Monza Review - Blue brings the Boo's

 


Boo! Monza. The home of passion, speed and emotion. Emotion that runs high. Sometimes a little too so. The passion is always there, but occasionally misplaced. But what of the speed? Who came out on top today? Oh, Sebastian Vettel. A dull race then? Not one bit.

Despite an uncustomary poor start, Vettel still went on to break the crucial 1 second gap to the car behind within a lap. Gone. Long gone. Untroubled. Well, untroubled from behind at least. Nursing a gearbox issue for the last part of the race was the only blip on what was again a brilliant for the Championship leader. He becomes the first driver this season to record back-to-back victories, extending his advantage over his nearest rival to 53 points.

So what of his rivals? Again, as so often has happened this season, the driver with the most momentum (this time Lewis Hamilton) had a disappointing weekend. The pace was there, clear as day. The combination of a poor Q2 yesterday and a slow puncture today removed any real chance of Lewis being able to challenge for the serious points. The frustration clear to see, the realisation that yet another Championship is slipping away, even more so. Having said that, who can honestly say they saw Merc as genuine title contenders before the season start? As previously mentioned, the speed was in the car. The luck was somewhat lacking.

Two non scores in a row. Two poor Saturday's in a row. Two race weekends where so much more could have been achieved. The results? An 88 point deficit. Ouch. Seven races left, and almost a four-race winning gap to claw back. Impossible? No. Highly unlikely? Oh yes. Especially considering the team's relative inability to turn race winning pace into race winning wins. (That makes sense, right?)

So it once falls again to Fernando Alonso to take up the charge of being Sebastian Vettel's main challenger. A second successive second place is a fine result, but will it feel so great when looked at in relation to location and, more importantly, the man who finished ahead of him? Once again Vettel has beaten all his rivals in fairly commanding style. Would things have been different if Hamilton and Raikkonen had qualified where the pace of the car suggests they should have been? You'd have to say yes. But did they qualify where they should have? No. Seb did. Seb started from pole; and Seb won. 25 points in the bag.

Watching Lewis and Kimi fighting through the field was thoroughly enjoyable to see. Precision, respect and a firm stamp of authority exuded from the majority of the field today. Yes, that's something you may expect from two drivers of that ilk. But from drivers who've been in the headlines for the wrong reasons more often than not this season, it was great to witness. It shows the likes of Grosjean, Maldonado and Gutierrez can race, that they can overtake, even when battling each other. There was some jolly fine driving today, all the way through the field. One move to sum it up? Alonso overtaking Webber around the outside of the second chicane. Those two on track together is something we'll all miss next season, I'm certain.

Talking of Webber; a podium finish in Italy. Hooray! His final European race ends on a positive note. Could he have finished one step higher? Possibly, but gearbox gremlins again stuttered the progress of the gritty Aussie. The delight on his face clear to see, as was the affection from the crowd. It must not be the blue suit the Tifosi don't like then...?

Driver of the day? Driver of the weekend? Nico Hulkenberg. A superb 3rd place on Saturday followed up by an excellent 5th place on Sunday. By far his and the team's most competitive weekend of the season, just at the right time? If you're wanting to catch the eye of Ferrari, what better place than Monza to have an almost faultless weekend?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Hulkenberg's talent is wasted in the midfield. He's served his apprenticeship at Williams, Force India and now Sauber. Surely he's now ready for that big move? Personally I believe he should have been signed for this season by either Ferrari or McLaren. He wasn't. For the 2014 season, he really should be. The Hulk on a prancing horse anyone? 'Phillip' Massa may have something to say about that. The ultimate team player once again displaying his willingness to help the cause. A strong weekend for Brazilian, but was it enough to remind Ferrari what he can do for himself and the team?

So what of Red Bull's new boy? 7th place; ahead of both Lotus', both McLaren's and a Merc. A good at the office then. Or was it one that could have delivered more? As was said on commentary by Martin Brundle, it just felt there was more to come from the Toro Rosso car. They've shown strong pace throughout the weekend, and with excellent top speed were very hard to overtake from behind. But neither car really seemed capable of going forwards? Had Q3 on Saturday been more of a success, maybe a top five result would have been capable. Still, a fine day at the office for Ricciardo. As for Vergne, he found himself watching from the sidelines again. That's five retirements in twelve races for the Frenchman.

A poor weekend for Force India, again, summed up by Paul Di Resta's brake locking and race-ending contact with the back of Romain Grosjean's Lotus on lap 1. No points for the team, the third time in the last four races that that's been the case; a worrying trend for a team that started the season so well. Have they suffered more than most with a change in tyres?

Uncompetitive in qualifying, uncompetitive in the race. 2013 is not a year Williams will look back on fondly. It really was a weekend to sum up their season. Still, there was some greats news today coming out of Williams. Pastor Maldonado and his wife, Gaby, are now parents. A brilliant end to a tough weekend. To echo the team's sentiments, "we couldn't be happier for them all"!

Despite needing to stop twice, it was Caterham who came out on top in the battle for 10th place in the Constructors'. They certainly look to have the advantage over Marussia at this moment in time, but without beating Jules Bianchi's 13th place from Malaysia earlier this season, the team in green will continue to find themselves propping up the standings.

Monza 2013. It may not have been a race full of incidents, accidents and panel-bashing drama. But we did find ourselves witnessing a race of supreme skill, guile and intrigue. A typical 'what-if?' race. What if's make for great discussions down the pub, but it's the 'what happened' on the track that matters.

Sebastian Vettel won, extended his lead, and now heads to the tracks which have traditionally suited the Red Bull better than all other challengers. A scary thought isn't it? If Spa and Monza were supposedly 'weak' circuits, then what on earth are they and he going to be capable of from Singapore onwards?


Paul Godley - 08/09/2013

The image you see at the top is something I have drawn. If there's a particular driver that you would like drawing in that style, please don't hesitate to contact me!

Top Drivers

 
Driver Points
Hamilton 252
Rosberg 211
Vettel 203
Raikkonen 107
Bottas 101
Massa 97
 

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