Italian Grand Prix – A Magic Monza for McLaren

Can lightning strike twice? The answer is yes it can.

James Bale


Can lightning strike twice?  The answer is yes it can.  I would put a link to something showing how lightning works but you’re here to read about the F1 so I’ll keep the Physics lesson for another day.

Monza is home to Ferrari and is one of the fastest tracks on the calendar.  The cars are full throttle for nearly 80% of the lap meaning a strain on engines, and with the sheer amount of gear changes with all the hairpins, a strain on the gearbox too.  A regular sight in Monza is the red sea of Ferrari fans that make up the Tifosi and will scream at anything red with the prancing horse on its nose.



Caterham, Marussia and HRT were the first departees of Q1 along with Driver of the Day from last week Nico Hulkenberg who had a suspected gearbox problem and had to pull over leaving him in 24th.  Q2 saw the departure of Grosjean replacement Jerome d’Ambrosio (who raced for Virgin last year), the Toro Rosso pair (Vergne and Ricciardo), Williams’ drivers Senna and Maldonado, along with Sergio Perez and Mark Webber.  Maldonado suffering a 10 place grid drop after last week’s penalties lands him in 22nd instead of 12th.  After top times in both Q1 and Q2 Alonso was almost set to be on the front row, but various problems with his front left brake and suspension problems left him in at the bottom of Q3 in 10th.  Ferrari though did have something to cheer about as Felipe Massa put his Ferrari in 3rd place on the grid, his best start of the season.  An excellent showing from Paul Di Resta made him the 4th fastest, but with a 5 place penalty for a gearbox change saw him start 9th.  The qualifying was however stolen away by the 2 McLarens of Hamilton and Button getting pole and 2nd respectively.  Both of them looked fast throughout all the sessions and riding on the wave of Button’s success at Spa last weekend, Hamilton took pole from his teammate by just 0.123 seconds.  3 Germans line up one after the other with Schumacher, Vettel and Rosberg behind Massa’s Ferrari in 3rd.  It’s a shame Hulkenberg didn’t get to set a time as throughout practice he was hovering near Di Resta’s pace.  Possibly could have been 2 Force India’s in the top 10.

The Race

Now to the good part.  McLaren 1-2 and a fast Massa in 3rd.  The start was incredibly clean compared to that of Spa last time round where there were cars and carbon fibre flying everywhere.  Button made a slow start which allowed Massa to easily leap into second and challenge Hamilton round the outside at the first chicane.  Hamilton easily defended the Ferrari onslaught and happily drove away never to be seen for the rest of the race.  He must have had quite a boring day just lapping consistently round and around the great Monza circuit.  He went on to win the race comfortably and with very little opposition throughout.  Great showing of how good Lewis is after being told off.  Anyone noticed that?  Whenever Lewis does something wrong and gets a slap on the wrist, the next race he wins.  Maybe he should be told off all the time…  The two best drives in my opinion were from Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso.  Alonso stormed through the field ending up in 5th by lap 7.  After a rather risky battle with Vettel which left Alonso shunted onto the grass (Vettel penalised with a drive through penalty for his actions), he finally got through the field and ended up on the podium in 3rd place.  It would have been second if it wasn’t from the magical Mexican that is Sergio Perez.  Perez started all the way down in 12th, and ended up 2nd.  How? You may ask.  Well starting outside the top 10 allows you to start on whatever tyres you want, and so Sergio opted to start on the harder compound.  This strategy combined with only one pit stop to change to the option tyre (the medium compound) allowed him to weave through the pack with great ease.  It really showed off his talent as a driver.  Great moves on Raikkonen, Massa and Alonso put him into a fantastic 2nd place.  A strong drive by Mercedes displayed their excellent straight line speed with 6th and 7th for Schumacher and Rosberg.  Rosberg also took the credit for the fastest lap which was set on the very last lap.

On the flip side it wasn’t a very good day at all for Jenson Button.  Starting 2nd put him in a good place for the race ahead but he suffered a drive failure on lap 33 which was caused by the fuel pump system and ended his race.  His retirement was echoed by not just one Red Bull, but both Vettel and Webber.  A most unusual occurrence indeed from the normally super reliable car.  Vettel pulled over on lap 48 echoing recurrent problems with the Alternator, while after a brilliant tail slide recovery, Webber returned to the pit lane with massive flatspots.  This non finish allowed Alonso to extend his lead to 179 points in the driver’s championship.  2 points separate 2nd to 4th (Hamilton, Raikkonen & Vettel) with Mark Webber a fairly close 5th only 8 points adrift from Vettel.

Overall a good race from start to finish.  Title challengers failed to finish while a rising star shone through over a largely dominant Hamilton and Alonso kept himself in the clear and gained more points to help his title cause.

The Awards
My favourite part.

Driver of the Day:
Sergio Perez

Outstanding tactics and overtaking skills shown by the young Mexican.  Outshone most of his far more experienced rivals to take a brilliant 2nd place.

Most Consistent:
Lewis Hamilton

Untouchable out in 1st place for the majority of the race.  Looked after his tyres and almost cruised home to a seemingly easy win.

Best Driver Quote
Paul Di Resta

“As long as we are going forwards, that’s all that matters”  (In answer to an Eddie Jordan question)

Best Overtake(s)
Sergio Perez on anyone in his way

The mystical Mexican showed us all just how good he is.  Tense battles throughout with former champion Raikkonen showed his fairness and excellent abilities when up against the best drivers in the world.  Great use of DRS to get passed the Ferraris really demonstrated that he is most certainly one to watch for the future.

How Did He Do That?!
Mark Webber

How on earth he saved his Red Bull from the barriers is beyond me.  Great drifting skill to stop himself smashing into the Armco but at the cost of his front tyres.


Next up is Singapore, a race which Alonso has won twice before and is usually a strong Ferrari track.  Red Bull prefer the tighter circuit with fewer straights so should be an interesting race.  The Singapore GP is on Sunday 23rd September with Qualifying on Saturday 22nd September.

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