2019 Italian Grand Prix: The Rookie Report

by Harry Slade
Alex Albon

The 2019 Italian Grand Prix continued Formula 1‘s present streak of enthralling races at the front of the field. However, behind behind them the entire quartet of Formula 1’s newest rookie’s delivered strong results. While their results may be of much less magnitude to Charles Leclerc‘s remarkable triumph at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, they still face similar praise for their supreme efforts.

Alex Albon | Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda

Qualified: eighth | Finished: sixth

London-born Thai driver Alex Albon continued his baptism of fire at the senior Red Bull team with his second top six finish on the bounce.

Albon was one of three drivers who ended up without a lap-time in the final segment of Qualifying due to the farcical ending which marred Charles Leclerc’s Monza pole Position. This ultimately left Red Bull’s newest incumbent out of position and eighth on the grid.

From there Albon set his sights on Carlos Sainz Jr.‘s McLaren, with the Thai producing a bold move into the Roggia chicane, only for his Spanish adversary to come back into the Lesmos, and retaining the position. This tough defence from Sainz saw Albon run out of road on the exit as he was sent out into the gravel trap.

His comeback then began with him swiftly making moves on the Ferrari-powered pair of Antonio Giovinazzi as well as Kevin Magnussen to promote himself to eigth. He then capitalised on Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel‘s collision as well as Carlos Sainz’s race being scuppered by a loose wheelnut.

He them got his head down with the ambition of taking on the Renault pairing, only to run out of laps. However, Albon will take solace from another race in which he will have impressed Helmut Marko with his brave racecraft.

Antonio Giovinazzi | Alfa Romeo Racing

Qualified: eleventh (started tenth) | finished: ninth

Antonio Giovinazzi
Octane Photographic Ltd.

Antonio Giovinazzi put his last lap Spa woes behind him with indisputably his drive of the season to become the first Italian driver to score on home soil since Vitantonio Liuzzi took ninth place a decade ago for Force India.

The Italian all but matched his more experienced team-mate Kimi Räikkönen on Saturday, missing out on a top ten birth on merit by 0.002s. However, he was promoted swiftly due to his aforementioned team-mate’s error that saw him hit the barriers at the Parabolica and require a grid penalty.

Giovinazzi the produced a composed race while many of his rivals faltered to take ninth. He was one of many who gained heavily through the chaos at the Ascari chicane as Stroll and Vettel both dropped out of the top ten. He rose as high as sixth through problems for Sainz and Daniil Kvyat. Although he didn’t have the pace to rebuke challenges from behind as the Red Bull pairing and Sergio Perez moved clear of the Italian.

However, holding on to ninth and the best result of his fledgling career to date produced a timely reminder of his class.

Lando Norris | McLaren F1 Team

Qualified: fourteenth (started sixteenth) | finished: tenth

Norris was one of a handful of drivers to be sent to the backof the grid through a penalty due to an infringement involving exceeding the power unit limit. He began his race by simply staying out of trouble, a feat not managed by many in a chaotic opening few laps.

Norris then slowly moved through the field as his rivals faltered pressing onto the edge of the top ten. A battle with Pierre Gasly over the final points place then beckoned with the Brit passing his rival into the Roggia chicane. Norris also battled with Max Verstappen for ninth, only to ultimately concede the position to his faster rival.

George Russell | ROKit Williams Racing

Qualified: eighteenth (started fourteenth) | Finished: fourteenth

George Russell
Octane Photographic Ltd.

George Russell continued his Qualifying lock-out against Robert Kubica on Saturday to qualify eighteenth, he was then promoted to the relative dizzying heights of fourteenth for Sunday’s race-start due to a raft of grid penalties for cars that would normally be in another dimension to the FW42 that Russell is at the helm of.

In the race itself, Russell did what he always does, kept his head down and drove a cleam race amidst the chaos as he continues to show talent and maturity beyond his years. While Russell failed to hold off the likes of Verstappen, Norris and co. – all of whom operate in vastly superior machinery – he still bested Romain Grosjean and Räikkönen in inferior machinery. Thus representing no mean feat for the reigning Formula 2 champion.

The greatest indication of how good this performance was from Russell, is that his team-mate finished the best part of a lap behind him, while also being half a second away in Qualifying on a lap that is just over eighty seconds around this circuit.

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