Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Monza, 2019

2019 Italian Grand Prix Star Performers

2019 Italian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Italian Grand Prix weekend. Here’s why.


Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc was rapid from the off at Monza but Sebastian Vettel was a genuine threat to his hopes of taking pole position. The pair were supposed to swap running orders in Q3 to give each other the benefit of the tow. Did Leclerc do the dirty on his team mate by dithering on the out-lap? The fact Vettel passed him at the start of the lap makes it hard to come down on either side.

In the race Leclerc demonstrated true grit, withstanding a sustained attack from Lewis Hamilton with moves which were firm and right to the limit of what was acceptable.

Daniel Ricciardo

Renault were in good shape at Monza and Daniel Ricciardo got the absolute best out of his RS19. He out-qualified Nico Hulkenberg and despite slipping behind his team mate at the start was soon back ahead, and finished comfortably up the road. Solid all round.

Sergio Perez

Power unit problem stymied Sergio Perez for the second time in as many races, confining him to the back of the grid. In the race he rode his luck, capitalising on the timing of the Safety Car, but successfully resisted Max Verstappen for seventh.

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Sebastian Vettel

Vettel had the car and the potential to win at Monza. It wasn’t entirely his fault that he ended up boxed in to fourth on the grid. But he was fully to blame both for spinning out of that position, thanks to yet another unforced error, and the horror show moment when he pulled onto the racing line in front of oncoming traffic. In light of events at Spa, a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for that was too lenient.

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen wrecked his weekend by crashing twice before the race. The second, in qualifying, doomed him to start from the back of the grid. He was unlucky that his team then earned him a stiff penalty by putting the wrong tyres on his car, but the damage had already been done.

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And the rest

Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, Monza, 2019
Kvyat was out of luck
Valtteri Bottas looked like he had the potential to be quicker than Lewis Hamilton, though he ended up ahead because his team mate exhausted his tyres try to pass Leclerc. At least Hamilton got close – Bottas made two mistakes in the last four laps which let Leclerc off the hook.

Hulkenberg collected fifth but was clearly the slower of the two Renault drivers. While Alexander Albon managed a useful sixth, he was only two places ahead of Max Verstappen, who started last and picked up damage on the first lap.

Antonio Giovinazzi lost out to his team mate by a mere two-thousandths of a second in qualifying, but delivered his best result yet with ninth. Lando Norris took the final point but an engine change and penalty made it hard to judge his true pace.

Both Toro Rosso drivers were unlucky not to score despite neither making it into Q3. Daniil Kvyat was on course for a good result when his car failed, while Pierre Gasly was forced off by Lance Stroll. He had been running well until Vettel blundered into him, then committed much the same mistake in respect of Gasly.

George Russell again picked off a couple of Williams’ delayed rivals, while Robert Kubica brought up the tail of the field. The Haas drivers never looked like scoring and a hydraulic problem put Kevin Magnussen out.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

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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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45 comments on “2019 Italian Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Stars: LEC, RIC, and PER.
    Strugglers: Mercedes, ALB, VET, and RAI.

    1. Strugglers Mercedes? Cool of a joke, man, even a true Spanish yoke.

      1. Mercedes were flawless. The strategy couldn’t have been any better (partly thanks to Vettel’s string of blunders), keeping the pressure on Leclerc for most of the second stint. First Hamilton on an aggressive strategy that maximised his chances of passing Leclerc early in the second stint (and boy did he come close), then Bottas on a more conservative strategy that gave him an advantage for the final 10 laps or so. Sadly for them, Leclerc was simply too alert and ruthless that day. Bottas’ mistakes didn’t help, either.

        The only area that left any room for improvement might’ve been the car setup. Ferrari’s straight-line speed advantage came as a surprise to absolutely no one, begging the question whether it wouldn’t have been smarter to trim the wings even more. As the race showed, having more grip and more pace is almost worthless when you can’t pass the car ahead of you. I assume they were focussing on lap times with their setup to maximise their chances of getting one of their cars on pole position. That might’ve worked, but Leclerc’s Ferrari was still that little bit faster in qualifying trim (shoutout to Ferrari’s engine department, whose impressive work over the past two years made this possible despite having a car that hates Sundays), and Mercedes were amongst those that outsmarted themselves out of a second Q3 attempt.

        1. Any better?, They would have pitted Bottas first trying to force Ferrari to pit Leclerc and giving the opportunity to Hamilton to attack Leclerc in the last laps with fresher rubber. I mean, Mercedes should tried the opposite strategy with his drivers

          1. I agree that having Hamilton run long looked like the better strategy, because he is almost always better at conserving his tyres than Bottas, and I think having him with the big tyre offset at the end was the best chance of making a pass. The questions are – was Bottas close enough to Leclerc to pit immediately to avoid the undercut? Or could he have stayed out a few extra laps because he was further behind than Hamilton, which would mean Hamilton would get less offset at the end of the race to work with. And also would Bottas have been able to push Leclerc hard enough in the 2nd stint to force some errors and make him use his tyres harder?

            Overall I think having Bottas work the undercut would have made the first half of the race pretty comfortable for Leclerc, but probably would have given Hamilton a better opportunity to win.

        2. Mercedes were flawless.

          Bottas’ mistakes didn’t help, either.

          What mistakes? Weren’t they flawless? o_0

          1. It’s not on mercedes if a driver makes a mistake, don’t see who they could take better than bottas as number 2.

  2. I don’t see why Ricciardo is a star performer. He’s been doing the same level of performance for most of the season, nothing special besides the finishing position.

    I’d switch him with stroll. Got to q3 and was right behind the Renault’s when vettel swiped him.

    1. Exactly!
      Hulk had more races, where he was spectacular – Bahrain, Germany till the crash, Italy (on the start he passed both Ricciardo and Vettel).

      1. Lol what are you talking about Ricciardo has been dominating hulk in qualy this season. And in race has almost always been ahead of hulk except when hulk gets lucky with strategy

    2. Considering how hard was to overtake at monza, and how hulk defended his position against Albon –in a much quicker Redbull, I can only think that Ricciardo’s move on Hulk had team orders involved.. anyway I do not think both drivers deserved to be classified as star performance. Making no errors should not be enough for that.

      1. From the on board camera it was clear that Hulk gave up the position without even thinking of a fight.

        1. Fighting for position would have allowed the following drivers to close the gap and get within DRS-range. The big gap between RIC and Hulk was also largely down to RIC pitting under VSC.

          1. The vsc saved him 6 seconds, ricciardo was 15 sec ahead of hulk when he came out of the pits. And after that put the engine on easy mode

      2. Lol you would believe this and not believe red bull giving max advantages over his teammates with set ups meantal gymnastics at its finest.

  3. “10-second stop-and-ho penalty” ? I can’t keep up with all these new rules! :-D

    1. Sadly for him, his pit wall looked up the wrong translation in their pocket dictionary. Spending 10 seconds with an agricultural tool did not cheer him up one bit.

      1. “10-second stop-and-ho penalty”

        Spending 10 seconds with an agricultural tool

        I admire the purity of your mind :)

        1. A sad case of misspelling. The penalty was really spending 10 seconds with a HO model train, which would have being jollier than plodding around with a hoe.

  4. Lewis Hamilton was also a star performer. He lined up on the grid beside a much faster Ferrari amd pressured it throughout the race. Furthermore, he would have overtaken Leclerc if not for dodgy moves and dodgy stewarding.

    If Leclerc is a “star performer”, so os Lewis Hamilton.

    1. +1

      No driver on the grid worked as hard as Lewis did during that race and we saw from Bottas what a ‘normal’ driver was able to do in that dirty air… for all of 6 laps. Lewis hammered it for half the race and soaked up that dirty air like noone else.

    2. @kbdavies

      I normally like to consider Stars as out qualifying and out racongy their teammates. But Hamilton played the role of star all race until he had spent this tires.
      Further, he didn’t even really lose in the WDC. He limited the loss to 2 points, which is less than Bottas needs every weekend to catch him. Any thing less than a 7 point loss is a win for Hamilton with so few races left.

      1. How does your comment make any sense? Forgive me, but i am just trying to understand it.

        Lewis out qualified and outraced his team mate. And whatever points he lost this weekend, or how it impacts his championship has nothing to do with the quality of his performance this weekend. Or does it?

        Again, i am struggling to understand the point you are trying to make.

        1. @kbdavies

          I’m saying Hamilton is a star despite finishing behind Bottas. His pursuit of Leclerc made the race interesting.
          Also, despite losing on-track, Hamilton won a slight victory in the WDC because Bottas failed to make meaningful gains.
          So, despite losing to his teammate at the checkered flag, Hamilton is a star because he was more entertaining, raced better, and got a little closer to his 6th WDC.

      2. He limited the loss to 2 points, which is less than Bottas needs every weekend to catch him.

        To be fair he would catch him. Eventually. Some time in 2021.

    3. The pressure that Bottas was able (or not) to apply in the 6 laps spent behind Leclerc cannot be compared to the 25-something lap run Hamilton had, where he was able to spent the *first* 20 lap lifespan of its tyres (1 step softer than Leclerc) on mounting the challenge.

      The fact is He did not complete a pass, and not for the first time this season he closely followed a Ferrari for much of the race without being able to pass. Rating him higher by speculating on a overtake that it’s all to prove it would have happened, makes no sense.

      Furthermore, Hamilton is rightly praised for the tyre management he is able to do at the blisterling pace he has, which I think is the main factor that it’s winning him the championship in the “battle” with his teammate.

      This is the ONE time that Hamilton fell short of Bottas in managing the Pirellis, so, no, this time around He is not a “star performer”.

      1. @stefanauss

        I think this is a much betetr way of puttign what I have been trying to explain. i think it was well worth Hamilton trying what he did, but he basically had an even bigger opportunity than Bottas to get by leclerc and he couldn’t.

        I will certainly agree with others that hamilton can hang on and put pressure on drivers ahead significantly better than Bottas can. But doing so this time resulted in him not managing his tyres well which Bottas is often criticized for. Bottas had a very slim opportunity to get by on much older tyres than Hamilton had when he was first following leclerc in his 2nd stint.

        Very few seem to agree, but in the end, I do think Bottas did slightly better than Hamilton overall, as Hamilton putting all that pressure on Leclerc turned out to make things worse and he can only blame himself for this. Bottas lost out quite a bit of time when he was left out there on old tyres while Hamilton and Leclerc both on new were quite easily quicker. Bottas then did have the advantage closer to the end over Hamilton. But right near the end, I personally think the advantage of leclerc’s hard tyres would have come in to play. While Bottas’s tyres will have been much better than hamilton’s, he did have to push them hard to be catching up to leclerc and they won’t have been at their top performance level either by the time he got there. The ferrari speed gave him little chance but i will admit Hamilton did show he could hang a lot closer to the car ahead.

        But Because of what happened in the end to hamilton, I just couldn’t rate him as a star performer. His drive may have been exciting for us, and losing 2 points may not have mattered to him, but in the end, it was a worse position to Bottas, and it was down to his choice of fighting hard with Leclerc.

        Bottas certainly hasn’t lost his pace compared to this stage last year.

    4. I agree, all three quoted drivers deserve to be called star performers, but so does Hamilton. He did incredibly well to put that much pressure on Leclerc, who almost faltered. Moreover, despite falling behind Bottas in the later stages, he paved the way for Bottas to get a crack at Leclerc, maximising the chances of a Mercedes success. I think Hamilton drove better during that race than in many of his dominant wins in a dominant car. Failing to recognize that strikes me as Michael-Masi-like after the fact thinking.

      1. Overall I’d have put hamilton as star too, he was relentless in pursuit, much better than bottas and honestly didn’t even consider perez as candidate with hamilton as an option.

  5. Raikkonen who was faster than his teammate the whole weekend and was the one in q3 is a struggler? Nonsense. the biggest damage was done by the team with the wrong tires. Without that he would have ended in the points with the pace he had. Even more ridiculous is the fact that the crash in P1 is even mentioned in that regard. Schumacher must be the worst struggler of all times since he used to crash in practice sessions frequently…

    What about Grosjean, what about Kubica? But ok I’ve already given up on objectivity here regarding Raikkonen. What’s that expression about barking and the caravan?

    1. @montreal95 Indeed. Funnily enough Perez’s crash in FP1 isn’t mentioned at all but he is a Star performer instead… It’s really odd how Kimi was rated 6th in mid-season driver ranking despite never making it to Star category. But lo and behold, as soon as there is a tiniest chance to place him to struggler’s list that’s what @keithcollantine does.

      RaceFans is a secret F1 department of The Onion. I’m sure of it.

      1. I thought Perez was rather over rated. He did crash in FP1 and stroll actually did look very strong in qualifying. In the race, he had one of the best starts out there. Vettel knocked him off and yes, he shouldn’t have done what he did, but Perez instantly got by because of this. Then Stroll lost all this time, did several laps with a damaged car, got the drive through penalty, had to pit later on and get repaired. All this time lost as well as the 20 seconds and he finished 25 seconds behind perez. I really do feel that Stroll had better pace this weekend. He made a mistake, but partly that was to do with vettel. I don’t think perez should be a star performer really given he crashed himself this weekend and quite obviously was overall slower than Stroll during the race on average given what happened.

  6. I’m a little uncomfortable with the

    right to the limit of what was acceptable

    . I don’t think there is any doubt that:-
    a) Leclerc pushed Hamilton off the track.
    b) At any other time in the last 5 years he would have penalized.
    c) If Hamilton hadn’t swerved onto the grass that would have been an accident.

    It seems clear that this new ‘let them race’ will last until the next big accident (when not if) and will be swiftly reversed.

    1. @paulcook
      I share your discomfort. However, this

      It seems clear that this new ‘let them race’ will last until the next big accident (when not if) and will be swiftly reversed.

      I cannot agree with. You seem to interpret “Let them race”/that black and white flag thing as complete nonchalance with regards to accidents. In my view, there is no such connection. Had the consequences of that incident been worse than a little bit of dirt on Hamilton’s tyres and an inconsequential time loss, it would’ve been a slam dunk penalty. To my understanding, the black and white flag is reserved for incidents that do not lead to a significant disadvantage for the innocent party, so that a penalty would be more disruptive to the race than the offence itself.
      Anything worse than that will most likely still result in a penalty, regardless of whether it was the first offence in a race or not.

      1. the black and white flag is reserved for incidents that do not lead to a significant disadvantage for the innocent party, so that a penalty would be more disruptive to the race than the offence itself

        This seems based on the notion that stewards have to be just as fair with the driver responsible for an infringement. It’s like the question of Leclerc cutting the chicane and claiming he didn’t get much, if any, advantage. How can anyone know? It’s entirely speculative. If you break the rules and the penalty disadvantages you relative to what would have happened had you not infringed the rules, that’s your problem surely! The way the decisions went at Monza heavily favour the defending driver, not ‘racing,’ since they allow those defending to drive others off track. How can that possibly favour racing and overtaking? FIA stewards just want to avoid the hassle of being harrassed by Ferrari for a month after any given incident.

  7. Hulkenberg collected fifth but was clearly the slower of the two Renault drivers

    Did you even see time laps and race pace?

  8. It’s astonishing how Hamilton fans always come up with excuses when he loses.

    1. Just like vettel and max fans

      1. Us Dan Fans never do that. He never loses, but if He does finish behind anyone it’s because of bad luck, or He’s driving an inferior car or a reason beyond His control.

    2. @miani Easy to win when you get a free pass from FIA to drive others off track, cut corners and weave. One instance I can accept. Three after being given a ‘warning’ for the first? Sorry, it wasn’t an honest win. Anywhere else other than Monza, Leclerc would have come in second.

  9. From where I watched the race, as a fan of Lewis’ driving skills, he was simply relishing the battle with the certain knowledge that he was way ahead in the championship and therefore unlikely to jeopardise his position by pressurising the Leclerc Ferrari as hard as he could.

    Even if he had got past Leclerc, likely that with its superior speed and DRS the Ferrari would have breezed past the very next lap… For Lewis it was a chance to have a real dice where he was at a disadvantage, that’s all.

    1. Even if he had got past Leclerc, likely that with its superior speed and DRS the Ferrari would have breezed past the very next lap…

      Which we didn’t get to see because Leclerc wasn’t given a penalty. Precisely why the stuff about ‘encouraging racing’ is empty of any real logic.

  10. Don’t know how Perez is in that list. Stroll looked more impressive this weekend up until Vettel took him out. Sainz looked far more impressive than Perez as well, but had to retire through no fault of his own. Heck, Norris was as impressive as Perez this weekend, yet no one is hailing him as a Star of the weekend.

    In my opinion, Leclerc, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were the stars this weekend, with Vettel, Raikonnen and Kubica as the strugglers.

    1. I think putting both renault drivers is wrong, doesn’t that mean that the star is the car and that none did anything special? At least not hulk.

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