F1 | ITALIAN GP, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “VERSTAPPEN UNCATCHABLE. AN UNFORGIVABLE MISTAKE BY FIA”

An intense and exciting weekend has ended with 336,647 fans present in the temple of speed in Monza that celebrated its 100 years of history in the best possible way. Beyond the full grandstands, I was positively struck by the presence of a very young public that is luckily getting closer to Motorsport.

We saw many duels on the track, starting from the Saturday in the challenge for pole position won by Charles Leclerc, author of an extraordinary lap. Both he and Carlos Sainz confirmed all the goodness of the Ferrari in a flying lap, while they were forced to pay a “cost” from Red Bull (Max Verstappen in particular) in the race.

It was a much deserved new win, the fifth consecutive win of the season and the first personal win at Monza for the Dutch driver who strung together a sequence of incredible laps, while managing to protect his tyres. Under these conditions the people on Ferrari’s wall tried all or nothing by bringing forward the card of the early pit stop, maybe hoping for a safety-car or VSC (that partially happened) even if it did not pay off at the moment, the fight for Leclerc is for second place with Sergio Perez, just as it is for Ferrari versus Mercedes. An interesting end of the season is expected.

Carlos Sainz’s comeback was also to be applauded. Having started from the rear he managed to climb up to the foot of the podium, crossing the finish line behind George Russell’s Mercedes. A positive result considering that the objective was fifth place, characterized by excellent overtaking. Behind him was Lewis Hamilton, he too forced to start from the rear, the author of a positive comeback but with times that were inferior to his team mate.

Also to be noted are the results achieved by Gasly and especially the debutant Nyck De Vries who immediately got into the points (ninth place) with the Williams and who was also voted the best driver of the day. He showed he is a reliable driver capable of not making mistakes. He deserves a chance. This was not a surprise for me since I had already had the opportunity to observe him in action in the karts.

It was a negative for the decision by FIA at the end of the race. The arrival behind the SC compromised an incredible show. The safety car entered the track too late and in an incorrect position. The double management with the race directors did not pay off. It seems to me that there is a lot of work to do in the relations between Liberty Media and the Federation.

Amongst other things, the Federation must seriously consider the idea of changing the regulations tied to the penalties for the replacement of parts. This weekend we saw nine of the twenty drivers penalized with an overturned starting grid compared to the result of qualifying. It is unsporting for the drivers to pay for the team’s mistakes. Besides, it is unacceptable to wait for more than 5 hours from the end of qualifying to have the definitive starting order. It is a regulation that must absolutely be reviewed.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | DUTCH GP, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “MAX DOES THE HONOURS AT HOME. FERRARI THE THIRD FORCE”

Verstappen deadly. At this moment both him and the car have no weak points and give nothing away to the rivals at all. He was stratospheric for the whole weekend, starting with qualifying with the masterpiece the final part of the grand prix after the safety car came back. Lewis Hamilton could do nothing.

Mercedes made a mistake in strategy precisely with the seven times world champion by not changing the tyres but they managed to nibble away further major at the expense of Ferrari that is now the world championship’s third force.

Leclerc was certainly very good. With third place he achieved the maximum result but he paid practically half a second per lap to his direct rival. He was already out of the DRS zone in the second lap. Another mistake in the pits, this time at Carlos Sainz’s expense who then also ran into the 5” penalty slipping back to the eight place after the end of the grand prix. A major and unforgiveable mistake that cost the Spanish driver 10”.

We will already be back on the track in a week’s time in Monza for the Italian Grand Ptix. The track is favours Red Bull that is working well with little downforce…

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP BELGIUM, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “FERRARI MUST WATCH MERCEDES AT ITS BACK”

We have left the summer break behind and the “new” season has begun with Red Bull always at the top but able to significantly increase the lead over its direct rivals Ferrari.

again Adrian Newey was the most skilled in interpreting the updated regulations. A superlative Max Verstappen relegated his team mate to more than 17” with the same car.

There are still 8 races to go to the chequered flag but now, – rightly – the title is in the hands of the Dutchman.

Ferrari said goodbye to Spa-Francorchamps with the podium thanks to Carlos Sainz’s third place but it paid a big gap of more than half a second a lap. The Spaniard made the most of his material while once again Charles Leclerc had to take “misfortune” into account. The rip-off visor (from the Dutchman it seems) got blocked in the brake socket overheating and damaging the sensors that led to the mistake of management of the speed limiter that cost the driver from Monte Carlo the 5” penalty. Honestly, I would not have risked the two points that were already sure to try and grab the extra point for the fastest lap. Each pit stop is risky. The choice did not pay off Sunday but it is part of the choices that must be made during a race.

It was a step forward by Mercedes. As expected Toto Wolff’s team benefitted from the change of regulations and moved to only 41 points from Ferrari which confirms the second place behind Red Bull but it must be careful.

Spa-Francorchamps was the also the stage for many penalties in the starting grid. Of the 20 drivers on the grid 8 had to serve penalties (Verstappen, Leclerc, Ocon, Norris, Zhou, Schumacher, Bottas and Tsunoda). It is a regulation I still do not like. Unsporting in that it nullifies the result of qualifying. Furthermore, it is mainly the driver who pays most when it should be the team to be sanctioned in terms of points. From here on will we be able to witness more and more of these episodes.

Now we await two tough races: the Dutch and the Italian GPs. For the spectacle I hope that it was only an unhappy episode for Ferrari even if the signs that we saw are unfortunately not positive.
On this occasion, I want to thanks all the fans who came to Imola for the sixth edition of the Historic Minardi Day. It was exciting seeing the garages full of young people.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP HUNGARY, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “ON PARITY OF TYES, MERCEDES IS THE BEST CAR. FERRARI MUST PONDER”

It should have been the weekend of the Ferrari double and instead both Sainz and Leclerc finished off the podium. It was certainly a day for Ferrari to analyse since they made a number of mistakes in both the strategy and during the pit stops, especially with the Spaniard.
In these circumstances the car fell short of Red Bull and Mercedes. With the same tyres Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton performed decidedly better, so much so that the British champion set the race’s fastest lap.

At the moment the Ferrari package is not ready to win the world championship. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, protagonists of excellent overtaking and defence were blameless. However, with the fourth and six places they left many points to their direct rivals, just as Ferrari did a favour to a strongly growing Mercedes. They have three weeks ahead of them to ponder and plan the last part of the season in the best possible way with the aim of saving at least second place in the constructors and drivers championships.

This is not a surprise because they made us used to even more impressive comebacks but Max Verstappen deserves the title of “driver of the day”. He was the protagonist of a race in all out attack to then manage to advantage he had acquired. He made only one mistake that could have cost him very dearly, but he was good and lucky to take back control of the car. He is supported by a team that is aware of its strength and they work calmly without making any mistakes. At this point of the world championship they only have to manage the large advantage they have accumulated.

For the second consecutive grand prix Mercedes went onto the podium with both its drivers making a great leap forward on the ladder. The modifications carried out are paying off and they have taken away points from Ferrari whose advantage has been reduced to only 30 points.

I wish you all happy holidays and I look forward to seeing you on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 at Imola for the sixth edition of the Historic Minardi Day.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP FRANCE, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “VERSTAPPEN PUTS HIS HANDS ON THE TROPHY. EXCELLENT SAINZ. FERRARI AND LECLERC MUST STILL GROW UP”

Although there are still ten races in the calendar with this win Max Verstappen has forcefully put his hands on his second world championship. For Leclerc the 63 point gap really is a lot.

Sincerely, it is a real shame because we are facing a winning and competitive Ferrari but it must still grow up in order not to make these mistakes any more. They were not perfect in the pit stop again today and the one who paid the price was an excellent Carl Sainz who was able to recover from fifth place twice overtaking extraordinarily the expense of Russell and Ocon, passing them on the outside at Signes. And it was equally beautiful when he overtook Perez before the last stop.

On the other hand, it was a monumental mistake by Leclerc (which reminded us of Vettel’s episode in Germany), up to that point he had certainly been perfect. In the present time both he and Verstappen have no other rivals. They have an extra gear, even if the driver from Monte Carlo (together with the team) must make a leap in quality to become the champion he deserves.

Taking advantage once again was a Mercedes in strong growth. Beyond the double podium (second place for Lewis Hamilton and third for George Russell) they paid a gap of 10” from the winner. It will be interesting to see if they manage to repeat themselves also on other tracks.

It could become the third wheel of the fight for the world championship, even if Verstappen can start to manage the strong lead.

They will be back on track in a week’s time with the thirteenth grand prix on the Hungaroring track.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP AUSTRIA, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “LECLERC, SCHUMACHER AND ALONSO. WHAT A SHOW”

It was a wonderful Austrian grand prix on all fronts, in both the positions at the top as well as in the back. The turning points were not lacking starting with the flames that stopped Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari that was firmly in second position up to that moment, to the problem of the accelerator pedal on the sister car driven by Charles Leclerc who however managed to take home the win ahead of his direct rival Max Verstappen.

Ferrari took home its second straight win putting a patch on the criticism of the last few days; they were perfect across the board. Unfortunately the reliability partially ruined the celebrations. This was not a positive sign for the men in Maranello. They were major breakages that negatively affect the planned development.

For his part, Leclerc was fantastic. He made no mistakes overtaking Verstappen three times and this time he could do nothing against Ferrari’s superiority. On the other hand the Dutchman was very good in Saturday’s sprint race. The “domestic” tussle between Leclerc and Sainz did not affect the final result. In that part of the race Red Bull was superior.

Mercedes went onto the podium with Lewis Hamilton who crossed the finish line ahead of George Russell, however paying a wide gap. We are back to the pre-Silverstone gap but they were able to exploit the misadventures of others. It was an excellent fifth place for Ocon but Mick Schumacher was superb, in clear growth and he probably managed to “unlock” himself. I hope that this is a good omen for a second part of the season on the rise.

Fernando Alonso’s tenth place is also to be applauded. For part of the race he even held sixth place after starting in twentieth place. Once again he played a role in bringing points to Alpine.

Finally, there was no lack of penalties for having exceeded the track limits. The Red Bull Ring is equipped with sensors that promptly highlight non-compliance. It is a technology that should be used in all the circuits so as to “free” the marshals.

So now we wait two weeks for the Grand Prix in France and then the one in Hungary.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | THE BRITISH GP, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “BRAVO SAINZ, BUT RED BULL IS A CUT ABOVE. SAFETY CAR? ITS ENTRY WAS WRONG”

Excitement was not lacking in Silverstone, the stage for the tenth round of the Formula 1 World Championship. Once again the excellent work on the safety front by FIA in recent years avoided the worst with the terrible accident that saw Alfa Romeo driver Guan Yu Zhou as the protagonist, miraculously coming out of the accident unhurt. Honestly however, I cannot understand how it was possible that the roll bar of the C42 was completely destroyed and torn up.

Luckily the Halo held on saving the driver. In Formula 2 Roy Nissany was hit by Dennis Hauger after his car took off and struck the DAMS team racing car in the area of the cockpit.

At the restart we saw an unexpected race with Ferrari winning with Carlos Sainz who had already shown his potential in qualifying. However, Ferrari was once again imperfect, committing a careless act in regard to an excellent Leclerc. Without the entry of the safety car in the final part that reshuffled the cards he would certainly have taken home the win and thus taking advantage of Red Bull’s imperfect Sunday with Max Verstappen who had to settle for seventh place. Ferrari’s people on the wall could have changed the strategies bringing the driver from Monte Carlo in for a pit stop. Sainz’s win however made me very happy as I have always highlighted and believed in his potential.

On the Safety Car front, I honestly found the decision “trivial” if not unnecessary. Ocon’s car was at a very visible point on the track and they could have chosen the yellow flag. Certainly Alpine’s French driver was not exempt from blame since from the start of their career drivers are taught that in the case of problems they must park the car without hindering the race. He had plenty of time to choose a safer place.

Apart from these episodes, Silverstone gave us back a competitive Mercedes was able to fight with Ferrari and Red Bull. Sainz, Leclerc, Perez and Hamilton gave us a wonderful tussle marked by fast laps. Lewis Hamilton made the most of his W13, Too bad for the accident that excluded George Russell who had not fault.

Excellent work on the part of Red Bull’s people on the wall, with a perfect strategy that allowed Sergio Perez to finish in second place. Without problems the RB18 is a cut above the rest. Excellent work by Fernando Alonso as well, the protagonist of a good first half of the championship. Once again he showed all his worth, especially on a wet track.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP CANADA, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “VERSTAPPEN EXTRAORDINARY. SAINZ GAVE HIS UTMOST”

Once again these young men kept us with bated breath until the last of the scheduled seventy laps. Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz challenged each other lapping constantly under the barrier of 1’16” with the Ferrari driver setting the fastest lap of the race with 1’15”749 crossing the finishing line less than a second behind the winner.

Verstappen drove a great race without making the slightest mistake. Carlos Sainz made his best performance in two years. At this time Ferrari cannot exploit its power-unit to the fullest. Despite the DRS the Spanish driver was unable to attack the Dutchman. From the chassis, aerodynamics and engine points of view Red Bull is perfect right now. What stopped Perez is to be understood.

With fifth place Charles Leclerc limited the damage bringing home a solid race. Certainly the 49 point gap from Verstappen is starting to weigh heavily, especially against a rival in such good shape even if he gained a lot on the Mexican. From here to the end reliability will dominate because three engines are too few and there is still a long way to go.

Lewis Hamilton returned to the podium, the author of an intelligent race supported by valid strategy by Mercedes’ men on the wall. After the Baku GP he was disheartened and this result could help him.

In qualifying Fernando Alonso showed he can still make the difference but in the long run the car’s difficulties came out, closing the race in sixth place (with Ocon) and seventh place. A result that reflects their real position. They probably could have let “Nando” return to the pits a few laps earlier instead of keeping him on the track. Also worthy of note was Zhou Guanyu’s eighth place, finishing behind his team mate Valtteri Bottas and ahead of Lance Stroll.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP AZERBAIJAN THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “A ONE WAY RACE. A HARMFUL RESULT FOR FERRARI”

It was a one way grand prix with Max Verstappen decidedly strong. He took the win ahead of Sergio Perez who completed the double for Red Bull strengthening Red Bull’s leadership in both ladders. Now Verstappen’s lead over Leclerc has risen to 34 points with the Ferrari driver also behind Perez.

Two “zeroes” in two races are harmful and worrying. In order to follow its direct rivals Ferrari paid in reliability. The evolutionary step in the engine was not supported by reliability and in a week it will be grand prix time again on a track like Montreal’s that is very demanding for both the engine and the brakes.

In such a packed calendar and tightly fought championship it becomes doubly difficult to recover since the time is lacking to analyze and remedy the problems. After a difficult start at the present time Red Bull is decidedly more reliable. On the performance front Ferrari and Leclerc have shown all the goodness of the project taking an important qualifying session but in the race the forces in the field changed. Unlike Monte Carlo the people on the wall guessed the strategy quickly. Unfortunately this was nullified by the reliability.

It was the eighth positive result for George Russell who took third place ahead of Lewis Hamilton and fourth place in the driver’s ladder. Too bad to see the seven times world champion suffer like this and who, amongst other things, complained about back pain due to porpoising. With the races run so closely together it also becomes hard to recover physically.

A positive result for Gasly immediately behind the top teams. It was a good race by Sebastian Vettel who recovered quickly from a mistake in the final stages finishing in sixth position ahead of a decent Alonso. In a year that has not been positive up till now Ricciardo’s finish with his McLaren in eighth place ahead of Lando Norris is to be noted.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP MONACO, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “FERRARI. HOW MANY GIFTS. MONACO AN OUTDATED TRACK”

After Spain, even here in Monaco Ferrari gave its direct rivals important points in both the drivers and constructors championships. When you are solidly in the first and second place you cannot and must not make mistakes in strategy, especially on a track like this one where overtaking is impossible. Once you lose the position the discussion is over. In Monaco you pay double for the slightest mistake.

The duel between Red Bull and Ferrari is very tight, as is shown by the order across the finish line with four cars within a space of barely two seconds. Once again the seven points lost by Leclerc in Imola weigh heavily. Now the gap has grown to nine points but we are in a gap in which it is still possible to recover. At Baku however, the recovery must begin. The same goes for the constructors where Ferrari lost even more ground but with fifteen grands prix still to be raced everything is possible. The second part of the world championship will be crucial especially in terms of reliability.

At the end of the race Ferrari presented a protest against the exit from the pits by Max Verstappen maintaining that the Dutch driver touched the yellow line. Until now there had been a uniformity of view and respect of the regulations but in this case I noticed a certain superficiality. After having accepted the protest the college of marshals confirmed the order of arrival and the win and third place of Perez and Verstappen. Today created a dangerous precedent.

Like every year, the arrival of the circus onto the streets of the Principality opened the debate on the track. As far as I am concerned, as of today the grand prix has nothing to say on the technical and sporting sides. Only the extra sporting charm remains. I believe that it is now an outdated race. We again saw how difficult (if not impossible) it is to overtake. The driver still manages, in part, to stand out, in particular in the flying lap as we saw in qualifying with Leclerc or Alonso in the race. Despite a car in difficulty he held seven rivals (one of whom was Hamilton) at bay recompacting the group behind him, also causing harm for his team mate Ocon considering the five second penalty. With these technologically advanced cars it is not as selective as it once was.

On show were also George Russell, once again in the top-5 with the Mercedes, and Lando Norris, author of the race’s fastest lap. The accident with Michael Schumacher was also very strange. The car jerked abnormally crashing into the wall destroying his Haas which split in two. I do not feel like accusing him of a mistake because it could have come from a technical problem or a failure.

Now let us wait and see what will happen in Baku which is an anomalous track.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP SPAIN, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “WELCOME BACK MERCEDES. SAINZ, HOW MANY MISTAKES”

We put away a Spanish grand prix full of turning points, conditioned by mistakes and reliability problems. Too bad for Ferrari and Leclerc who would have deserved a win after the extraordinary qualifying and management of the race until the retirement. On the other hand it was a subdued performance by Carlos Sainz.

He was the protagonist of many mistakes that not long ago were certainly not part of his DNA. He must shake up his season and give his contribution to the team. With the car available to him he could have at the least reached the podium. Instead he finished behind not only the two Red Bulls but also George Russell’s Mercedes. Amongst other things, taking fourth place in the final lap at the expense of a great Lewis Hamilton who was forced to slow down to cross the finish line.

Thanks to this double Red Bull overtook Ferrari in the Championship by 26 points with Max Verstappen at the head of the ladder, six points ahead of Leclerc. The seven points lost in Imola have taken their toll on the position on the ladder of the driver from Monte Carlo. As we have always said, this is a world championship that will be won on single points and reliability. Every mistake costs double. The RB in itself is not a perfect car but today took the team both cars to the finish line completing a double. For the first time Sergio Perez showed signs of nervousness with his team, even if I am convinced that he would not have taken the win. The people on the RB wall could have managed the situation better.

As I expected, Mercedes took a good step forward. Lewis Hamilton was the author of a fantastic race. From last position he rose up to fourth place setting excellent times. Perez took the fastest lap away from him only in the end. Russell is also to be applauded for once again making the podium and important points for the team. He is confirming he is an excellent driver.

Positive times also came from Alpine that placed the two cars in the top-10 with Ocon in seventh place and Alonso in ninth after having started in last place. A point for Tsunoda who is putting a tired Gasly in difficulty. On the other hand the new Aston Martin has been postponed again.

Now on with Monte Carlo.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP IMOLA, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “AN EXTRAORDINARY AUDIENCE OF TRUE FANS”

First of all I want to thank the 130,307 fans who filled and coloured Imola’s Enzo and Dino Ferrari Circuit. It was a positive result and they deserve an extraordinary cheer. Despite the water and the mud they stayed until the end with an exceptional invasion of the track. In all the three days we had a sporting, correct and competent audience. Under the podium they applauded the winners.

It was incredible to see the thousands of fans who, on the Saturday, stayed until the end to also watch the Formula 2 race. It was a result that is difficult to see in other circuits.

On the racing front Max Verstappen and Red Bull dominated the whole weekend taking pole position, sprint race, grand prix and the fastest lap. They were the masters of Ferrari’s home. It was a result that must certainly make Ferrari think. The team says goodbye to Imola with only sixth place to its credit, the result of a mistake in the final stages. In view of the world championship Leclerc would have done well to settle for third place but in that moment he was catching up to Perez and he tried to attack the Mexican to try and take second place.

It was the first mistake of a very long season that promises to be tight and played on the edge of thousandths of a second and on every single point. It becomes fundamental not to give any advantage to the rivals.

With this win Verstappen goes to second place on the ladder, 27 points behind the driver from Monte Carlo who crossed the finish line in sixth place ahead of the excellent Tsunoda. It was a decidedly negative weekend for Carlos Sainz who is not going through a good personal moment. In qualifying he made a stupid mistake that he partially remedied with a good come back in the sprint race. In the race he was slightly touched by Ricciardo but there is contributory blame. This was a race accident but with a high price.

McLaren confirmed it is the third force of the world championship with Lando Norris who completed the Imoa podium. We saw the Aston Martins once again in the points zone with both its drivers and Magnussen who brought another two points to Haas. It was a positive day for Valtteri Bottas too and Alfa Romeo   with a fifth place finish behind an excellent George Russell. The Englishman consolidated fourth place on the ladder and overshadowed Lewis Hamilton, only fourteenth just like at the end of the sprint race.

Now Formula 1 will move to Miami but the Imola Circuit is ready to host new and exciting races including the Le Mans Series in mid May, the DTM the month after, the Historic Minardi Day at the end of August and the ACI Weekends.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP AUSTRIALIA, GIAN CARLO MINARDI “NOW I AM WAITING FOR ALL OF YOU IN IMOLA”

Pole position, fastest lap, the win and always at the top of the ladder. Charles Leclerc and Ferrari dominated the Melbourne weekend taking the second win in the first three rounds of the season with a second place also to its credit.

A Ferrari that transmits calm, in addition to an important supremacy, especially in terms of reliability for the rest of the season. The fastest lap set by Leclerc in the final lap is a decidedly positive sign, as well as the progression of times from the 31st to the 40th laps. It is a Ferrari great in great shape that must exploit to the fullest this positive moment by accumulating the largest margin possible in the two ladders. Too bad for Carlos Sainz. If he had been a little unlucky in qualifying, he made an amateur’s mistake in the race. After a bad start he may have become nervous.

It was the second forced stop for Max Verstappen, the only one at the moment he can stay close to Ferrari, at least in the times. It is an uphill road for Red Bull on the reliability front and at the present time it is in third place in the constructors’ ladder behind Mercedes with Russell climbing to second place with 37 points (against the 71 of the driver from Monaco).

Today we already saw an improvement in Mercedes. They won eight world titles in the last eight years and they certainly know how to react. For the second time, helped by the retirement of the Dutch driver, they took the third step on the podium, this time with Russell who finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

McLaren put itself on show again after the “crisis” in Saudi Arabia. They confirmed they are the fourth force in the world championship. The result in Jeddah was probably only an isolated episode. We must congratulate FIA that got the regulations right and Pirelli that brought fantastic tyres. Even if we are only at the third race weekend we have all the conditions for seeing an exciting world championship

I am waiting for you all in Imola’s Enzo and Dino Ferrari International Circuit for the first European round. Amongst other things there will also be the first sprint race of the season. I hope to see the circuit full of fans starting from Friday to show the whole world that the passion for Motorsport beats strongly in Italy too.

Gian Carlo Minardi