Ferrari’s Formula One troubles deepen after double failure at Monza

F1 Ferrari trouble
MARK THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
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Ferrari is in trouble: Double trouble for the F1 stalwart.

In its worst display at its home circuit for 70 years, both Ferrari cars failed to finish the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Italian team has had double retirements at the so-called Temple of Speed before – with the last such incident coming in 1995.

But never before at Monza has Ferrari not featured either in the top 10 of the grid or in the race result, at least with one car.

“This is the worst conclusion of a difficult weekend,” Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said. “Already yesterday (qualifying) was very difficult. Not finishing the race is even worse.”

After an appalling performance at the Belgian GP, with the cars finishing 13th and 14th, Ferrari was hoping for something better on home soil.

But Ferrari endured a miserable Saturday, and its problems only worsened during the race itself. Sebastian Vettel had a brake failure on Lap 6 and limped into the pits with his right-rear brake disc in flames. His teammate Charles Leclerc crashed on Lap 25, causing the race to be red-flagged.

At least no Ferrari fans were there to see it because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It was a far cry from last year when Leclerc was cheered by thousands of passionate Ferrari fans on the iconic podium at Monza after he ended the team’s nine-year wait for victory at its home circuit.

The Italian national anthem did ring out, but it was for the AlphaTauri team after driver Pierre Gasly claimed an unlikely victory.

“This year’s very different. I think probably in that regard it’s good there are no fans,” Vettel said. “Life is like this. It always depends from where you’re looking.”

Vettel added “we have to keep our head up and look forward to next week and look at the positives even if they are very few.”

Ferrari will be hoping to do a lot better at next weekend’s race, which is also in Italy, at Mugello. The 5.245-kilometer (3.259-mile) circuit has never previously hosted an F1 race.

There will be a limited number of fans allowed for the first time this season, and it will also be Ferrari’s 1,000th Grand Prix.

However, in a season in which Ferrari is going from bad to worse, expectations are low.

Vettel is a four-time champion but hasn’t finished in the top five this season – and has been 10th or lower in four races – while both cars have retired in two of the eight races (Styrian GP and Italian GP), with Leclerc also failing to finish the Spanish GP.

“It’s clear in terms of expectations you see where we are. It’s not that we can expect an awful lot,” Vettel said. “I hope in Mugello we are in a little bit better place, but that doesn’t mean that we are fighting for the podium so you need to be realistic.

“Expectations are very low but hopefully we have a smooth weekend, a weekend without trouble. That would be a good start.”

The last time Ferrari finished lower than fifth in the Constructors’ Championship came in 1980. The team is currently sixth, and some already will be looking to forget this season, which is not even at the halfway stage.

Not Binotto.

“We shouldn’t forget anything, we need to learn,” he said. “This season will make us stronger.”

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)