Posted by Carrot on September 12, 2010 | No Comments
After failing to score in Spa, Alonso, Button and Vettel come through to take more points than Webber and Hamilton in the spiritual home of Italian motor sport. This result closes up the drivers’ table to leave less than a race win between the five contenders. The victory means Fernando Alonso is the only driver, apart from Mark Webber, to take more than two victories this season. The psychological edge and momentum that this should give him leaving Europe for this season will give impetus to his challenge for the title.
To be fair Alonso could announce ambitions for the papacy today and be elected tomorrow with his current popularity in Italy. He came in as a double champion with a clear ambition to win regardless of the cost and he’s won the first race in a red car in Bahrain and now Ferrari’s home race in front of the tifosi. Ferrari fans are no longer thinking whether Alonso will win a championship with the Scuderia, but when it’ll be. It might not be this year, but the fans now expect success and you’d be a fool to bet against the Spaniard eventually delivering. Alonso drove the perfect race, hounding Button from the start, through the long first stint, and keeping up the pressure to the point where McLaren made the mistake of bringing their man in first and snatching the race over the pit stops.
Button has put his championship back on track, but he must be blaming the team for the call that cost him the race. He’d done the work of carrying the wing configuration that would preserve the tyres better than the Ferraris and there’s no better driver on the grid at tyre conservation than Jensen. It’s a mystery to me as to why they’d sacrifice all his work by pitting first. Yes, they’ll say that Kubica was recording fastest laps on the hard tyres, but there’s no point in letting your driver choose the contrary set-up and put all the work in if you’re going to take the call away from him when it matters. Button’s radio messages underlined that he disagreed with the call.
Everyone in the media was congratulating Massa for his aggression at the start and his podium result, I was unimpressed. He made errors in the first stint and never troubled Button after the pit stops. If he had similar pace to Alonso he’d have jumped Button at the stops or at least been harrying him to the line. As it was, there was a 1-2 finish open to Ferrari and Massa let them down.
In the Red Bull camp there’ll be celebrations tonight. Taking the lead in one championship and extending their lead in the other, all at a track where McLaren were supposed to dominate. Webber got held up by Hulkenberg, the young German taking far too many short cuts for my liking, and ended up with less points than he really should have. Vettel was the success story of the day, overcoming engine gremlins and showing McLaren the way on how to operate the soft tyres. He kept his head when most (including yours truly) expect him to crack and in doing so kept his championship alive and has turned the pressure onto his team mate. In the next few races Webber will have to protect his advantage whereas Vettel will be able to go on an all-out attack, and he’s very dangerous when he’s got nothing to lose and has to win. It’s how he challenged Button last year.
Of the top contenders, Lewis Hamilton was the only one not to score today. It will certainly be something he regrets come the end of the year and will also be something that McLaren will regret in the constructors’ standings. It was a half-hearted move that was always going to end in tragedy, and with Red Bull being on their back foot it’s not a result he can afford. Luckily the advantage he had after Spa has mitigated the damage caused today.
Outside of the championship battle, Rosberg again outperformed his car and his team mate to split the Red Bulls. The question has to be asked, how much has Schumacher’s influence in that team detracted from the progress that Nico could have made if the team was firmly backing him? We could find out next year with Eddie Jordan’s theory that there have been too many driver managers visiting Mercedes to be certain that the seven times World Champion will return for a second season.
Williams secured another double points finish with Hulkenberg in seventh and Barrichello in tenth. It’s a good score for Frank Williams’ team, even if young Hulkenberg’s antics were contentious. Robert Kubica scored again for Renault, although outpaced by Rosberg’s Mercedes and Hulkenberg’s Williams. Without Petrov able to support him and Rosberg and Schumacher delivering points even with poor qualifying results, Renaults chances of taking fourth in the standings look slim.
A quick note to Santander; no self-respecting Formula 1 fan is going to join your bank as long as you continue doing what you do. Drivers go all out to secure good results in a race, their reward for the performance of their career should be an actual trophy. Not some ugly chromed up replica of your corporate logo. Don’t you have enough advertising around the track? Do you need to put some in trophy cabinets as well? Rant over.
The BBC’s F1 Forum was very entertaining today. Tony Fernandes was quizzed about next year, which could see a true return of the Team Lotus name and legacy as well as a new engineering partner for next year. Although he didn’t confirm anything, no doubt due to contractual reasons, it was quite apparent that he expect to purchase a complete engine, gearbox and KERS package for next year. Prevailing paddock opinions says their supplier will be Renault, makes you wonder why Williams missed that opportunity. The other main guest on the Forum was ex-driver Eddie Irvine. It was a joy to have him speak on the race as well as the recent team orders drama. It was very clear that the BBC have the wrong ex-driver in Coulthard and should be pursuing Irvine for the job of resident pundit.
Monza was the final race in Europe this season, we now head to South-East Asia, South America and then over to the Middle East for the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi. With less than a win separating the contenders for the drivers’ crown it couldn’t be much closer. Two weeks until Formula 1′s third ever night race, see you in Singapore.