Italian GP – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Pure opinion. None of this is said with any malice, although I’m sure there are some who will take it as such! Enjoy it for what it is, and by all means, let me know your thoughts and opinions as to why I am right or wrong.The Good:
A beautifully controlled race from Lewis Hamilton. Once he had safely answered Felipe Massas first corner question, he has never in any trouble. Even when there was excitement over the rate Sergio Perez was gaining on him, he had preserved his tyres enough to be able to up his pace without having to do anything manic. The upshot of this is that he is now the closest challenger to the Championship leader, and is without a doubt the possessor of an in-form McLaren car. Just 37 points in arrears with 7 races to go… things are hotting up.
A great drive from Sergio Perez in which he did his future prospects no harm at all. The only problem is that is does raise one question – where is it best for him to qualify? Perez qualified for this race in 12th, meaning he could choose his tyres. He chose the opposite strategy to the front runners and look how well it worked out for him. Perez seems to thrive under pressure, which is not something that will have been lost on people like Messrs Di Montezemolo and Whitmarsh.
What a start that was. Starting in P10, Alonso was P8 by the first corner, and then passed Kobayashi and Raikkonen in successive corners to be P6 by the end of Lap 1. The retirements of both Red Bulls and Jenson Button will have had Alonso grinning from ear to ear as a race which looked like the focus would be on damage limitation, infact saw him increase his lead on all his challengers bar one. At 1pm on Sunday, Alonso surely can not have envisaged standing on the podium 2 hours later, and with Ferraris upgrades due in time for the next race in Singapore, it could not have come at a better time.
A more than decent result for Ferrari in front of their adoring home fans. Massas superb performance in qualifying was backed up by a strong start and an equalling of his highest finish of the year – in short, he drove exactly the race his employers would have wanted. Alonsos charge from 10th to 3rd was impressive to say the least and between the two of them lifted Ferrari back above Lotus in the standings. As mentioned above, Ferrari have upgrades due for the next race as well.
Called the strategy for Perez just right, and as a result put clear daylight between them and Force India in the Constructors standings.
Gained 25 points on Red Bull, and although it could have been more, that’s still a good result. The Bad:
Professional sport can be a cruel mistress. Jenson was driving extremely well for the second race in succession when Lady Luck intervened and a fuel issue took away an almost certain podium finish. It leaves him now 78 points behind the championship leader, and 41 behind his teammate. The only positive he can take is that his car looked good once again, and indeed his team has now won the last 3 races.
Webber only managed to qualify in 11th place, before finding himself down 3 further places by the end of the first lap. He managed to fight his way into the lower points scoring positions before a spin saw him flat spot his tyres so badly that he felt the need to end his race. Things have not been going well for Webber for a little while now, and he looks like a man defeated during interviews. Having said all this, he is still only 10 points off 2nd place in the Championship and this is something that he would do well to remember.
Paul Di Resta
I have mentioned recently about Di Restas dip in form, and this weekend was a strange one for him. A good performance in qualifying was essential due to his gearbox penalty, and setting the 4th fastest lap showed that the car had genuine pace. However, starting in 9th and only managing to finish 8th – despite the retirements of Button and the two Red Bulls – was not really good enough.
Lost a lot of ground to Sauber in the standings, and surely now find themselves in a race for 7th place with Williams. The Ugly:
34 races have passed since we saw Red Bull not take a single point. The alternator issues have been well documented, and Monza saw McLaren close the gap down to almost half what it was. What the last two races have highlighted however, is the Red Bulls lack of top speed. As Martin Brundle commented during the race, this was less of an issue last year when their superior downforce saw them remain out in front. Without that to fall back on this year, it is making it very difficult for the drivers to make use of the DRS zones as they keep bouncing on the limiters. With McLaren looking like the best car on the grids at the moment, and Ferrari looking quick with upgrades to come, Horner and co need to find a way of overcoming their shortcomings.
Vettel is in this section because this result is arguably worse for him than it was for Webber or Button. Vettel is the reigning World Champion and Alonso looks to still see him as his most likely challenger. A gap of less than a race win has now been extended to 39 points, and worse still he finds himself behind a resurgent Lewis Hamilton and the dangerous Kimi Raikkonen, bith of whom have title winning experience. Out of all the drivers in the title race, Vettel is the one who needs a good Singapore result the most.
Qualified 4th and 6th, finished 6th and 7th despite the retirements of 3 cars they may have expected to finish behind. Sauber are catching them again, and there must be some concern within the ranks.
KK qualified well, but after that it all seemed to fall apart. He ended the race some 40 seconds behind his teammate, and that is too big a gap to put down to just a difference in strategy. A quick look at the Championship sees Kobayashi being beasted 65-35 by his teammate, and there are a lot of rumblings that his seat is under threat for 2013. After all, that Sauber would be an attractive option for a number of drivers.
Let his boring race weekend be a lesson to all 24 drivers on the grid.Want to be a guest writer on VitalF1.com?
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