Pierre Gasly earns stunning inaugural Formula One victory at Monza

F1 Pierre Gasly wins
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MONZA, Italy — AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly claimed an unlikely F1 victory at the Italian Grand Prix after a thrilling race that saw six-time champion Lewis Hamilton given a 10-second penalty and both Ferraris fail to finish at their home circuit of many prior wins Sunday.

It was Gasly’s first win in Formula One.

The 24-year-old Frenchman finished 0.415 seconds ahead of McLaren driver Carlos Sainz and 3.358 ahead of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll on a surreal-looking podium. All three drivers had never won a race and each had only one top-three finish to their name.

Hamilton appeared on course for a comfortable victory from pole position, but he was given the stop-go penalty for entering the pit lane when closed.

The Mercedes driver finished seventh, 17.245 behind Gasly, who was emotional as he crossed the line to become the first French winner at any GP since Olivier Panis in 1996.

“It was such a crazy race. The car was fast, and to go through so much in the space of 18 months. First podium last year (in Brazil), now first victory in Monza. I have no words,” said Gasly, who was dropped by Red Bull last year.

Pierre Gasly takes a moment on the podium after winning the Italian Grand Prix (Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images).

Gasly celebrated wildly with his team but then, after the trophy presentation, was seen sitting down on the top spot of the podium alone. He had a moment to reflect on his achievement, as he took a swig of champagne surrounded by ticker-tape.

“I would have never expected that a year ago,” said Gasly, who had started 10th on the grid. “The podium was already unexpected, a big, big highlight last year.

“I sat down, and I had a lot of things crossing my mind, obviously first of all my family, my friends, and all the people who supported me. You just remember everything you’ve been through … It was a very special moment. It’s been a crazy ride in the last few months. It’s just unbelievable, I’m still struggling to realize what we’ve just achieved.”

Sainz hustled Gasly all the way to the checkered flag as both strove for their first win.

“It’s incredible that I am halfway disappointed with P2,” Sainz said. “I wouldn’t have believed that I would have got a chance to fight for victory today. I think it’s what we deserved.

“We need to be proud of that, we need to be proud of the pace of the car.”

Ferrari’s abysmal weekend continued as Sebastian Vettel had a brake failure on Lap 7 and he limped into the pits with his right-rear brake disc in flames. It was the four-time champion’s first DNF at Monza in his 14th start.

His teammate Charles Leclerc had made it into fourth but lost the rear of the car under acceleration through Parabolica on Lap 25 and crashed into the barriers, causing the race to be red-flagged.

By that time Hamilton’s penalty had been announced. Hamilton had pitted immediately after the safety car had been deployed after Kevin Magnussen broke down but was unaware the pit lane was closed as the marshals recovered Magnussen’s Haas.

Antonio Giovinazzi received the same sanction.

Hamilton served his penalty shortly after a 27-minute delay while the barriers were repaired. The British driver emerged last on Lap 29, more than 30 seconds behind Gasly, but passed eight cars and secured a bonus point for the fastest lap following his punishment.

“My race wasn’t meant to be today but what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger,” Hamilton said. “It was a long pit stop but once I finally caught everybody I enjoyed that bit of a battle.

“We didn’t do a great job with the pit stop. I didn’t see those boards and take responsibility for that and it’s something I’ll learn from. To get seventh and still get the fastest lap is still some good points so I’ll definitely take it.”

In an emotional farewell, Williams drivers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi offered touching tributes on their cooldown laps to deputy principal Claire Williams, who is leaving her family’s team with her father, Sir Frank.

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
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Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”