Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Monza, 2019

Can Vettel help protect Leclerc from Mercedes’ attack?

2019 Italian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton are poised to pick up where they left off at the end of the Belgian Grand Prix, which ended with the Mercedes driver piling pressure on his Ferrari rival.

And their team mates are lined up behind them in the opposite order, which promises to add tactical intrigue to proceedings.

Last year Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid at Monza. But Mercedes punctured their defences on the first lap, Hamilton pressuring Sebastian Vettel into a mistake. That allowed them to use both cars to grind race leader Kimi Raikkonen down, opening the door for Hamilton to take the win.

As the grid lines up Mercedes could play a similar game again, bringing one car in early and the other later, limiting Leclerc’s ability to cover off both strategies. However as long as Vettel behind them remains in play, that is going to complicate the picture.

Ferrari’s straight-line speed advantage is likely to give Mercedes another headache. Vettel may be quick enough to zip past them on the straights using DRS.

Another factor which will complicate the strategic picture for Mercedes is the fact the midfield are quite a bit quicker this year. This year as last the top four on the grid are all Ferraris and Mercedes. But 12 months ago the fifth-placed car was almost one-and-a-half seconds off the pole position time. This year the corresponding figure is half a second, whereas 1.5 seconds covers the top 13.

Therefore the field is likely to spread out more slowly behind the race leaders. They will therefore find it harder to find gaps in the traffic to emerge in after making their pit stops, especially if an early Safety Car bunches the field up after the start.

The field would surely be even closer to the front runners if Max Verstappen had been able to set a competitive time in qualifying. However a power unit penalty means he will start from the back. He was right up with the quickest times in qualifying, so expect him to make a spectacular charge towards the front. Will he be able to catch team mate Alexander Albon?

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Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Charles LeclercFerrari1’20.1261’19.553 (-0.573)1’19.307 (-0.246)
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’20.2721’19.464 (-0.808)1’19.346 (-0.118)
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1’20.1561’20.018 (-0.138)1’19.354 (-0.664)
4Sebastian VettelFerrari1’20.3781’19.715 (-0.663)1’19.457 (-0.258)
5Daniel RicciardoRenault1’20.3741’19.833 (-0.541)1’19.839 (+0.006)
6Nico HulkenbergRenault1’20.1551’20.275 (+0.120)1’20.049 (-0.226)
7Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren1’20.4131’20.202 (-0.211)1’20.455 (+0.253)
8Alexander AlbonRed Bull1’20.3821’20.021 (-0.361)
9Lance StrollRacing Point1’20.6431’20.498 (-0.145)
10Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo1’20.6341’20.515 (-0.119)
11Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo1’20.6571’20.517 (-0.140)
12Kevin MagnussenHaas1’20.6161’20.615 (-0.001)
13Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’20.7231’20.630 (-0.093)
14Lando NorrisMcLaren1’20.6461’21.068 (+0.422)
15Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1’20.5081’21.125 (+0.617)
16Romain GrosjeanHaas1’20.784
17Sergio PerezRacing Point1’21.291
18George RussellWilliams1’21.800
19Robert KubicaWilliams1’22.356
20Max VerstappenRed Bull

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Charles Leclerc26.469 (1)26.412 (4)26.426 (5)
Lewis Hamilton26.702 (6)26.203 (2)26.264 (1)
Valtteri Bottas26.795 (11)26.152 (1)26.407 (4)
Sebastian Vettel26.565 (2)26.330 (3)26.393 (3)
Daniel Ricciardo26.589 (3)26.592 (7)26.573 (6)
Nico Hulkenberg26.676 (5)26.670 (8)26.629 (9)
Carlos Sainz Jnr26.807 (12)26.746 (10)26.580 (7)
Alexander Albon26.743 (9)26.499 (5)26.391 (2)
Lance Stroll26.652 (4)27.078 (16)26.673 (11)
Kimi Raikkonen26.702 (6)26.885 (11)26.614 (8)
Antonio Giovinazzi26.714 (8)26.961 (13)26.758 (13)
Kevin Magnussen26.770 (10)26.987 (14)26.738 (12)
Daniil Kvyat27.022 (16)26.736 (9)26.637 (10)
Lando Norris26.965 (14)26.895 (12)26.786 (14)
Pierre Gasly27.050 (17)26.507 (6)26.807 (15)
Romain Grosjean26.858 (13)27.077 (15)26.849 (16)
Sergio Perez26.992 (15)27.431 (19)26.868 (17)
George Russell27.313 (18)27.198 (17)27.252 (18)
Robert Kubica27.366 (19)27.421 (18)27.569 (19)
Max Verstappen29.060 (20)36.435 (20)31.980 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Sergio PerezRacing PointMercedes349.7 (217.3)
2Charles LeclercFerrariFerrari349.7 (217.3)-0.0
3Lance StrollRacing PointMercedes349.5 (217.2)-0.2
4Carlos Sainz JnrMcLarenRenault346.1 (215.1)-3.6
5Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari346.0 (215.0)-3.7
6Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari345.0 (214.4)-4.7
7Alexander AlbonRed BullHonda344.6 (214.1)-5.1
8Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault344.4 (214.0)-5.3
9Daniel RicciardoRenaultRenault344.2 (213.9)-5.5
10George RussellWilliamsMercedes343.5 (213.4)-6.2
11Kimi RaikkonenAlfa RomeoFerrari342.7 (212.9)-7.0
12Daniil KvyatToro RossoHonda342.6 (212.9)-7.1
13Antonio GiovinazziAlfa RomeoFerrari342.5 (212.8)-7.2
14Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes342.5 (212.8)-7.2
15Pierre GaslyToro RossoHonda342.4 (212.8)-7.3
16Robert KubicaWilliamsMercedes340.9 (211.8)-8.8
17Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari340.8 (211.8)-8.9
18Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes338.3 (210.2)-11.4
19Lando NorrisMcLarenRenault334.8 (208.0)-14.9
20Max VerstappenRed BullHonda331.8 (206.2)-17.9

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Over to you

Will Ferrari score their first home win since 2010? And where will Max Verstappen finish from the back of the grid?

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

2019 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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7 comments on “Can Vettel help protect Leclerc from Mercedes’ attack?”

  1. More important question is does he have motivation to protect from Mercedes attack especially when yesterday after quali he was sour about his own teammate?

    1. That’s been one of the two questions at Ferrari since the start of the season: how long would it take Leclerc to become established as number one driver? And how will Vettel respond? Imagine if Ferrari had been clearly ahead since the start of the season, as predicted. This would be the story. It has all the ingredients of 2007, Hamilton-Alonso. Yesterday’s qualifying tiff between Leclerc and Vettel was even reminiscent of Hungary 2007, which obviously exploded everything. Vettel isn’t an Alonso, though, for good and bad. He could have a good race today but the crunch will be if he’s running behind Leclerc and Ferrari think they need to pit him early to mess up the Mercedes. A huge sacrifice to make at Monza (the kind even Raikkonen didn’t want to make last year, which also lead to trouble).

  2. Will Ferrari score their first home win since 2010? – Yes.
    And where will Max Verstappen finish from the back of the grid? – 6th.

  3. Look at those top speeds! I guess Ferrari’s PU might went out of the window suddenly. This new myth created by HAM/Mercedes fans that Ferrari have by far the best engine actually vanished after the FPs, when Mercedes kept Ferrari more than honest.

    VET can protect LEC only if he manages to overtake both Mercedes cars in the 1st lap. But, if that happens, then it might means he’s fast enough get LEC too. If not, then maybe use him as a road barrier when HAM will get out of the pits. Only that I don’t think it will work well on this particular track, plus HAM will have fresh tyres.

  4. Vettel won’t play ball. He will go for the kill in the first lap.

    Disavantage is all Leclerc’s. No tow, long straights, no cover.

    Mercedes will exploit Ferrari’s tyre wear again, and won’t be in a rush to take first place. Some tyre saving here and there, some fuel saving too, a bluff and an undercut.

    Of course that may change If somebody gets in the mix at pit stops, like Albon or Ricciardo.

    Verstappen and RBR will play the long game, save some engine for Suzuka and collect the points.

    What about a light rain?

  5. “Ferrari or Red Bull – what is Fernando Alonso’s next move?” the Beeb suggests Fernando could be Leclercs new team mate :-D

  6. Blaize Falconberger (@)
    8th September 2019, 14:40

    The answer is NO… Haha….

Comments are closed.