When Pierre Gasly crossed the checkered flag the last time around Monza, the land of the brave and home to the daredevils of the Italian Grand Prix, controlling an accident-marred Grand Prix from the starting line to the finish upon the restart, several heads were turned, many stunned, and some hearts in an achingly good pain. Some eyes were numb and Gasly himself sat on the podium as if soaking in the period of struggle and duress against a backdrop of a particularly difficult time in his life. This was in front of millions of fans who were perhaps as glued to the screen and gadgets as are people of a Republic to the venue of an independence day parade.
A moment of massive redemption, not just reprieve to an embattled racer who proved, at Monza, that there was more to him than being a driver.
This time around, Monza is going to possibly uphold the triumph of the Mercedes and where recent results stand, then who knows, even the victory of the Valtteri Bottas, the man who doesn’t get to turn many a head the way his teammate, Lewis Hamilton does.
Where the sprint race results are concerned, and we are yet to see them. And that’s going to obviously define the starting grid for 2021 Italian GP, which should hopefully make your Sunday more than just beautiful but the precursor to the sprint qualifying has been a brilliant one.
In going the fastest even ahead of Lewis Hamilton and the great Briton’s arch-rival for the 2021 World Championship, Max Verstappen, Bottas went the fastest.
Of his 63 career podiums, which is a fine achievement despite having no world title against his name, Valtteri Bottas has three in Monza, the last coming in 2019.
This is when he finished P2. How Monza could be an interesting battle is down to the following four reasons:
- Should Valtteri win at Monza, he’ll come closer to playing a role now in defining the world championship battle, rather the struggle for supremacy in 2021. He’s currently third in the overall Driver Standings, where he trails Hamilton, second, by 98.5 points. A win here will increase, not the pressure on Lewis, but the chances of Valtteri to succeed henceforth. He’s always going to try to bow out of Mercedes in a fine fashion. And a couple of wins, or at the most, three, should only boost his chances in the driver’s title, if at all.
- Another aspect is the defeat that Verstappen may suffer at Monza having succeeded, thus far, in only bisecting the two Black Arrows in practice. Should Max go on to lose to either of the two Mercedes, it’ll again be the leading Mercedes driver on top, one the Dutch driver is determined to defeat. Thus, in turn, spicing up things even further in what has already been a roller coaster 2021 fight for ascendency.
- Another aspect that could make the ‘Temple of Speed,’ a grind for the likes of Mercedes is the flashy pace exhibited by both Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris in their McLarens.
Imagine the outcome where a Norris creeps up over Verstappen or Ricciardo, who perhaps drove his greatest Italian GP drive-ever (thus far) in 2017, to narrow the gap to Lewis, the king on the grid. Though all of that rests on the results of the Sprint race.
But to undermine McLaren won’t be such a bright thing to do.
The above told, what’s still sad and gloomy especially from the point of view of the Tifosi is that none of the Ferrari drivers have exhibited brilliant pace. On the contrary, Sainz even brought out the red-flag when he dipped a tire on the chicane at the Ascari before thumping into the barriers.
The end result, a heavily damaged car, was no good sight for anyone to see, not for them who see the world in tinted hues of red!
A track that’s also fast besides being demanding on the drivers where tire-management is concerned, Monza will be blazing this weekend since every race now and with it, every point earned or lost is going to define the championship ever so definitively.
But even then, one reckons, it won’t just come down to blazingly fast laps, but also masterful control. Experience could be the winner eventually-over-exuberance!
Lastly, could Leclerc pull up a surprise and make the forthcoming contest even more interesting?