Formula One Second Half Review – Italy

The weekend started with a disappointing qualifying for the home fans as Ferrari attempted a “tow” that was ultimately unsuccessful as Felipe Massa was too far ahead of Fernando Alonso to optimise the advantage, and they lined up fourth and fifth. Vettel gained his fortieth career pole with his team-mate Webber completing a one-two for the Red bull team. Nico Hulkenberg gained a fantastic third place for the Sauber team after putting in an amazing lap. A Dismal Saturday befell world champions Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton with both failing to make it through to the final session of qualifying gaining eleventh and twelfth respectively.

The race start proved chaotic as the scrambling Ferrari of Fernando Alonso attempted to weave his way past both his team-mate and Mark Webber as Vettel locked up going into the first corner. The implications of this saw a back up of the field which resulted in a collision between Sergio Perez’s McLaren and Raikkonen’s Lotus as Perez pulled in front and squeezed Raikkonen who after a lock up of the brakes ran into the back of him, Raikkonen has to pit due to front end plate damage and moves to the back of the field. Meanwhile upfront Massa had past Webber for second, with his team-mate close behind. Disappointment for Force India and their bid to surpass McLaren in the Constructor’s championship as Paul di Resta retired on the first lap due to an incident caused by his tyres locking up.

By lap three Alonso managed to move past Webber for third place with an amazing pass down and a few laps later moves up to second place after an easy, team-ordered move on his team-mate Felipe Massa.

The ever present tyre wear issues plagued Lewis Hamilton yet again on lap 12 as he developed a slow puncture and had to pit, but issues with his team radio meant he did not receive the message until two laps after it was given, further damaging his race.

Strategy came into play on lap 23 as Fernando Alonso refused to pit when ordered as he was taking half a second off Sebastian Vettel who was just about to pit himself, however this move ultimately backfired as Vettel started to fly on fresher tyres. Alonso did not pit for four more laps, a decision that brought him into a fight with Mark Webber which continued for the rest of the race as it became clear Alonso did not have the speed to pull away from the Red Bull.

A recurring issue with the Red Bull’s gearbox, which had seen the team inspect them on Saturday night, emerged on lap 41 as Webber was told to short shift his gear between two and three due to a developing problem. The issue would later hit Sebastian Vettel in the closing laps of the race, this time a problem with his sixth gear.

Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton was on a charge up the field passing Guitterez’s Sauber as they went through Lesmos, gaining 13th place with Kimi Raikkonen straight ahead, however this charge was interrupted by the Force India of Adrian Sutil, who had been penalised for impeding Lewis Hamilton in qualifying on Saturday. Hamilton finally managed to move past Sutil for twelfth with a move under the bridge and a few laps later saw him and Kimi Raikkonen in a supreme fight for what felt like should have been more than simply eleventh place. On lap 48 Hamilton attempted a DRS assisted move on Raikkonen down the straight, Raikkonen was nursing an issue on his Lotus but with excellent positioning managed to defend, the fight continued for another lap with Hamilton passing on the outside of curva grande on lap 49 and moved on to fight the McLaren’s ahead. Within the space of two laps Hamilton moved past Sergio Perez for tenth and his former teammate Button for ninth. The fight did not finish there with Lewis attempting a move on Romain Grosjean on lap 53 but ran wide in the process, and in accordance with the stewards rules had to give the place back to Grosjean and Hamilton ran out of laps to retake the place, a fantastic battle for Lewis saw him leapfrog Kimi Raikkonen for third in the world championship.

Sebastian Vettel drive a measured race to nurse his car to the win and equalled Fernando Alonso’s record of 32 wins in the process, as well as solidifying his championship lead on Ferrari’s home soil, a fact that was not entirely well received on the most famous podium in the world. The presence of a Fernando Alonso in second place on the podium was not enough to banish the booing that has followed Sebastian Vettel since Malaysia as the fantastic drive by the three time world champion extends his lead to 53 over Alonso. Mark Webber managed to nurse his gearbox issue as well to end a dismal record at the Italian circuit and gained his first ever podium at Monza, with his previous best being simply fifth.

For part two, click here.


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