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Race The GROAT - Round 1 - 2020 Monza vs 1990 Suzuka vs 2004 Monaco

Another 3-way in Round One

2020 Monza
Lewis Hamilton successfully retained the lead position on the start, while his teammate Valtteri Bottas gradually dropped to sixth place over the first two laps while reporting problems with his car. Carlos Sainz pulled away quickly to take Valtteri Bottas off the start claiming second. The McLaren driver went on to pull a gap to the cars behind. During lap six the left-rear brake on Sebastian Vettel's SF1000 overheated to the point that the brake assembly caught fire before disintegrating and flying off the car at the start of lap seven. This caused Vettel to miss a couple of corners (in the process he smashed through the polystyrene chicane direction indicator boxes at the first chicane) before limping to the pits to retire.

On lap 18, Kevin Magnussen's Haas suffered a power unit failure and his car stranded to the side of the pit lane entrance. At the end of the next lap, Pierre Gasly elected to make his pitstop. The safety car was deployed shortly afterwards and the pit lane was closed to allow marshals to safely remove the stranded Haas from the track. Both Hamilton and Antonio Giovinazzi made a pit stop shortly after the safety car had been deployed despite the pit lane being closed. They were both given 10-second stop-and-go penalties for this infraction (Hamilton was given two penalty points on his FIA Super Licence as a result). When the pit lane was re-opened two laps later, most of the field entered to make their pit stop. This allowed Gasly to move into third place behind Hamilton and Lance Stroll, the only driver who did not stop.

The safety car was withdrawn at the end of the next lap, allowing normal race conditions to resume on lap 23. Hamilton held on to the lead ahead of Stroll and Gasly. Charles Leclerc crashed heavily after the restart in the Parabolica corner as the car lost its rear end, entered the gravel trap and collided with the barrier, significantly damaging the tyre barriers and his car in the process. Leclerc experienced some pain in his back following the incident, but a medical examination showed he did not have any injuries. The safety car was deployed initially, but the red flags were brought out shortly afterwards to suspend the race to allow repairs to be made to the tyre barriers.

The race resumed later with a standing restart on lap 28. Stroll went wide at turn four dropping to fifth place in the process, with Gasly inheriting second place. Hamilton served his stop-and-go penalty at the end of the lap while Giovinazzi served his one lap later dropping them to the back of the field. This allowed Gasly to take the lead of the race ahead of Kimi Räikkönen and Carlos Sainz Jr. Over the next 25 laps Gasly held off Räikkönen, who gradually fell back to an eventual 13th-place finish, and Sainz to secure victory. Stroll meanwhile fought back to third place to complete the podium.

Gasly took his first Formula One victory and gave AlphaTauri their first win as a constructor and second win as a team, over 12 years since Vettel won the 2008 Italian Grand Prix when the team was known as Toro Rosso. Gasly's victory was the first for a French driver in Formula One since Olivier Panis at the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix, and the 80th F1 World Championship race win for a French driver overall. The win also made Honda the first engine manufacturer to win with two different teams in the sport's V6 turbo-hybrid era.

The result marked the first time that Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull all failed to score a podium finish since the 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix. It was also the first time since Räikkönen won the 2013 Australian Grand Prix driving for Lotus F1 that the race winner did not drive for Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull. The race contributed to discussions over potential future changes to Formula One race weekend formats.

As Claire and Frank Williams ceased their involvement with the Williams team after this Grand Prix, tributes were paid to the pair from around the paddock, including from George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, the Williams drivers, as they crossed the line.

1990 Suzuka
Ayrton Senna qualified on pole, but was unhappy with the dirty side of the track it was situated on, arguing that pole should always be on the racing line. He and Gerhard Berger then went to the Japanese stewards, to request a change of position of pole to the cleaner left side of the track. The stewards initially agreed but an injunction by FISA president Jean Marie Balestre later that night rejected the decision and the original pole position remained on the dirtier right side of the track. In addition, the FIA had warned that crossing the yellow line of the pit exit on the right to better position oneself at the first corner would not be permitted, further infuriating Senna.

At the start, Prost took the lead, but Senna attempted to take the inside line into the first corner. The two drivers made contact, sending both off the track and into instant retirement. The crash meant that Senna had clinched the Drivers' Championship for a second time, as with one race left in the season, Prost could not overtake his points tally. Benetton-Ford's dominance of the podium prevented Ferrari from scoring enough points to stop McLaren clinching its sixth constructors' title.

The two discussed the event afterwards, with Senna claiming it was not how he wanted it but how it had to be. Prost was infuriated by this, and described the move as "disgusting" and Senna as "a man without value". He later said that he almost retired from the sport instantly after the incident.

The pair went on to win one more championship each and eventually reconciled their differences in their final Grand Prix together.

After the collision, the race proceeded with Gerhard Berger's McLaren MP4/5B leading and Nigel Mansell's Ferrari 641 second. Berger spun off at the first corner on lap 2, on sand thrown onto the track by the Senna/Prost collision, leaving Mansell to lead the race from the two Benettons of Piquet and Moreno. Anticipating that Benetton would follow their usual strategy of not making a pit stop, Mansell built up a gap until he pitted for tyres at the end of lap 26. After a quick stop, he left his box with heavy wheelspin, and a driveshaft failed. The Ferrari pulled over at the end of the pit lane and retired. Piquet inherited the lead and retained it until the chequered flag, with his teammate Moreno following closely. Aguri Suzuki also drove a non-stop race, finishing third, the first Japanese driver to do so. The two Williams FW13B-Renaults of Riccardo Patrese and Thierry Boutsen finished fourth and fifth, while Satoru Nakajima finished sixth in a Tyrrell 019, the second Japanese driver in the points.

As of December 2021, this was the last race where no European driver finished the race on the podium, two South American drivers and an Asian driver filled the top three positions. It was also the only race where the Larrousse team scored a podium finish, during their eight seasons of competing in Formula One, and the first and only podium finish for the Lamborghini V12 engine in Formula One. Moreover, it was also the last of Brazil's eleven one-twos in Formula One, the only one featuring Piquet and Moreno – of the other ten, eight featured Piquet and Senna and the other two, Emerson Fittipaldi and José Carlos Pace. Aguri Suzuki's podium finish was the first for a Japanese driver (later matched by Takuma Sato and Kamui Kobayashi) and the last for a Japanese driver at his home race until Kamui Kobayashi did so at the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix.

2004 Monaco
The race began with Trulli on pole and BAR's Jenson Button behind; Renault's Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher occupied the second row. After two aborted starts (Olivier Panis stalled his Toyota and Trulli's Renault leaked coolant onto the track) the parade lap began; Panis stalled again and started the race from the pits. As the race began, BAR's Takuma Sato made an excellent start, moving from eighth to fourth in seconds. Presently Sato's engine began smoking; on the third lap, it exploded spectacularly and released an enormous cloud of smoke, in which Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella collided with McLaren’s David Coulthard and overturned. Both drivers were unhurt but out of the race, as was Sato.

Out came the yellow flags, and the race proceeded under the safety car until the eighth lap, at which point Alonso fought Trulli for the lead, followed by Button. When the race restarted, Juan Pablo Montoya moved past Rubens Barrichello to take sixth position, and Trulli set three consecutive fastest laps, but was only able to increase his lead to 1.2 seconds over Alonso. The leaders began their first pit stops on lap 18, and by Michael Schumacher's stop on lap 26, Trulli led from Alonso, with Schumacher now in third ahead of both Kimi Räikkönen and Button.

On lap 28, Räikkönen retired with mechanical troubles, joining Jaguar's Christian Klien and Mark Webber, as well as Jordan's Giorgio Pantano and Minardi's Gianmaria Bruni on the sidelines.

In an attempt to lap Ralf Schumacher, who was down in 11th position, Alonso tried to pass him offline around the outside in the tunnel and crashed heavily. Alonso was enraged by this incident, and publicly accused Ralf of dangerous driving. The safety car was immediately deployed, and all of the front-runners (except Michael Schumacher and Montoya) took the opportunity to pit. While following the safety car, Schumacher locked his left front tyre in the tunnel in an apparent attempt to generate heat in his brake pads and discs ahead of the restart. Montoya, directly behind, moved to the inside trying to avoid running into the back of Schumacher. However, as Schumacher continued there was no space between his car and the barrier for Montoya's and he clipped Montoya's left front tyre with his right rear, spun sideways and hit the barriers. This accident ended Schumacher's hopes for a sixth consecutive victory and a perfect season. Upon investigations, the stewards declined to apportion blame to either driver.

As the order settled down towards the end of the race, Trulli led from Button, with Barrichello in third. The top three were a lap in front of the rest of the field, and the only drivers with a chance of winning the race. Barrichello needed to pit with 22 laps remaining, and rejoined too far behind the top two in order to make a challenge. From then on, it was a straight fight between Trulli and Button, but Monaco is notoriously the hardest circuit to make a passing move on. Therefore, Button having no chance of passing, Trulli took the win by close to half a second.

Following what would turn out to be the only Grand Prix win of his Formula One career, Trulli was left literally speechless during interviews, having teammate Alonso conduct interviews on his behalf.


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