Five talking points from the Italian Grand Prix

Wow. Have we all recovered from that? I don’t know if I have.

Potentially the most unexpected result since the 1999 European Grand Prix, that Italian Grand Prix had it all. And today, I bring you five talking points from an instant classic.

What. A. Race
So be honest, who predicted this podium? If you did, I’ll gladly call you wrong, because this might be the most unpredictable top three we’ve ever seen in the sport.

I mean, Pierre Gasly just won a grand prix in an Alpha Tauri. Let that sink in for a while. Because it’s probably not going to sink in ever.

Also the fact that Carlos Sainz finished second and came away disappointed not to win, and the same for Lance Stroll in third in a Racing Point (more of course on him soon) and you really couldn’t have predicted just how this would’ve turned out.

Those opening laps really looked like we were in for the same old same old, and sure, it took a Mercedes blunder to give us a result like this, but we needed it.

Boy oh boy did we need it. And yes, this is an anomaly. This won’t happen every single race. Next weekend we will be back to our status quo snoozefest and this weekend will long be forgotten. But for now, I’ll take it. All of us will take it.

It’s races like this that remind all of us Formula One fans why we love this sport, especially for those who have been watching for longer than two silver cars have been dominating. We remember back to the days when there were far more unpredictable races than predictable races.

Races that saw us coming back each week with excitement wondering who was going to finish in the top three each race, rather than all but know what the podium would look like at the end of every second Sunday. It’s a fantastic feeling isn’t it kids? Fingers crossed these become more common place soon.

AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
Carlos Sainz (William West/AFP via Getty Images)

Lance Stroll and the race that could’ve been
Argh! How on earth can I sit here and type the words “Lance Stroll got a podium” and somehow feel slightly disappointed that it wasn’t more?! Because as the self-appointed biggest Lance Stroll fan on the planet, that’s how I’m feeling right now.

Somehow my man found himself on net pole after the restart due to Lewis Hamilton’s penalty, and there was every chance he could race away to take his maiden win. A clean start and maintaining his consistent pace he had before the red flag and it was easy days for a win.

Given Lance is by far the best starter on the grid, there is no doubt that he could do it right? Well…

Of all the times for Lance to have a bad start it was today. A standing start without the benefit of a full grid process with tyre blankets and the like just worked against him, and unfortunately he slipped back behind Gasly, Raikkonen and Sainz at the restart.

Luckily he was able to get ahead of Raikkonen and come home for his second career podium which of course is fantastic, but man, you can’t help but feel his maiden win was there for the taking today. If the race had have been a rolling start, then perhaps things could’ve turned out differently.

But oh well. On an even bigger positive note however, Stroll is officially fourth in the Championship right now. Now who saw that coming?!

On the Nicholas Latifi front, a very solid race by the other Canadian. His early pit-stop benefited him incredibly and saw him run in the points for several laps, and with Stroll also in the points created history as the first ever time two Canadian drivers had both run in the points at the same time.

Unfortunately a charging Hamilton made his way up into the points and Latifi wasn’t able to secure a romantic points finish as a farewell to the Williams families involvement in F1, but 11th is still a great result for him.

It’s time for Red Bull to switch back drivers
Last week I said it was time for Alexander Albon to go from Red Bull and this week I once again make the same call, this time around with the simple case of swapping back the move that happened year ago: putting Gasly in the senior team and Albon back in the junior team. How can they not?

Gasly just became a grand prix winner and Albon finished 15th.

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Pierre Gasly. (Samo Vidic/Red Bull Content Pool)

Circumstantial or not, Gasly displayed a level of maturity and calm leading a grand prix for the first time that Albon hasn’t sadly shown since he got promoted. Added to that it’s the second podium Gasly has scored since being demoted.

Albon hasn’t finished on the podium once in a car that in the hands of Max Verstappen has won two grands prix and ten podiums. So it really is a no-brainer.

Even when Hamilton is unlucky, he is lucky
I made the call earlier this season that Lewis Hamilton is perhaps the luckiest driver in the history of Formula One, and after this race some people might question that given it was only him and Antonio Giovinazzi who fell foul to the pit lane being closed and suffered a penalty for it.

This mistake of course cost him the win, and Hamilton was only able to finish in seventh place, so, bad luck right?

For this race, yes. But for the Championship? Not in the slightest.

In a race that should’ve had Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen salivating, neither capitalised on Hamilton’s misfortune. Verstappen retired with an engine issue, while Bottas struggled for pace all race and finished fifth, gaining only four points on his title rival.

So at the end of the day despite his worst race in quite some time, Lewis Hamilton still leaves Monza with a nearly two-win lead in the title fight.

People need to stop selling rabbits feet and start selling Lewis Hamilton feet, because I guarantee you they would bring more luck than any limb off a bunny would.

A statistics fan wet dream
I love a good stat, and this race brought some great stats with it:

  • The youngest ever podium in the history of the sport, eclipsing the Brazilian Grand Prix from last year.
  • The first time since Monaco 1996 that a French driver has won a race.
  • The first grand prix win for Alpha Tauri (yes, I know Toro Rosso won in 2008 in Italy but technically Alpha Tauri is a new team by statistical reasoning).
  • The first time two Canadian drivers have run in the points at the same time (I know I said this before but I really like this stat).
  • The first time since Australian 2013 that a team other than Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes have won a Grand Prix.
  • The first time since Hungary 2012 that a podium hasn’t featured either Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes.
  • And a somewhat sad one for a Ferrari fan like me, but the first time since Australia and Malaysia 2009 that Ferrari have gone two consecutive races outside of the points.

When a race like this gives me good stats like this, I leave a very happy man.

Another race next weekend and we’re staying Italy for the first ever (and probably last ever) Tuscan Grand Prix at the Mugello Circuit, a race that will be Ferrari’s 1000th race.

I think I speak on behalf of every Ferrari fan that I swear to Enzo almighty that it turns out a lot better than the last two races for the Scuderia.

I’ll be crossing myself and touching red all week to have that hope. Bring it on!

This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here

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