Monza Overview -F1

Mon 13 Sep 2010

Monza 2010 will not sit in the history books as a race to remember, but it was entertaining enough.

Fernando Alonso started in pole position, with Jenson Button second, using an F-duct and large down-force set-up, Felipe Massa third, Mark Webber fourth and the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton in fifth, this time with no f-duct but a low down-force set-up.

At the start, the first few got away cleanly, other than Webber who went backwards as all he could find was lots of wheel-spin, and no grip.  Alonso tried to come across on Button, but Button was too fast and had his nose in front.  Massa was also in an aggressive mood, trying to slip down the outside of Alonso, with the two Ferrari’s going into the chicane side by side.  Hamilton wasn’t letting them have it all their own way, but the Italian teams drivers were too engrained in their battle, and unfortunately Lewis managed to tag Massa’s wheel.  He looked to have got away with it, as he managed to keep going along the next straight, but as soon as the steering was moved it was obvious his front right wheel wasn’t going anywhere, and he went straight on into the gravel –his short race over with a snapped steering rod.  Not gaining any points could eventually cost him the championship, and he’s sure to be kicking himself.

In the meantime Jenson was holding firm in the lead, with Alonso and Massa chasing.  As the race progressed it was an exchange of ever improving lap times between the three, but in reality Massa never challenged to change his position, and it was a two horse race between the Brit and Spaniard.  The largest the gap grew to be was 1.6 seconds, but there were also many scares where Alonso was capable of making a move on Jenson.

Button bottled it first and came in for a tire change on lap 36, whilst on the next lap Ferrari pitted Alonso.  It was a race against the clock for the mechanics as they rushed to get him out in front of Jenson, who was now on hard tires and struggling to get them up to heat on his out-lap.  Button roared down the pit straight as Alonso slowly exited from the pit itself, however once up to speed Alonso held the inside line for the first corner and Jenson just couldn’t get past and had to slip in behind Alonso for the chicane.

Around the same time Hispania Racing managed to get the pit lane closed for short period, as Sakon Yamamoto left his box, before an engineer had time to step back from the car and he managed to clip his head on the rear wing.  Medics tended to him, and he was eventually moved to the circuit’s medical centre.

After the stops Jenson never seriously troubled Alonso.  Other than a small scare when Alonso missed the first chicane, having to slowly go over the speed humps and loosing around a second, there was no doubt that Nanado would cross the line first.

Vettel did not play a major part in the race as he stared from sixth on the grid, but was hit from behind at the start, and later in the race experienced what he thought were engine power loss problems at the time, but later turned out to be a brake problem.  Was it significant that this allowed Webber to go through, and then miraculously the problem was no more ?  He managed to stay out on his original tires until the very last lap (the rules state you must use both sets of tyres in the race) which enabled him to stay ahead of Webber, Hulkenberg and Kubica, all of whom he had been behind before they made their stops.

Webber bad start meant he spent most of the race finding his way through the field, to eventually finish sixth.  Rosberg had a consistent race, starting in seventh and finishing in fifth.

The Renault of Kubica looked promising in practice, but he only managed to make ninth in qualifying and one place up in the race itself.  Hulkenburg in his Williams had a good race also finishing one place further up the field in seventh.

So it was Alonso, Button and Massa on the podium.  Vettel was 24 seconds behind the group coming in fourth, closely followed by Rosberg, Webber, Hulkenberg and Kubica.  Schumacher took ninth and Barrichello took the final point.  He was followed closely by the Toro Rosso of Sebastian Buemi and the Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi.  Petrov’s race didn’t go so well as he came home in 13th, followed by de la Rossa, Alguersari and Sutil in 16th.  The first new team home was Virgin’s Timo Glock, followed by Lotus’ Kovalainen, and the final person to cross the lines was HRT’s Yamamoto.  di Grassi retired after 50laps, Trulli on lap 46, Senna on lap 11,and both Hamilton and Kobayashi not making it past the first lap.

In the drivers championship it’s between five.  Alonso moves up to third (166 points) just 21 points behind the new leader Webber, as Lewis slips into second with 182.  Button remains fourth with 165 points, just two points ahead of Vettel.

So the Europe races are now over with, and it’s back to the long-haul flights, and what promises to be close and exciting races.

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