F1 SPRINT: What the teams and drivers had to say as the Sprint returned for Monza
It was a mixed bag for Mercedes from the front row in the Sprint. Bottas got a clean getaway and was untroubled as he romped home the winner, but the Finn won’t be on pole tomorrow thanks to those grid penalties for taking on additional PU elements. As for Hamilton, he had a poor start and that enabled his rivals to pounce. Losing three places, he wasn’t able to recover and wound up a disappointing fifth. He does at least start fourth when his team mate’s penalty is taken into account, but is now set for a much tougher Sunday than planned.
Lewis Hamilton, 5th
"Well done to Valtteri on a great drive. It was a frustrating day for me, with a bad start due to too much wheel spin and then not being able to recover from there. During the race, it was difficult to get close enough to overtake the McLarens so we'll be looking into that as well. We lost valuable points today and we'll need to work hard to take maximum points tomorrow. It's not the outcome we wanted for today and we can't afford days like these, especially when it is this close in the Championships. We have work to do to analyse today's race and prepare for tomorrow. I hope we will be able to limit the damage, and I know Valtteri and I will come out fighting."
Valtteri Bottas, 1st
"A good day in the office for me personally, it was a clean race and I had the pace. Feels like it has been a while since I've finished first in a race, so I am very happy. I had a good start and a clean restart as well, so those things were key for me. The car felt good throughout, and it was great to finish P1 today and get some points as well. Unfortunately, I'm starting from the back tomorrow, but the speed is there, so I'll be fighting. There are overtaking opportunities here so I hope I can make my way up the grid and have a good race for the Team. It won't be easy, but we have the pace and with the right strategy we can make something happen. I'll give it everything, I can promise you that."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"That was a mixed afternoon for us. Valtteri didn't put a foot wrong and put in a really strong performance to finish first on the road. Of course, he won't convert it into pole position because of the engine penalties, and it will be a tough race tomorrow to make his way back through the field because overtaking here is not easy, as we saw today. For Lewis, the outcome was decided by the start; there was too much wheel spin off the line, he lost positions and then in such a short race distance, there wasn't enough of a performance delta to make back any positions to the cars in front. It's not the outcome we wanted but there is still plenty to play for tomorrow in the race. We will spend the evening looking at our options on strategy with both cars, to make sure we take every opportunity to maximise our points score."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"Well done to Valtteri for the win today; he kept it under control from start to finish. Unfortunately, he's facing a rather different race tomorrow from the back but he's got good pace so hopefully he can recover well. Lewis on the other hand had a tough afternoon. The start wasn't great, we'll look into what went wrong before tomorrow but despite being much quicker than the McLarens, he just couldn't get close enough to pass. We'll have a look at strategic options for Lewis tomorrow but the reality is that if we struggled to overtake the McLarens today we'll face the same situation tomorrow and that's going to hand Max a very easy win. We need to look at every possible opportunity as it's our job to make sure that doesn't happen, and it can often be an eventful race here, but we can't afford to drop back in the first stint at the rate we did today."
Considering this track is supposed to be a Mercedes stronghold, Verstappen starting on pole tomorrow with no black car in sight must have been beyond Red Bull’s wildest dreams. The Dutchman was quick off the line, pouncing on a sluggish Hamilton to grab second, which became de facto pole with Bottas ahead serving a grid penalty. On top of which, he has extended his lead in the championship too. Perez had to work much harder, dropping places off the line to the soft-shod runners and fighting wheel to wheel to get them back. He finished where he started.
Max Verstappen, 2nd
“To be on pole tomorrow at a track like this is a real positive for us, we had a good start and the race went better than expected. We scored a few championship points and it’s great to be starting at the front tomorrow. I was giving it my all to keep close to Valtteri today, but I still expect a tough race tomorrow as Lewis is starting in P4 and they have a bit more pace than us, we know we are slower than the Mercedes here. I’m hoping for another clean start tomorrow so I can create a bit of a gap at the beginning, because I will definitely need it later in the race. It’s going to be an interesting battle and we’ll see what happens, we’ll keep pushing and try to make the most out of it.”
Sergio Perez, 9th
“I think we have a good chance in the race tomorrow, we start P8 and there should be more opportunities to come through the field with our strategy. I was hoping to gain a few more places, but my start wasn’t ideal and it was pretty hard to pass. We need to work hard tonight to find some more pace, but I am looking forward to it. On the incident with Stroll, I just didn’t have anywhere to go so had to cut the corner to avoid hitting the curb and damaging my race, I gave back the position as soon as I was able to.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“We are grateful to take the points today and the pole position. It's the first time we will start from pole here in the turbo hybrid era and it will be important to retain that position through the first lap, as Monza is renowned for incidents at the first corner. We expect it to be a tough race. Sergio was the only driver who made an overtake after the Safety Car in that race, so he’ll make more progress tomorrow. It’s going to be a fascinating race and there will be a lot of debate about tyre choice for the start, is it a one stop, is it a two stop, the strategy guys are going to earn their money tonight. McLaren are a factor tomorrow and we cannot underestimate them, they are quick and their car is very efficient. We’ve got to get our heads down, focus on our own race and make sure that we get a clean start to make the most of this grid position.”
McLaren gambled on the soft compound tyres for the Sprint and it paid dividends. Both drivers had brilliant starts, with Ricciardo jumping up to third despite being nudged from behind by Gasly and Norris sneaking ahead of Hamilton. As the Aussie drove off for an untroubled stint, his team mate had to work harder to defend from Hamilton for lap after lap. But he made his car as wide as possible and didn't put a foot wrong as he held the Mercedes at bay.
Daniel Ricciardo, 3rd
“It’s really nice to be up there. We had a good start, that was important, but I knew we could. Our starts have been great all year, so we had the potential. I tried to get Max [Verstappen] in Turn 1. I had a really good run – I was able to brake quite late, but he also had a decent run into the turn, so I tried to hang on the outside and then I could see that I was running out of room, so I had to come out of it. I think that’s where I got hit from behind. That’s just one of those situations but obviously I’m sorry for Pierre [Gasly]. It was nice to gain a couple of positions, and then we settled into a rhythm. I didn’t have the pace to keep Valtteri [Bottas] and Max in sight, but at least I was pulling away from the others. It was a lonely but happy third and a front row tomorrow. It’s not done yet, but it will be.”
Lando Norris, 4th
"Good Sprint from us as a team. First of all, I think it was a good decision to start on the soft tyre – it worked well for both Daniel and myself. We both gain a position tomorrow, and Daniel got a point today too, so that’s great for the team. I think it sets us up even better than we were expecting for the race. So, a positive day. I think the race pace is good as well, and we can look forward to hopefully some more points tomorrow."
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“The Sprint today went to plan. Both drivers were able to use the soft tyres to their advantage off the start-line and move up a place on the run to the first corner. After that they both drove a very controlled stint, to present us with excellent starting positions of P2 and P3 for tomorrow’s race, our best position on the grid since 2012. Daniel scored a point today, which is a nice addition, but the big points are distributed tomorrow. Maximum focus is now on preparing for the race, where we should have a strong car. My thanks to the whole team and our colleagues at HPP. They have all worked very hard this week and put the car in a very competitive window. We’re looking forward to an exciting Italian Grand Prix.”
Ferrari’s afternoon got off to a poor start in FP2, when Sainz crashed at Ascari and wiped out a front wing assembly for starters. Leclerc then pulled into the pits feeling unwell, and it looked like it could be a disastrous day for the Scuderia. But the team repaired Sainz’s car in time for the Sprint, the Spaniard finishing where he started but gaining a place thanks to Bottas’ grid drop. As for the Monegasque, he clearly felt much better as he made up two places and will start fifth in front of the Tifosi.
Charles Leclerc, 6th
"We had a good Sprint and maximized our potential, finishing 6th and 7th. Due to Valtteri’s penalty, we will each move up a place and lock out the third row of the grid, which is the best we could have wished for.
"I expect the race to be a tough one, because our competitors ahead have had a strong pace all weekend. Our job will be to score as many points as possible, and if we have a perfect race, we can put some pressure on the four cars in front. Tyre management will be a key factor tomorrow, especially on the first few laps where you have to push and are at risk of tyre degradation. We have some useful data from today and will work on finding the best front wing setup based on that."
Carlos Sainz, 7th
"Obviously the crash in FP2 didn’t help our preparation for the Sprint. My confidence with the car and around that section of the track was a bit compromised and after lap 1, I focused on regaining that confidence little by little. The start wasn’t ideal either, as I has to brake hard when Gasly went into the McLaren and I was stuck behind them, losing a position there.
"However, I’m confident that tomorrow we will have new opportunities and we’ll do our best to score a good result. Last but not least, I want to thank our great team of mechanics for getting the car ready for the afternoon session. On to tomorrow."
Laurent Mekies , Racing Director
"The result of the Sprint was pretty much in line with the performance level seen yesterday in qualifying. Charles and Carlos drove with great concentration for all 18 laps, aware that the slightest mistake could be severely punished on a track that is always demanding. It wasn’t easy for either of them, but they gritted their teeth for the final part of a day that, for various reasons, they had not tackled in 100% great shape physically.
"Well done too to all the mechanics who, once again, worked with great energy and at speed to ensure our drivers could tackle this afternoon’s race without any problems. The result means that both cars start tomorrow’s race from the third row of the grid, one higher up than this afternoon.
"We are well aware that the characteristics of a track like Monza mean we can expect a very tough race, but we will do everything we can to give our fans something to smile about, be they here at the track or at home."
Kubica had an eventful start, tagged into a spin by Tsunoda on the first lap. His tyres weren’t too badly damaged so he was able to continue, coming home one place higher than he started. Giovinazzi meanwhile made a great start, jumping up a couple of places and defending well from Perez behind to come home eighth. That will be an excellent seventh on the grid tomorrow, the same position he started last weekend in Zandvoort.
Robert Kubica, 18th
“The Sprint didn’t start well for me: I don’t know what happened exactly, but I didn’t manage to pull off cleanly from the grid and lost a lot of ground. Paradoxically, that gave me a good opportunity to see what was going on ahead of me and I could place myself really well into the first chicane, where I gained a couple of places. Then I did a bit of a rally-style move into the second chicane, passing in the middle of two other cars. Unfortunately, I was then hit by Tsunoda and I got stuck in the gravel. I was nearly switching the engine off, but then I told myself to try and apply some of my rally skills to come of out the gravel: don’t ask me how but I managed! For the rest of the race I had a lot of oversteer in the righthand corners and I couldn’t really make up many places: I only understood why when I got off the car – the rear of the floor got badly damaged in the crash and that caused all the balance issues.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 8th
“I am really happy about today’s result, especially in front of our home fans, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We knew we had to be aggressive at the start and we did it, making up two places. We’ve given ourselves a good position to start tomorrow, now we have to finish the job and hopefully gain even a little more. Tomorrow will be a very different race, with a lot of fuel, stops and strategy coming into play: but we are confident. Our pace looked good earlier today and we have good straight-line speed to help us defend. We can go out there and do our own race.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“The team delivered a really good performance under pressure to book seventh on the grid with Antonio – for the second week in a row. In a short race like today, we needed to keep out of trouble and capitalise on the opportunities and this is what Antonio did: he made up a place at the start, crucially overtaking Perez, gained another when Gasly crashed and then defended his place confidently when called upon. He really got everything he could out of this Sprint and he’s set himself up to have a good race tomorrow. Robert was unlucky as his good start was nullified by the contact with Tsunoda, but he was able to keep the car going and bring it home one place higher than where he started. We have shown we can fight and keep up with the other cars at the front and the objective is the same for tomorrow. We want to have a good result, especially in front of our home crowd, and we’ve given us the best possible opportunity to do so today.”
Aston Martin were another team to gamble on the soft compound tyre. It worked for Stroll as he gained a handful of places at the start, although he did lose out to Perez not once but twice – the first move being completed off-track, the second very much on it. Still, two places gained on merit is a decent outing for the Canadian, and he’ll wind up ninth when Bottas moves backwards. Vettel wasn’t quite so fortunate, losing out to old foe Alonso in an entertaining duel.
Sebastian Vettel, 12th
“It was a tricky race for me. I made a good start off the line, but I had nowhere to go in the packed field of cars so I locked up into Turn 1. As a result, I had significant flat spots on the front left and right tyre, which created a lot of vibration. It became a race of damage limitation. We will start in a similar position in tomorrow’s race to where we did today. As we saw this afternoon, overtaking can be difficult because it is hard to follow the car in front, but we will see what we can do and try to fight for points.”
Lance Stroll, 10th
“That was a fun race today. It was not an easy decision to go for the soft tyre over the medium because, while it provides a better launch, degradation becomes a factor later on. We made a good start and gained some places in what was quite a tricky first chicane with all the tyre smoke and loose grass. I then had some good wheel-to-wheel racing with Checo [Perez] later on, too. He gave the position back to me a little later than I expected, which lost our DRS train and allowed [Fernando] Alonso to close in, but we were able to hold onto 10th. We will start tomorrow’s race in the mix for points and I think we can extract a little bit more pace from the car overnight. Overtaking is tricky here so strategy will be important, but I am looking forward to racing again tomorrow.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“Lance delivered a strong drive to P10 in today’s sprint, and is therefore well placed to score points in tomorrow’s feature race. Having said that, having cut the chicane while passing Lance, Checo [Perez] was decidedly canny in waiting until Lance had lost a tow from [Antonio] Giovinazzi’s Alfa before giving the place back; in so doing, Checo was then able to deploy DRS to repass Lance almost immediately. After a tricky Lap 1, and a race compromised by flat spots, Sebastian drove well to P12, and will also be aiming to score points in tomorrow’s feature race.”
Alonso tried his Silverstone strategy of soft tyres once again, but couldn’t quite make the same impact as he had managed in the first go at the Sprint. A quick start still netted him a place, before he picked off Vettel and came agonisingly close to pipping Stroll too before running out of laps. Ocon had a slightly quieter afternoon, but is there or thereabouts with regards to points tomorrow which is what matters.
Esteban Ocon, 13th
“Today could have been better and we didn’t quite make the most of all the opportunities. We had a good first lap and I was a bit unfortunate with the run out of Turn 2 and then the Safety Car coming out just as I was making a move at Turn 4. After that we were following Sebastian [Vettel] the whole way and I couldn’t complete the move on him. It was one of those races where we could have probably gained more places. Tomorrow is the main race, which is longer and there will be more things happening with strategy also to come into play. We’ll be going for it to make our way into the points.”
Fernando Alonso, 11th
“We took two positions today and it means we start a little higher tomorrow so I am happy with that. I would have liked to have gained more, but it was difficult to follow closely here. If I was at home watching as a fan, then I would probably have enjoyed it because you get two days of racing. It’s going to be a race decided by small margins tomorrow, so we have to make sure our pit stops and strategy are good.”
Davide Brivio, Racing Director
“We managed to gain some positions in today’s Sprint, which was our objective. Tomorrow we will start the race with Fernando in tenth and Esteban in 12th and that certainly puts us in the mix to score some valuable points. We used the softs today and this gives us some useful information to use for our strategy decisions tomorrow. It’s a much longer race tomorrow and we will be ready to jump on any opportunities ahead of us.”
Russell had a poor start, losing out to both Haas cars and his team mate. Latifi was untroubled from that point as he came home 14th, while Russell had to work hard to climb back through the field and finish where he had started. The good news for the Canadian is that he has finished ahead of his team mate and thus starts the race in front on merit for the first time since they partnered up in 2020.
George Russell, 15th
"We made a poor start and off the line I got overtaken by a few cars. However, we then made a good recovery and I managed to pass some cars and fight back. The race was going alright, the pace felt good but we then had an issue with the front wing. I had massive understeer, and the car was not handling how it should have been which compromised the race. In the end I ended up in the same position that I started, this time behind Nicholas, so now we move onto tomorrow."
Nicholas Latifi, 14th
"I think that was probably the maximum that we could have done today; it’s good to move up the grid for the race. Turn 1 was always going to be quite tricky, especially from the mid-pack backwards, but I think I managed to navigate my way through and avoid the first lap incidents. From then, I didn’t really have the pace to move any further forward and pass the Alpine ahead of us. I think tomorrow will be tricky as there are cars behind us who have better pace, but you never know what can happen in the race and we’ll take advantage of any opportunities that come our way."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"FP2 went well and based on that running we elected to start both cars on the medium compound for the Sprint session. Nicholas made a very good start and was able to pressurise the Aston Martin and Alpine cars ahead. Unfortunately, the close following and DRS train meant that he couldn’t make further progress. George had a poor start and suffered some front wing damage, which upset his balance for most of the session. Despite the damage, after the Safety Car he was quickly able to recover to finish just behind Nicholas. We will repair his front wing tonight and both cars will start the Grand Prix tomorrow with their sights set firmly on the four cars ahead, all of which will hopefully be more vulnerable over a full race distance."
AlphaTauri were the big losers in the Sprint. Gasly made a great start, so good he was past Hamilton and in the fight with the McLaren pair, before he nudged the rear of Ricciardo's MCL35M. That was just enough for Gasly's front wing to oscillate and flip under his wheels, leaving the Frenchman a passenger as he skated off through the gravel and into the barriers. He’ll start from the back as a result for his worst starting position of the year. As for Tsunoda, he was not at fault in a classic first lap coming together with Kubica. The Japanese rookie was forced to pit for a new wing, and did well to recover to 16th.
Pierre Gasly, DNF
“I’m obviously very disappointed, it’s not been a good day. We had a great start on the mediums, I managed to pass Lando, and also Lewis. Then at the first corner I was a bit surprised by Daniel, I touched the back of him a little bit and damaged the front wing. I didn’t initially know how bad it was, but it broke off completely and went under the car at Turn 3, I couldn’t turn anymore and went straight into the wall. The target tomorrow is of course to try and get into the points. I will watch the replay tonight and analyse the possible overtaking spots, as it seemed that it was difficult out there today to make up many positions. We know that anything is possible though, and we’ll try our best to come back tomorrow.”
Yuki Tsunoda, 16th
“It’s a frustrating day. I had quite a good start and had gained a couple of positions before we headed into Turn 4 but unfortunately, I had contact with Kubica and suffered front wing damage. After I came in to change it, I think I had a good recovery drive and was able to make my way forward. The car felt good today and the pace was quite strong, I really maximised the opportunity of the soft tyre, so I’ll take this experience into the race tomorrow. I think it’ll be difficult, but I will aim to make my way into the points.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
“After a solid FP2, today's Sprint has not been kind to either of our drivers. Contact with the rear of the McLaren damaged Pierre's front wing on the opening lap, which subsequently failed, sending the car into the tyre barrier. Pierre was out of the race on the spot. Yuki had contact with Kubica, which also resulted in damage to the front wing and required a pit stop to replace it. This put him at the back, but he managed to recover a few places, which is one slight positive. Ultimately, we have been unlucky and not been able to make the most of the Sprint. Looking to tomorrow, the guys are going to be busy repairing Pierre's car for the race and on the strategy side we need to review the options to try and get our cars moving forward in the race, so that we are best placed if any opportunities present themselves.”
Both Haas drivers had incredible starts, Schumacher making up three places and Mazepin four. The Russian was then able to pass his team mate a few laps into the race once the Safety Car came in to come home a relatively decent 17th, while Schumacher then lost another place to Kubica late on. Most importantly, they kept their intra-team fight clean today.
Mick Schumacher, 19th
“The pace was where we were imagining it to be. Following here seems to be very difficult – the tyres overheat straight away, we slide and essentially we fell back a bit. Tomorrow is a new race, a longer race and with strategy you might be able to do something. Normally my starts are pretty good, I usually find the right way around.”
Nikita Mazepin, 17th
“I think we maximised our package today. I think our team could be in front of one of the Alfas if we do everything correct and we did. It looked like quite a hectic race from the beginning – loads of spins ahead and some dust – so it made for an exciting race for fans. From my side, I think we can still improve our balance because after one free practice yesterday and one free practice today, we haven’t maximised it yet, but we’re making the right steps in the right direction and that’s good.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It’s the second time we’ve completed a Sprint. We started the day with a good morning session with FP2. We went through all our tyre work to find out which tyres to use and when. The Sprint in the afternoon, at least where we are, it was quite interesting. Everything went well and we picked up a few spots for tomorrow – that’s the only thing we can do. In the end, we had a good day.”
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"It was interesting to see both the soft and the medium tyres on the grid today, with the teams given free choice. Although free practice time is reduced compared to a normal weekend, the teams were able to collect a good quantity of data today during sprint qualifying, which was run in conditions similar to those expected for tomorrow's grand prix. The early safety car in sprint qualifying gave the tyres some respite, but the soft performed better than expected, with very low levels of degradation despite the warm temperatures. For tomorrow's grand prix we expect all three compounds to have a valid role in the race strategies."