Italian GP – The Race

The European leg of the F1 season is done and dusted. Long-haul here we come! 

Ok this blog should really have ‘LATE’ scrawled across it in annoyed teacher handwriting. For it is…ahem…very late. A whole week late to be precise and for that I profusely apologise. If I do have to point the Big Finger of Blame somewhere, it is probably at Tuesday. This is usually the day that I write my race blog but this week it was taken away from me in the name of the husband’s never-ending 40thbirthday celebrations. The Big Four-O was actually last December and the birthday treats have been liberally scattered across the last 9 months. The husband actually referred to it as a Jubilee the other day. This new regal approach to birthdays is all being noted and recorded for when I reach the same milestone in the not very distant future. The remaining 85% of the week was taken up with feeding, changing, entertaining, driving, supervising and trying to reason with small children. So it has all been a bit of a blog di-SAH-ster (apologies to all non-Strictly fans).
As memories of Monza have almost faded away into the ether, it seems a bit daft to do one of my all-singing, all–dancing blogs. I think its safe to say that ship has sailed. So a rapid fire account of Monza will hit your screens below.

Every day is Groundhog Day at Mercedes

Go Go Go and shock horror, there was no incident at the start. Massa jumped Button into 2ndand Rosberg/Webber had terrible first laps. A brilliant start from Alonso who had jumped up into 7th place already. Groundhog day for Mercedes as their cars went more backwards then forwards. Vettel passed Schuey on lap 4 and Alonso took Schuey on lap 7. On lap 8, Di Resta forced Senna off the track with some very aggressive driving (which if it was Schumacher or Maldonaldo or Grosjean, Coulthard would have spontaneously combusted but as it is the sainted Paul Di Resta…). Bruno Senna rejoined into the path of a very startled Webber (new underwear for Mr Webber please!).
There was a huge left rear suspension failure for Vergne on lap 9 – a very scary moment and thankfully Jean-Eric was ok.

The (imagined) screens in Massa’s garage. We’ve all been there.

Webber passed Di Resta for P10 and meanwhile his team-mate, Vettel in 4th place, was inching closer and closer to Button. There was a lot of ragged racing all over the track as drivers struggled for grip and seemingly couldn’t cope with the corners. Maybe they need to practice F1 Wii as devotedly as the 5 year old. We heard Button was on Plan A and saw lots of panicked people in Ferrari’s garage. Turned out they weren’t getting any telemetry from Massa’s car. Still to be fair last time out Ferrari was gifted some McLaren telemetry for free, courtesy of Lewis, so they can’t have it their own way all the time.

Sergio Perez. The Future.
Button was all over Massa and on lap 19, passed him for 2nd place. At around this point of the race, none other than Maldonaldo (the New Senna © the husband) was doing a string of fastest laps! Vettel and Alonso pitted from 4th and 5thright into the path of Massa who was inconveniently wedged in behind the Toro Rosso of Ricciardo. But not for long as Ricciardo got swept aside by Massa, Vettel and Alonso in the space of one lap. Button pitted on lap 23 and t’was not the greatest stop. McLaren Pitstop Disastometer = 3. He rejoined in 3rd place. Lewis then pitted, had a perfect stop and rejoined in 2nd place, behind Sergio Perez who had yet to stop. As they say in Mexico, ‘whoever is born to be a charro, has his hat fall on him from the sky.’ God, Mexicans are great.

It was around about the time the race stewards arrived with their laptops, that Red Bull realised the investigation might not go their way.

On lap 26, there was a massive ding-dong tussle between Vettel and Alonso. Nothing more than a racing incident (and I’m no obsessed devotee of Vettel) but Alonso went schitz on the radio (in English of all languages, funny that!) about the grave injustice of it all and inevitably we were told a few laps later that ‘an investigation’ was underway and in lightning quick time the stewards had reached a decision – Vettel was given a drive-through penalty. Never mess with Ferrari on their manor.
Huge drama on lap 34 as Button suddenly retired while in 2nd place. A fuel pick-up problem. Poor lovely Jenson who takes his mechanics out to dinner the night before a race and doesn’t post McLaren state secrets on Twitter. Sometimes life isn’t fair. Lewis was meanwhile still leading the race by a country mile. I’m going to lay money that Scary Ron had flown his Death Star into Monza for the weekend. Some stunning driving from Perez to pass Raikkonen and he was now the fastest man out on track. In A Sauber.
Massa, was now running in 2nd place (after Jenson’s retirement) just one place ahead of his team-mate and Ferrari Number One Driver Fernando Alonso. What could possibly happen next? Felipe was told to “preserve his tyres” and just in case that message was not crystal clear, he was reminded that “Fernando was behind and should have DRS”. Presumably the next communiqué would have been to remind Massa of the All-Important First Ferrari Commandment (aka. Clause 1 in his contract) “you are obliged to let Fernando Alonso pass you at all times”. Anyhoo that wasn’t necessary as Felipe dutifully obeyed the All-Important First Ferrari Commandment and let Alonso zoom past into 2nd place. Then a nanosecond later, Massa’s engineers got back on the radio to tell him to pick up the pace (on the very tyres he had to preserve 2 minutes earlier!!) as Perez was gaining. Guys, you’re a hoot.

Christian Horner, a really bad day at the office.

Big drama, we heard that Vettel now had a problem and might have to stop suddenly. As confirmation, we saw poor little Christian Horner looking very depressed on the pit wall. With 9 laps to go, Perez passed Massa for 3rd place and its goodbye podium for Felipe. Still at least he hasn’t been sacked yet. Smart guy, Felipe. He knows that no one at Ferrari cares how he drives as long as he helps Alonso to win the title.
On lap 47, Perez passed Alonso for 2nd place. For the love of God, will a top team not come in for Perez and sign him up. He has Future World Champion written all over him. Then as promised (threatened?), Vettel did indeed stop suddenly on lap 48. Cue footage of Christian Horner with his head in his hands. Meanwhile, Schuey was absolutely flying (after his 2nd stop) and passed Di Resta and Webber for P6.

Party-time in Perez’s garage!

To conclude Red Bull’s utterly wretched afternoon, Webber retired on the penultimate lap. Presumably Christian Horner had by now retreated into the back of the Red Bull garage with a large bottle of gin.  Lets hope he wasn’t anywhere near the riotous tequila party going on in Sauber’s garage! For even in the closing stages of the race, Perez was taking one second a lap out of Hamilton but sadly there were not enough laps left for him to close the gap.

Here are the results from the Italian Grand Prix 2012:

1. Hamilton – Man of the moment (in every sense – good and bad).

2. Perez – Absolutely stunning drive. He is the future.

3. Alonso – Another podium and a chance for the Tifosi to heap adulation on their hero.

4. Massa – God bless him.
5. Kimi – Slightly under the radar. Feels like his season is fading slightly.
6. Schumacher – Great result in a poor car. Same old.

So that’s it. The final race in Europe done and dusted. Next up, Singapore, the only NIGHT race in the calendar. Not to be missed!

A postscript:
Ayrton Senna and Sid Watkins 

The world of F1 lost a great this week when Professor Sid Watkins passed away. An eminent neuro-surgeon, he was the sport’s official doctor for 26 years after being personally headhunted by Bernie Ecclestone back in the dark days of the sport when many high-profile drivers were killed or seriously injured. Affectionately known as the ‘Prof’, he saved the lives of many drivers and probably did more than anyone to pioneer safety in motorsport.  A few years ago, I read Life at the Limit: Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One – Sid Watkins’ recollections of his time in Formula 1 – and it is probably the best book that I have ever read about the sport.

Rest in peace, Sid. You will be greatly missed.


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