CAROL’S CORNER: Hamilton and Russell fought hard at Monza!

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

By Carol M. Creasey

Mercedes were not expecting their car to be particularly fast at Monza, so they braced themselves for damage limitation.

In Italian Grand Prix Free Practice sessions, the W14 already proved itself to be a handful, so Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both warned that they might not get into Q3. However Russell ultimately claimed the second row of the grid with 4th place, and Lewis was 8th. Carlos Sainz claimed  a hard fought pole position, fractionally ahead of Verstappen, then came Charles Leclerc, and Sergio Perez was 4th.

It was very exciting at the beginning of the race to see Sainz maintain his lead, and to hold off Verstappen for 14 laps. Lewis started on hard tyres, which made it hard for him to pass, but after his pit stop and switch to a softer tyre, which brought him out in 10th place, he gradually brought himself up to 6th place. He passed Oscar Piastri, accidentally hitting him, so Piastri had to pit. Lewis admitted his mistake, and was handed a five-second penalty. He also passed Lasno Norris and Alexander Albon. Then he had to build a lead of over 5 seconds to overcome his penalty, which he did, and ultimately kept his 6th position.

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Russell, who started in 4th, was unable to hold off a faster Perez, and so finished in 5th. He also received a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage while trying to overtake Esteban Ocon. Verstappen won his 10th consecutive race, which is a new record, and Perez was 2nd. Sainz and Leclerc both battled for the final place on the podium, and Sainz claimed it. Sainz also earned a well deserved Driver of the Day.

When Lewis was interviewed after the race, he explained that he had spoken to Piastri and apologised for hitting him. Toto Wolff remarked that he was probably the only driver on the grid to own up to a mistake, as most of them tend to blame the other person.

Mercedes continue to maintain second in the constructors championship, and Lewis in 4th is just 6 points away from Fernando Alonso. It will be interesting to see if he can improve up to 3rd position by the time the season is done. In the meantime, Mercedes are looking forward to the next race in Singapore, on a track they feel may suit their car better.

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