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Formula 1

Was Monza 2020 the best race of F1’s hybrid era? Our verdict

by Matt Beer
5 min read

An AlphaTauri holding off a McLaren for victory by just 0.415s – the 2020 Italian Grand Prix was certainly an incredible race.

But was it the best of Formula 1’s hybrid technology era?

That’s the question our writers have been debating.


– Edd Straw

Pierre Gasly wins Italian Grand Prix 2020 Monza

There have been some great races in the 1.6-litre V6 turbo hybrid era, and even a few surprise results.

But the thing that will always stick in the mind from Monza 2020 was those last couple of laps where you could see Carlos Sainz Jr really laying it on the line, sliding the McLaren around in pursuit of a shock victory. That was pure racing.

Yes, the bizarre podium makes it a big story, but it’s so rare to have the result in question right at the end of the race.

There have a been a few late deciders – Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg colliding on the last lap in Austria in 2016, Daniel Ricciardo passing Fernando Alonso late in Hungary in 2014, but nothing that could match this for sheer edge-of-your-seat racing drama, with the tense chase at the front followed by a last lap where the result was still in doubt.

The greatest races combine a remarkable story, which Pierre Gasly’s victory was, with memorable on-track moments. It’s been a while time since F1 ticked all of the boxes with a race, and this is one that will be remembered for as long as grand prix racing exists.

Easily the best!

– Gary Anderson

Carlos Sainz Jr Pierre Gasly Italian Grand Prix podium 2020

Now that’s what racing should all be about. Massive congratulations to AlphaTauri and Gasly, McLaren and Sainz, and Racing Point and Lance Stroll.

The pressure over those last few laps on all three of these teams and drivers was mega. They contained it well and I doubt if anyone didn’t enjoy that. It was easily the best race since the start of the hybrid era in 2014, and that’s seven years ago.

I know it came about under weird circumstances, but as my grandson said to me when I got a speeding fine, ‘rules is rules, grandad’.

It’s the same for everyone and Mercedes was the one that tripped up. And there was a great midfield battle once again with Lewis Hamilton adding to the show.

As for Ferrari, I thought when they ran into each other in Austria that that was the low of all lows but no. Today at Monza was a bad day for the famous team on what was otherwise a great day for F1.

The most fun yet

– Scott Mitchell

Pierre Gasly wins Italian Grand Prix 2020 Monza

I think that’s the best F1 race I’ve covered over the last three seasons and it’s the ‘shock’ race I’ve most enjoyed in this engine era.

The others – think of the Ricciardo wins in 2014, or some of Max Verstappen’s heroics – have been utterly brilliant as well. There are loads of races that stand out, each different and fantastic in their own right. But I just love everything about this.

There’s the chaos of a red flag, the rarity of a mistake from Mercedes/Hamilton, the opportunism and execution from the likes of Gasly and Sainz and – as a lovely little B-plot – the charge back from a stop-and-go penalty from Hamilton to be 20 seconds off the pack and somehow finish seventh.

Of course, the lead battle is the main attraction. Gasly, the spurned Red Bull son, in a shock lead at his team’s home race, gradually having his lead eroded by another driver searching for his first win.

And it all came down to a final-lap decider that, even though an overtake was never attempted, held my attention to the final corner.

That’s what we love about racing and that’s what we miss so often in F1. Which is the other important factor here – this result has come in the context of a season dominated by Mercedes and with people questioning the spectacle left and right. It’s a very, very welcome result for F1.

Maybe not the best but the most enjoyable

– Matt Beer

Pierre Gasly wins Italian Grand Prix 2020

I wouldn’t say this is the pure best race of this era – for that honour I can’t quite separate a bunch of Ricciardo victories that I’d nudge ahead of Monza 2020 because they featured more overtaking in the lead fight and passes on proper frontrunning cars to secure the wins.

But this was the most heartwarming and enjoyable result of an F1 race since Johnny Herbert’s win for Stewart at the Nurburgring in 1999.

A podium full of surprising faces and a winner with a brilliant back story were 50% of what made it so special, the other half came from the fact this was what F1 2020 desperately needed.

Hamilton’s breaking Michael Schumacher’s win record and equalling his title tally this year will make 2020 unforgettable and historic, however one-sided a contest it is on track.

But a totally mad race with a load of surprises and shock winner was a very welcome change of pace.

Hybrid era hasn’t been all bad – but this is its high

– Mark Hughes

AlphaTauri wins Italian Grand Prix 2020

It’s difficult to recall from the perspective of the increased Mercedes domination of this year, but there have actually been some great races during the hybrid era.

There were two crackers in Hungary, there was the epic Hamilton/Rosberg gloves-off fight in Bahrain in 2014, there were some super-tense Hamilton/Vettel battles scattered through 2017 and ’18.

But yes this one was probably the absolute best as a combination of wham-bam thrill, huge tension in the Gasly-Sainz battle and of course the incredible story that Gasly’s victory made for.

Victory just over a year after being demoted, the wild swings of fortunes for each of the leading runners, the little Italian team’s second victory 12 years after its first – and the delicious irony that the pieces were largely put in place by a woeful Ferrari performance.

Thrilling, fascinating and heartwarming all at once.

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