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Mercedes dominates at the home of Ferrari; F1 at Monza

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Podium ceremonies at Monza, courtesy of Morgan Chemello

Ferrari fans made it clear at the podium ceremonies on Sunday at Monza, that they were incredibly unhappy with the now champion leader (by a mere three points), Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. The boos were loud, and the sea of red beyond the podium only accentuated the anger of the Tifosi (Fans: Ferrari fans).

However, not all was lost as Ferrari did have a podium finisher, their leader, Sebastian Vettel. But it was a bittersweet podium at P3 and a bit of a disappointment for Ferrari fans everywhere.

Let me explain this, as someone who grew up in an (very) Italian household, you are, by default, a very loyal fan of the Scuderia Ferraris.

Italians are very proud of their things–their culture and heritage are just part of that. Now look at Ferrari, their proud and beautiful supercar stamp on the automotive world, that has been ingrained and interwoven into their proud culture.

And Ferrari has done well in Formula 1. Especially during my childhood, which was conveniently during the reign of Michael Schumacher.

We love our Ferrari team about as much as we love a good pasta. It’s a staple in the home. So when the race is in Italy, at Monza of historical accord, and you have the 70th anniversary of Ferrari in F1–well, there are some expectations going into the weekend.

And unfortunately, they were not quite met. Honestly, it was fortunate Vettel was able to get that podium after a horrible performance during qualifying (Kimi Raikkonen qualified P5, Vettel P6…) and they appeared to struggle a bit throughout the entire race.

Vettel did manage to hold on to P3 for a good chunk of Monza, and managed to get it back from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo after a round of pitting. But he just could not catch up with Mercedes. Mercedes–ran 1-2 the entire race and did it near effortlessly. And Ferrari would not ever catch the pair, finishing P3, P5.

It was a better result after that lousy qualifying run Saturday (which, btw was a rainy qualifying session, delayed by an hour and a half due to the weather) but still, something was missing from the Ferrari cars this weekend, and what we thought would be a more spectacular race for the Italian stable, well, was really not. I can’t even make a bad comparison. It could have been more demanding.

Let’s just say, Italians were happy for a podium at least. It certainly added less insult to injury.

Other notables, of course it was more interesting in most of the mid-field action. Ricciardo, who started P16 on the grid Sunday finished P4–moving up an impressive 12 spots the entire grand prix. 13 actually, as he had made it to P3 before pitting near the halfway mark to fulfill tyre strategy and requirements.

The Sahara Force India drivers managed to not run into each other. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was able to finish a race, albeit P10, but still finished.

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McLaren’s Fernando Alonso during qualifying Saturday in Monza, courtesy of Morgan Chemello.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso had a little run-in with Renault’s Joylon Palmer. Both were not happy. Palmer had to retire, which has been a common theme for the driver this season, unfortunately.

Alonso was able to continue his run, but was retired on Lap 52. His teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne, however had rotten luck (per usual for McLaren) and was retired on Lap 34 after experiencing no power.

And everyone forgets about the Sauber team, but Marcus Ericsson was also retired on Lap 52. Possibly to avoid penalties for changes on the car going into Singapore.

So a more quick recap:
Lewis Hamilton wins.
Mercedes/Hamilton leads the championship.
Ferrari podiums, but still disappoints.
Verstappen finishes a race.
Alonso doesn’t like Palmer.
No McLarens finish the race.
Everyone forgets Sauber.

The points are close for the championship going into Singapore in two weeks. It’s especially close between Hamilton and Vettel, with only three points separating the two, but Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas is not far behind (only 38 points behind Seb). And with six races to go, it’s still anyone’s to grab.

Results for the Formula 1 Gran Premio Heineken d’Italia (Monza!) 2017:
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
6. Esteban Ocon (Force India)
7. Lance Stroll (Williams)
8. Felipe Massa (Williams)
9. Sergio Perez (Force India)
10. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
11. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
12. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)
13. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)
14. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso)
15. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
16. Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber)
17. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) DNF
18. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) DNF
NC. Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) DNF
NC. Jolyon Palmer (Renault) DNF

Top 5 Driver Standings for the Championship:
1. 238 pts – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. 235 pts – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
3. 197 pts – Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
4. 144 pts – Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
5. 138 pts – Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)

p.s. A thank you to my father, who on a kind of whim, made a trip to Italy this past week and went over to see the race at Monza, and graciously provided me with a few colorful and fun snaps frmo the weekend that I was able to add to the blog this week.
Mille grazie papa!

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