Max Verstappen may have romped to an impressive fifth successive win at the Italian Grand Prix but Edd Straw feels there were two drivers who were even more impressive this past weekend.
He gives his verdict on the performances of the field at Monza:
After each grand prix, The Race will rate each driver’s weekend with a mark out of 10.
An average mark is 5 out of 10, so that score is indicative of a decent drive given the high standard of drivers in F1.
For a more in-depth explanation, read our outline of the system.
Started: 7th Finished: 1st
Given his five-place grid penalty, Verstappen was never really in the fight for pole position and ended up second-fastest in Q2 after shading Sainz. Benefitting from a tow from Ricciardo, he strung together a strong lap but the Red Bull didn’t have the speed in the first and last sectors to beat Leclerc.
Made short work of clearing the five cars separating him from Leclerc, then picked up the lead when Ferrari brought the leader in under the early VSC. From there, he had a straightforward run on a planned one-stopper, taking a free extra stop under the late safety car on his way to win number 31.
Verdict: Another consummate performance, but one that didn’t unduly tax him.
Started: 13th Finished: 6th
Put in what he felt was a so-so lap, but one that wasn’t bad, yet was still nine-tenths off Verstappen. Perez didn’t have a tow for his lap, but not because he was towing Verstappen. Ultimately, it was the usual story of not being so comfortable with the car and losing time throughout the lap.
A big lock-up battling with Sainz at the first chicane on lap two put Perez on the back foot and forced the team to bring him in from 13th on lap seven because of fears of a tyre failure. Amid struggles managing the brakes thanks to a front-right overheating problem, Perez made solid progress and was seventh when the late safety car was deployed having made a second stop. Norris’s pitstop promoted him to sixth.
Verdict: Again comprehensively outgunned by his team-mate and below the potential of the car.
Started: 19th Finished: 5th
Qualifying was rendered largely irrelevant by a back-of-the-grid penalty, with little to play for but ensuring that he was ahead of Tsunoda given Sainz’s Ferrari had a clear advantage. Even so, he was marginally the quicker Mercedes driver and put in a good lap despite rear grip and balance struggles.
Fifth was, realistically, about as good as it was going to get from so far down the grid with Hamilton executing a one-stopper well. There were plenty of passes along the way, including a double overtake on Gasly and Norris through Curva Grande, as he avoided getting bogged down in traffic.
Verdict: A fine damage limitation exercise after a back-of-the-grid penalty.
Started: 2nd Finished: 3rd
Put the car where he needed to in order to earn second on the grid by setting the sixth-fastest time. That was based on his first run in Q3, as the second was aborted after Ascari, where he had a moment on entry but on a lap that didn’t matter given the Mercedes was never going to threaten Ferrari’s pace.
Took an optimistic look around the outside of Leclerc at Turn 1, with the predictable consequence that he took to the runoff. But he comfortably held onto second and, aside from inevitably slipping behind Verstappen, avoided losing any more positions. However, the late safety car did ensure he avoided late pressure from Sainz for the final podium place.
Verdict: Another strong weekend’s work that yielded the optimum race result.
Started: 1st Finished: 2nd
Carried stunning speed through Lesmo 2 on his final Q3 lap to bag his 17th F1 pole position. With a good tow from Norris and Sainz ahead, he mitigated the losses to Verstappen in the middle sector and capitalised on the car’s pace over the rest of the lap to deliver the Tifosi exactly what it wanted.
Led early on but the early stop under the VSC, which ended while he was in the pits and cut the expected time gain, set him onto a less-than-ideal two-stop strategy. It was a straightforward race in which he never engaged in battle with Verstappen although the failure to restart the race after both had changed tyres denied him the chance to attempt to steal the win.
Verdict: Made the most of the Ferrari, which was second best on race day at Monza.
Started: 18th Finished: 4th
Carried a back-of-the-grid penalty into qualifying and was used to tow Leclerc on the second Q3 runs (albeit with McLaren getting in between the train) but still improved with no tow. Having had the fastest time on the first runs, he was shuffled back to third and was frustrated to be carrying the penalty on a weekend where he was so quick.
Broke into the points by lap 10, with a crucial pass on Perez at Turn 1 along the way. On a one-stopper, his rapid progress allowed him to get into a position where he was on target potentially to have a shot at Russell for the final podium slot late on, only for the safety car to be deployed. Sainz then made a free pitstop for fresh rubber without losing a place.
Verdict: Rapid but frustrated to be condemned to a recovery drive from the back of the grid.
Started: 4th Finished: DNF
This was one of Ricciardo’s better qualifying performances this season. His underlying pace was closer than the 0.341s deficit to Norris in Q3 suggested.
Even so, it was generally a couple of tenths, with the time starting to ebb away through the Lesmos and over the rest of the lap compared to Norris in a car Ricciardo described as “a bit of a handful”. But thanks to penalties, he jumped up five places. Also did a good job to back up Gasly slightly to help Norris’s strategy.
Held fourth early on but was always going to fall behind Sainz, Hamilton and Perez – it was just a question of when. He was also jumped by Norris, who passed him under team orders while on a different strategy, and was covering Gasly effectively before his engine gave out.
Verdict: Good by his recent standards but still, by his own estimation, missing “a few tenths”.
Started: 3rd Finished: 7th
Put together a good lap to put the McLaren about as high as it was going to get in seventh place, which was enough for third on the grid once penalties kicked in. As usual, he had the edge over Ricciardo but it was slightly closer than usual.
McLaren couldn’t get the car into the launch map for the start, which meant a bad start for Norris. He briefly dropped to eighth but repassed De Vries approaching the first chicane then Alonso through the second chicane and Lesmo 1 to end the first lap sixth. Ran a long first stint on mediums, during which a poor VSC restart and off at the first chicane allowed Alonso to get ahead, a situation he correct a few laps later, before switching to softs after 35 laps.
That should have allowed him to overcut Ricciardo and Gasly, but a slow stop meant he emerged behind. He quickly dispatched Gasly and was let past Ricciardo and held sixth when he stopped for fresh softs under the safety car, dropping to seventh. He felt fifth was possible without those setbacks, although would have faced a battle to stay ahead of Hamilton.
Verdict: A superb weekend with only the brief off while trying to hold off Alonso counting against him.
Started: 14th Finished: 12th
Carried a five-place grid penalty into qualifying but rear-end moments at the second chicane and Lesmo 2 cost him a place in Q3. As he put it, “at this level, you can’t have mistakes into such corners”, with his time almost a quarter-of-a-second off Alonso’s in Q2.
Ocon was initially behind the Aston Martin drivers, with Vettel retiring from in front of him before he undercut Stroll when he made his first pitstop. That put him behind Zhou in the queue, which is where he stayed for the rest of the race, missing out on the points in 11th.
Verdict: “A bit of a boring one” was a fair summary of his race, and weekend as a whole.
Started: 6th Finished: DNF
Had a moment at the first Lesmo on his first Q3 lap, which led to him aborting in order to preserve that set of tyres for the race. But that strategy didn’t work given he had his second-run lap time deleted for exceeding track limits. He reckoned he should have been eighth, the deleted time was only good enough for 10th, but he accepted he didn’t execute Q3 well. Even so, that added up to sixth on the grid thanks to penalties.
Alonso was running behind Norris and ahead of Perez when he was forced to retire with a loss of water pressure after 31 laps. Despite complaining of a weakness in energy deployment from the ERS (that the team said wasn’t a problem), held his own during the race and did briefly get ahead of Norris, but felt he was destined for ninth or 10th had he finished even though Alpine felt he could have finished behind the McLaren without losing further places.
Verdict: A mixed bag by Alonso’s standards on a difficult weekend for Alpine.
Started: 5th Finished: 8th
Set exactly the same laptime as Ricciardo in Q3, but ended up classified behind him as the McLaren driver set his first. Gasly’s final Q3 lap time was deleted thanks to sliding just wide of track limits exiting the first Lesmo.
Held fifth early on but was always going to slip behind the frontrunners recovering from penalties. A slightly slow front-left change meant there was no chance of undercutting Ricciardo, so he stayed behind the McLaren for much of the rest of the race before picking up eighth when the McLaren retired.
Verdict: A good weekend’s work, although track limits error in qualifying did make his race tricker thanks to the loss of position to Ricciardo.
Started: 20th Finished: 14th
Given he had a back-of-the-grid penalty for power unit changes – on top of the grid drops for hitting five reprimands and ignoring yellow flags in FP1 – qualifying was largely pointless for Tsunoda. He got through to Q2 but didn’t run because it was pointless to do so as he was always going to be at the back of the trio of drivers with such penalties.
Made good progress from the back in the first stint to move up to just behind Ocon in the midfield queue. He lost a place to Schumacher on the run to Ascari after a poor exit from Lesmo 2, but took fresh softs under the safety car and had a shot at attacking for the points had the race restarted.
Verdict: Pace was good but the FP1 yellow flag mistake was inexcusable given his run of reprimands.
Started: 11th Finished: DNF
“I won’t miss days like today” was the soon-to-retire Vettel’s evaluation after qualifying. In a draggy, not-very-quick Aston Martin, he did at least get within half-a-tenth of Q2 with what was a very good lap considering the machinery – triggering a shouted “no way” over the radio when told he’d only missed out by a few hundredths.
Completed the first lap in 10th but then fell behind Stroll, Ocon and Sainz. He retired on the 11th lap when he suffered from an energy store problem that cost power and forced him to stop on track.
Verdict: Did a handy job with limited machinery.
Started: 12th Finished: DNF
Making Q2 in the slightly draggy Aston Martin always seemed a big ask, and Stroll lacked the edge of pace compared to Vettel. The middle sector proved costliest, with an untidy second chicane costing time, with the straightline speed comparison suggesting he was running fractionally less wing.
Stroll briefly ran 10th, but given the pace of the Aston Martin the rest of his race was about trying to limit the inevitable losses. He fought on until lap 40 when he was running ahead only of Bottas, with the team deciding to retire the car once he had been lapped given any chance of a result had been eliminated.
Verdict: Put up a reasonable fight in a losing cause.
Started: 10th Finished: 15th
Locked up at the first chicane and cut the corner on his final Q1 lap, meaning he had to rely on his first-run time for grid position. That was his second push lap on the first set of tyres, with a rear snap mid-Lesmo 2 costing him time. And while the final-run mistake ensured de Vries beat him, his stand-in team-mate was already fractionally faster on the first run.
Latifi’s launch was good and he was behind de Vries approaching Turn 1, only to be shuffled backwards through the first part of the lap. That left him 14th with his points hopes evaporated, sliding backwards to finish ahead only of Magnussen.
Verdict: Missing out on a points shot and being defeated by a stand-in team-mate added up to a painful weekend.
Started: 8th Finished: 9th
Drafted in to replace the ill Albon at short notice before FP3, de Vries did a superb job to reach Q2. He set two lap times good enough for the top 15, although the second was deleted, but was a little disappointed that he locked up and went off at the second chicane on his final Q2 run – the consequence of inadvertently knocking his brake bias slightly more rearwards than expected.
Didn’t make the best of starts but held onto eighth place ahead of Zhou. He effectively remained there for the rest of the race, standing firm in the face of growing pressure from the Alfa Romeo driver in the second stint before getting some breathing space by edging out of DRS range as they were lapped. The late safety car helped preserve his position, but he produced as close to an error-free race as could be expected for a driver in this situation.
Verdict: In the circumstances, his performance was remarkable with the inevitable imperfections excusable.
Started: 9th Finished: 10th
Made Q2, but failed to put together a fully representative lap in the second stage of qualifying. Locked up and picked up a flatspot in Q2, which ultimately meant he was just under six-tenths off his Q1 time.
Held ninth at the start then settled into a race-long chase of de Vries. He was never able to launch a serious attack despite pressure growing in the second stint, only to fall back by a second when the pair were lapped by Verstappen. Ricciardo’s retirement gave him his first point since Canada.
Verdict: A little off Bottas’s pace, but held position in the queue throughout with an error-free drive.
Started: 15th Finished: 13th
Bottas produced a good final lap in Q2, but de Vries’s off at the second chicane denied him a tow for the rest of the lap. Had de Vries stayed ahead, Bottas looked to have enough pace to reach the top 10, which would have been a superb achievement given the machinery.
Hit the back of Magnussen at the first chicane and dropped to the back thanks to struggling for gears while recovering. Ran long to lap 35, rejoining after his one stop ahead of Magnussen and had risen to 13th by the finish.
Verdict: A strong weekend undone by penalty (not his fault) and very costly first-corner misjudgement.
Started: 16th Finished: 16th
Had both of his lap times deleted from his final Q1 run, one of which was good enough to have made Q2 in a Haas that had its straightline weakness badly exposed by Monza. But while he railed against the way track limits are enforced, it’s not the first time he’s been caught out and the fact he did it twice was revealing.
Magnussen was booted off at the first chicane by Bottas, rejoining ahead of Latifi and earning himself a five-second penalty that seemed a little harsh given he didn’t leave the track through his own choice or error. With diffuser damage, that condemned him to a long, hard afternoon on his way to last.
Verdict: A poor weekend of small errors despite decent underlying pace – although the penalty was harsh.
Started: 17th Finished: 12th
The ultimate gap to Magnussen was a little flattering to Schumacher, who generally was attacking the braking zones for the chicanes a little more than his team-mate and losing time as a result – particularly through compromising the first chicane. He was ideally placed for a tow from Russell on his final Q1 lap, but locked up at the chicane and went off. To this, we must add the significant caveat that he had only 17 practice laps thanks to a combination of Antonio Giovinazzi taking over his car in FP1 and technical problems.
Finished the first lap 17th but made good progress from there to climb to 12th behind Ocon, with a good pass on Tsunoda on the blast to Ascari along the way. He felt points were possible had the race restarted after the safety car, which was optimistic – but considering the pace of the Haas, did a good job to get to where he did.
Verdict: Considering his restricted practice running, a good weekend’s work.