Just as the dust is settling on the Spa weekend, the Formula One circus doesn’t stop for anyone with the Monza weekend once again coming straight after Spa.
Although compromised, it was still a great weekend for Lewis Hamilton. Knowing he would have to take the engine penalties it was always going to be a damage limitation exercise, and that is what he did to take the final podium position behind his teammate and Daniel Ricciardo. The pace between the two though is difficult to compare, so it is hard to see where they sit after the summer break, with Monza expected to show who really has the momentum going into the final run at the end of the season. The reduced 10 point gap after Spa is something which Lewis would be happy with considering he started on the back row of the grid.
Heading to Monza is going to be an interesting race for Max Verstappen. Once again his driving was brought into question by drivers, none more so than Kimi Raikkonen who believes that it is dangerous and will cause a large accident. With the high speeds of Monza, that can only be magnified and eyes will be on the Dutch driver especially in defence of positions which have been somewhat on the dubious side at times. The first corner clash between him and the two Ferrari drivers is really a 50/50 racing incident at the start of the race. Sebastian Vettel should have given both Kimi and Max more room into the first corner instead of trying to take the apex, while Max could have held back on Kimi after his poor start. That really defined his race.
McLaren had a surprisingly good weekend, given that their power unit is still not where they want it to be, but Fernando Alonso had a great run from the back of the field with Lewis Hamilton. It wasn’t such a great day though from Jenson Button who was punted out by Pascal Wherlein at the Les Combes chicane. Monza though will be a much harder test for McLaren given that everyone will be on minimal downforce there.
The accident for Kevin Magnussen looks like it won’s stop him racing in Italy, the large impact at Eau Rouge wrote off the car though, so will have a new chassis in Monza. The impact shows how strong cars are now to walk away relatively unscathed. Despite having the Renault engine, both Renault teams performed better than expected in Spa and with the long straights of Monza coming up it will be interesting if that form carries over.
As one of the shortest races of the year to the speed, expect some close times in qualifying and maybe some surprises from the back, we could even see Manor in the second part of qualifying again.