After each Grand Prix, Nextgen-Auto.com invites you to find the tops and flops identified by the editorial staff. Who deserves to be applauded? Who, on the contrary, should be criticized? Finally, what are the question marks or ambiguities that should be followed with interest during the next Grands Prix? Check it out below!
Top n°1: Max Verstappen the unstoppable, the unbeatable
“This Red Bull is unbeatable. » The general sentiment in the paddock was summed up best by Lewis Hamilton after the Italian Grand Prix. Certainly this Red Bull is unbeatable: perhaps not in qualifying, where Charles Leclerc successfully disputes the supremacy of Milton Keynes (8 pole positions this year already, a record for a Ferrari driver since… Michael Schumacher in 2004). But unbeatable in race pace: certainly. The statistics also testify in favor of Max Verstappen: 5th victory in a row, 11th of the year (the record of 13 in a season, co-obtained by Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher, is not far away)… Whatever his starting position (7 wins from a different grid position in 2022), Max Verstappen wins too: he started from 10th in Hungary, 14th in Belgium, 7th this time at Monza. And the result is always the same: 1st.
What you wanna do ? Play with strategy? Ferrari tried well by stopping Charles Leclerc in the virtual safety car. It was not a mistake, at most a risk or a gamble. Because the Scuderia had seen that regularly, Max Verstappen was going to win with his superior race pace. He achieved this with a top speed that remained very respectable, despite adjustments that favored downforce; And thanks precisely to these adjustments, the Dutchman held up his tires much better than the Ferrari, which degraded them too much again. The height of disgust was reached when it became clear that even in the soft nine, Charles Leclerc took very little time from Max Verstappen in the spent mediums. In short, unbeatable.
Top n°2: Nyck de Vries, the surprise guest
Remarkable weekend, incredible and perhaps lifesaver for his race, the one that Nyck de Vries had in Monza. On Friday in FP1 he was in the Aston Martin F1, for a long-planned session in Sebastian Vettel’s car. On Saturday morning, he was…in front of the F1 TV cameras, preparing to officiate as a consultant. Then, due to Alexander Albon’s appendicitis, Williams called him in a hurry to get into the blue car.
Nyck de Vries therefore only had the EL3 to get used to the Williams fully, and again, he missed the first fifteen minutes of the session as the call came too late. However, he showed his remarkable adaptability by springing into action right away. And drowning Latifi in it! In qualifying, what everyone had predicted, wanted or feared, depending on his preferences, happened: Nyck de Vries offered his teammate, the starter however, Nicholas Latifi. In Q2, of course, the Dutchman made a small mistake (he pressed a button, changed the balance of the brakes and locked his tyre), but nobody blamed him for this understandable mistake: he was the first to apologize on the radio.
In the race, Nyck de Vries made no visible mistakes, holding his place in the pack and even threatening Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri. Playing with the high top speed of his Williams, a weapon at Monza, and keeping his medium tires very well, he managed to stay in the top 10. The final pace car was like a release, both Williams middleweights were worn. So Nyck de Vries had his shoulders shredded, by his own admission, at the end of this physical test! This ninth place appears as further proof that Nyck de Vries certainly has the level of F1, more than Nicholas Latifi in any case; Certainly Alexander Albon could have done even better at the Williams, but such a last-minute performance is remarkable. Nyck de Vries confirms that he is a reliable driver who can adapt to any situation, to any car: his eclectic experience (24 Hours of Le Mans, Formula E, F2…) explains it to a great extent. In a Williams next year? And why not ?
Top #3: McLaren finds some colors at Monza
Ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, McLaren was certainly light years away from hoping for another one-two finish at Monza, like last year. However, this weekend in Lombardy was the most productive for some races for the orange team. In qualifying, McLaren regained its status as 4th force, with some ease. The difference between Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly was therefore one second in the standings. And by 4 tenths over Daniel Ricciardo, who managed to slide behind his teammate, no doubt with a still significant raw gap between the two cars. We have never had to leave Orange so high on the grid (3rd and 4th place after penalties).
At least the Australian, thanks to a successful start, found good memories from the very beginning of the race: if the Grand Prix had lasted just one lap, he joked, he would have savored the joys of the Monza podium all over again! Daniel Ricciardo should have finished eighth, but he was poorly rewarded due to a car failure. This Grand Prix was undoubtedly more reassuring for him, but last year’s at this same circuit was too, so let’s not conclude anything… Meanwhile, Lando Norris knew how to impose himself easily as the best of the rest, taking a few points in Alpine. But with better reliability, McLaren could have capitalized on more.
Failure 1: Nicholas Latifi’s future in F1 is now clear
It is a dark humiliation, there is no other word, that which Nicholas Latifi experienced in Monza. The Canadian was beaten, both in qualifying and the race, by a non-starter. When he should have been the leader, the benchmark of the team, Latifi continued with his unsettling downward slope. In qualifying, in Q1, he got lost on his final lap, wondering why the Williams hadn’t turned… before acknowledging that he had locked the brakes. An attitude that contrasts with that of Nyck de Vries, who immediately recognized his mistake (having pressed the wrong button on the brake balance) in Q2.
In the race, starting from such a distance, and with such a weak pace, Nicholas Latifi could do nothing to escape anonymity and the DRS trains. What we want to highlight here is his post-race attitude. In his statements, Nicholas Latifi questioned the behavior of his Williams, attributing the responsibility to the FW44: “I don’t know what my pace was in the clear air, but I have to say with the car, you had to try to hold position and defend. But if we wanted to go up, our car is not a car that we can compete in. It’s fast in a straight line but you can’t brake or maintain speed in the corners. It’s good to fight with some cars, but we were drastically lacking in downforce so it wasn’t easy. »
Finally, Nicholas Latifi dried Nyck de Vries’ ninth-place celebration photo with the entire team, like most of his post-Grand Prix obligations. In short, it feels like the end of the adventure in F1. Heading into this weekend, though, it’s the only logical ending.
Failure #2: Rare 0 points for Alpine
Given the Alpines’ performance at Spa, also a fast circuit, the Blues legitimately had high hopes at Monza. However, Spa is not exactly Monza. Especially since at Monza there are fewer aerodynamic compromises to play with; while in Belgium, part of the field is short with higher aero settings, to maximize passing speed in the second sector (in the corners).
So Alpine could quickly see that the expected performance at Monza was not there. Fernando Alonso barely qualified in Q3 while Esteban Ocon failed. In the race, the erratic reliability also reappeared, trapping Fernando Alonso (water pressure). Ocon, meanwhile, got stuck in a DRS train, even stuck behind a Williams, that of Nyck de Vries, and an Alfa Romeo, that of Guanyu Zhou: out of place, but impossible to get out.
Alpine thus collects its second white result of the year, the second also in Italy (after Imola). Fernando Alonso ends a streak of 10 Grand Prix in a row in the top 10. Nothing worked this weekend, but it’s not serious: the car is still efficient and McLaren didn’t get just 6 points. Avanti for The Plan, therefore.
Failure #3: Yuki Tsunoda’s ‘unintelligent’ mistakes
Yuki Tsunoda is yet to be confirmed for next year in AlphaTauri, and it seems his repeated mistakes have something to do with it. The Japanese stood out again this weekend, by not respecting the yellow flags in EL2: he thus received a three-place penalty on the grid… in addition to his ten-place penalty, obtained for having already collected 5 warnings. He is the first driver since Mark Webber in 2013 to be penalized on the grid for racking up reprimands (and even then, it only took three!).
Yuki Tsunoda himself admitted stupid mistakes; above all, his bosses Helmut Marko and Franz Tost addressed him, the latter citing errors “Not intelligent. “ If the Japanese still shows a burst of speed, challenging Pierre Gasly more and more for supremacy in qualifying, he still seems too fragile in terms of emotions or concentration. His luck is that the Red Bull sector is very scarce and that if Herta arrives it will only be to replace Pierre Gasly. But be careful because a suspension from the Grand Prix (Yuki Tsunoda now only has 4 points on his license for such a suspension) would be immensely difficult for Yuki.
We want to see…
Final race under safety car: the eternal restart?
It is legitimate to imagine that the tifosi could have been disappointed, at the Monza Autodrome, at the end of the race a bit of a fishtail, behind the safety car, last Sunday. However, contrary to what happened in Abu Dhabi last year, this time the regulations were respected: the conditions were not met to restart the race and let all the cars pass (there was still a tow truck on the circuit). The length of the bailiffs’ intervention to clear Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren can certainly be argued, but it should also be noted that the McLaren was stuck in gear.
This episode reignited the debate in the paddock: what to do to avoid a race finish under the safety car? It should be noted that in Brazil in 2012, in such a suspenseful race, the Grand Prix also finished behind a safety car without triggering a thousand protests.
Lewis Hamilton brought up an idea: if the race is 5 laps from the end, a safety car should be replaced by a red flag. But his boss Toto Wolff also pointed out that it was not that simple: the red flag can only be raised under certain specific conditions of danger. “if someone is on the wall and the track is blocked. We put a red flag because we can no longer pass. » To raise a red flag would be to put a show imperative before, or at the same level, as safety.
But after all, isn’t this also an imperative to take into account, more for the FOM than for the FIA? Stefano Domenicali recently recalled that F1 was both a sport and a show… In any case, what is required of the Federation is consistency and a clear rule. For now, between Monza 2022, Abu Dhabi 2021 and Baku 2020 (with a red flag raised with 2 laps to go), three different solutions have been proposed. Did you say constancy?
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