- Gasly leads final 26 laps to score maiden F1 win
- Honda first engine manufacturer in hybrid era to win with two different teams
- Gasly first French driver to win F1 race since 1996
In a topsy-turvy year, Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix will be remembered as one of the most interesting of the new decade as Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took his Honda engine to the first win of his young career.
Gasly took the lead on Lap 29 when Lewis Hamilton pitted to serve a penalty for entering a closed pit, and never looked back. He held a four-second lead over Carlos Sainz when he took the lead but was never rattled, even as the Spaniard closed the gap to less than a second with a lap to go. Weaving his way down the long Monza straights to break the effect of the aerodynamic draft, Gasly fought off Sainz and earned his first win.
The Frenchman benefitted from a timely pit stop for tires on Lap 20, coming in while everyone else had yet to make their first stops. It paid off a lap later when Kevin Magnussen’s car rolled to a stop just near the entrance to Pit Lane, bringing out the Safety Car. The field pitted, promoting Gasly toward the front of the field. Two laps later, Charles Leclerc triggered a red flag after a heavy crash in the fast Parabolica turn, necessitating a rare mid-race standing start.
Starting third after the red flag, Gasly immediately dispatched Lando Norris to move into second, and then took the lead when Hamilton pitted. But if fortune put Gasly up front, Honda power and a heavy right foot kept him there. The 24-year-old driver never put a wheel wrong in outracing Sainz and Norris to the flag over the last 26 laps.
The win was the 76th in Honda’s F1 history, and made Honda the first engine manufacturer in F1’s hybrid era (2014 – ) to power race winners from two different teams. It also made the Honda-powered AlphaTauri team the first outside the ‘Big 3′ (Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull) to win a race in the hybrid era. It also made Gasly the first French driver to win an F1 race since Oliver Panis took Monaco in 1996.
Gasly’s teammate Daniil Kvyat took a season-best ninth-place finish, as AlphaTauri got back to within hailing distance of the battle for the top five in the constructors championship. In the driver’s points, Gasly vaulted all the way to 8th in the standings.
The day was not as kind to the Aston Martin Red Bull Hondas as Max Verstappen retired on Lap 26 with a power unit issue while Alex Albon suffered damage that left him to run 15th.
The teams and drivers of the Formula 1 World Championship will stay in Italy for the week, running this coming weekend at Mugello for the Tuscan Grand Prix.
Technical Director, Honda F1
“A fantastic win today for Pierre Gasly and Scuderia AlphaTauri and it’s particularly special that we can celebrate this moment together after what was the 50th race in our partnership. It was an extra bonus to get the win at AlphaTauri’s home race. Pierre’s drive was fast and consistent and the team strategy worked perfectly, as did our PU. Combined with everyone’s efforts this delivered a great result. Congratulations to Pierre especially for his first ever F1 win, but also to everyone in the team. Honda is proud of our partnership which has got stronger step by step over the two and a half years we have been together. We hope our fans around the world enjoyed this afternoon as much as we did it and we thank them for their constant support. Even though we won, it has been a tough weekend, especially as we had a PU issue in the race on Max’s car. We will look into the cause immediately and hope that we can have another strong race next week with all four cars.”
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda
Start 5th, Finish: DNF
“I think pretty much everything that could go wrong today did go wrong. I had a very bad start with a lot of wheel spin when I dropped the clutch and from there I was stuck in a DRS train which makes it almost impossible to overtake around here. After the red flag I had a problem with the engine at the restart which didn’t go away and we had to retire the car. It may not have been our weekend but I am very happy for Pierre as AlphaTauri have been very fast all weekend and to win here in Italy is very emotional and a great result for them. They are a great group and I hope they are going to enjoy this one tonight because they all deserve it.”
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda
Start: 9th, Finish: 15th
“That wasn’t a fun race and P15 clearly isn’t reflective of our package. We had a lot of damage with the left side of the floor missing after contact in Turn 1 and then with the time penalty our race was basically over. It’s obviously a much better day for AlphaTauri so we’re happy for those guys but for us, we need to put our heads down and focus on Mugello in a week’s time.”
Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Start: 10th, Finish: 1st (First career F1 win)
This is amazing! I’ve been through so many things in the past 18 months and it’s better than anything I expected. I focused hard when I re-joined Scuderia AlphaTauri. Day by day, race by race, we improved ourselves and got stronger and stronger – this team gave me my first podium in F1 last year in Brazil and today, these guys gave me my first win in Formula 1, in Italy, in Monza, with an Italian team. When I was fighting the last few laps to keep P1, I knew how gutted I would have been if I had lost it, I wouldn’t have been happy with P2. I gave it everything I had – it was difficult – I pushed hard at the start of the stint to not give anyone the slipstream behind, then the last five laps were so intense, I almost shunted 10 times. My tires were gone but I wanted that win so much, it still feels weird to say I’m an F1 race winner.’
Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Start: 11th, Finish: 9th
“It was a very eventful race. I’m very happy for Pierre, congratulations to him and to the team, it’s a great day for us. Looking at my race, P9 was the maximum we could achieve today with the timing of the safety car and the tire choice we went for at the start of the race. Everything that could have gone wrong with the strategy, unfortunately did, but at least it was the opposite for Pierre. It was amazing for him to take the opportunity and I’m happy for him. I’m disappointed not to have had the same opportunity but I’m satisfied with my race, I’m honest with myself and I think I drove a good race.”
Rod is a blogger, writer, filmmaker, photographer, daydreamer who likes to cook. Rod produces and directs the web series, CUPIC: Diary of an Investigator. He is also the editor, producer and administrator of TNC Network.