ocon

Report: Why the ‘Leclerc precedent’ didn’t spare Ocon a penalty for Vettel clash
  • Struggled for pace on Friday, qualifying just behind team mate Alonso in 14th
  • Stuck behind Vettel in sprint qualifying race and unable to find a way past
  • Went off-track at the start and relinquished the position gained over his team mate. But being required to do the same to Latifi, who he’d passed well before the corner, seemed excessive
  • His move on Vettel at the Roggia deserved a penalty (though Ocon was understandably confused given the stewards’ failure to do the same for Leclerc two years earlier)
  • Passed Latifi after the restart to salvage a point for tenth

Fernando Alonso

  • Disappointed to qualify 13th after lock up in Q2 cost him a second push lap
  • Still qualified ahead of team mate Ocon
  • Gained two places in sprint qualifying race to secure tenth on the grid
  • Retirements ahead lifted him to eighth at the finish

Carlos Sainz Jnr

  • Out-qualified team mate Leclerc to take seventh in qualifying
  • Heavy crash at Ascari in second practice
  • Lost out at start of sprint qualifying race and focused on regaining confidence, taking sixth on the grid
  • The Safety Car wiped out his 10-second deficit to Leclerc halfway through the race
  • Was starting to slip back from his team mate again when the chequered flag fell

Pierre Gasly

Last year’s winner had a joyless return
  • “Maximised potential” of car in qualifying to secure sixth pace
  • Crashed out of sprint qualifying race after hitting Ricciardo in the crunch of the Rettifilo chicane, causing his front wing to collapse at Curva Grande, dooming him to start from the back of the grid
  • Technical problems in his repaired car forced him out early

Yuki Tsunoda

  • Appeared to have secures passage to Q2 but was instead eliminated after time deleted for track limits at final corner
  • Gained a couple of places at the start of sprint qualifying race but contact with Kubica led to front-wing change
  • Passed three cars after sprint qualifying race resumed to take 16th on the grid
  • Was unable to start the race due to a braking problem

Robert Kubica

  • Eliminated in 19th in qualifying after complaints of being held up by Mazepin
  • Spun around at Roggia chicane after contact with Tsunoda in sprint qualifying race, recovering to 18th thanks to Safety Car
  • Passed by his recovering team mate four laps from home

Antonio Giovinazzi

Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, Monza, 2021
Giovinazzi threw away a badly-needed result
  • Secured second successive Q3 appearance with tenth place in qualifying
  • Made up one place in sprint qualifying race to secure impressive seventh on the grid
  • Started well, splitting the Ferraris, but ran wide at Roggia and rejoined incautiously, tipping himself into a crash he was lucky to recover from
  • Finished a distant 13th after an extra pit stop

Mick Schumacher

  • Out-qualified team mate Mazepin as well as Kubica
  • Lost out to Mazepin at the start of sprint qualifying race and struggled with overheating tyres, eventually passed by Kubica
  • His race was ruined by Mazepin who knocked him into a spin

George Russell

  • Said the team “turned the car upside-down” after first practice
  • Fortunate to squeeze into Q2 after Tsunoda’s lap was deleted
  • Lost positions at start of sprint qualifying race but fought back to 15th despite “massive understeer” caused by damage to front wing
  • Benefitted from those ahead of him pitting before the Safety Car to move up to ninth at the restart for his third points score in four races

Nicholas Latifi

  • Pipped to a Q2 appearance by team mate Russell
  • Passed and held off team mate in sprint qualifying race to take 13th on the grid, therefore qualifying ahead of Russell for first time
  • Pitting before the Safety Car didn’t help his cause and dropped out of the points when Ocon passed him at the restart

Over to you

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September 14, 2021 at 11:36AM

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