F1 pays tribute to Queen before Carlos Sainz tops timesheets in practice
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz finished ahead of Max Verstappen in practice for the Italian Grand Prix – after Formula One observed a one-minute silence in memory of Her Majesty The Queen.
Ten minutes before the opening action of the weekend in Monza, the grid’s 10 teams – seven of which are based in the United Kingdom – gathered in memory of the long-serving monarch who died on Thursday.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was flanked by British team-mate George Russell and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali in the pit lane, all wearing black armbands.
FIA president Mohammed ben Suleyman paid his respects alongside Domenicali in front of the silent main grandstand awash with Ferrari red at the Italian team’s home race.
Above them on the podium, a giant black and white image of the Queen was projected. The top three will grace the rostrum on Sunday afternoon, but whether the champagne will be sprayed is still under discussion.
A spontaneous round of applause broke out following the one-minute silence, and another moment of reflection is planned on the grid ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Before stepping into his Mercedes cockpit, Hamilton, 37, who was knighted last year, described the Queen as a “symbol of hope for so many”, and said “she served her country with dignity, dedication and kindness”.
While the Premier League cancelled its fixtures this weekend, F1 bosses are pressing on with the 16th round of the season in Monza, 13 miles north of Milan.
Mercedes have a black band on the roll hoop of both Hamilton’s and Russell’s cars, while staff from up and down the paddock are all wearing black armbands.
Red Bull, the Milton Keynes team carrying Max Verstappen to his second world championship in as many seasons, are running the royal insignia on their front wing, while music in their garage has been silenced.
British team McLaren have a black ribbon on their machines, and have faded out its orange speedmark. All the teams have dramatically scaled back on their social media output.
“It is a very sombre mood here,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. “When you think of the UK, you think of the Queen. Wherever we go in the world she was so iconic.
“She was the most remarkable person, immediately put you at ease, and had a sense of humour too.
“She will be sorely missed because she has been the stability for such a long period of time that it is almost unimaginable to think of her not being there.
“The response this morning was extremely moving. It is very, very sad.”
On track, the Tifosi had reason to celebrate after Charles Leclerc set the fastest time in the opening running, with Sainz setting the pace later in the day.
Verstappen, who is 109 points clear of Leclerc in the standings, finished 0.143 seconds behind Sainz. Leclerc was third in the second session, with McLaren’s Lando Norris fourth. Russell and Hamilton finished fifth and seventh respectively.
Hamilton, Sainz and Verstappen are all facing grid penalties on Sunday for exceeding their allocation of engine parts.
Verstappen is set to drop five places for changing his Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), while Sainz and Hamilton will line up towards the back.
Hamilton is punished for taking on his fourth power unit of the campaign – one more than is allocated under the sport’s rules – and he will be joined by Sainz who is also punished for replacing a plethora of parts in the rear of his Ferrari.
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Perez will also serve an engine penalty which could pave the way for Leclerc to triumph on Ferrari home soil.
However, it would be unwise to discount Verstappen, who has won the past four races on his unstoppable gallop to the title.