An absolutely wild Italian Grand Prix saw a little bit of everything: pit stop disaster, crashes, red flags, and, most importantly, a whole new winner. Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly took home his first ever victory in the series.
Lewis Hamilton looked set to once again win a race for the first section of the Italian GP when Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc brought out a red flag for crashing into the tire barriers. Those barriers needed to be repaired, hence the ultimate red flag.
During that time, though, Lewis Hamilton pitted. The team opted to bring him in, but when he did, the pit lane had already closed. It sounded as if Hamilton was not aware that the pits were closed, but his team should have seen the announcement.
As a result, Hamilton learned that he was penalized with a 10 second stop-and-go penalty, which essentially means that Hamilton would be forced to pit and remain there for 10 full seconds. While some drivers are able to serve this penalty during a normal pit stop, Hamilton had made the only stop he needed and thus had to come in right after the pit lane opened after the race restarted.
Because the cars were all bunched up after the restart, Hamilton returned to track down in 17th. Other competitors like Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, and Max Verstappen either retired or suffered from mechanical problems that left them struggling in the rear of the grid as well. That meant Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz Jr., Lance Stroll, and Lando Norris legitimately sat in the top four.
While it looked as if Sainz might make a late race pass, he wasn’t able to get it done. Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly took home his first win in F1 with a gap of four tenths over Sainz. Lance Stroll took home third. Lewis Hamilton ultimately finished in a points scoring position.
It’s a validating win for Gasly. The Frenchman was a former Red Bull Racing driver, but he was demoted due to poor performance, which was largely determined by his inability to match Max Verstappen’s perfomance. Taking home a win for Red Bull’s feeder team in F1 is certainly a boost to his confidence.
“Honestly it’s unbelievable. I’m not realizing what’s happening right now,” an overjoyed Gasly said after the race. “It was such a crazy race, and we capitalized on the red flag. The car was fast, we had a pretty fast car behind us. I’ve been through so much in the past 18 months. Even with my podium last year, it was like ‘wow.’ I have no words. This team has done so much for me. They gave me my first opportunity in F1, they gave me my first podium, now they gave me my first win.”
Second place Sainz noted, “I’m like halfway disappointed with P2! You wouldn’t have believed I had a chance to fight for a victory today, but even in a normal race I think we could have finished behind Lewis. We need to be proud of that. We need to be proud of the pace of the car”
Lance Stroll was even more excited: “I am happy. It’s been a couple years since I’ve been on the podium. It feels good to be back; it was such a crazy race. I think it was kind of mine to lose there starting from second. I had no grip at the start and everyone flew by me. I think the win slipped away from us today, but a podium is great.”
Alpha Tauri’s last win came with Sebastian Vettel back in 2008 when the team was known as Toro Rosso. Gasly’s last win came at the 2018 Autopolis event in the Super Formula series. It’s the first win for a French driver in F1 since 1996.