Italian GP – Kimi ninth, Fernando’s first retirement

While every race carries the same number of points, except for Abu Dhabi, and all teams try equally hard at all Grands Prix, it’s particularly galling to have a disappointing afternoon in front of the home crowd. Therefore, to come away from Monza with just two points thanks to Kimi Raikkonen’s ninth place is not what Scuderia Ferrari wanted for its fans, who are naturally more numerous here than at any other race of the season.

Despite the F14 Ts showing well in free practice, Saturday’s qualifying produced a clearer picture of the hierarchy, which featured nothing but Mercedes-powered cars further up the grid that seventh placed Fernando. Neither Alonso nor eleventh placed Raikkonen were able to make up ground at what was a muddled start to the race, with pole man Hamilton and third placed Bottas dropping back into the pack. Therefore, moving up the order was going to be a very difficult task.

Stuck in the pack with the DRS effect cancelling out anyone’s passing potential, Fernando was cemented into seventh place, making his only pit stop to switch from the Medium to the Hard tyre on lap 21. The Spaniard rejoined eleventh, but four laps later he was forced to park the car at the first chicane, with a problem on the Energy Recovery System. It was Fernando’s first retirement of the year” a bad blow, but it highlighted an incredibly positive statistic, namely that Alonso had not retired from a race with a mechanical problem – in other words, not counting collisions – for 86 races, dating back to the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Kimi found he lacked top end speed and when he did close on those ahead, his car lost downforce. It led to an entertaining early race duel with fellow Finn, Valtteri Bottas, who eventually got ahead and went on to finish fourth. The Ferrari man made his only stop of the afternoon, to take on the Hard Pirellis, on lap 20 while in ninth place and he rejoined fourteenth. He worked his way up to ninth, but had to give best to Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages, crossing the line in tenth place, before promotion to ninth, courtesy of a penalty for Kevin Magnussen in the McLaren.

After his poor start from pole, Lewis Hamilton recovered to pressure Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg into a mistake, which allowed the Englishman to go on to record his sixth win of the year ahead of the German, who still leads the Drivers’ Championship. In the Constructors’ classification, the Scuderia has dropped to fourth, 15 points behind Williams, thanks to Felipe Massa finishing third to secure his first podium with the English team. In fact, the Monza fans, who packed the main straight under the magnificent Monza podium, gave the Brazilian former Ferrari driver the warmest reception of all, with the possible exception of the one they reserved for another “ferrarista,” the ever popular Jean Alesi, who conducted the podium interviews.


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