Following the spectacle of speed that was the Italian Grand Prix it’s time to look at how each team and driver got on in yet another ‘Hot Rod or Hot Dog.’
- Sebastian Vettel: Quali – 1st, Race – 1st
- Mark Webber: Quali – 5th, Race DNF
Pretty near perfect from Vettel. After taking pole (probably the only unexpected one he’ll score all season) Alonso beat him off the line, but once he’d re-passed the Spaniard Seb was gone, another win in the bag. It was nothing flash – he drove at the necessary pace and enjoyed excellent pitstops thanks to his Red Bull crew – but it got the job done nicely. It was a perfect tribute to staff member Erin Pezzella, who succumbed to cancer last week.
Webber meanwhile was just not good enough, putting in a scrappy and ultimately brief display. The Aussie is under-performing, again suffering total defeat at the hands of his team-mate (who happens to be a full decade younger than him) in Italy and admitting (as if any0ne needed telling it) that the title is now lost. Mark has been so convincingly beaten this season it’s hard to see how he can get back on terms with Vettel in 2012.
Badger’s Best: Vettel
- Lewis Hamilton: Quali – 2nd, Race – 4th
- Jenson Button: Quali – 3rd, Race – 2nd
Button didn’t start well – it remains his weak point – and was unspectacular in the early stages, only really making gains on Hamilton and Schumacher when the battle between the two heated up.
But when Jense arrived on the tail of his duel he was quick to make progress, passing both to assume P3. From there he was able to leapfrog Alonso and bring the car home a distant but impressive second. It was yet another fine race performance from Jenson, who has hit a rich vein of form lately. The phrase ‘best he’s ever driven’ is being floated about, and not unfairly.
Lewis meanwhile deserves credit for keeping his head down at Monza. It wasn’t a case of abandoning his aggression for good, just a sensible decision to keep his nose clean. What would have been the use in putting his car in to a gap Schumacher was going to slam shut? Sometimes discretion really is the better part of valour.
That said he didn’t get a great start and was caught napping by Schumacher (big time) at the restart. Whilst not a nightmare it also wasn’t Lewis’ finest race and, with Jenson’s form of late, increases the chances once-unthinkable scenario of Button beating Hamilton over the course of a season will come to pass.
Badger’s Best: Button
- Fernando Alonso: Quali – 4th, Race – 3rd
- Felipe Massa: Quali – 6th, Race – 6th
Not a classic home race for Ferrari but no disaster either. Alonso filed his submission for the start of the season award with a stellar getaway from P4, briefly taking to the grass to rocket in to the lead. Holding it for long was always going to be tough in a car that hadn’t enjoyed race winning pace all weekend, and it was little surprise when Vettel relegated him to second. From there he was solid, eventually slipping behind Button but holding on to the final podium spot. A good result in front of the Tifosi, who love him that little bit more now for his mega launch.
Massa was decent, qualifying one place behind his team-mate and running solidly in the race. His day was effectively ruined when Webber nurfed him at turn one, an accident the Aussie should probably take the brunt of the blame for. From there Felipe recovered well enough but his inability to catch Schumacher, whose car didn’t have the same pace as the Ferrari, is a bit disappointing. Overall an acceptable drive from the Scuderia’s number two.
Badger’s Best: Alonso
- Nico Rosberg: Quali – 9th, Race – DNF
- Michael Schumacher: Quali – 8th, Race – 5th
Though troubled in many ways Michael Schumacher’s F1 comeback has seen the seven-time champ excel in one area: his starts. That was in evidence again yesterday as the German leapt from eighth to fourth off the line and then nailed a dozing Hamilton following the departure of the safety car. Impressive stuff.
Schumi then used the stellar top-end speed of his Merc to keep Lewis at bay, though as the German’s tyres faded he did resort to some rather robust defence of his line. The stewards didn’t say anything, though there’s little doubt they had a quiet word, who in turn did the same with Michael.
Despite that criticism it was a very strong race for Schumacher, brilliantly backing up his fine drive at Spa. Those two strong performances in a row have silenced talk of him calling it a day (again) at the end of the year.
There’s not much to say about Nico Rosberg, who’s race ended at turn one thanks to the high-speed arrival of Tonio Liuzzi’s HRT. Starting on the soft tyres meant his progress would have been interesting to follow, but the shunt ended any hopes of that. With just four points between these two in the standings it’s going to be interesting finding out which emerges on top.
Badger’s Best: Schumacher