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Teams’ reactions after the controversial Italian Grand Prix

Teams’ reactions after the controversial Italian Grand Prix, F1 Daily

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Round 14 of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship saw Red Bull and Mercedes continue their fierce fight for both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship title. However, the Italian Grand Prix was difficult not only for the two leading teams, but for the entire field because it served as the third act of the season’s second triple header.

Based on their Friday performance, Mercedes were looking to take an easy one-two at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, but the 71nd race at Monza showed that things are far from straightforward in Formula One. An engine penalty for Valtteri Bottas, a dismal start for Lewis Hamilton in Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying and an unfortunate crash for the Briton with championship rival Max Verstappen derailed what looked to be a relatively simple race for the Brackley-based squad.

Max Verstappen, DNF

“We were racing for position today but you need two people to work together to make the corner and Lewis just kept squeezing until there wasn’t room anymore for two cars and that’s when we crashed. When he exited the pits, he started to squeeze me going into Turn 1 so I had to use the green part of the track.

“It was very tight but there was room for me to go around the outside and then I was pushed onto the orange sausage kerb. I was there to try and race hard but fair. I don’t fully agree with the penalty as I believe it was a racing incident. It’s very unfortunate what happened today but we are both professionals and so we will move on.”

Sergio Perez, 5th

“It was a very eventful race and a real shame to miss out on the podium. With the penalty, I think we hoped for a wider view in the sense that it was my corner and I was ahead of Charles, but it is what it is and we tried to recover. From our side we did the best possible race we could as a Team but overtaking was impossible today and it was really difficult to keep ahead of the cars behind.

“McLaren were really quick and difficult to beat, they’ve been solid this weekend and especially on the straights they were hard to follow. They had very strong traction so at no point could I be a threat to them, but as a Team this wasn’t our track, we weren’t so strong here so now we move on and look forward to Russia. There is still a long way to go in this championship.”

Lewis Hamilton, DNF

“Obviously disappointing for me to end the race in the manner that it did. I though the team did a great job with the strategy, and we were in a good position until that collision on Lap 26. From what I remember, after I came out of the pits, I saw Max coming and I made sure I left a car’s width on the outside for him. I went into Turn 1 and I was ahead, and I was ahead going into Turn 2, and then all of a sudden, he was on top of me.

“All in all, not a great end to the weekend for me but it was good to see that Valtteri carried the team with his amazing recovery drive. Coming from the back all the way to the podium on a track like this is not easy. The Team did a great job and coming away with more points than Red Bull is definitely positive.”

Valtteri Bottas, 3rd

“I told the team that I was going to be on the podium today so I am glad we did. A great recovery from me, I don’t think I’ve made up that many places in a race in my career. Starting from the back is never easy, and in the end, I am glad we got more points than Red Bull today, especially considering where we were before the race. It was enjoyable out there, some good overtakes and some good racing.

“The battle with Perez was a good one and I am very happy with my result. Probably one of my better weekends with Mercedes, I think I was strong all weekend so that is very satisfying. Obviously, it is a shame about the crash with Lewis and Max – we lost some important points there. I haven’t really seen the incident properly yet but I am glad to hear he is ok. Now we need to look ahead and I hope to carry this momentum into Russia, a track where I’ve done well in the past.”

Charles Leclerc, 4th

“I put my whole heart into it today. In terms of my personal performance, I would rank this as one of my top drives since joining Formula 1, so I am really happy about my race. Every lap was like a qualifying lap and I took every opportunity I had to fight for positions and had fun driving.

“We were quite vulnerable on the main straight which is what made the race more difficult for us. Of course we want more than a fourth place, but taking all things into consideration I think this is a result we can be pleased with today. Looking at where we were last year, we have made a big step forward. This is thanks to the work of every person on our team and I think we should be proud of this and acknowledge it.”

Carlos Sainz, 6th

“My first Italian GP with Ferrari was very special and I will always remember this weekend even if it wasn’t the best in terms of results. We obviously wanted to stand on the podium in front of the tifosi but it wasn’t possible. We were not quite there in the fight today and I’ve struggled with the car more than I wanted since yesterday morning. The rear sliding, combined with the lack of top speed, eventually made things very tricky during the race.

“Taking everything into consideration, P6 is a decent result but that’s not what we are here for. We will have to keep improving to make sure next year we can fight for the top spot. Congratulations to McLaren on the one-two finish. Today they deserve that result and I can’t wait to race against them in Russia.”

Esteban Ocon, 10th

“It was a busy race for us today and, while scoring a point is always good, I feel we were very unfortunate not to score more. I had a good start, made a couple of places, and then I had to give a position back to Nicholas [Latifi], which cost us time. Then, I was having a good battle with Sebastian [Vettel], we touched a bit at Turn 4 without having any damage and received a five-second penalty for the manoeuvre.

“With the timing of the Safety Car, we had to serve it at the pit stop and that really cost us as it looked like we could have gained a big advantage from that. I disagree with the decisions on both incidents, but that’s how it goes sometimes. The one point doesn’t reflect the team’s work this weekend as there was potential for more.”

Fernando Alonso, 8th

“I think we maximised our potential today considering it was an uncompetitive weekend for us after qualifying 13th and 14th on Friday. It was quite a lonely race for me, but both cars finished in the points so it’s a good result for the team. I think the result shows we executed a good race, strategy and pit-stops. Now Monza is out of the way, hopefully we can find our competitiveness again for the next race and fight for more points in the championship.”

George Russell, 9th

“We were on the track in the right place at the right time when the Safety Car came out and gained a couple of positions in the pit lane. The last stint after that was then really strong with Alonso ahead of me and Ocon behind me and we managed to maintain the gap. We’ve now scored points at three of the last four races which at one point seemed pretty unbelievable.

“We got a little bit fortunate with all the incidents today but again we put ourselves in the right position and were there to capitalise. At the end of the day we’ve beaten an Alpine, an Aston Martin, and both Alfa Romeos so we just need to keep this momentum going. I also want to say a massive well done to McLaren. Daniel and Lando are really great guys and a one-two for them is pretty epic.”

Nicholas Latifi, 11th

“It was a very tough, but positive race. It is never nice to finish P11 but I am happy with the performance, as this is normally one of my weaker tracks. We got unlucky with the timing of the Safety Car and then lost out to George, and Esteban was the quicker car with fresh tyres. I think if we had no Safety Car, running in the points, I think we would have stayed there as we were quite comfortable up until then. Overall, it is a good result for the team as we didn’t think we would be in a position to be challenging for points today.”

Pierre Gasly, DNF

“We had a brilliant start to the weekend, with another strong qualifying performance, but then after yesterday’s Sprint it’s all been very disappointing. We knew there was something wrong in the initial laps, but we weren’t able to get it fixed before the race. We don’t know the exact issue yet but unfortunately, we had to retire the car. It’s our home race so it’s hard to lose both cars here today. We know that the performance of the car is there, so we need to just work hard and prepare for the next race.”

Yuki Tsunoda, DNF

“On the lap to the grid we found a mechanical issue with the car. We tried to fix this on the grid, but it wasn’t possible, so we brought the car back into the garage to try and sort it ahead of the race. My mechanics did a great job trying to get it fixed, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to start. It’s tough not to get more laps and experience in this car, but we need to turn the page and my full focus will now be on Russia.”

Sebastian Vettel, 12th

“It was not our day today. My race was done on the first lap. I made a good start and managed to avoid the bottleneck through the first chicane, but I was pushed wide at Turn 6 and lost a lot of places, which was made worse by drivers cutting the chicane at Turns 4 and 5 before. The car was then damaged too, so it was impossible to really recover. We then pitted just before the Safety Car, which was also unlucky.

“It gave us hope that we could perhaps close up on the cars ahead, but there was just too much ground to make up. Esteban [Ocon] and Mick [Schumacher] also made contact with me, which did not help. I enjoyed a good battle with Robert [Kubica] towards the end and we did all we could today. I also want to say congratulations to Daniel [Ricciardo] for winning the race today.”

Lance Stroll, 7th

“Finishing P7 is a good result and a great job by the team. It was a case of pushing the entire race because the field was pretty close throughout. We managed to find a good spot with the car. While we were not quite as quick as some of the others on the straights, we were strong in the corners, and we were able to make that work for us. I think seventh was the maximum we could have achieved today considering our race pace. After three races in a row, it is nice to have a bit of a break before we head to Russia and I am looking forward to getting back in the car there.”

Robert Kubica, 14th

“Not as easy a race as we hoped but, in the end, we got as much out of it as we could. My first lap was good – not a great launch, but the positioning was good and I gained three positions, despite being the only one besides Bottas with hard tyres. The grip was not great and I knew I had to protect the tyres, so I opened up a gap from Russell and hoped for the second part of the race, when the mediums would be an advantage.

“Even after the stops, though, I struggled to follow the cars in front – I could get close, but then I’d lose so much grip. In the end, I had some nice battles with ebastian [Vettel] again before swapping places with Antonio and finishing 14th.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, 13th

“It’s a pity to have such a strong weekend compromised by an incident in Lap 1. I went a bit wide at the second chicane, jumped on the kerbs and then I had no control over the car. I need to see the pictures to fully understand what happened. After that, it was just a difficult race: I had damage to the floor and it was just very difficult from the back. It’s frustrating, especially knowing how our pace looked and where the cars that were around us finished. I wished for more for my home race in Monza.”

Mick Schumacher, 15th

“Personally, I felt it was a good race. I feel we took the right decisions in terms of strategy and I feel the communication in the race was very good. In terms of race start, there was a lot happening in front and with the Safety Car things got interesting. We had a good restart this time and we were able to fight. Unfortunately, I got a bit of damage on the front wing, but in general we can be happy how we managed it today.”
Nikita Mazepin, DNF

“I had a power unit failure from what I believe – we just lost all power. I think it was dangerous for the whole unit to continue forwards and not be able to recover it completely, so the team said to stop the car immediately. With Mick, he braked very early going in to Turn 4 and I just put my nose there and obviously he needed to make the corner and turn in, so I’m sorry it happened.

“It was my fault, but it was a racing incident. It was obvious that I wasn’t happy about it and that it happened. Later I had a flat spot and half a wing plate missing, we needed to box for a pit stop and then obviously the engine said goodbye.”


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