Posted by Carrot on September 12, 2011 | No Comments
The fastest track on the F1 calender, Monza, and even with doubts over the ability of the Red Bull Racing machine to cope with the high top speeds needed, Sebastian Vettel still claimed the win. It’s now beyond all but mathematical certainty that Vettel will claim a second successive crown. It’s only where he’ll claim the crown, two weeks in Singapore or a month in Japan.
Taking pole by a massive margin on Saturday, Vettel’s race was nearly ruined by a fast starting Fernando Alonso taking the lead into the first corner. On the restart, after the first corner crash had been cleared, Vettel pounced on the Ferrari, took back his lead and ran for the horizon. Mark Webber had a worse and much shorter race in the sister car. Tangling with Felipe Massa cost him his front wing, which then affected his steering at the final corner and pitched him into the gravel trap and out of the race. Ultimately I’m putting the blame for the collision on Webber, to try and dive up the inside on the second part of the chicane is always going to end in tears if you aren’t clearly alongside the guy in front and able to push him wide. A great weekend for Vettel, he extended his lead at the top of the table yet again, but the final result caused Red Bull to actually lose ground in the team standings. Only by five points though, so it’ll only put off their inevitable crowning.
I can’t decide if it was a good weekend for McLaren or not. Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton both raced well, to second and fourth respectively, and Button certainly looked on top of his qualifying problems, but they were expecting more pace from the car and their starts and set-up were horrible. While they have looked stronger as a complete team recently, McLaren are turning their excellent form into a battle with their own errors. I found Hamilton’s post race interview telling, after all his anger over the radio at Michael Schumacher’s braking zone antics during the race, he was very diplomatic about the whole affair. Now you could say that this is the mature side of Hamilton, but I’d say it’s him having resigned himself to Vettel’s victory this season and just marking time until 2012.
Third in Monza isn’t what the tifosi wanted for Alonso, especially after his victory last year, but he certainly got the loudest cheer on the podium. With Massa coming home in sixth it was a double points finish for the Scuderia, but they never really had the pace at any point this weekend. The fast starting Alonso might be a highlight for Ferrari fans, but as soon as Vettel got the green flag it was all over in a few corners. The same happened when Button cruised up behind the Spaniard. With McLaren all but looking towards next year, and Ferrari themselves saying they’re devoting their time to next year’s car I wouldn’t expect much from the red cars for the rest of the year. There’s not a lot of point throwing money and development time at an old car for a few race wins when you could try and win everything next year.
Michael Schumacher causing controversy regarding being difficult to overtake? There’s something new. To be honest, I didn’t see a lot wrong with what Schumacher was up to. Though I do think if it had been another driver then the stewards would have taken action. That’s where the problem lies. We must have one rule for all, there can be no exceptions just because you’ve won the championship seven times. It ended up being a good result for Schumacher though. I suspect he’d have been beaten by his team mate if Nico Rosberg hadn’t been knocked out in the first corner collision.
Jaime Alguersuari seems to think qualifying on Saturday doesn’t really matter based on this weekend. Being the victim to fall out of Q1 with the new teams he ended up seventh, beating out his own team mate and drivers that made it through to Q3. Although the TV cameras didn’t pick a lot of his drive up, it was certainly impressive enough. Sebastien Buemi made it a double points finish for Toro Rosso by coming home in tenth.
Completing the points positions were Paul di Resta in eighth for Force India and Bruno Senna in ninth for Renault. That’s Senna’s first points in Formula 1 in his second race for Renault after a disappointing season with HRT. He qualified well and then had to race for position throughout the race. It’s certainly a message to all of those, myself included, who doubted the wisdom for replacing Nick Heidfeld with the young Brazilian. If anything it’s putting serious pressure on Vitaly Petrov. Both he and Senna bring sponsorship to the team, but if Robert Kubica returns then there’s only one cockpit spare, and based on his performances so far you’d be brave to bet against Senna getting the seat.
The new toys, DRS and KERS, certainly seemed to work this weekend. The first weekend with two DRS detection zones caused there to be exciting fights at the front of the field. We didn’t have a lot of time to look lower down the field for most of the race. While I like the fact that the top positions are always in contention in the race due to the new rules and toys, I have to say I do miss watching the rookies and midfield at times. Though I’m definitely not going to say we’ve got too much action, as there’s no such thing.
That’s it for Europe in 2011, everything else is flyaway. We’ve now got two weeks until the night race in Singapore. If the right set of circumstances happen, Vettel could be crowned champion under the artificial lights. See you there.