The Italian Grand Prix has been a staple on the Formula One calendar since its conception in 1950, and in that time has become on of the most famous circuits on the planet.
The famous Tifosi are the passionate Ferrari supporting fans that offer some of the most incredible noise when the historic scarlet prancing horse cars take to the track.
Monza has always offered up a plethora of wheel to wheel racing in previous seasons, and with the prospect of six more electrifying races around the Italian circuit this week, the odds were looking good for another great week of racing.
The cars hit a top speed of around 227mph on the way down to the Rettifilio chicane at turn one and two. This, along with DRS assistance means we were in store to see some superb battles down the famous straightaway. The circuit promotes over-taking throughout the lap, and with the cars at full throttle for 75% of the lap the drivers would have to make sure they were on the limit of car control to get every split-second of time out of the track.
Humbostone, Scopefielder and BoybetterknowSB (Scott) were all fighting it out over the overall points lead in the no-assist championship, but with Humbostone unable to get the car on circuit at Monza, it would appear we would have a new championship leader by the end of the week.
The cars rolled out on circuit with the least amount of down-force possible, the grid knew that the power advantaged cars would be mightily hard to beat today so the Mercedes, Ferrari and Force India manufactures would all be looking at positive results come the end of the session.
The early pace was set with Tony-Y in the Ferrari delighting the home fans with provisional pole whilst the Toro Rosso of BoyBetterKnow was looking very handy in second place as he looked at making the most of Humbostone’s absence,
Malc had made a good start to qualifying, and utilising his Mercedes engine had dragged himself into contention as he sat in third half way through the session, whilst Scopefielder and last weeks winner SJD not far behind.
With time for one final run remaining, the cars streamed out on circuit as time counted down, the advantage of being last on track would be huge as track evolution had seen the surface become faster and faster throughout the session, after the clouds parted and the sun started to warm the Italian circuit.
It was the Mercedes of Malc who would ruin the Tifosi’ day by beating Tony-Y to pole position, as the Ferrari could only manage second. SJD and Scott would round out row two, and with Scopefielder and Speed_Queen on row three it was certain that we would see some fiery racing in the session ahead.
As the lights went green and sent thousands of horsepower down towards turn one Malc led the grid away, however, this was until they approached turn one when SJD locked up and ran into the back of the Mercedes as he pushed the pole sitter offline costing him several positions, SJD took to the escape road and took a huge hit to his race before the first corner.
This freed up Scott and Speed_Queen who had made use of the incident at turn one to move into second and the two went side by side down Curve Grande and proceeded to have a superb opening lap exchange with one another.
The battle for the midfield positions was intense and with almost a four car battle across the first laps, it was anyone guess to who would come out ahead by the end of the first stint.
The first major talking point of the race came on lap three as Malc who was slowly recovering after his unfortunate start was blindsided by the spinning Renault of Mamafisher. The Renault lost control on the exit of Ascari whilst battling with Joel and as he speared back across the track he collected the Mercedes and the two ended up in the wall. Tony-Y who had also lost out at the start and found himself down the order was inches away from joining the Mercedes in the wall.
Mamafisher was able to recover, but it was a race ending incident for the pole sitter and a disappointing end to what was looking promising race for the English driver.
The battle at the front was raging on and with Speed_Queen finally getting the move down on Scott along the pit-straight of lap six the two would continue going wheel to wheel for the next couple of laps.
Lap eight saw Ascari claim its second victim as Renner9 in the other Mercedes hit the wall on exit of the corner, this meant both Mercedes would be out of the Grand Prix and Toto Wolff would have a lot to digest from his teams poor race. Renner was despondent in the paddock interviews after the race, he dropped from what was a strong fourth position and once again saw himself crashing out of a good points position.
The pit-window opened for the leaders, and both took the opportunity to stop for the medium tyre on lap 11. This promoted Scopefielder into the lead of the race whilst still out on his initial supersoft compound.
Scope made his stop and went for a much more aggressive strategy pitting onto the soft compound, this allowed him to start crawling up to the back of Scott, who had dropped off from the rear end of Speed_Queen.
Lap 13 saw the end for two drivers in quick succession as both Jos and SJD had their races ended early. Jos after struggling with suspension failure due to a ride over the curbs a lap earlier saw him lose control twice at Della Roggia, the team were forced to retire his car and end a disappointing race for the Dutchman.
SJD was victim number three of Ascari, he had only just left the pit-lane on fresh tyres and last weeks race winner was visibly furious at himself after throwing away good points.
Ascari once again claimed its next victim, and again Mamafisher lost control of his Renault and the car had no-where else to go but the wall and his race ended ten laps earlier than planned.
Over the final ten laps the battle was on for second as Scott and Scopefielder traded places lap upon lap. The two had a fantastic fight with the Toro Rosso of Scott finally getting the move done on Scope and kept the Swedish driver behind for the remainder of the race.
Their battle ensued that Speed_Queen would take her first race win of the season and by a comfortable margin. She drove a superb race in the Force India and took a deserved win. Scott and Scope rounded out the podium as the three would celebrate valuable points to their championship tally.
After his victory last week, LMC_Boogster was looking for another promising result in the performance league. He would be under threat from others like SirSpud and AaronJSpence who would be in with a great chance at picking up their first wins of the season.
The prospect of a rain affected race was on the horizon, but with a dry qualifying in store. It would be all out for everyone to get themselves as high up the grid as possible before the race.
The aforementioned SirSpud did use the straight-line speed of the Force India to take pole position ahead of Mike in the Ferrari, the home fans would celebrate a front row start for their favoured manufacture and hope it would translate to a podium or even a race victory.
As expected, it was a wet and miserable start to the race session. The weather played its part in the start as the cars struggled to slow down for the first chicane. Spud had led the grid away but it was Mike to had the inside line into turn one. The two briefly touched wheels and this caused both to bounce across the kerbs on the chicane.
Skyzii would make the most of the front row clashing as the Toro Rosso driver moved up into the lead of the race. Whilst behind the battle raged between Spud, Coop and Megglugpy over the final podium position.
The rain-clouds parted and the sun started to break up the weather in what was a huge relief for the grid. The track was becoming dryer and dryer with each lap and SJD was the first to make the jump on lap 13 onto the dry tyres.
It was only a lap later when everyone poured into the pit-lane and equally joined SJD on the soft compound but the Renault had made a perfect call on strategy and moved up three positions and found himself in the top six.
It was a disappointing race for Tony-Y who after a mistake strewn session was forced to retire on lap 16 when the Renault team called him into the pit-lane with an underlying issue, it appeared the team were looking at saving the engine as a precaution so it would last before the season break after next weeks race in Britain.
In devastating news for championship hopeful mj_coop, a crash at the exit of Ascari ended the race for the French Grand Prix winner and made it successive retirements in the performance league.
SirSpud had made his way past Mike early in the second stint and had hauled down the leader of Skyzii, he had led the race from the start and looked to be walking away with it. Ultimately his lead would be whittled down lap on lap and it was on lap 25 that Spud would make his move.
The Force India driver passed the race leader down the back straight into the Parabolica and went on to win is first race of the Performance 1 season.
Skyzii looked dejected after missing out on the victory in the final laps but came home in second, whilst Mike managed to hold onto third and give the Tifosi something to cheer as a Ferrari would appear on the podium.
It was a superb race for Spud who overcame the collision on lap one to come back and take the victory in the dying laps. He was delighted with his recovery after the two different weather periods made racing very tricky but takes 12 valuable points away from Monza.
WaveIntel led the way after the first two rounds of Performance 2, the Scottish driver had amassed consecutive podiums and would be clambering to take home a first victory for the season.
The likes of Scopefielder, Jos and BWAClyde were on his toes behind but with a strong grid expected for the race, it would be a battle of straight line power that would ultimately be the decisive factor.
Qualifying saw Toro Rosso driver Scopefielder take pole position ahead of Jos_Heinssie, who had driven a superb lap to get his Williams on the front row of the grid.
WaveIntel would start in seventh, whilst Sab7786 would be the only driver to try a lap on the soft compound of tyre and would line up at the rear of the grid, along with Clyde and Nitro who would all have tyre choice going into the race.
A poor start from Scope and Jos was countered by KaW TacTicZz who left his grid position like a rocket, his Renault moved up into first by the Rettifilio. MrStim was equally making gains and the McLaren challenged for second as they exited the first chicane before losing the position back to Jos into Della Roggia, as the Williams looked to regain lost ground.
The first laps saw KaW stretch his lead to over three seconds, but the battle for second was heating up lap upon lap. Jos, Scope, Stim and a charging NickLJThomson all started vying for a podium and it was on the exit of the Parabolica on lap four that all cars were split by a fraction of a second. The group almost ran four wide down the straight, however it was Nick who made the move up into second as they entered turn one.
They continued swapping positions over the following laps with Delange93 in the Haas joining the now 5 cars battle for second place.
Disaster struck the race leader on lap six! The Renault driver lost the rear end of the car on the exit of Ascari and had a short trip to the barrier and even quicker end to a race that looked like was well in reach. KaW was visibly furious with himself as he threw the steering wheel out of the cockpit and kept his helmet on as he made his way back to the paddock.
This promoted Scope back into the lead of the race, he had passed Nick earlier that lap and after his early pace in the Sauber, Nick was becoming under increasing pressure from Delange, Stim and WaveIntel.
As the leaders pitted it briefly promoted Clyde and Sab into the front of the procession but it was short-lived as they both made their stops by lap 17.
The fight for position wasn’t confined to just the lead, NeverMiss and Tom_444 both pushed each other extensively over the 19th lap with NeverMiss havign made a wonderful pass around the inside into Della Roggia a lap previous.
Five laps were left remaining and Scope was still leading the race ahead of MrStim in second and NickLJ in third. The lead couple were nose to tail on lap 22 and it finally paid off for Stim who made the move on Scope into Ascari and assumed the lead.
Stim would start to bridge a gap between the two drivers as the race started to reach its conclusion. The real battle on circuit was still raging between NeverMiss and Tom over eighth place as the two had a stunning battle in the final laps with nothing between the Williams of NeverMiss and Renault of Tom.
The chequered flag dropped and ended a thrilling race in Performance 2 and first win of the season for MrStim, he was followed home by Scopefielder and WaveIntel. WaveIntel made use of a late penalty to Nick to move up into third and take another podium in his fight to go for another Performance league title.
In the battle of Tom and NeverMiss, it was Tom who made the move on NeverMiss into Ascari and kept it across the line as the two ended a superb battle in eighth and ninth respectively.
WaveIntel maintains his lead at the top, but with Scope keeping up with last seasons Performance champion and others well within striking distance, it is going to be a long and challenging season if he is to retain his crown.
After a dominant start to the season for SamBamKid saw him on 46 out of a possible 48 points, it seemed like more of the same would be on the cards for the prolific winner within Invictus.
The league had seen some new faces join from Monza, with Kardanov23, Bruno Alves FC and Jakeeeboy all making their debuts in F1. The added competition can only benefit the grid as they attempt to stop Sam from running away with this seasons F1 title.
Qualifying saw the desired effect for the new drivers in the field as Kardanov and Jake locked Sam off of the front row as the championship leader could only manage third place alongside Bruno.
Last seasons No-assist champion Gamer_da_best262 was also back after missing parts of the early season. He would be a non starter in qualifying meaning a 13th place start would see him have to fight his way to the front.
It would be a perfect start to the league for Kardanov who would go on to take a flag to flag victory in the Williams, he was followed home by debutante Jake who was happy to come home on the podium for his first race.
However, it was a different story for Sam who suffered a retirement after his pit-stop, the non finish would certainly give others hope that he is catch-able if they can string together some good results. His non finish helped Scopefielder into a podium position after the Swede started in eighth ending a very strong race and a second consecutive podium.
Sam maintained his lead in the standings but with the three letters next to his race result of DNF he would certainly have to look at bouncing back next week in Britain.
The F2 league always provides so excellent racing, and with Betrayer46 currently leading the way on 37 points ahead of Humbostone on 32 as we came to the home of Ferrari in Monza there was fireworks in store for the race.
RickWR88 has re-entered the league earlier this season and has been getting stronger and stronger each week. This was confirmed as he took pole position ahead of WaveIntel, it meant the Canadian driver would have a free track on the run down to turn one, but with the always fast starting WaveIntel next to him, both would have to be cautious heading into the Rettifilio.
GP1 Alex and MrStim made up the second row whilst Betrayer could only put his Red Bull in sixth with team-mate mj_coop in ninth as the two would look for a much more positive result in Monza compared to last season where both drivers struggled.
It was a dream race for Rick, who converted his pole into the race victory. He took a popular victory in the paddock and he was greeted onto the top step of the podium with cheers from the Italian fans.
WaveIntel added ten valuable points to his season tally after two devastating retirements previously and Humbostone kept up the pressure on Betrayer coming from seventh on the grid to third at the chequered flag.
Championship leader Betrayer suffered his worst result of the season so far and dropped from sixth at the start to seventh due to Humbostones progression through the field.
After an excellent start to the season, are the cracks showing in Betrayers title challenge? Humbostone is hot on the heels of the experienced driver and the two look to be the odds on favourites for the title come the final race in Brazil.
After his debut victory in France last week, Craig8728 was full of confidence as we headed to his team’s home circuit. The Tifosi were brimming with excitement as they expected a strong result from both Ferrari drivers.
Championship leader Bren_Ons had opened his season account with four great results, but as he transitioned to lower driver assists for this round, the Sauber driver wasn’t confident that he would be able to continue as pace setter for the F3 league.
Unlike many of the other leagues seeing most drivers opt for the softest super-soft tyre to qualify on, a number of drivers attempted to set their fastest lap on the middle compound, this would potentially give them the edge come the race by allowing them to run slightly longer than the red striped super-softs.
Qualifying saw a superb late lap from Fascone beat Craig to pole by less than five hundredths of a second. Fascone already had a race victory to his name this season in Hungary, and with a podium in Australia it ensured he would be one to watch out for.
SirSpud once again set a stunning lap time on the yellow soft compound tyre to finish third ahead of the softer compound users Dan and Alga, amongst others.
Tejuarr didn’t have the session that team-mate Craig was having and with traffic on circuit, combined with a lack of pace saw the Ferrari driver sit 12th on the grid, however, Tejuarr is known for his fast starts and the crowd would all be waiting to see his progress into turn one.
A superb start off the line saw Fascone and Craig both maintain the top two positions, but it was Spud who struggled to get the power down in his Mercedes which bogged down off the line allowing Alga and F1Richard67 past.
Richard had made a scintillating getaway in the McLaren as moving up from sixth into fourth ahead of team-mate Dan as the two looked at Alga’s Haas ahead.
Dan headed up an almightly battle across the first two laps, as he along with the Mercedes of Spud and the Red Bulls of JamieMet and Clyde, with the four of them almost going four wide into the Parabolica. Their battle introduced Captain_Stiff into the fray as the Renault driver made use of a good start to move from eleventh into eighth and eyeing up a fight with the cars ahead.
It had been a disaster start for xMIKExSI who lost all traction at the start of the race and lost control into the path of Notorious as the two would be forced to make early stops and almost rule them out of the running for points before they had even crossed the start line.
Lap three saw the lap change as Craig made the move past Fascone for the lead of the race into turn one, he then preceeded to start building a lead over the Irishman as Fascone started to struggle on the tyres. In a cruel turn for the pole-sitter, he would exit the race prematurely after an accident at Ascari combined with a slow stop indicated that there was more to the issue than damage, it was a real shame for Fascone who had been running well in second at the time.
The battle for the midfield was extraordinary, Spud had moved away into a clear third but left the two McLarens, two Red Bulls, Captain_Stiff and ColinJ all vying over fourth place.
The two McLarens had swapped positions several times over the first five laps and equally the Red Bulls kept Christian Horners heart-rate up as they traded places.
The battling kept the Renault of Stiff well in range of an attack on the harder tyres and that is what happened on lap eight. After Jamie ran wide out of Ascari Stiff made the move past him and then made the move on the second Red Bull into Curva Grande on lap ten. This promoted him into fourth, with both Red Bull’s and McLarens making their stops for the medium tyres.
Lap 16 saw the whole grid having finally stopped with all running either the medium or soft compound, that was apart from the Renault drivers, they had stretched out their initial stint and both put on the fastest super-soft tyres. This would give them both a huge time disparity on lap-time and it was Stiff who would make the most of it as he quickly closed up the gap between himself and Richard for fifth.
The battle for second had seen Spud, Alga and Dan all fighting down the main straight as the cars entered lap 19 with the Mercedes of Spud finally moving into second. He would slightly build a lead as the cars headed onto lap 21.
However, the race was about to take a very dramatic turn.
Alga and Dan fought over third and fourth down the main straight with the McLaren of Dan gaining the advantage. Alga would attempt to tuck back into the rear end of him as they entered the Rettifilio but would miss his braking point wildly, the two came together and speared across the chicane into the path of the innocent Spud.
The cars all hit the wall on the exit of turn two and suffered significant damage. It would end Spuds race in agonising fashion and he was as expected incandescent with anger. He has suffered terrible luck in the first few races and had a great opportunity at catching the race leader today.
Alga and Dan would both recover with minimal damage, whilst Richard and Stiff would benefit immensely from the incident and both move up into podium positions.
Dan would drop from fourth to sixth quickly with ColinJ making an audacious move around the inside to outside of turn one and two past both the Mclaren and Red Bull of JamieMet.
As the race reached its climax, the final podium positions were yet to be decided and with four laps remaining and on much faster tyres, Captain_Stiff made the move past Richard for second.
Craig would end up taking a comfortable victory and a consecutive top step celebration that would catapult him into the title conversation. His lead was cut by four seconds in the final laps but Stiff would come home for a jubilant first podium in Invictus as the Renault team cheered on their driver across the line.
It was a dramatic finish for third as ColinJ moved up to third by three hundredths of a second ahead of Richard after a penalty was administered. It was heartbreak for Richard but a superb final ten laps for Colin.
It was an explosive race in F3 this week which was rightly highlighted, the battle for superiority swings once again towards Ferrari with Craig8728 taking maximum points over the previous two races.
JamieMet is slowly creeping up the table, whilst Captain_Stiff will certainly have an eye on a top three finish if he can keep up the good run of form.
It was another fantastic week in the Invictus Racing League at Monza, we were treated to some breathtaking action across the three days racing.
Next up is the Grand Prix of Great Britain at the famous Silverstone circuit, the track offers one of the most famous corner complexes in world racing and always promotes close racing.
Check out the twitter @InvictusRL for all league and race announcements!
Editors note – I apologise for the lack of the race reviews over the December period. Technical and workload issues, combined with the festive period made it hard to watch through and write out in time. Hopefully 2019 will see these make a regular return!