Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2017

Hamilton must seize his chance to take points lead

2017 Italian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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A mammoth qualifying session which lasted over three hours due to rain has created several interesting storylines for the Italian Grand Prix.

The first is whether Lewis Hamilton can capitalise on a precious opportunity to take the lead of the drivers’ championship after Ferrari struggled in qualifying at their home track. Victory tomorrow would make him the first driver this year to win back-to-back races and is guaranteed to put him in the overall lead, even if Sebastian Vettel ties him on points by coming home second.

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Monza, 2017
Italian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
This is an important race for Hamilton’s title hopes as the tracks won’t be as friendly to the Mercedes from now on. And the next, Singapore, is likely to play to Ferrari’s strengths.

That is not true of Monza which was always going to be a damage limitation race for Vettel. But qualifying eighth has magnified his predicament. At least he shouldn’t have to worry about the Red Bulls, who will drop behind him due to their grid penalties.

Getting ahead of team mate Kimi Raikkonen quickly will be an obvious lap one priority. After that the big challenge is likely to be the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, but Mercedes-powered Esteban Ocon and Lance stroll are likely to be no pushover in a straight-line fight.

Stroll and Ocon will play fascinating roles as interlopers at the front end in among the championship protagonists. However the imperative to deliver on their opportunity to score well will surely restrain them from fighting too hard with cars that are significantly quicker than they are. Expect them to give hell to each other, however, while those eyeing title bids approach with caution.

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Power unit change penalties have cost Red Bull second and third on the grid, which would have been their strongest starting positions of the year. At least they don’t have to start the race on old tyres: For once the entire field will get to start on fresh slicks because qualifying was wet. In stark contrast to Saturday, Sunday should be sunny and pleasant.

Red Bull are obvious candidates for an imaginative strategic ploy. In 2010 they postponed Vettel’s pit stop until the final lap of the race because tyre degradation was so low. Something as aggressive could be on the cards for Sunday.

The timing of the sole pit stop is likely to be the only significant variable as far as race strategy goes, however. An aggressively early stop offers the opportunity to run in clear air, but staying out late increases the chance of getting a ‘free’ stop if the Safety Car makes an appearance.

Qualifying times in full

DriverCarQ1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’36.0091’34.660 (-1.349)1’35.554 (+0.894)
2Max VerstappenRed Bull1’37.3441’36.113 (-1.231)1’36.702 (+0.589)
3Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’38.3041’37.313 (-0.991)1’36.841 (-0.472)
4Lance StrollWilliams1’37.6531’37.002 (-0.651)1’37.032 (+0.030)
5Esteban OconForce India1’38.7751’37.580 (-1.195)1’37.719 (+0.139)
6Valtteri BottasMercedes1’35.7161’35.396 (-0.320)1’37.833 (+2.437)
7Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’38.2351’37.031 (-1.204)1’37.987 (+0.956)
8Sebastian VettelFerrari1’37.1981’36.223 (-0.975)1’38.064 (+1.841)
9Felipe MassaWilliams1’38.3381’37.456 (-0.882)1’38.251 (+0.795)
10Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’38.7671’37.471 (-1.296)1’39.157 (+1.686)
11Sergio PerezForce India1’38.5111’37.582 (-0.929)
12Nico HulkenbergRenault1’39.2421’38.059 (-1.183)
13Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’39.1341’38.202 (-0.932)
14Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’39.1831’38.245 (-0.938)
15Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’39.7881’38.526 (-1.262)
16Kevin MagnussenHaas1’40.489
17Jolyon PalmerRenault1’40.646
18Marcus EricssonSauber1’41.732
19Pascal WehrleinSauber1’41.875
20Romain GrosjeanHaas

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton30.379 (1)33.053 (2)31.155 (1)
Max Verstappen30.558 (3)33.418 (3)31.964 (3)
Daniel Ricciardo30.968 (9)33.594 (6)32.235 (7)
Lance Stroll30.974 (10)33.567 (5)32.024 (5)
Esteban Ocon30.697 (8)33.877 (10)32.520 (10)
Valtteri Bottas30.596 (5)32.889 (1)31.408 (2)
Kimi Raikkonen30.603 (6)33.873 (9)32.254 (8)
Sebastian Vettel30.579 (4)33.460 (4)31.964 (3)
Felipe Massa31.126 (12)33.932 (11)32.229 (6)
Stoffel Vandoorne31.250 (13)33.724 (7)32.427 (9)
Sergio Perez30.546 (2)34.237 (14)32.714 (14)
Nico Hulkenberg31.275 (14)34.147 (12)32.544 (11)
Fernando Alonso31.559 (16)33.752 (8)32.623 (12)
Daniil Kvyat30.655 (7)34.342 (15)32.655 (13)
Carlos Sainz Jnr31.099 (11)34.235 (13)32.886 (15)
Kevin Magnussen31.494 (15)35.119 (16)33.506 (16)
Marcus Ericsson31.938 (17)35.514 (18)33.900 (17)
Pascal Wehrlein32.368 (19)35.465 (17)34.042 (18)
Romain Grosjean32.170 (18)36.106 (19)35.079 (19)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault327.1 (203.3)
2Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes326.6 (202.9)-0.5
3Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer326.3 (202.8)-0.8
4Lance StrollWilliamsMercedes325.9 (202.5)-1.2
5Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari325.7 (202.4)-1.4
6Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes325.6 (202.3)-1.5
7Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes323.8 (201.2)-3.3
8Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes321.3 (199.6)-5.8
9Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer318.4 (197.8)-8.7
10Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenHonda312.8 (194.4)-14.3
11Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault312.0 (193.9)-15.1
12Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes311.8 (193.7)-15.3
13Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda311.7 (193.7)-15.4
14Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari311.6 (193.6)-15.5
15Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoRenault308.4 (191.6)-18.7
16Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari307.4 (191.0)-19.7
17Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari306.7 (190.6)-20.4
18Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari297.2 (184.7)-29.9
19Pascal WehrleinSauberFerrari289.0 (179.6)-38.1

Over to you

Share your views on the Italian Grand Prix in the comments.

2017 Italian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “Hamilton must seize his chance to take points lead”

  1. Probably the most exciting grid since Sepang 2010! I would love to see Stroll or Ocon take the lead into turn one.

    With both Red Bulls towards the back, it would make sense to split the strategies – pit Ricciardo on lap one, have Verstappen run very long.

    1. That looks like exactly what they’re planning. Ricciardo looks to be on lower downforce given his split times, where as Max was quite high in the split rankings and notably slower in a straight line, indicating more downforce and will struggle to pass cars on track today.

      Will be a fascinating race to follow, along with the Ferrari’s coming through! Tifosi will be on full song!

      1. wait… no. It might be the other way around. Max pitting first as he lacks speed, while Dan can pass on the straights a bit better, and so will stay out while making more progress amongst traffic.

        1. @scottie Verstappen does start a few places ahead of Ricciardo, though.

      2. How do you figure? Verstappen was faster in the high speed sections, so he was running lower downforce if anything?

  2. This seems fun. I’m only interested in how quick Bottas can create a gap between him and Vettel. The drag will mean that if Bottas does not manages to do it quick enough he will just be a sitting duck behind Ocon and Stroll, the kid that goes from hitting someone under the safety car driving 40 mph to starting front row in one week.

    Hopefully they’ll battle it out. That spectacular move from Vettel on Bottas in Spain is one of the best moves I’ve seen in years. This is Ricciardo’s chance to challenge Verstappen to a proper duel. He needs to deliver. Kind of a pity to probably see them on different strategies.
    I still think Vettel will at one point here lose his temper. He was quite behaved although quite wild in his starts in Spa.
    The moment one of the Mercedes or Ferrari’s will break down is also very near historically speaking, then again it would be nuts to see a GP3 champion leading a F3 champion in F1 at Monza… especially after a safety car.

    But I’m thinking Hamilton, Vettel, Ocon. No lap record. RBs 8th and 8th and Alonso to ”retire” before lap 20.

  3. Lap 15
    From Alonso: Embarrassing guys, GP2 engines are faster than Honda!

    Lap 25
    To Alonso: Gap to nearest car that is a lap ahead of you is 10 secs.
    From Alonso: I dont care, i dont wanna know!

    Lap 27:
    From Alonso: Engine problem, no power.
    To Alonso: Afirm, retire the car, box box box..

    1. Now that was a fun one, well done, and also very realistic!

  4. Lewis will romp home and have enough time spare to write another epic poem

  5. If i were lewis hamilton id be pretty nervous for the race. Two overly eager teens started beside him.. theres gonna be a lap 1 incident with lewis and either stroll/ocon…

    On the other hand vettel has to make a couple of spots on the first lap to have a shot at a good result

    1. @fish123 I think Lewis would be more nervous had it been Verstappen starting next to him.

    2. @fish123, I would imagine these eager “teens” have been told to bring the car home too and get the team some valuable points.

      Agree with Ben that he’s pobably happy it isn’t Verstappen. Verstappen doesn’t care about the team or points. He just goes flat out when the lights go off rather crashing than yielding if he can make up a spot.

  6. Who, or what, modified the live timing screens so that they only update if the car goes faster in the next section. The only driver to improve his Q2 time was Daniel Ricciardo so that was the ONLY time that updated. None of the other Q3 times actually appeared on the ‘live’ timing, therefore it is worthless and unfathomable after Q1. Is this something else that the money grabbing elite are doing to alienate non-millionaire fans. Grass roots fans are moving away. It would seem that there is someone even more greedy than BCE in charge of the sport now.

    1. Ah was that what that was. It was indeed ridiculously useless.

      Also that poor app drains the battery like crazy. Even when it’s running in the background with a white screen (after it displayed a news post) my phones always heat up.

      The original free app we had before was much better than this pretentious buggy nonsense.

      Guess I’ll try some of the other F1 live apps again, but they also seem to have fallen for the “lets make it pretty” mantra.

Comments are closed.