Drivers preparing for F1 'nightmare' at Italian GP

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
A 50-50 split image shows Lewis Hamilton on the left and Max Verstappen on the right.
Both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen believe qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix is going to be marred by the same farcical scenes from the 2019 race that saw most of the top tail fail to set a final qualifying time. Pictures: Getty Images

Formula One drivers are preparing for a repeat of farcical scenes from last year’s Italian Grand Prix in which only two drivers were able to complete a final qualifying lap.

The motorsport world was stunned by the bizarre spectacle during qualifying at last year’s race at the iconic Monza circuit, in which almost all of the top 10 drivers were not able to get a lap in as they all sought to get a tow from one another.

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The high-powered Monza circuit is one of the most aerodynamically sensitive on the F1 calendar, with drivers relying on their teammates to tow them down the circuit’s long pit straight in order to log the fastest possible lap time.

Fans were baffled last year when none of the top 10 drivers wanted to be first off the mark, in order to maximise the potential tow.

As a result, only two drivers logged a final qualifying lap, to the bemusement of teams, drivers and spectators alike.

With qualifying for the 2020 race looming, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton predicted similar scenes could potentially happen again.

"It was difficult in the past. We didn't even get to do the last lap last year, so I think it's going to be interesting," Hamilton said.

"I heard they might put in place a minimum time that we have to do an out-lap so maybe that will help, but still I think it's going to be a nightmare in the last corner with everyone trying to get a gap.

"It's definitely going to be hard work."

Championship rival Max Verstappen had a similarly dim outlook for qualifying.

“I think everybody will go for the tow again,” Verstappen said.

“It’s getting more and more powerful every single year because of the increased downforce on the cars.

“So you will see in Q3 again that people will try to tow each other around.”

Major change for historic F1 team Williams

After more than 40 years running one of Formula One's most storied teams, the Williams family is stepping aside so that its new owners have a clear shot at reviving the team's fortunes.

Claire Williams, whose father co-founded the Williams F1 team but no longer attends races, is stepping down as deputy team principal after this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

The move follows the recent change in ownership to American-based investment firm Dorilton Capital, and means that the famed F1 family will cut its ties after 43 years and nearly 750 races.

"I have taken the decision to step away from the team in order to allow Dorilton a fresh start as the new owners," Claire Williams, F1's only female boss, said in a statement on Thursday.

Williams Racing's deputy team principal Claire Williams has announced she and her father, team principal Frank, will step down from running the historic F1 team. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Williams Racing's deputy team principal Claire Williams has announced she and her father, team principal Frank, will step down from running the historic F1 team. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

"It has not been an easy decision but it's one I believe to be right for all involved.

"With the future of the team now secured, this feels like the appropriate time for us to step away from the sport."

The team was co-founded by Frank Williams and won seven drivers' championships - including that of 1980 for Australian Alan Jones - and nine constructors' titles since entering the sport in 1977.

However, the last of those came with Jacques Villeneuve behind the wheel in 1997.

The British-based team finished rock bottom in the constructors' standings in the past two seasons, and in 2019 scored only one point from Robert Kubica's 10th-place finish.

With AAP