A race like the latest Italian Grand Prix at Monza would be the jewel in the crown of any Formula 1 season, much less one as one-sided as 2020 has been. It produced a podium that would’ve been unimaginable before the start of the weekend, and a winner that pretty much all of F1 seemed happy to see rewarded.
It also made a significant impact on the drivers’ and constructors’ standings, albeit not so much on the top of the championship battle in either.
Below, we select our winners and losers from this memorable event.
When Pierre Gasly got shuffled out of Red Bull’s line-up and back into Toro Rosso last year, he must’ve wondered whether his chance to ever stand on the F1 podium had gone.
But a few months later Interlagos gave him the opportunity to secure a top-three finish, and he took it. Now, Monza has thrown up a chance at a shock win, and he took that, too.
Gasly has not been faultless this season, and the undeniable gap between himself and team-mate Daniil Kvyat in qualifying trim tended to shrink significantly (if not occasionally turn into a Kvyat advantage) when it came to race pace.
But for all the races in which he got into Q3 and was effectively punished by the rule that mandated he had to start on the used soft tyre… well, he built enough credit across all those weekends to have earned this. – Valentin Khorounzhiy
Red Bull’s junior team has sometimes struggled to find its place in F1, but this was a glorious day for the former Minardi team – it’s second ‘day of days’ if you like after Sebastian Vettel’s Monza win in 2008.
Having aligned itself a little more closely with the Red Bull team by maximising the 2019-specification non-listed parts it has taken, it has emerged as a more consistent midfield performer and once it was given this shot at the front, it managed it perfectly.
This is a team that still remembers its days struggling to survive as Minardi, so to take another victory on home soil is a wonderful achievement. Yes, fortune favoured it, but both driver and pitwall nailed it once they had the chance. – Edd Straw
It’s bittersweet in a way because Carlos Sainz Jr came so close to victory and McLaren knows this will be the best chance it probably has for a while to end its win drought.
But how can the team really be disappointed with a second and a fourth?
McLaren’s back into third in the championship with a 16-point margin over Racing Point and has bagged its second podium of the season.
Sainz has a deserved second place, his best finish in F1 so far, to show for it after a luckless campaign.
This was a brilliant result for a team and driver who were in top form this weekend. – Scott Mitchell
It was the best F1 race since… well, I don’t know. It’s hard to tell. But Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was absolutely right when he called it “a loss for Mercedes, and a loss for the other big teams, but a victory for the sport”.
On the one hand, there were no overtakes for the lead and dirty air was clearly an issue. On the other hand, absolutely not a single soul minded that at the chequered flag, and even before the race was transformed by the Hamilton penalty it was thoroughly enjoyable virtually from the start.
F1’s not had anywhere vintage year in terms of on-track action, and the Italian Grand Prix does not change the fact that there is no title battle to speak of (more on this below). But it has missed underdog wins, was starved of them, amid the relentless competence of Mercedes, the less-relentless-but-still considerable competence of Red Bull and the pre-2019 competence of Ferrari.
Monza finally allowed F1 audiences to feel that Leicester 2015/16 Premier League title buzz, if only for one race. From 2022 onwards, with the new technical regulations, you’d hope that moments like these become more frequent. The understandable, and fully acceptable, trade-off is that they will not feel as special as this was. – VK
Lewis Hamilton (as the championship leader)
Hamilton did a marvellous job in recovering to seventh. He was clean and methodical with his overtakes and damn quick.
He minimised the loss to Valtteri Bottas to just three points (Hamilton got fastest lap too) and put another seven points on the retired Max Verstappen – who Hamilton may well consider a more realistic threat given Bottas’s season.
That is a really, really good result in the circumstances. – SM
Lewis Hamilton (as a racing driver)
But Hamilton has lost some points to Bottas in the championship, and a win was turned into seventh place. That is a better pill to swallow.
He must shoulder a portion of that responsibility because the panels declaring the pits closed were visible and they are there for a driver to take notice of.
It’s fair to point out other teams (Red Bull and McLaren) gave quick and clear instructions to their drivers that the pitlane was closed. Mercedes only had 12 seconds between the pitlane being closed and Hamilton entering it.
It had a tiny window to react and did not. Hamilton didn’t see the panels himself. It’s a shared loss, but a rare loss nonetheless. – SM
Stroll was in the perfect position to win this race. All he needed to do was execute the restart well, which he failed to do. While he was disadvantaged compared to Gasly thanks to having no tow, he needed to hold on behind him but instead ended up losing ground.
Third was still a good result for Stroll, so it’s perhaps a little harsh to have him in this category, but had he hung in there behind Gasly he’d have been the one chasing for a win and might well have taken a famous victory instead.
If you finish third in a race you might have won, you have to have some element of disappointment no matter what the overall result. – ES
Given its form at Spa and its drivers’ comfort with the car in low-drag specification, Renault should have been angling to put itself in a best-of-the-rest spot behind Mercedes at Monza.
That wouldn’t necessarily have meant victory given how crazily the race unfolded, but Renault should have been running higher up in the ‘on pure merit’ part of the grand prix and was rightly a bit underwhelmed to come away from this race with sixth and eighth places.
After all, its customer McLaren did rather better, and Renault has ‘mad race specialist’ Daniel Ricciardo on its books. – Matt Beer
The expectations were low for Ferrari’s first home race in 2020, and yet against all odds the race somehow managed to go even worse than that.
The Scuderia’s afternoon looked dire – but at least manageable dire – when Sebastian Vettel’s brakes failed and he speared through the Variante del Rettifilo run-off.
By then the two SF1000s were already distinctly not the fastest Ferrari-powered cars in the race. But Charles Leclerc’s well-timed pitstop created an opportunity, and he darted past the two Alfa Romeos in the restart to run an unimaginable fourth – and then immediately crashed.
It looked a bad mistake, but so poor did the SF1000 look in wheel-to-wheel battle at Spa and at Monza that Leclerc can probably be forgiven for trying to establish as big a cushion as possible.
But is it forgivable for Ferrari to turn up a car this uncompetitive and unreliable? Not so much. In the end it was both slow and wasteful, and after a race like that it’s very difficult to see it challenging for third place in the constructors. – VK
Three points isn’t enough to dent Hamilton’s championship lead severely and when Hamilton has a rare stinker like this one (in terms of overall result) then Bottas must be there to capitalise.
Instead, he’s fluffed the start yet again and was quite limp in battle. There are some mitigating circumstances around this – the Mercedes is built to run in clean air and has more downforce than its opposition – but Bottas never looked like forcing the issue.
He has had some misfortune this season but sadly Bottas is his own worst enemy when it comes to his title bid and to finish fifth in a race like this typifies his tricky 2020. – SM
The team that really should be there to capitalise when Mercedes gets it wrong was virtually absent in this race.
Max Verstappen admitting that his muted qualifying result was an indictment of the 2020 Red Bull-Honda’s actual pace was one thing, but both drivers made a mess of the original start and opening laps and were never in the hunt even before Verstappen retired.
If Honda had been lagging behind its rivals on power still, then Monza pain would’ve been understandable. But Honda won the race… – MB
In a race like that, there’s every chance for the minnow teams to score. But the three regular ‘Class C’ teams came away empty-handed despite the opportunity presented.
It will be particularly galling for Alfa Romeo, as while Antonio Giovinazzi was always going to lose track position thanks to his penalty, the hope would have been that Kimi Raikkonen could have held on. Choosing softs for the run to the finish was perhaps not the percentage play.
Haas had one car out long before the red flag, but Romain Grosjean was never really a serious points threat, while Nicholas Latifi briefly held a points position but the car didn’t have the pace to hold onto it – agonisingly missing out on the top 10 in the Williams family’s final race. – ES