Sainz's bittersweet podium the day Gasly won over reason

The Madrilenian was second, he fought for the victory, but a safety car and the subsequent red flag gave Alpha Tauri's advantage by strategy.


Who would have thought that a second place in the Italian GP, the second podium in Carlos Sainz's career, would know little. Madness in Monza, incredible race, brilliant the Madrid native, but 6 September 2020 was the day of Pierre Gasly, who beat reason with the Alpha Tauri and achieved the first triumph of his sports career in Formula 1. The last Laps were a stifling chase between the McLaren and the Alpha Tauri, but there were no great margins between cars; Sainz cut tenth to tenth, but it was not enough, and finished the race 0.4 behind the winner. How close to it was, "how close and how far, he needed one more lap," he radioed to his race engineer, Tom Stallard. The podium was completed by Lance Stroll (Racing Point), the Mercedes wiped themselves off the map, one driver for lack of talent and the other for cheating. There was everything, overtaking, accidents, emotion and tears. And a podium of the unusual that tastes like good French champagne.

It should be noted that Sainz had everything to face at the start to finish second, but in a logical race and behind Hamilton. It went easy on Bottas at the start. Behind, a series of catastrophic misfortunes sank the Finn (he complained of a non-existent puncture) and Verstappen (who ended up leaving). Lando Norris, with another fantastic start, finished third at the second corner. The two McLaren raced together on podium positions while a Mercedes and Red Bull suffered in the pack. The Madrid-born managed, had a four-second income over his partner (In front, Lewis was unattainable) and even Lando built a certain advantage over Checo. The most boring race in history looked fantastic for his interests, but, unfortunately for his interests, this Sunday he was playing something else.

Magnussen's safety car and red flag

The equator was about to be reached on Sunday when Magnussen suffered a seemingly innocent breakdown at the start of the home straight. He was stopped in a dangerous area, the entrance to the pit lane and Race Direction took the safety car out and closed the access to the pit lane. Hamilton didn't find out, he made his tire change and earned an exemplary stop and go penalty plus ten seconds that knocked him out of the fight. It wasn't until the door was opened that Sainz was unable to make his stop, which was good, but it put him at a disadvantage relative to those who changed the wheels in the very narrow margin between the Haas incident and the blocking of the entrance. Stroll, Gasly, Leclerc, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi (sanctioned as Lewis) crept in and all had made their mandatory stop except for the Canadian. From the second to the sixth.

With the highlight of the safety car, the madness was surpassed: a very strong accident by Leclerc (who came out on his own foot, although with the Ferrari destroyed) and a red flag to be able to repair the protections. All the cars to wait and a stroke of luck for Stroll: you no longer have to make a pit stop because you can change the wheels at the stop. Suddenly he was leading the race ahead of Gasly and Raikkonen, as Hamilton would finish last after such a heavy penalty. After a while, cold, second start from the grid as the norm, and the Frenchman went with everything to Stroll. It went well, comfortable, the Canadian was knocked out.

Incomplete comeback by Sainz

Then the two Alfa Romeos and an aggressive Sainz would overtake the pink Mercedes, who had to repeat the maneuver to consolidate it against a dangerous guy, the kind that can throw any performance to the ground. He passed Raikkonen at the end of the straight on lap 34, he had to hold Kimi outside at the chicane. He does not get ahead of the latest Ferrari world champion every day. Gasly, at the head of the peloton, was the last frontier, he had then four seconds of advantage that even then seemed like a world, because the Spanish had punished his tires much more than the French.

The chase, as explained, was nail-biting, but make no mistake: the Alpha Tauri is a great car, Red Bull's first cousin; Pierre Gasly is a great driver, better than Verstappen's current teammate; and the former Toro Rosso is a great team that achieved a victory at this same circuit, with Vettel, in 2008, and that has been on the podium in all the open races of recent times (in 2019, Gasly was second in Brazil and Kvyat , third at Hockenheim). A deserved reward for Gasly, who has suffered greatly in his first two F1 seasons with the relegation of Red Bull and the loss of his friend Hubert. Great second place for Sainz, a well-deserved award after the misfortunes of this strange campaign. And a nice podium, flanked by Stroll, that invites you to think about how exciting Formula 1 becomes when Mercedes disappears.

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