Events

Ferrari Leads Wet Practice At Monza Before Qualifying Dramas For Pole.

A week on from the horrific tragedy at Spa, news has come through that Juan Manuel Correa’s condition is critical but stable. In a statement released by his family, it seems that an infection had caused Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which as lead to Acute Respiratory Failure. At the last known report, Correa was in an induced coma.  Winner of last weekend’s race, Charles Leclerc, who lead the practice time sheets at Monza, had an acknowledgement of his friend with “R.I.P. Tonio” emblazoned on his helmet.

A bright note of sorts, with rumours seeming to strengthen in regards to Fernando Alonso returning to F1 for 2021. The likeable Spaniard has bemoaned the lack of variety in this season in respect to regulations, saying “The reasons why I left last year are still present now with domination of a clear team and the races a little bit too predictable, but in 2021 these things can be changed and maybe it’s a good opportunity.”

Friday’s practice was beset by showers, affecting Kimi Raikkonen’s runs, with the veteran spinning into the gravel and beaching his Alfa. Carlos Sainz was lucky to not suffer the same fate, with a spin on track but not tagging the wall. Sergio Perez wasn’t as lucky though, with his car going off close to the same place as Sainz’s spin.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was quick during the sessions, ahead of Sainz, Lando Norris, and Lewis Hamilton in FP1, with Sebastian Vettel improving from 8th to 3rd, and ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Daniel Ricciardo improved for 13th to 9th in FP2, with the Australian admitting earlier in the week he had given serious consideration to withdrawing from the race at Spa. He also expressed his disappointment with the behaviour of fans, saying: “Whether you like someone or not, it is not nice to cheer for someone’s downfall or mistake. “All we can ask for is that if you are a fan, then be a true fan and respect what we do, not only the skill but also the risk.”

There was drama in the Formula 3 category too, with Alex Peroni hitting a section of track called sausage kerbing, and launching his car into the air. The car twisted and somersaulted before landing on the catch fence. Somehow the Tasmanian born driver escaped major injury. He was later found to have fractures in his D6 vertebra and concussion.

Qualifying brought its own tension. Q3 is usually the pinnacle of the qualifying sessions, however, inexplicably, most of the the drivers in Q3 at Monza chose to exercise  their right to try and get an aerodynamic tow from a preceding vehicle. As a result, eight of the ten cars that had made it through to Q3 were unable to set a time. It was left to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to take pole and Carlos Sainz in his McLaren to clock off. Lewis Hamilton will start next to Leclerc with the Briton stating: “That’s one of the most exciting parts of qualifying. It’s crazy, the timing, the system we have where everyone backs up, trying to get position, and they basically timed us out.”

The stewards weren’t thrilled with the situation either, with Sainz, Lance Stroll, and Nico Hulkenberg all given reprimands. The word from the stewards office was: “The Stewards believe that the driver played a significant role in the banking up of cars at a critical stage of the final out lap for Q3. The Stewards strongly recommend that the FIA expedite a solution to this type of situation.”

Kimi Raikkonen blew his Q3 with an off at The Parabolica. That’s the same section of track that saw Peroni’s off. That mistake means Raikkonen will start Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix from 10th on the grid, with team mate Antonio Giovinazzi immediately behind him, with the Italian having been bumped out of Q2 by Raikkonen by just 0.002s. However, given that he backed his C38 into the barriers, there will be a  gearbox change and a five place penalty.

 

Sebastian Vettel was disappointed in Q3. The German said that there had been discussions before Qualifying for he and Leclerc to assist each other, however it seems that Vettel was left out from something else. “…but we weren’t doing what we were supposed to do and that’s why it was a mess and I didn’t get a run in the end. Not happy with that, but obviously a good result for the team, which in this country, in Italy, is important.”

The final provisional order is Leclerc for pole and Hamilton in P2. It’s Mercceds and Ferrari with Valtteri Bottas and Vettel, with P5 and P6 going to Renault with Ricciardo and Hulkenberg. Sainz is listed as P7 ahead of Alexander Albon. P9 and P10 see Lance Stroll doing good work for Racing Point and Raikkonen in P10, put possibly P15. Giovinnazi closed out Kevin Magnussen by 1/10th, and P13 sees Daniil Kvyat nudge Lando Norris. Pierre Gasly, Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez, George Russell, Robert Kubica and Max Verstappen finish the list.

The race starts at 15:10 local on Sunday.

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David Conole

Dave Conole is the former long-term circuit commentator for Sydney Motorsport Park, has worked trackside at the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne and is self-employed as an automotive content producer.

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