After an exciting qualifying session the day before, 2017’s Italian Grand Prix promised to be a titanic battle. Although the eventual race win turned out to be a rather straight-forward for Lewis Hamilton – awesome battles were still constantly occurring within the mid pack.
Controversy between drivers as well as personal scuffles with old rivals hallmarked a classic iteration at the Temple of Speed – but which drivers got the good end of the stick? In every battle comes a winner and loser – and that was pretty evident in Monza with a range of different driver rankings…
Lewis Hamilton – 9.5/10
Although the win was straight-forward for Lewis Hamilton – he had to constantly drive his Mercedes at such a blistering pace to ensure he got the result he deserved. Even on comparison with other drivers lap times – Hamilton was constantly in the 1:25s, then the 24s and later the 23s. He was sublime and thoroughly deserved his 59th career win.
Valtteri Bottas – 10/10
Hamilton wasn’t quite a 10/10 because his efforts couldn’t match the formidable drive from Valtteri Bottas. The Finn seemed thoroughly motivated during the opening stint and consequently completed swift moves on Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon to bring home the crucial 1-2 finish for Mercedes. As usual, Bottas was the perfect rear gunner for Lewis Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel – 8/10
Firstly, Vettel’s drive was only ‘good’ in Italy. Considering the lack of overtaking by the front runners just a week ago in Belgium – I thought Vettel might very well have stayed in his P6 grid slot for the entire race. But, he managed to get past his team mate and later Stroll and Ocon. Though, the usual urgency of Vettel seemed absence in Monza – almost as if he didn’t quite want the result bad enough.
Kimi Raikkonen – 6/10
The Iceman’s performance in qualifying was quite awesome – his P5 start meant he had the potential to through a spanner into the works Mercedes early on. But, Raikkonen’s pace disappeared for Sunday’s race and the Finn looked old and sluggish. He was later caught off guard by Ricciardo and most importantly, he didn’t back Vettel and Ferrari up by finishing in what should’ve been *his* fourth place…
Max Verstappen – 6.5/10
For once, Max Verstappen wasn’t the Red Bull driver taking all of the attention during the race. Although he put some priceless overtakes on unsuspecting midfield runners, the young Dutchman’s race was effectively over when he made contact with Felipe Massa, which caused a puncture. Although it was just a casual racing incident, the fact remains that the move, in my view, was slightly impatient of behalf of Verstappen.
Daniel Ricciardo – 10/10
I will remember Ricciardo’s move on Kimi Raikkonen for P4 during the closing stages of the Italian Grand Prix as the best overtake of the 2017 season. Ricciardo made an overtake work when he had almost no right to dive up the inside. His attitude never fails to amaze me and that one move simply optimized the overall strength of his drive in the race.
Sergio Perez – 8/10
Compared to those around him, Sergio Perez ran quite long on the supersofts for the first stint of the race. Whilst team mate Ocon pitted on lap 16, Perez would have to wait double the laps, until 32, to change to the softs. Either way, the Mexican ensured he got past the lower midfield battle and put the pressure on Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll in the closing laps. Another decent performance from Perez, bit meh, but still impressed.
Esteban Ocon – 10/10
After finding himself in P3 for Sunday’s race – Esteban Ocon controlled his pace brilliantly and brought home a strong P6 along with the good ole’ ‘best-of-the-rest’ award. His start was crucial as he convincingly overtook Lance Stroll, who would eventually finish just three seconds behind Ocon. Apart from that, racing wasn’t a main attraction for Ocon – but his consistent ability to keep up a blistering mid field pace ultimately secured a result he was worthy of claiming.
Felipe Massa – 8/10
The Italian Grand Prix was exciting for Felipe Massa with regard to the start and finish – whilst the middle section of the race was admittedly quiet. The Brazilian created fireworks at the start when he used the grass to create more room for himself at the first chicane. A lap later, he would involve himself with contact with Verstappen, luckily coming off as a winner that time. He then beautifully defended his P8 position from the looming Force India of Sergio Perez – in the end it was expert driving from a man in his prime!
Lance Stroll – 7.5/10
I’m a bit iffy about Lance Stroll in Italy. I thought it was rather clear that he was taking it easy throughout the Grand Prix – but in hindsight being safe and cautious was probably key in scoring a crucial P7 for Williams. His rating isn’t higher purely because I would’ve liked to have seen get a bit more punchy with Ocon on the start – the fact that he’s just 18 isn’t an excuse. I feel a bit harsh, but at the end of the day P7 could’ve been P6.
Carlos Sainz – 7/10
As one of the many victims of Italy’s now infamous penalties, Carlos Sainz was certainly not expecting much during this Grand Prix. With a Renault PU in the back, it was always going to be a trudge through mud, hence his lowly finishing position of 14th. Nothing major came out of this race for the Spaniard – the next rounds should be more competitive.
Daniil Kvyat – 7/10
Similarly, Daniil Kvyat was never in a strong position for this weekend given the nature of Monza. He, too, struggled through the race and was only good enough to finish 12th, outside of the points yet again. With all of his recent troubles and torpedo incidents, Kvyat should savor finishing ahead of Sainz for once – hopefully for him it’s a turning point.
Stoffel Vandoorne – 7/10
With yet another grid penalty, Stoffel Vandoorne was never expected to be a major contender in Italy. Honda predictably struggled and consequently brought about his retirement on lap 33 – another embarrassing moment… “It’s pretty difficult to draw positives from a weekend like this,” Vandoorne admitted, and he’s certainly not wrong.
Fernando Alonso – 8/10
Alonso provided yet another masterclass of radio in Monza after a wee incident with Jolyon Palmer. Whilst the Brit cut the course to get ahead of Fernando, the Spaniard vented over the radio furiously about the lightness of Palmer’s eventual 5 second penalty. When the Brit retired Alonso had one word: “karma.” Again, not much on track action for Fernando – his day ended on lap 50 with gearbox issues that had affected his whole race. It was impressive to actually see him continue for as long as he did.
Nico Hulkenberg – 8/10
Yet another quiet day for Renault as they, too, struggled for pace around the power sensitive Monza. Hulkenberg could only muster an unlucky 13th place in the end, simply describing the ordeal as “a tough race.” With no balance and a lack of power, expectations were always quite low.
Jolyon Palmer – 6/10
With Palmer’s season and F1 career in tatters, the Brit did himself no favors in Italy. A transmission failure ended his day 29 laps in, but an earlier incident with Alonso hallmarked his race. In the end, the move was clumsy and sloppy and seems weird that he stayed ahead – Alonso was right to vent about him, in my view.
Romain Grosjean – 6/10
With the one stop being the only real strategy in Monza, Grosjean’s chances at a good result were slashed early on with damage to his front wing forcing an unplanned stop on lap 3. He wasn’t happy to be “massively compromised” by the damage – but it ultimately ruined the race for Haas, who had so much success in Monza the year before…
Kevin Magnussen – 7/10
Magnussen’s score would’ve been much higher, but his odd move with regard to Max Verstappen in the closing stages of the race brought the score down… It didn’t cost him a place, but it was a strange move that never really seemed to have purpose. Maybe being a bit harsh, but in a relatively boring race, rash moves such as that one stood out noticeably.
Marcus Ericsson – 8/10
Amongst a relatively boring Formula 1 race, Marcus Ericsson provided some highlights when he battled with team mate Pascal Wehrlein. “I had some good fights,” he said after the race. Unfortunately his pace dropped off further into the Grand Prix, and he eventually retired on lap 50 with damage. Hey, at least he created some fun for us!
Pascal Wehrlein – 9/10
Good ole’ Pascal Wehrlein had an absolute ding-dong battle with team mate Ericsson in Italy, as aforementioned. Fortunately for him, he emerged better and finished the Grand Prix in 16th. I’m only joking really – Sauber were never going to be competitive with a 2016 spec power unit in the back. “We knew that this race would be difficult for us,” Wehrlein said – and he’s absolutely right.
Be sure to tell us in the comments whether or not you agree with our ratings!
By – Steven Walton