Rate the Race and Driver of the weekend – Round 14, Monza 2018
Mean Reader Score: 7.23 Rated 7/14 races this season
This year’s race scored 7.23 far more than than 2016’s: paltry 4.35, and the 5.82 of 2017 but sadly did not deliver the showdown between the championship contenders Vettel and Hamilton.
In my opinion, this was far and away the best race of the season, and for all the right reasons, yet was surprisingly voted 7th best behind China, Bahrain, Britain, Austria, Germany and Azerbaijaan. A thrilling qualifying session saw not only the fastest lap around Monza, but the fastest lap ever in the history of F1, with an average speed of 265.587km/hr, set by the surprise pole sitter, Kimi Raikkonen.
A ‘racing incident’ between Hamilton and Vettel on lap 1 sent Vettel into a spin and into the pits needing fresh (medium) tyres and a new front wing, leaving him with irreparable damage for the rest of the race. Hamilton overtook Raikkonen for the lead, but Kimi was having none of it and took it back immediately. Verstappen made his signature move of changing position in the breaking zone (and got a five second penalty for his efforts), which due to the descent of the red mist, cost him not only a podium position but fourth place as well.
Again, Bottas made Hamilton a great wing man, holding up Raikkonen long enough to allow Hamilton to catch him easily after his pit stop and (on fresher tyres) make an easy overtake for the lead, eventually winning the race. Vettel cut a swathe through the back markers (twice) to finish fourth, Kimi, took second place and Bottas came third.
Ricciardo had yet another DNF (his fourth out of six races), Grosjean came in ‘best of the rest’, (until he was disqualified, moving Sirotkin into P10, scoring his first ever points in F1,) the Force India (mark 2) duo scored even more points, taking P8 in the WCC, (a mere two points behind STR) Sainz scored two points and Lance Stroll scored another point for the much beleaguered Williams team.
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Wow… I’ll never forget this. We did this together. To the fans, you stood tall, loud and bright in amongst all of the negativity that surrounded us today. Trust me, I felt your energy and you kept me going. You are rays of light and I can’t thank you and everyone supporting around the world enough 🙏🏾 We rise together. To my team, I am forever grateful of your inspiring vision and passion. We will never give up. #StillWeRise #TeamLH #GodIsTheGreatest #ItalianGP #F1
Driver of the weekend: Lewis Hamilton 48.28% of reader vote.
As if leading the WDC by 17 points wasn’t enough, Hamilton went and set the fastest lap ever around the Monza circuit, in the first part of Q3. However, he was not to have it all his own way, as Vettel, then Raikkonen went even quicker. No one in recent times has won Monza from anything other than the first row: well this is Lewis Hamilton we’re talking about and he went and won it from P3.
A ‘racing incident’ with Vettel at the second chicane on the opening lap, sent his main rival to the back of the grid, leaving the other Ferrari for him to deal with. It seemed as if, on the restart, he had it tied up PDQ as he took the lead, but Raikkonen was having none of it as he quickly snatched the lead back again (in pretty much the same place where Hamilton had seen off Vettel on Lap 1).
So it came to pass that Lewis bided his time and waited until Raikkonen’s tyres were completely shot before making his move, taking the lead, and romping home to (yet another) victory, increasing his lead in the WDC to 30 points, with 7 races left to run. Well done Lewis!! Is that it for the championship or can Vettel rise like a phoenix from the flames and wrestle WDC5 from the clutches of current leader?