Perhaps more than any other race this season, Monza seemed destined to provide Mercedes – and Lewis Hamilton – a comfortable victory. Yet judging by Friday’s proceedings, things could still prove very interesting indeed.
After setting the tone with a dominant FP1, the three-time Italian Grand Prix winner found himself leapfrogged by teammate Valtteri Bottas in FP2, with the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel closing up for good measure. Once looking like a walk in the park for the Brit, now it seems he has some work to do.
Of course, there’s undoubtedly more to come from Hamilton, and whether Vettel and Ferrari can keep pace remains to be seen, but Friday’s results were interesting particularly for what it meant vis-à-vis Bottas. 34 points behind Hamilton in the standings, this weekend represents something of a turning point in his season, as another inferior result here could seal his place as the number two driver for the rest of 2017, especially with Ferrari likely to have the advantage in Singapore and Malaysia. Simply put, Bottas has to make every lap count – so far, so good.
Red Bulls lead quartet of cars penalised back to the Stone Age
They may not be close to race-winning contention, but it’s fair to say Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso belong closer to the front than the Saubers. Unfortunately, they don’t have a choice this weekend.
With Ricciardo penalised 20 places (plus an additional 5 for a gearbox change), Verstappen 15, Sainz 10 and Alonso 35 for changing power unit components, the weekend is already farcical for four drivers who have been among the most impressive this season.
More than anything this goes to show the FIA’s restrictions on component usage is not in line with the reliability of their engines. Yes, Honda is a dumpster fire, but Renault aren’t that bad, and with eight races to go, it’s hard to see how any manufacturer makes it through unscathed (Mercedes took made their final allowed changes last week in Belgium).
Unavoidable penalties could end up playing a major role in the 2017 championship, and while it might be too late to make any changes now, surely this is proof the move to further limit components for 2018 should be stopped, if not reversed.
Penalties aside, truly impressive pace from the McLarens, who managed P7 & 8 in FP2. Imagine what they’d do with a decent engine in the back.
Looks like no home-field advantage for Seb Vettel, then.
Knowing that Jon Snow and Davos Seaworth are F1-buddies somehow makes them even more likable. Can’t wait for season 8, though I’m not sure Davos will be on-board when he finds out about the incest.