Pierre Gasly wins extraordinary Italian GP
Updated: Sep 9
Pierre Gasly completed his arc of redemption by capturing victory in a scintillating Italian GP. Fending off a rampant Carlos Sainz in the final laps, the Frenchman held on to take Alpha Tauri’s 2nd win at Monza and mirror the wonderful 2008 victory the team had with Sebastian Vettel.
Arguably one of the most frantic F1 races in modern history, the race started off with Hamilton bolting from pole and creating a commanding lead from Sainz, Norris, Perez, Ricciardo and Bottas who fell backwards spectacularly after a poor first lap.
For the first 15 laps of the race it was stalemate amongst the top drivers, each trading lap times while Hamilton pulled away. With the soft tyres starting to fade and the pit stop window open, Gasly was the first to pull the trigger and stuck on a new set of mediums. He would be the only driver to pit before Haas’s Kevin Magnussen pulled to the side of the circuit and brought out the safety car.
Both Hamilton and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi pulled into the pit lane mistakenly as it turned out the red lights were on and the pit lane was closed. The rest of the field past down the main straight as the information fed through the field. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc later ran wide at Parabolica and crashed heavily into the barrier prompting full red flag due to the damage sustained to the safety protection.
It was at this point that the dust settled and all drivers were in pit lane. Hamilton and Giovinazzi were both awarded a 10 second stop and go penalty for ignoring the red lights at pit lane entry. With both having to serve their penalty within 3 laps after the restart their races were severly compromised, and for Hamilton it was the moment the race he had control of was lost.
With Gasly being the first and only driver to pit before the safety car and red flag, he was in the lead at the restart, followed by Kimi Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Sainz and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll.
At the restart Gasly pulled away from the Alfa Romeo’s who held up the chasing pack. With Giovinazzi serving his penalty, only Raikkonen stood in the way of Sainz, Stroll and the field from hunting down Gasly in the remaining 17 laps. Hamilton, after serving his penalty, sped through the field setting fastest lap after fastest lap in a bid to try and salvage his race, eventually catching the field and ending up 7th, a fine recovery drive.
At the front, the tension was building. Sainz was closing in a couple of tenths a lap, inching his way forward. Stroll was keeping up but not reeling in the McLaren driver, while Sainz’s teammate Lando Norris drove remarkably well to keep the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas behind until the very end of the race.
With only a few laps to go Sainz was tantalising close to the DRS detection zone and only on the penultimate lap did he finally get the much-needed drag reduction system to reel Gasly in. One lap to go and the two are separated by only half a second. Sainz was compromised by the drag created by Gasly’s car in the lesmo’s and drifted ever so slightly further back to allow an inch of breathing room for the Frenchman.
Crossing the line Gasly was triumphant and screamed his delight with his team celebrating wildly at the scene of their 2008 victory. Sainz ended only 0.4 seconds behind the Frenchman and left with the thought that one more lap and the race was his but it was a case of ever so close for the McLaren driver.
Gasly’s victory came a little over a year after the passing of his dear friend Anthoine Hubert and a little more after his demotion from the senior Red Bull team. The emotion was real, the weight of pressure that was so severe, the waves of criticism that crashed against him time and again was finally lifted. After coming through trial and tribulation he had finally proven to the world that he was worthy of so much more.A moment of reflection alone atop the highest step of the podium and the redemption arc was complete. Pierre Gasly was a race winner.
Driver standings after the Italian GP