Sunday 12 September 2010

Monza GP Report: Forza Ferrari and Fernando

We just never learn do we?

After the last race, in Belgium, we were convinced that the championship was now a two-horse race, with Vettel, Button and Alonso out of it. But, just as a week is a long time in politics, an hour and a half on a Sunday afternoon is a long time in F1. Monza's results, with Alonso first, Button second and Vettel fourth, and with Webber 6th and Hamilton leaving with nil points, mean we have five drivers within a win of the top of the table once again, with five races left. Woo hoo.

The race was tight and exciting, in true Monza style. Jenson got the jump on Alonso at the start, helped by his extra downforce (though Alonso's start wasn't vintage either), and from that moment on Fred never gave him a moment's peace. We were treated to the sight of two top-level drivers, running at the limit, and never putting a wheel wrong from what I saw. The soft tyres held on magnificently, and it was a full 36 laps into the 53 lap race that Button blinked first and pitted (the team apparently gambling that the new tyres would give him an advantage). But Alonso pulled a fast one on the next lap, and squeaked ahead after his stop, holding Jenson off at the first chicane with some brio.

From that moment on the podium positions, with Massa third (holding on to the front two well, despite the odd hairy moment), weren't in doubt.

As I said, this was the best result for the championship. Lewis ill-advisedly stuck his nose down the inside of Massa at the second chicane on lap 1, and deranged his steering arm, putting him out. This was a little bit of a throwback to the occasionally impetuous Lewis that we thought was in the past. After all, he is fighting for a championship and must have known Webber was behind him on the track, so staying in one piece should have been his priority. Easy to say from where I'm sitting, though.

Vettel stayed out of trouble for once (despite a curious point where he lost several seconds, and position to him team mate, with an engine problem), and didn't come in for his tyre stop until the start of the last lap, which allowed him to leap frog to fourth. Big shout out to Bridgestone for developing such magnificent product as well.

Webber was bumped down to 9th on the first lap, for a reason no one seemed to see. He pulled off some nice overtakes, and came home 6th. He seemed peeved after the race though, mainly at some of the stunts pulled off by the Hulk. Still, after some quiet reflection Webbo will probably realise that re-taking the championship lead, at a track Red Bull where expected to struggle, represents something of a save.

Elsewhere, Nico Rosberg, quietly as always, finished fifth. The Hulk, despite some hooliganism, continued his recent good form to come 7th. Kubica, Schumi and Rubinho completed the scorers, in that order. The vultures are circling Schumi, regarding his future, with some suggesting his motivation to continue in the sport beyond this season has waned (hey, he didn't even try to run anyone of the road this weekend). We'll see how that one turns out, I would say that if Schumi wants to continue I don't think Mercedes will try to replace him. His PR value is too valuable and I don't think that the potential of those drivers touted to replace him (Sutil, Heidfeld etc) is sufficiently strong to make replacing him a matter of urgency.

Next up is the night race in Singapore, in a fortnight.

Race results

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