Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll on the podium at Monza

Italian GP - Stat Wrap

By Sean Kelly
C4F1's Virtual Statman

For the past seven and a half years – and 146 consecutive Grand Prix – every single F1 race victory has been split between just three teams.

Beginning from the final days of the normally-aspirated V8s in 2013, Mercedes (98 wins), Red Bull (29 wins) and Ferrari (19 wins) had enjoyed a monopoly on race wins during the turbo hybrid era.

Until Sunday.

That streak was broken in spectacular style by Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri, in a race so random than the podium consisted entirely of drivers with no previous victories, something that has not occurred since Lewis Hamilton – ironically the driver chiefly responsible for the recent hegemony – won his first race in Canada back in 2007, beating Nick Heidfeld and Alexander Wurz.

Of course it was not just a first win for Gasly but also a first win for AlphaTauri since their rebranding from Toro Rosso, and it means that the Red Bull company have now had a hand in three of the last four constructors to take a maiden success. In a run of just eight races across 2008/09, Toro Rosso, Brawn GP and Red Bull themselves took a first constructor win, but there had been no further additions until Sunday.

Returning to Gasly himself, this was a victory long overdue for French motorsport, as the nation had waited 24 long years for another Grand Prix winner. There were similarities between Gasly’s success and that of Olivier Panis at the 1996 Monaco GP, in that both drivers went into the race as outsiders with no previous victories and having never previously even led a lap. Both benefitted from the misfortunes of others and both beat a McLaren driver in a one-on-one late race duel.

Gasly was only three months old when Panis enjoyed his famous day on the Cote d’Azur, and on Sunday he became the 109th different driver to triumph in a world championship event and the 13th from France – the last three of which (himself, Panis and Jean Alesi) are one-time winners.

Monza 2020 also bore several statistical similarities to Baku 2017. Until Sunday, that was the last time a driver won a race from 10th on the grid (Daniel Ricciardo), the last time that Lance Stroll finished on the podium and the last time that a race was red flagged.

Although the frustration of a near-miss was clear, Carlos Sainz did at least take a career-best finish in second place, the first time McLaren finished that high in a race without the assistance of post-race penalties since Jenson Button won the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.

While Gasly’s win could be attributed to some good fortune – he had pitted on the lap before the first Safety Car had caused the pits to be closed, Sainz was a little unfortunate not to be the chief beneficiary of Lewis Hamilton’s illegal pitstop, having ran second for the opening 20 laps of the race – the first time Sainz had ever run so high in a Grand Prix.

McLaren and AlphaTauri led a combined total of 27 laps in this race, and even the sight of a non “big three” team leading a lap has been virtually non-existent in recent times.

Prior to Sunday, Antonio Giovinazzi’s four laps in the lead for Alfa Romeo at the 2019 Singapore GP had been the only laps led by any other constructor since the Williams team led during the opening 21 laps of the British GP, five years ago!

Furthermore, not since Hungary 2012 – when Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren beat the Lotuses of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen – have we seen a podium free of Mercedes / Red Bull / Ferrari intrusion. Third-placed Lance Stroll ensured Racing Point joined AlphaTauri in scoring a maiden podium under their current names, an event practically unprecedented in world championship history.

A total of 59 different constructors have now stood on the podium, but when discounting the 11 Indianapolis 500s that were part of the world championship from 1950-60, this was the first time two different constructors claimed their maiden podium in same race since Maserati and Ferrari did so at the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix, the second-ever championship event!

Beyond the top three, Lando Norris made it two McLarens in the top four for the first time at Monza since 2011, and ensured that the first of the normal pacesetters to finish was Valtteri Bottas’ overheating Mercedes in fifth, as the team missed the podium at Monza for the first time in the hybrid era.

Sixth-placed Daniel Ricciardo had a relatively anonymous qualifying and race considering his pace at Spa – where he both qualified and finished fourth – although he did beat a delayed Lewis Hamilton, who was well on his way to another routine victory when he effectively tripped himself over by stopping for tyres when the pits were closed, earning a ten-second stop/go penalty.

Hamilton served that penalty after the red flag for Charles Leclerc’s big Parabolica accident led to a restart from the starting grid itself, the first time there have been two such starts in the same race since the red flag and restart at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix.

It may have been one of those increasingly-rare occasions on which Hamilton was not the winner, but there was still much to celebrate within the context of the record books.

It was his 41st consecutive classified race finish, tying Nick Heidfeld’s F1 record set during his BMW Sauber tenure from 2007-2009, and Hamilton’s 221st career points finish also tied Michael Schumacher for the all-time record in that department.

Hamilton’s headline achievement was taking pole position at an average lap speed of 164.267 mph / 264.362 km/h, the fastest single lap in Formula 1 history. This was only the fourth weekend in which this record has been surpassed since Keke Rosberg’s legendary lap in the damp at Silverstone back in 1985, all of which have come at Monza (Juan-Pablo Montoya in 2002 and 2004, and Kimi Raikkonen in 2018).

The minor positions saw Esteban Ocon take eighth to score points for his third consecutive Monza start, and while undoubtedly overshadowed by the exploits of his teammate, Daniil Kvyat finished ninth to take his 22nd points finish for this team under any name, although only three of which have been in the top eight.

Sergio Perez was tenth to extend his Monza points streak to seven consecutive years, while Nicholas Latifi equaled both his and Williams’ season-best result in what was a momentous and poignant occasion for the team.

Sunday was the final weekend in which the Williams family oversaw their eponymous team, after more than half a century of F1 involvement by Sir Frank Williams.

His first entry into F1 came at the 1969 Spanish GP, when Piers Courage raced his privateer Brabham chassis. Williams’ first bespoke chassis was the Politoys FX3 that debuted at the 1972 British GP with Henri Pescarolo at the wheel, but it wasn’t until the establishment of Williams Grand Prix Engineering that major success would follow, with 114 victories ranking third on the all-time list, behind only McLaren (182) and Ferrari (238).

Despite the best efforts of Mercedes, Frank’s total of nine constructors’ championships still remains the most by any team other than Ferrari (16), even though their most recent titles came in 1997.

That would be the same Ferrari who suffered an absolute shocker of a race – not a statistical term, yet still a statement of fact – for the second weekend running. Firstly they endured the ignominy of seeing both cars qualify outside the top ten at Monza for the first time since 1984, when Michele Alboreto and Rene Arnoux were only 11th and 14th in qualifying.

At least they had already won a race that year, and Alboreto made amends by finishing second in the Grand Prix itself, but the 2020 edition of Ferrari never looked remotely close to achieving this kind of pace.

Sebastian Vettel crashed through the polystyrene blocks when his brakes failed at the first chicane, and Charles Leclerc got himself on the highlight reel for all the wrong reasons when he binned his SF1000 spectacularly at the exit of Parabolica, causing such damage to the tyre wall that the red flag was necessary to clear the mess.

Unexpectedly, they will now celebrate their 1,000th world championship participation next weekend in the ostentatiously-named “Gran Premio Della Toscana Ferrari 1000” with the awkward knowledge that AlphaTauri are the only Italian constructor with a victory this year.