Kimi ninth as Fernando suffers 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.

Marco Mattiacci: “In Formula 1, as in sport in general, there are days to forget and this was certainly one of them. Unfortunately, we had no way of predicting the problem that affected Fernando’s car, but I am sorry that it happened right here in Monza at our home race. Even though we are making progress, we knew that these last two races would be very difficult. Therefore, while it’s impossible to accept a result like this, now our only thought is to get back to being competitive as soon as possible. First and foremost, we must continue to work and to improve, because I’m sure the working practices put in place these last few months will help us get back to the top.”

Fernando Alonso: “After a long run of trouble-free races, it’s a real shame I had to retire just here in Monza, in front of all our fans. I would have liked to have put on a very different race for them. In the first stint we were competitive, but when you find yourself in a group of cars where everyone is using DRS, overtaking becomes nearly impossible. After the pit stop, I found myself at the back of a train of cars and at that point we changed the strategy, deciding to drop back from the group to conserve the tyres and try and attack at the end of the race. But then came the problem with the ERS system. It’s never nice for the team to have a reliability problem, because the guys work night and day to give us the best car possible. What happened doesn’t change my will to win and in order to try and have that happen soon, we will continue to work as hard as we can, always giving our all.”Kimi Raikkonen: “We knew this would be a difficult weekend and today in the race, we saw the proof of that. Overall, I was happy with the handling of the car and the balance was good, but we lacked speed down the straight and I didn’t have much grip. As soon as I got close to the cars ahead of me, I lost aerodynamic downforce and the car was sliding all over the place. I think I did the most I could today, even if unfortunately I was unable to get the result I would have wanted for our home race, for the team and all our fans. Now we must think of the upcoming races and continue to work nonstop, because we are coming up to tracks that should better suit the characteristics of our car”.

Pat Fry: “On a weekend which we knew would suit the characteristics of our opponents’ cars, trying our best was unfortunately not enough. Having pulled off a brilliant passing move on Perez round the outside at first Lesmo, Fernando then spent the whole first stint in a group of cars all doing the same lap times, with all the drivers benefiting from the DRS effect on those cars ahead of them. Unfortunately, his race ended after the first stop, because of a failure within the ERS system. Even if it’s been a long time since we’ve had a reliability issue, this incident shows how important it is to continue to focus on this aspect. Thanks to a good getaway, Kimi managed to make up one place at the start and another by passing Hulkenberg on lap 6, but he could not make up enough ground to attack those in front. We finished in the points with him, however it’s disappointing that we were unable to do more for the fans. Now, all we can do is look to the future and try and do well starting with the very next Grand Prix in Singapore.”

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