Month: September 2017

Miller Time: No ton of fun in Aragon

Jack Miller writes about the blazing sun and a bad choice burning his chances of a 100th GP celebration in Spain.


Hi everyone,

Well, that wasn’t exactly a big way to celebrate a milestone, was it? Sunday was my 100th Grand Prix start which was a pretty major achievement, and we had some fun celebrating with the team before the race started after Sunday morning warm-up. It kind of stopped there though, and finishing 13th, the same place I started, definitely wasn’t the race I had in mind.

Take the race out of the weekend, and all in all it was a pretty positive one for me at Aragon. I know, I know … the race bit is the bit that counts, I get it. Definitely would have liked to finish higher after the weekend I had, but I already know why we didn’t. The bike, I feel really comfortable with it at the minute – it’s up to me now to make better choices on the tyres for the next races. Because on Sunday, we stuffed that up. The direction we went on the rear tyre hurt us.

The track at Aragon is in a place where it’s usually pretty cold in the mornings and we get a lot of fog, and the whole morning warm-up for all of the classes got pushed back because it was so foggy on Sunday. But by the time the race happened at 2 o’clock, all the fog was long gone and the track temps were up to 40 degrees, the hottest we’d had all weekend. We definitely underestimated the impact of that. The front end of the bike, we chose the medium tyre and that was really good, but I was missing drive grip on the rear and that was what killed us, I couldn’t make the hard tyre on the rear work early enough in the race. I didn’t get a great start, had an average first lap, and then it took me too long to get on the pace. I didn’t manage to get a low 1min 50secs lap out of the bike until the eighth lap, and by then the race I wanted to be in was happening a fair way up the road. I couldn’t keep the times consistently there either, so I was kind of in a holding pattern where I had the guys behind me covered, but the others ahead were gone. Multiply that by 23 laps and that was it, basically.

Let’s look on the bright side. OK, so it wasn’t the race I expected, but we also brought home a decent position and some points. I managed to move up one position in the championship after the last race at Misano when I was really strong, and here I was nowhere near that, but gained another place. So that was something good to take out of it, but it definitely wasn’t the day I thought it would be.

Before Sunday afternoon, it had been a strong one. Friday when it was wet, I was right up there in fourth, and then Saturday I did all of my qualifying laps by myself with no tow from anyone and still nearly made Q2, I was nine-thousandths out. It was still my best qualifying for five races, and I was confident I had good race pace. Sunday morning, third in the warm-up. And then the sun came out, and we made the wrong call. I’m not happy about it, but it happened. Learn from it and get it right next time.

Next time will be the flyaways, when I get closer to home for the first of them at Japan, and then get to come home as soon as I can afterwards to spend as much time in Australia as I can before Phillip Island. Can’t wait for that. The flyaway races seem to work pretty good for me, I enjoy them a lot. Three in a row, it’s a lot of fun because you get to spend a lot more time with the crew and everyone. It’s the best part of the season for me, because being so far away from home anyway I enjoy it when we’re away and busy. I love the Island obviously, and Sepang is good too and a track I really like. I’m pretty confident there’s a couple of top-10s coming up pretty soon.

Cheers, Jack


What happened at the Singapore Grand Prix?

A start-line smash hogs the headlines, as Daniel Ricciardo goes oh-so-close yet again to achieving Singapore success.


Lewis Hamilton: qualified 5th, finished 1st. Valtteri Bottas: qualified 6th, finished 3rd.

After qualifying fifth and over six-tenths of a second behind Vettel’s pole time, Hamilton felt Mercedes needed “a miracle” to stay in the same postcode as the Ferrari and Red Bull duos in the race, and that’s exactly how his start panned out. The Briton made a superb getaway to round up Ricciardo’s slow-starting Red Bull into the first corner, and was ahead of the Raikkonen-Verstappen-Alonso carnage that unfolded in the opening 10 seconds, and perfectly placed when Vettel hit the wall at Turn 3 seconds later.

From there, Hamilton was in control of the race in conditions wet or dry, and 58 gruelling laps later, had taken his third win in a row – and assumed a season-best 28-point championship lead on a circuit that shaped as Mercedes’ worst for the remainder of the year. Bottas was never a match for his teammate all weekend and suffered with a failed drinks bottle in his car for the two-hour duration, but rounded out the podium on a critical weekend that might just secure Hamilton the title once we get to Abu Dhabi in late November.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo: qualified 3rd, finished 2nd. Max Verstappen: qualified 2nd, did not finish.

Verstappen shone in qualifying again, out-performing teammate Ricciardo when it mattered most and slotting into second behind Vettel, but it was that starting position that was the beginning of the end for the Dutchman 24 hours later. Raikkonen, immediately behind him, made a blinding start and stormed down the inside, and as pole-sitter Vettel came across to cover, the Red Bull was steaming towards a gap that was closing rapidly, the contact seeing both Verstappen and Raikkonen out on the spot and Vettel last only a few corners more. In 14 races this season, Verstappen has now retired on seven occasions, three times on the first lap. If it was a familiar tale for the teenager, it was much the same for Ricciardo, who finished second in Singapore for the third year in a row, and on the podium at a track where so many from his native Perth come to watch for the fourth year in succession. The Australian had every reason to be bullish for another race win when he dominated Friday practice, but this wasn’t the usual swashbuckling Ricciardo rostrum result – his poor getaway saved him from the first-corner carnage, and while he kept Hamilton honest, he never looked like challenging the Mercedes for the top spot as he pushed on despite an oil pressure problem with his gearbox. “I can’t win the bloody thing, but I’m trying,” he half-grinned afterwards.

Sebastian Vettel: qualified 1st, did not finish. Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 4th, did not finish.

Ferrari came to Singapore desperate to atone for being thrashed by Mercedes at its home race at Monza a fortnight before, and had every reason to be optimistic at a tight and twisty street circuit that most resembles Monaco of the other F1 tracks, where it finished 1-2 earlier this year. Instead, Singapore became a historical black eye for the Scuderia, who had two cars retire on the first lap of a race for the first time in its storied F1 history. While most pointed the finger of blame at Vettel, the team took a slightly different view …

Vettel said after the race that he was uncertain what happened at the start; what’s easier to ascertain is that with six races to go, the German’s chances of a fifth world title this year look more tenuous than ever. After his brilliant pole on Saturday with a lap many observers called one of the best of his career, it was quite the come-down.

Force India
Sergio Perez: qualified 12th, finished 5th. Esteban Ocon: qualified 14th, finished 10th.

Things looked dire for Force India on Saturday, where the team failed to get a car into the top 10 on the grid for just the third time all year at a circuit that plainly didn’t suit the car’s slippery straight-line strengths. But Perez was his usual canny self in the race, and despite having never made Q3 in Singapore, he’s now finished inside the top 10 seven times, Sunday’s fifth his best effort yet. It capped off a great day for the Mexican, who signed a contract extension to stay with the team for 2018 on race morning. Ocon, on his 21st birthday, found himself in a furious fight on the fringes of the top 10 with Massa and Magnussen mid-race, and continued his perfect finishing record in F1 to date (23 races, 23 times seeing the chequered flag) as he joined Hamilton as the only drivers to complete every race so far this year.

Felipe Massa: qualified 17th, finished 11th. Lance Stroll: qualified 18th, finished 8th.

For Williams to make the points with one car and just miss with the other was something of a save for a weekend that started out poorly and then got worse when both cars were ousted in Q1 for the fourth time in the past six races. The attrition rate of faster cars ahead of them certainly helped, but in conditions that caught out plenty of more experienced rivals, Stroll’s eighth at a circuit he’d never previously driven was commendable. Massa was one of the first drivers to move to slicks as the circuit dried on lap 24, and it didn’t quite work out, the veteran Brazilian finishing less than two seconds behind Ocon for the final point on offer.

Fernando Alonso: qualified 8th, did not finish. Stoffel Vandoorne: qualified 9th, finished 7th.

Vandoorne took a career-best result from his first visit to Singapore, which came after he and teammate Alonso had qualified inside the top 10 for just the second time all season. While the Belgian shone, it was yet another early shower for Alonso, who retired on lap nine after his car’s telemetry failed thanks to damage from the shunt at the first corner, the Spaniard finding himself in the firing line after a typically scorching start. Alonso has seen the chequered flag just once in the past six races, but at least has kept his sense of humour …

While Vandoorne’s Singapore race was strong and Alonso’s short, this will be a weekend remembered more for the divorce from a failed three-year marriage with Honda – and move to Renault power for 2018 – than anything McLaren’s drivers achieved on track. Convincing Alonso to stay is the next – and most vital – task.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat: qualified 13th, did not finish. Carlos Sainz: qualified 10th, finished 4th.

Singapore was a big weekend in Sainz’s career, confirmation coming that the Spaniard will be loaned to Renault for next season as part of the engine musical chairs that saw Toro Rosso’s Renault powerplant supply heading to McLaren, and Honda switching to STR. Sainz qualified 10th and felt he’d be fighting a rear-guard action in the race; instead, he was superbly opportunistic and finished a career-best fourth, making the most of a day where numerous big names barely lasted a few corners. His continued success contrasted sharply with Kvyat’s repeated woes, the Russian furious after missing Q3 on Saturday, and then stuffing his car into the fence at Turn 7 in the wet after 11 laps in the race, prompting the second of three safety car interventions. The last time Kvyat scored points? Barcelona, way back in May.

Romain Grosjean: qualified 15th, finished 9th. Kevin Magnussen: qualified 16th, did not finish.

Things looked grim for Haas when the American team could only outpace backmarkers Sauber on Friday, and when Grosjean barely scraped into Q2 and Magnussen failed to join him, points looked like a pipedream. Plenty of incidents and accidents ahead of the pair changed all of that on Sunday, and Grosjean persevered to nab two points, while Magnussen had an MGU-K failure eight laps from the end that saw him become the eighth and final retirement of the race.

Jolyon Palmer: qualified 11th, finished 6th. Nico Hulkenberg: qualified 7th, did not finish.

It’s been a miserable year for Palmer, outqualified by teammate Hulkenberg in every race and failing to score a point before Singapore, and his tenure in F1 was ended in the lead-up to the race when it was announced Sainz would take his seat for 2018 at the latest, and perhaps as early as the next round in Malaysia. The Briton’s response was impressive and surprising; after just missing Q3 on Saturday, Palmer was an excellent sixth on Sunday for a career-best result, his assuredness in the wet at the start a standout. Will it be his final race? Only time will tell. The news wasn’t as positive for Hulkenberg, who, after being pumped up by qualifying ahead of both McLarens on Saturday, had to retire with a hydraulics issue late in the race when running strongly inside the top 10. Speaking of bad news: the non-finish meant Hulkenberg broke the record for most starts in the history of F1 without a podium finish (129), previously held by his compatriot Adrian Sutil.

Marcus Ericsson: qualified 20th, did not finish. Pascal Wehrlein: qualified 19th, finished 12th.

Ericsson and Wehrlein continued their season-long race within a race at the back of the field, the Swede clouting the wall in practice and needing a new gearbox (the subsequent five-place grid penalty meaning little given he qualified last anyway), and then causing the final safety car period of the race when he crashed on the iconic Anderson Bridge with 20 laps left. Wehrlein was two laps down and last, and with Vandoorne’s seventh place extending McLaren’s lead over Sauber for last in the constructors’ championship to 12 points, it seems the Swiss squad is certain to finishing at the foot of the table.

The Dan Diaries: Flying solo

Daniel Ricciardo writes about why coaching has little place in F1, where to draw the line on routines, and why the omens are good for Singapore this Sunday.


September in Australia means footy finals – no matter what type of footy is your footy – and for me, last Saturday afternoon at home in Monaco was spent getting my heart rate up watching my West Coast Eagles in their AFL elimination final against Port Adelaide. It had everything – extra time, crazy momentum shifts, and a match-winning goal after the final siren (for the good guys, naturally). Awesome. But something I noticed after the game as the players were going nuts and all the team’s support staff spilled onto the field was just how many coaches an AFL team has, and the same applies for most other types of team sports.

Compare that to what I do? Us drivers have personal trainers who help to shape our bodies (and sometimes our minds) to get us ready, and my long-time trainer Stu Smith has had as much (if not more) impact on my career than anyone. But as far as coaching for actual driving goes, there’s nothing. It’s on you. To anyone on the outside, it must seem odd to think that you get to the main motorsport category in the world and you’re mostly on your own, but that’s the way it is – and the way it has to be.

When I first came to Europe to race, I went to a few driver coach days and had some more experienced people than I was teach you some techniques and some approaches to things. I figured that was what you were supposed to do. But the further I got into my career and especially once I got to F1, I realised I had to learn things for myself. I’m the one in the car and things change every year – different rules, different tyres, different teams – so it’s hard for anyone to advise you, you’re the one in the hot seat. So you’re faced with a choice – commit, invest the time and learn for yourself, or you’ll probably soon be an ex-F1 driver.

F1’s a unique sport in that if you’re, say, a tennis player, you can go and practice serving or returning or whatever as you try to work on your game. As an F1 driver, we get very limited test days and simulator time, and it’s not like you can go and “practice” F1 away from race weekends, is it? So how do you get better as an F1 driver?

Data and dissecting it – and then learning not to over-do it – has been a big thing for me. You’ll always take, say, your best lap and compare that to your teammate’s best lap – I was quicker here, he was quicker there – but I don’t think many people want to do a longer dissection and look at, say, 20 random laps in the race. Who was better on older tyres and why? Is your teammate coming off the brakes earlier than you at a certain corner? Which of you is keeping the rear tyres cooler and why? What can your engineer identify for you from looking at the data and give you something to work on? There’s always something to learn, and that’s a part of being an F1 driver that I’ve always enjoyed.

The trick when you’re a younger driver is working out how much analysis is enough. Because I was interested in those early F1 years, looking back at it now, I did a lot of poring over the numbers, probably too much. There was a bit of paralysis by analysis for me early on, and I needed to scale back or I was just going to send myself around in circles looking for tenths of a second that might not be there. I just thought that was what you needed to do to be an F1 driver, and if going over data meant two hours’ less sleep, that’s what I did. You learn over time that more isn’t always better, and as you gain trust in your engineer – and that takes time – they can help you narrow things down, and that’s what Simon (Rennie) does for me.

Developing a routine – and one that has some flexibility in it – is massive for us too when you consider the travel that we do, the time zone changes and all of that. Working out what works for you takes time, but it’s time you have to spend. Looking back again to when I first came to Europe, I didn’t really have an eating or training routine that I followed, and it showed. By my second year, I began to learn what I needed to do away from the car to get me in the best place to operate my best, and then the year before my first full year of F1, 2010, I realised what sleep did for my performances, and became very aware of my sleep patterns, sleep quality and hours as I built up to a race weekend. By my second year of F1, I was much more aware of how to manage my energy and be ready to peak at the right times.

The trick with a routine, at least for me, is not to get so caught up in the order of things or when things have to happen that you get knocked off-balance when strange things happen, like weather delaying qualifying for hours like in Italy in the last race (when I grabbed a camera for a bit!), or somewhere like Melbourne when things are pretty hectic for me and there’s always a last-minute request to do this or that. If I had a set routine that had to be followed to the letter, I’d never get through that Australian weekend because of how busy it is. More strict routines work for some top-line sportspeople – look at Valentino Rossi’s rituals as he leaves the pits on his bike, or the way Rafael Nadal prepares to serve or what he does when he rests between games. But just because a rigid routine works for them, it doesn’t make it right for you. Mine is less strict than that, but I do have a checklist of things I like to do to get me completely at my peak for the most important part of the weekend, Sunday afternoon.

I mentioned Rossi and Nadal and their routines, and while F1 and what we do is so unique, I love looking at other sports and other athletes to see what they do to prepare and whether that can translate, can maybe help me in some way. I’ve probably learned more from other sports than my own, to be honest. Seeing how other athletes perform in the moment and trying to find out why, or how they prepare – I can’t get enough of that sort of thing. You don’t want to get too specific with it because some of it might not apply to your sport, but you can learn so much from watching and listening, and I think that’s why I’m such a sports enthusiast generally, there’s always something you can take away from someone else’s approach.

Other than watch footy last weekend, it was time to think about packing my life into a bag and being on the road for the rest of the year. The last seven races of the season are all outside of Europe, and the main focus after Monza was to ramp up the training and get some work done in the heat for the next two races in Singapore this weekend and then Malaysia two weeks after that. There’s no sugar-coating it, these two are just brutally hard, and I’ve tried to smash myself a bit with the training over the last week but keep myself fresh enough so I’m ready for Sunday in Singapore. You need to be in proper nick for these two.

For the team, Singapore is obviously one we’ve had our sights on for a while, and while it won’t be the only other race we have a chance at winning this year – who would have thought I’d have won at Baku with the characteristics of that track? – Singapore is one race where we have a great chance.

It’s good to head there off the back of a couple of pretty good races, including the podium at Spa which we didn’t expect. That safety car for the Force India boys crashing into each other was handy, for sure. We had a new set of ultrasoft tyres, and I was pretty surprised Mercedes went to the soft tyres, particularly with Valtteri Bottas ahead of me. Fourth would have been good, but the podium was there to be taken, and I had to have a go. I had Kimi (Raikkonen) hovering behind me ready to attack, so the best way for me to defend from him was to attack Bottas, and I had one shot at it after the re-start and nailed it. Pretty sweet.

It would have been awesome to get onto the podium again at Monza too – that’s one podium I’ve still not been on and one I want because that has to be the best podium in all of F1 – but in the end I ran out of laps to get to Seb (Sebastian Vettel) after starting down near the back because of penalties. It’ll happen one day.

That was a fun race and there was plenty of overtakes, everyone saw the one with Kimi and the one with (Sergio) Perez at the second chicane. I’d also managed to pass (Kevin) Magnussen at the same chicane with the same move earlier in the race, but I don’t think it made the TV broadcast. So, a shame to not be on that awesome podium, but good to string a couple of good ones together after coming back from the break.

Hopefully we can make it three this weekend. Singapore has been good to me the last three years – third, second, and second again (and fastest lap) last year, so there’s only one step to go from there …

Miller Time: It’s good to be back

Aussie MotoGP rider Jack Miller writes about shining in the rain at Misano, and ending a run of results that saw his season stall.


Hi everyone,

It’s good to be back. Seriously good. I’d had a few ordinary races since Assen when I came sixth back in June, and I’d only managed three points since then, and none at all in the last two races. But Misano on Sunday was just what I needed to get some confidence back and take the pressure off myself with a decent slab of points.

There’s usually a few moments after a race like that when it’s wet and a bit sketchy where you wonder if you could have done better and maybe pushed up to the podium, and when I was right on the back of Maverick (Vinales) early on, you do start to get a bit greedy when you think “he was on pole position, so if I pass him …”. But sixth in a race where the conditions were really bad, there was so much standing water, so many guys made mistakes or threw it down the road … 28 laps around there in those shitty conditions was a big concentration test, so it was good to get through it with a strong result. I’ll take a sixth place over anything, and it was good to be back in some form, finally.

I’m sure some people will point out that it had to be wet for me to get a decent result, but even on Saturday when it was sunny, I’d found some pace from Friday practice. I got done by track limits in qualifying and had my best lap time cancelled that would have got me into Q2 which was a shame. In the dry the pace was really good, and I felt for the first time since near the start of the season where the momentum was on my side that things were working well. The pace was consistent, I felt like I could really push, and the lap times came out pretty smoothly, it wasn’t like I was overdoing it to do the times we were chasing.

Maybe the one surprise was that it was here in Misano in the dry that the feeling I had near the start of the season came back – I was still pretty beaten up at this stage last year from the Austria warm-up crash I had, and my right hand was too bad for me to race here, so I had to pull out on the Sunday morning. I haven’t done a lot of laps here for a while, so maybe that was the surprising bit. I was just glad the feeling came back anywhere really …

The start was the thing that set the race up for me. I was 14th after missing the chance to get into Q2 and not exactly happy about it, and on the warm-up lap you could see how wet it was, but there was a chance at the start to make up a lot of places if people were going to be cautious. I felt like I nailed it when the lights went out and picked my way through pretty well, but I did have a pretty big moment around turns two and three and came close to going down. But by the end of lap one I was seventh and had picked up seven spots, so it was eyes forward from there and latch onto the back of Maverick.

In the end I had to give up the fight with him – he was riding really clean and didn’t make mistakes, and I felt my tyres were going down, I had no drive in the middle of the tyre at all and my lap times blew out a bit. I lost a spot to (Michele) Pirro who was just plain faster than me at that stage, and he clearly had plenty of tyre left as well. Every time I hit a puddle or some standing water, the rear would just light up, which definitely wasn’t ideal. I was in a position to back it off a bit because of the good start I had, and I knew I could get home sixth if I just used my brain a little bit (yes, a little bit). So I let Pirro go and concentrated on bringing it home.

Some of the teams had their second bikes ready for their riders in case the track dried out really fast in the last 10 laps, but there was absolutely no way you could have gone for slicks, it was way too wet out there. Maybe it was some bluffing to make teams think their riders were pitting, who knows. But there was only one thing that would have happened if you’d gone for slicks – you’d be on your arse. It was 100 per cent not worth the risk, and definitely not for us after putting ourselves in a good position.

It’s been a fair while since I’ve been that competitive in a race, so there’s some relief there for sure, but mostly really happy. The one shame is that we have to wait two weeks until the next one in Aragon, because you always want another race quickly after things have gone better for you. I haven’t ever had a good race there yet, so hopefully this is the year. I’m 31 points off the top 10 in the championship, which was the aim at the start of the year, but I finished ahead of the five guys ahead of me in the championship at Misano, so I just need to string a few more of those together. We’ll give it a good shot, that’s for sure.

Catch you from Aragon.

Cheers, Jack

What happened at the Italian Grand Prix?

Grid penalties get out of control and Daniel Ricciardo unleashes a stunning drive, but it was Mercedes who produced a masterclass at Monza.


Lewis Hamilton: qualified 1st, finished 1st. Valtteri Bottas: qualified 6th, finished 2nd.
On a weekend where the F1 penalty system made a complete mockery of qualifying – Hamilton was the only driver to line up in the position he qualified in after nine drivers were hit with penalties for changing gearboxes or engines, or both – the Briton made the red-clad Ferrari fans see blue after his most emphatic performance of the season. Hamilton’s 69th career pole on a rain-delayed Saturday broke Michael Schumacher’s long-standing record, and on Sunday, the three-time world champion aced the start and drove off into the distance for Mercedes’ fourth win in Ferrari territory on the bounce, a victory that saw Hamilton take the championship lead (by three points) for the first time this season. Aside from his trophy nearly being spilled before it was handed to him on the podium, Hamilton’s day was as perfect as you could get. Bottas’ race was less straightforward initially after the Finn didn’t shine in the Monza gloom in qualifying, but he was up to second by lap four and kept a sensible distance between his teammate and the rest of the field to give Mercedes its third 1-2 of the season. More worryingly for the rest is that two of those 1-2 finishes have come in the past four races.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo: qualified 3rd, finished 4th. Max Verstappen: qualified 2nd, finished 10th.
Finishing one place behind where he qualified doesn’t sound like much to get excited about for Ricciardo, but when you consider he took an engine penalty after qualifying that dropped him to 16th on the grid, finishing just four seconds from the podium showed why the Australian was voted as driver of the day by the sport’s fans via social media as the chequered flag flew. Monza was Ricciardo at his incisive best; after a circumspect getaway from near the back of the pack on the soft-compound tyre, the Red Bull driver began to pick off his rivals at a rapid rate, gaining seven places in the opening seven laps. Overtakes of Perez on lap 17 at the Turn 4-5 chicane after a brilliant dummy, and an audacious mugging of Raikkonen’s Ferrari at the first corner on lap 41 were from the top shelf, and despite setting the fastest lap of the race with five laps remaining, he just ran out of time to knock Vettel off the Monza podium. Verstappen qualified a superb second in a deluge on Saturday before he too was pushed back with an engine penalty, but the Dutchman’s dream of a top-five finish was quickly extinguished when he had a clumsy clash with Massa at Turn 1 on lap three, a right-front puncture seeing him limp back to the pits and re-join in last place. From there, getting back into the points was the best Verstappen could do, but 10th only came after brushing with Grosjean and Magnussen in the closing laps as he finished a lap down.

Sebastian Vettel: qualified 8th, finished 3rd. Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 7th, finished 5th.
Ferrari banked 25 points from Monza and Vettel got to stand on the year’s best podium, but make no mistake – Italy was a massive wake-up call for the men in red, who haven’t won at home since 2010. Mercedes were always expected to have the upper hand on Ferrari’s home ground, the straight-line speed of the Silver Arrows unsurpassed at the ultimate power track once again, but the extent of Hamilton’s margin over Vettel – 36.3 seconds at the finish – was alarming for the tifosi and the team they support. The German’s race was clean and largely lonely after he worked his way up to third after eight laps, while Raikkonen’s Grand Prix petered out after he let Vettel past him on lap four. The Finn then struggled with an unspecified problem at the rear of the car before finishing more than a minute behind Hamilton. Singapore should suit Ferrari more, but getting thrashed by Mercedes on its home deck would have hurt.

Force India
Sergio Perez: qualified 11th, finished 9th. Esteban Ocon: qualified 5th, finished 6th.
All the pre-race chatter about Force India at Monza focused on the antics of its drivers a week earlier at Spa-Francorchamps, where Perez and Ocon came together multiple times and cost the team a swag of points. Team management told the drivers they couldn’t race against one another from now on and threatened to sit them out of future races if the skirmishes continued, and Perez and Ocon did their best to defuse any tension in the pre-race press conference. The pair were rarely together on track to see if that peace could last in Italy, with Ocon qualifying a brilliant fifth in the rain on Saturday, starting third and running strongly in the early stages before regressing to the mean to finish sixth for the third time this year. Perez just missed Q3, took a five-place gearbox penalty yet started 10th after the ridiculously lengthy list of other penalties were taken into account, and finished at the back of the Ocon-Stroll-Massa train for best of the rest status behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

Felipe Massa: qualified 9th, finished 8th. Lance Stroll: qualified 4th, finished 7th.
Williams has struggled in the wet in recent years, which made technical director Paddy Lowe’s comments so refreshing when both cars qualified inside the top 10 in weather better suited for boats on Saturday. “I’m not going to pretend I have any idea why a car is strong or weak in the wet,” Lowe shrugged. Stroll was overjoyed with a fourth-place effort which became a front-row start when both Red Bulls were demoted through penalties, and while the Canadian teenager was understandably cautious off the line and soon overtaken by the recovering Ferraris, he showed plenty of fight when under pressure late in the race from his teammate to record the fourth points finish of his rookie campaign. Massa had enjoyed plenty of prior success at Monza – the long-time Ferrari driver had taken two podiums in the past three years for Williams – and finished six-tenths of a second behind his teammate after clashes with Perez at the first corner and Verstappen towards the end of the race. Ten points for Williams – on a day where its nearest rivals in the constructors’ championship didn’t score – might end up being significant in the fight to finish fifth in the teams’ race.

Fernando Alonso: qualified 13th, did not finish. Stoffel Vandoorne: qualified 10th, did not finish.
Will they or won’t they? Will he or won’t he? They were the questions McLaren faced at every turn at Monza, where more time was spent talking about matters on track than anything the team did on it. Would McLaren really sever ties with Honda? Would Alonso leave? The two questions aren’t mutually exclusive, and Honda’s plight was best reflected by Alonso needing a 35-place grid penalty for new engine components one race after Vandoorne had the same at his home GP in Belgium – and then Vandoorne taking another 25-place penalty on race morning for yet more engine part replacements. Alonso’s Sunday started badly when the historic car issued to the Spaniard for the pre-race driver parade broke down, and besides a rant after being overtaken by Palmer’s Renault – the race stewards penalised the Briton five seconds for leaving the track and gaining an advantage – Alonso’s race was pretty pedestrian before he retired three laps from the end. Vandoorne was back in the garage himself by then, his car crawling back to the pits with 19 laps remaining with “no power”. Is a switch to Renault power for 2018 on the cards, and will that convince Alonso to stay? We should know before Singapore in a fortnight.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat: qualified 14th, finished 12th. Carlos Sainz: qualified 15th, finished 14th.
Toro Rosso had a rather anonymous weekend at the scene of its greatest triumph, Vettel’s victory at Monza in 2008 the team’s sole success in F1. Kvyat started from eighth on the grid after penalties scattered the usual suspects at the front, but couldn’t sustain it and finished a lapped 12th as his run without points extended to eight races. Sainz copped a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change, had an engine blow-up in Friday practice, started towards the back and didn’t advance much further as the team made the short trip home to Faenza with zero points for the third time in the past five races.

Romain Grosjean: qualified 20th, finished 15th. Kevin Magnussen: qualified 16th, finished 11th.
Grosjean started dead-last after the Frenchman aquaplaned off the circuit in torrential rain in Q1 and glanced the outside wall on the start-finish straight moments after he’d made it very clear over team radio that conditions and visibility were too poor to continue. “You couldn’t see anything, you couldn’t drive in a straight line,” Grosjean fumed afterwards. With Grosjean last on the grid, Haas took the opportunity to fit a new gearbox that came with a five-place penalty that dropped him to … last. An early pit stop for a damaged front wing thwarted any chance of moving up from there in what was, for most, a one-stop race. The news wasn’t much better for Magnussen, who finished one place out of the points and seething after coming off second-best in his late-race fight with a recovering Verstappen.

Jolyon Palmer: qualified 17th, did not finish. Nico Hulkenberg: qualified 12th, finished 13th.
Renault’s points totals in the four races before Monza – 0, 8, 0, 8 – should have given us some idea of what to expect in Italy, and the team played the long game for the remainder of the season by installing new engines for Hulkenberg and Palmer, taking the pain of penalties at a track where they expected to struggle to be more ready to race at circuits that better suit them. Hulkenberg beat Palmer in qualifying again – that’s 13-0 for the season over his British teammate for anyone still counting – but a very early pit stop for the German in an attempt to vault into the top 10 didn’t pay off. Palmer hovered around the fringes of the top 10 while he was still in the race (and Alonso was ranting about him to his McLaren engineers), but was retired by his team on lap 31 with a technical problem.

Marcus Ericsson: qualified 18th, did not finish. Pascal Wehrlein: qualified 19th, finished 16th.
Forget the present; it was all about the future for Sauber in Italy, with the announcement that the Swiss team will run Ferrari junior and Formula 2 series leader Charles Leclerc in first practice sessions in Malaysia, the USA, Mexico and Brazil in the second half of the season, a move that was anticipated after the team elected to use Ferrari engines for 2018. With Ericsson’s backers heavily involved in the ownership of the team and Wehrlein a Mercedes-supported driver, it’s almost certain that the German will be the driver to have his preparations for those four races compromised by missing out on track time. Back to the ‘now’, temporarily; Ericsson (11th) and Wehrlein (12th) started from season-best grid slots after all of the penalties for the rest were handed out, but quickly returned to the back of the field for their customary inter-team fight for last spot. Ericsson was last when he was asked by the team to retire the car with three laps left, leaving Wehrlein to prop up the pack after 53 laps.