The Scuderia Toro Rosso duo of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen ended the team’s home race in Monza in those most heart-breaking of positions, eleventh and twelfth, the ones just outside the points. Our two youngsters and indeed our entire team can be proud of their performance in the team’s home race, because considering the difficulties expected given the high speed nature of this track and the grid position penalties imposed – 30 for Max and 35 for Carlos, the final positions are quite an achievement. Carlos finished six places higher than he started and Max made up eight spots.
Starting from 17th on the grid, Carlos stormed up to eleventh on the opening lap and was tenth next time round. But he had to take a five second penalty when he changed tyres on lap 10, as he was deemed to have gained an advantage running off the track in an incident involving Button in the McLaren. That dropped him down to sixteenth. In the meantime, in the other STR10, Max had come in to purge a penalty for his bodywork coming loose on track yesterday, on the opening lap and was running twelfth when he made his next pit stop on lap 19, having enjoyed a close dice with the McLarens of Alonso and Button.
On lap 37 he passed Nasr in the Sauber to secure 13th place, which became 12th when Rosberg retired his Mercedes from third place in the closing stages. Carlos had a quieter time on his way to eleventh at the end of the 53 laps, but he was charging hard in the closing stages, catching those ahead with a great show of pace, but there simply weren’t enough laps for him to catch Kvyat in the Red Bull ahead of him. Our Spaniard was particularly happy as it’s the first time he’s seen the chequered flag after an unfortunate run of four retirements.
On a weekend when the future of the Italian Grand Prix was making the headlines, the race was a great advert for the show that Monza can produce, with an enthusiastic crowd turning the pit straight under the podium into a sea of red. Naturally, most of the support was for Ferrari and the tifosi were rewarded with seeing Sebastian Vettel on the second step of the podium. The winner, for the seventh time this season was Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes. His team-mate Nico Rosberg was lying third until flames licked the back of his car and he had to park with just three laps remaining. That allowed another Monza favourite, Felipe Massa to jump onto the lowest step of the podium for Williams.
Having taken tactical engine penalties here, we are expecting a much more competitive weekend at Singapore’s Marina Drive street circuit in a fortnight’s time, having bid farewell to Europe until 2016.
This was our tenth Italian GP and, as we’ve mentioned, there’s been an exhibition in the heart of nearby Milan, in the Piazza Alvar Aalto, of all ten of the cars we’ve raced over the past decade. Last night, our team principal Franz Tost took both our drivers there to give them a Toro Rosso history lesson. A big crowd had turned out and were delighted to get plenty of autographs and photos with our guys. Carlos and Max also did some media interviews, in a strange venue: a very hip barber shop, where they met the eight-times Motocross World Champion, Tony Cairoli. We could make a joke about Max and Carlos waiting until today to get a close shave in terms of coming close to the points!