The image of Pierre Gasly sitting on the rostrum, taking a moment alone to absorb his first Grand Prix win in Italy is destined to become a classic in Formula One’s heritage.
What an amazing result we saw in Monza! Gasly’s remarkable rollercoaster career has produced a result that nobody expected - but one everyone in the paddock celebrated.
Just 12 months ago, he was still getting over the disappointment of being demoted from Red Bull to the sister team of Toro Rosso, now known as AlphaTauri, and readjusting to fighting for the odd point rather than mixing it with Mercedes.
Amazing to have commentated on the two most recent F1 wins by French drivers separated by 24 years. How time flies.....
Gasly went on to achieve his first podium with the ‘junior’ team in Brazil 10 weeks after his demotion with an outstanding drive, and now he has delivered the outfit’s second ever win, 12 years after Sebastian Vettel took the first. How things turn around.
In 2017 he missed out on the Japanese Super Formula title by half a point because of the unfortunate timing of a typhoon. Last Sunday he benefited from the timing of a pit stop and a red flag restart to claim the lead and hold on until the end.
The team celebrations afterwards were magical to see. Originally created by Giancarlo Minardi in 1985, this has always been one of the lower budget, hard-working midfield players in the sport.
Creating A Brand
Signor Minardi was a car and truck dealer and in many ways mirrored the early days of Sir Frank Williams, creating a motorsport team from sheer passion and gradually climbing the ladder to F1.
Based in his hometown of Faenza in Italy, a half hour’s drive from the Imola circuit which will host Round 13 of this year’s championship, the team operated under his name but with a variety of investors keeping it alive.
When Red Bull took over in 2006 and changed the name to Toro Rosso, Minardi stepped down from F1 altogether. But the crew remained in Faenza and still has an Italian heart, even if boss Franz Tost is a disciplined Austrian and team manager Graham Watson a laidback Kiwi.
Perhaps it’s a lesson to us all that the Williams F1 team spirit really can be maintained despite the Williams family leaving the sport as the curtain closed on Monza.
P1!! My first victory in F1!!🏆
I’m lost for words, still struggling to realise, its just amazing!!
Everything was perfect, just missed the tifosis down under the podium. @alphatauri we have done it!! Thanks everyone for all the messages & support!! Today is a day I’ll remember. pic.twitter.com/3eILYSMsIu
This weekend AlphaTauri will get the second of three opportunities to race on home soil, as F1 goes to Mugello for the venue’s first ever World Championship race.
A regular host of Formula 2 and F3000 races in the 1980s, winners have included Champ Car Champion and Paralympic gold medallist Alex Zanardi, British circuit boss Jonathan Palmer and Pierluigi Martini, the Italian who spent eight years racing with the Minardi team in F1.
The Mugello region, just north of Florence, originally hosted motorsport on a 40-mile lap of public roads but, as safety became paramount, the decision was taken to build a permanent sealed circuit in the early 1970s.
Ferrari took ownership of the track a decade later and future Ferrari team principal, Stefano Domenicali, was the venue’s race director for several years.
Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc both completed practice laps on the circuit earlier this year, and Vettel commented later “Mugello is one of the favourite tracks of all drivers”.
Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean are among the current crop of drivers to have also tested at Mugello in recent years but several have never driven the circuit.
So what can they expect? A fast and physically demanding layout nestled in a natural valley with wonderful swoops and elevation changes, fast corners and a long straight.
Talking to David Coulthard and Mark Webber, who both tested F1 cars but never raced them at Mugello, they opened their eyes wide and emphasised the sheer cornering speeds and brutal forces on the neck that racers experience as they pound around the 3.2-mile layout.
The outcome of a debut World Championship race at Mugello is a real unknown. Ferrari will be celebrating their 1000th race in F1 and there is a chance that they will be more competitive than at Monza.
Mercedes has proven to be the pacesetter everywhere so far, but this could also be a track that suits Red Bull, and Max Verstappen will be keen to put the disappointment of a non-finish at Monza into the archives.
Last weekend reminds us that nothing is guaranteed in motor racing; with so much for the teams and drivers to learn as they go into their ninth event in 10 weeks, the possibilities are endless.
And as the first spectators of the year are allowed to attend, limited to just 3,000 people, let’s hope they are rewarded with much entertainment as at Monza.
Join the C4F1 team for highlights of Qualifying for the Tuscan Grand Prix on Saturday 12th September at 7:30pm with race highlights and analysis on Sunday from 6:30pm.