Italian Grand Prix podium finisher Lance Stroll felt the race was his race to lose when restarting from second place after a red flag period.
Charles Leclerc’s crash at Parabolica forced the race to be halted around the halfway point because the barrier needed repairing. Stroll was yet to pit and running second on the road at that point, and got a free chance to change tires and restart from the net lead because Lewis Hamilton had a penalty to serve. However, Stroll endured a poor getaway from a standing restart and dropped down the field, recovering to take third.
“It’s a bit of a bummer as I think it was mine to lose, starting from second,” Stroll said. “But I just had no grip at the start and I had a ton of wheelspin and everybody flew by me. I had a good scrap with Carlos (Sainz) there in the first couple of laps. I overtook him around the outside and then he got me again into Turn 1. We were battling out there and I’m happy to pick up third. I think the win slipped away from us but third is great.
“It’s been a long time coming. A part of me is a little bit frustrated. I had a terrible restart after the red flag. I fell back to P6 and had a good fight with Carlos in the first lap after the restart but lost out to him and then I made my way back to third. Yeah, I gave it everything I could – but I’m very happy for Pierre, and I think everyone drove a great race. It was an awesome race and I’m really happy to be back on the podium.”
Stroll was favorite for victory during the red flag given his starting position, and admits it was a strange scenario to be waiting in the pit lane and knowing he had a shot at a win.
“It definitely threw a curveball at us,” he said. “We’re not used to getting out of the car halfway through the race. I think it was just important to reset and get back into it. It was an amazing opportunity in the race to start from second, knowing that Lewis had a 10-second time penalty. I wasn’t actually aware of the stop and go, I just thought it was a 10-second time (penalty). It was unexpected but it created a lot of excitement in the race, that’s for sure.”
While Stroll admits luck was on his side at Monza to put him in the frame at the front, teammate Sergio Perez was not so fortunate and felt he was on the wrong end of some borderline calls.
“Anything that could go wrong seemed to happen to us,” Perez said. “I had a poor start at the beginning of the race and lost places to the McLarens and (Valtteri) Bottas. But then things started to look up for us.
“Lando (Norris) then slowed down excessively in the pit lane during the pit window – which I think was dangerous – and we had a slow pit stop, and that was costly. Max (Verstappen) also crashed into me at Turn 2 after my stop and he damaged my car, so after the restart I had to drive with the damage. The main positive is that I was able to recover to get back into P10 and earn a point – and the team had a great day with Lance’s finish too.”