Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2018

2018 Italian Grand Prix Star Performers

2018 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, Lance Stroll and Romain Grosjean were RaceFans’ stars of the Italian Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes arrived at Monza on the back foot after Ferrari’s engine upgrade in Spa gave their rivals a clear power advantage. Qualifying confirmed this: Hamilton led after the first runs in Q3 but Raikkonen and Vettel improved, pushing the Mercedes off the front row.

But in the race Hamilton’s tenacity and Mercedes’ teamwork made the difference. First Hamilton went around the outside of Vettel at the Roggia chicane, leaving his title rival pointing backwards. Raikkonen was unable to shake the Mercedes in the first stint and after the Ferrari pitted Hamilton stayed out eight laps longer.

Mercedes left Bottas out, delaying Raikkonen, allowing Hamilton to recover his six second deficit. Once Bottas pitted on lap 35 Hamilton’s fresher tyres gave him the upper hand. Blistering was visible on the Ferrari, and Raikkonen was constantly complaining on the radio. On lap 44 the Finn couldn’t hang on any longer and Hamilton went around the outside into turn one. He quickly extended his lead and won by a comfortable eight seconds.

Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll, Williams, Monza, 2018
Stroll seized a rare chance for points
Williams have been the slowest team in F1 at almost every race but Stroll, who increasingly seems to be a Monza specialist, reached Q3 for the first time this season. Nonetheless chief technical officer Paddy Lowe stressed points were, “a tough ask” for Sunday.

Stroll gained two places on the first lap and did a 35-lap opening stint on the super-softs following which he breezed past Marcus Ericsson and Nico Hulkenberg. Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel inevitably demoted him, and his pursuit of Carlos Sainz Jnr wasn’t successful, but he hung on to take 10th and was promoted a position by Romain Grosjean’s disqualification. This was a much needed morale boost for the team.

Romain Grosjean

Haas’s disqualification was tough on Grosjean, who’d qualified and finished ‘best of the rest’ and likely gained very minimal advantage from the non-compliance of the car’s floor. He finished only three tenths off Verstappen (seven tenths clear of his team mate who was eliminated in Q2) and was promoted to sixth by Ricciardo’s penalty. He ran fifth for a while but was never going to be able to keep the recovering Vettel behind.

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Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Monza, 2018
As in Paul Ricard, Vettel ruined his race on lap one
The momentum in the title fight seemed to be with Vettel after Spa. Throughout practice he looked poised for a strong weekend. In qualifying however, Raikkonen had the advantage of the tow, Vettel was unable to get a slipstream from the Mercedes ahead and was beaten to pole by his team mate – a situation he was clearly unhappy with.

But even after failing to pass Raikkonen at the start he was still poised to take points off Hamilton until his title rival attacked him on the outside of the Della Roggia. Not for the first time this year, a Ferrari hit a Mercedes, but this time it was only Vettel who really suffered. He blamed Hamilton – the stewards disagreed – and Vettel spent the rest of the race playing catch-up. What should have been a minimum of second turned into fourth, and a 30-point deficit in the championship.

Kevin Magnussen

Kevin Magnussen’s bad weekend started with an elimination in Q2 following a controversial incident with Fernando Alonso. His race didn’t go much better after contact with Perez during the Safety Car restart. The Haas suffered major damage and was forced to make an early stop. He ran the rest of the race on the mediums which lacked pace which, coupled with the damage on the right side of his floor, left him well out of contention. Though of course had he finished well he’d likely have been protested and disqualified along with his team mate.

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And the rest

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Monza, 2018
Tyre degradation cost Raikkonen a potential win
Raikkonen proved he’s still got it as he claimed pole position by setting F1’s fastest ever lap. Having brushed off an early attacked from Hamilton by re-passing the Mercedes, he eventually fell victim to Mercedes’ team tactics. Forced to run hard on his fresh tyres after pitting, his degradation was worsened by being forced to run in the slipstream of Bottas. That eventually allowed Hamilton to pass him for good. He limped in second, struggling so much Sergey Sirotkin un-lapped himself.

Bottas was passed by Verstappen at the start and couldn’t get by throughout the first stint. After he pitting for fresh softs the Mercedes quickly caught the Red Bull but Verstappen was in particularly feisty mood. On lap 42 he hit Bottas approaching the Rettifilio and was handed a five-second penalty. That dropped him from third to fifth.

Esteban Ocon continued to show why he should be in F1 next year as he handily beat his team mate in qualifying thanks to a misjudgement by the team in Q1. Ocon overtook Sainz on lap 14 and was promoted to sixth after Grosjean’s disqualification. Perez admitted his first run in Q1 should have been better, but equally the team should have had him on the track for another run later in the session. He minimised the damage with a brisk run through the field to finish behind his team mate in seventh.

Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, Monza, 2018
Gasly dragged his Toro Rosso into Q3
Sainz did one of the longest opening stints on the super-softs, ekeing them out for 39 laps, but he was unable to hold off the more powerful Force Indias and slipped to eighth at the flag. Hulkenberg was still suffering the repercussions of the previous weeks shunt with a 10-place grid penalty. Renault took advantage of this and changed his engine. In the race, the team gambled with an alternative strategy and Hulkenberg stopped for fresh softs during the safety car on lap one. He was unable to make it to the end of the race and stopped again on lap 41 for super-softs to get him to the end of the race in 13th.

Sirotkin scored his first point in F1 despite being unhappy with his performance on Saturday. It was the most competitive weekend Williams have had all year.

Sauber’s lack of pace was exposed in Qualifying as both drivers were eliminated in Q1 and neither driver was able to score points on Sunday.

Toro Rosso surprised again in qualifying, with Gasly making Q3 on a track that most thought would expose the less powerful Honda engine. Hartley’s race was over before he even got to turn one when he was sandwiched by Ericsson and Vandoorne. Alonso made contact with Gasly which damaged his car and ruined his race as well.

Vandoorne qualified last again but made up seven places in the race by the end. Alonso was forced to retire on lap nine with an engine failure at a race where he was in with a shot at points.

Over to you

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Author information

Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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53 comments on “2018 Italian Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Glad to see Stroll/Grosjean here, but not sure if their weekend was more sparkling than Kimi’s.

    1. Surely not, Kimi did a great quali finishing ahead of two drivers that are know for their pace over one lap, had to fight both mercedes without the superiority that many claim the Ferrari PU has and struggle through the inefficient Ferrari tactics. A star performer no doubt

    2. Well that should keep all the Stroll haters quiet for a little while.

  2. Max should be added to the star performers, ended just 13 sec behind the winner. His 5 sec penalty was not correct imo.

    1. The Skeptic (@)
      6th September 2018, 12:43

      Max should be added as a “star” – when he did his level best to drive Bottas off the road by driving into him – swerving in the braking zone?

      1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        6th September 2018, 18:08

        A driver is allowed to move back to the racing line even in the breaking zone as long as he leaves space for another car. The penalty was given because the stewards ruled he had not given enough space not because he moved within the breaking zone. Personally I disagree with the penalty as I believe Max left just enough the space. Had Max given 5cm more space it for sure would not have been a penalty.

        Also @Keith – Bottas hit Max not the other way around.

        Max certainly was a star performer – if you finish with a Renault engine 3rd (after penalty 5th) only 13 seconds (after penalty 18) behind a Mercedes and 5 seconds behind a Ferrari you have done an absolutely fantastic job.
        The penalty can be argued correct or not but that Max drove brilliantly is no discussion – he did.

    2. Max had a tremendous drive (keeping a much faster car behind), but that illegal move (not swerve as a Skeptic might say) should stop him from getting a Star accolade this week.

    3. I agree. Especially strong in keeping Bottas behind. Their eventual touch was a matter of cm where both could have been more lenient.

      1. How could Bottas have been any more lenient? He was as far left as possible!

        1. He had atleast 30 cm more to the left as the green asfalt is also a part of the track.

          1. But the white line is the official limit, and by precisely adhering to it Bottas made sure he was in the right no matter what.

          2. True. But also, Bottas had full vision of Max and the extra 30 cm. Very easy to avoid running into Max.

            Max on the other hand had only had one eye on a small mirror coming from 340 km/h and pulling 5G in the braking zone. Still he managed to position his car precisely with exactly one car width left. Ofcourse to force his opponant to compromise his turn in for the chicane.

            Very skilled imho. But maybe not the smartest thing. There was always a possibility Bottas wouldn’t move onto the green part….

          3. @Bart I would love to see a foto of Bottas using that green part of the track. Either in qualifying of the race.

            Don’t believe he deliberatly stayed on the white line just to comply with the rules.

          4. My point was, Max drove an exceptionally good race with only one small mistake that was punished too badly. All (negativ) attention goes to the two inches of space he should have given. I’ve seen the onboard on you tube, incredibly many incidents where there was contactand some with even a higher impact. You do not hear anything about that

          5. True. But also, Bottas had full vision of Max and the extra 30 cm. Very easy to avoid running into Max.


            Max had the whole rest of the track and people insist Bottas drive off track? Why would he do that and risk spinning?

            Still he managed to position his car precisely with exactly one car width left

            Less than one car width actually, if he had manage to leave the space he was supposed to people wouldn’t still be talking about the penalty he got for not doing it.

    4. Just watch Villeneuve – Arnoux at Dijon 1979 on Youtube: battles like these make F1 entertaining…

    5. Max pushed a car out of track, then made one more of his tantrums.

  3. I agree that Hamilton had a great weekend and Stroll did surprise, not sure about Magnussen though. I would have thought Raikkonen was deserved of a favourable mention.

  4. Why wasn’t Kimi a star performer? Pole plus second in the race! Well, I understand, whatever he does he’s not a star for Keith. It’s sad.

    1. Keith doesn’t sign this article.

      1. Indeed.
        Dear sir, I just love your answer.

    2. It is usual here.

      “In qualifying however, Raikkonen had the advantage of the tow, Vettel was unable to get a slipstream from the Mercedes ahead and was beaten to pole by his team mate”

      This is incorrect because it does not tell the whole story, Raikonnen was already in front of Vettel in partials S1 and S2

  5. Why wasn’t Magnussen disqualified anyway? If he ran the same setup as Grosjean he should’ve been DQed regardless of where he finished.

    1. Because noone bothered to protest his car?

    2. @fer-no65 I think Renault simply didn’t mind about him due to his finishing position, which had zero impact on the Constructor’s points anyway while Grosjean’s did.

  6. Stars: Hamilton, Raikkonen, Perez, and Williams.
    Strugglers: Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen, Magnussen, Renault, Mclaren, and Sauber.

    1. @jerejj How can you have Perez in the stars when he was out in Q1, while his team mate got into Q3, and then finished behind his team mate as well?

      1. Because he had came back up the field and finished within striking range of Ocon.

      2. @hugh11 Because of his climb through the field from a lowly grid-position into the points.

      3. @ Hugh. A misjudgment of the situation by the whole team. Not poor driving on Perez’s part. His recovery drive was impressive.

      4. @hugh11 well Ocon got a star in Germany despite going out in Q1 and finishing behind Perez… Anyway Perez’s pace in this race was light years ahead of Ocon’s.

  7. Raikkonen is clearly a star performer. I don’t see how he can’t be, though I know Keith isn’t his biggest fan. Brilliant pole lap and it wasn’t his fault Ferrari failed to warn him about tyre deg or gave him a duff strategy despite knowing about the fragility of the soft tyre from Vettel’s earlier stint. I think something that hasn’t been mentioned is that he was forced to push hard early on the softs not only to cover Hamilton’s pace on the super soft but also to negate the risk of a safety car after Ricciardo’s engine blew. Could easily have been a VSC, in which case Hamilton would have jumped him like Vettel did in Australia. I think his repass on Hamilton was magnificent as well, and their battle throughout the race showed their class. Both gave each other space and showed respect, giving each other room when they could have easily clouted each other off the track, in stark contrast to Vettel’s impetuousness.

    Agree re Hamilton and Stroll. Both were great too.

    1. I don’t see how he can’t be, though I know Keith isn’t his biggest fan

      This was written by Josh Holland, not Keith

      1. Oops. Maybe it’s RaceFans’ editorial line. But yeah, Kimi was a star.

      2. Ah, yes, surprised, I know keith hates raikkonen based on this year’s ranking, but either he probably isn’t the only one on this website; I would say if what he did this weekend isn’t enough for star performer, then he won’t ever be.

        Hamilton, grosjean in the stars, vettel and magnussen in the strugglers was something I expected before even opening the page and apart from the imo wrong omission of raikkonen from the stars, I was undecided if either of the williams deserved to be a star or not and looks like stroll made it, it was hard to call cause it’s such a bad car usually, hard to say if it’s the driver or the team doing better lately.

        1. he probably*, “either” shouldn’t be there.

  8. Put ALO on the struglers list as well – what a folish move on MAG he made in qualify..glad to see him retire

  9. This is harsh for both Ferrari drivers.
    Bottas qualified 3 and a half tenths behind Hamilton and couldn’t pass a Red Bull, but apparently that’s still better than a driver who qualified second (a tenth and a half from pole) and did a decent recovery drive (and managed to pass a Red Bull).
    You are either being biased or are basing your opinions too much on race results.
    Same thing with Germany. Vettel has a perfect weekend until he makes a tiny mistake and then is rendered a struggler! That’s simply not fair.

    1. On no planet is a guy who crashes out from the lead with zero pressure in the fastest car NOT a struggler, seriously?

      1. A small mistake shouldn’t determine your performance throughout the entire weekend. Especially if you did great before it. That’s all I’m saying.

        1. Well, but in this case, a few mistakes in his Q lap made him lose the pole, which caused him to attempt that move on Kimi which Hamilton then used, and to which Vettel didn’t react the best @carbon_fibre, so, here that did determine how his race went, didn’t it? Similar in Germany. Look, I think it is fair to expect better from the guys who are in the WDC fight, so, they will land in the struggler corner easier. Kimi, yeah, he more or less starred, apart from the fact that Vettel wouldn’t have made the mistake of building such a big virtual lead over Hamilton, knowing he’d have to be careful with the tyres.

  10. Max was a star performer this weekend actually beating a faster car on merit. He was only punished from behind a desk for a move that looked very much like a move Lewis did on Webber in Monza 2008. Back then no penalty was given, and rightfully imo.

    1. Great analogy. I believe there is a system that provides stewarts with this historic footage. Therefore all the more strange they felt the need to interfere over a few cm.

      1. Wow. Thanks. Explain that away, Charlie!

    2. What are you smoking? Comparing a incident on a wet track vs bone dry. By your logic Jenson Button should be stripped of the win for Canadian GP 2011 while applying same logic of Schumacher/Barichello incident of Hungarian GP 2010.

    3. Grear comparison. But I agree that Webber didn’t really have an option to use the green part as it was wet. If not the paint for for the white line and green track. Lots of driver have spun under breaking by touching the white painted line.

    4. “Behind the desk move”
      When Bottas was alongside in the braking zone, Verstappen continued to move left. Bottas was also moving left at the same time, and kept moving left toward the white line when they touched.

      So if I read this right, Bottas definitely hit Verstappen @mayrton

  11. Ericsson deserves a ’star’ because of the way he handled that sauber when it was in ’flight mode’, crashing in the barrier in 325 km/h and rolling around until it finally stopped, and just brushed off the dust and walked away!

  12. Vertappen drove very well overall.

    His move on Bottas wasn’t really necessary as no way was Bottas going to pass him, he was too far back. His defence was slightly over the top, but it was quite marginal.

    What bothered me most was his childish attitude after he got his penalty, probably cost him and the team points. He needs to learn from these things and act more maturely if he wants to win titles and drive for other teams.

    Raikkonen did as well as could be expected really, he was not helped with the Ferrari strategy and his tyres. Ferrari could afford to wait for Hamilton to pit and then bring Kimi in as we saw after the safety car the Ferrari on fresh tyres was more than a match for the Mercedes.

    1. I meant Verstappen of course but maybe Vertappen was freudian!

  13. It is just hilarious the number of people saying Bottas hit Verstappen. Bottas went into a gap that was there and got the car partially along side. This was before verstappen turned left to squeeze Bottas. Bottas then went slightly more left. How can anyone imply Bottas turned into Verstappen? Verstappen came towards him and Bottas turned slightly the same way, trying to avoid this happening. But even with him doing this, verstappen still hit him and got a penalty. Saying Bottas hit Verstappen is just incorrect.

  14. Lewis Hamilton, Lance Stroll and Romain Grosjean were RaceFans’ stars of the Italian Grand Prix. Here’s why.

    Very BuzzFeed. Stop it.

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