Winners and Losers: Italian GP

Sunday 08-September-2013 23:02

Lewis and Kimi may have been the Championship losers, but they set a desperately dull race at Monza alight.

Star of the Race
Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, 5th
As unspectacular a race performance as it could ever be to earn Star of the Race, Hulkenberg was fifth on Lap 1 and fifth on Lap 53 when it really counted. He had a dreadful start, but a fantastic finish, fending off the late-race pace of Nico Rosberg. The real work had been done in Q3 on Saturday (just imagine how Esteban Gutierrez, who exited in Q1, felt afterwards - for a lot of free practice he'd been quicker than Hulkenberg).

Overtaking Move of the Race
Up until Lap 44 the Overtaking Move of the Race was undoubtedly Fernando Alonso's Lap 3 move on Mark Webber, driving round the outside of the Red Bull driver going into the second chicane. And then on Lap 44 Kimi Raikkonen lined up Adrian Sutil's Force India out of Ascari, closed up with a tow down the back straight and passed him on the outside going round Parabolica.It was an overtaking move that few have pulled off in anger and one of the undoubted passes of the season.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1st
That first corner lock-up could have been very costly - Raikkonen and Hamilton's untimely pit-stops cast them both into the wilderness - but despite a fragile front right he was able to set fastest laps in the opening stint. Red Bull expressed surprise and delight that they were able to run so well at Monza, but after Spa was it ever in question that they would be fast here?

Fernando Alonso,Ferrari, 2nd
Fernando duly stuck the dagger between his teeth, as exhorted by Ferrari boss Luca Montezemolo (or, as Suzi Perry dubbed him, Luca Montezemelio - which is just as good). Montezemolo reportedly sent all the Ferrari team members a knife to stick between their teeth like pirates. There was no sign of them during pit-stops, although a few might have been sharpened after they were described as geniuses during qualifying.

In the race, Alonso sounded more agitated than usual as he spoke to engineer Andrea Stella (who of course used to be Kimi Raikkonen's old race engineer) in Italian and when the translation "stay calm, let's do some greens" came back you realised it wasn't the fact that it was the more emotive Italian, it was the more emotive Alonso. Mama mia.

Mark Webber, Red Bull, 3rd
It's probably a good job that Fernando and Mark are mates because he could have made it a lot more difficult for Alonso to get past on Lap 3. The gearbox gremlins robbed him of the chance to really challenge for P2 towards the end but round Monza it's one thing catching and another thing passing, as Rosberg and Button were aware of all afternoon. Mark was "aiming for a bit of bubbly" and managed to gain his reward plus he got to go up on the podium and experience some authentic tifosi jeers for his team.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 4th
Felipe was reassuringly close to Fernando in the race and outqualified him without the benefit of a Ferrari tow. He could hardly have done more to ensure his continued employment at Maranello this weekend - and he obviously has Alonso's blessing. Surely only Raikkonen could replace him. Hulkenberg may be good but in some races he's anonymous.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 6th
Qualified sixth, was sixth at the end of the opening lap and sixth at the finish line. Mathematically he qualified a lot better than Lewis Hamilton but it would be interesting to know how Mercedes viewed his lack of progress through the race. Lewis was a lot racier and a lot quicker, but had the benefit of being on Medium tyres for a lot longer.

Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 7th
The first post-announcement GP for Daniel and another competent performance. Next year he could be on that podium, so it might be worth renewing his Italian roots. His father Joe comes from Sicily so there could be some interesting connections to look up. Having said that the north of Italy (Monza/Milan) and the south of Italy don't especially get on.


Paul DiResta, Force India, DNF
With arch rival Nico Hulkenberg producing the qualifying performance of the season on Saturday, Paul really needed to show that his race craft and racing skills were also worthy of consideration. As it was there was nothing but embarrassment from the Scot as he skeetered into the back of a wholly innocent Grosjean, his first ever first-lap retirement (David Coulthard was at pains to point out). This on a weekend where Andy Murray lost and the football team were beaten at home by Belgium.

Adrian Sutil, Force India, 20th
The penalty that Sutil got on Saturday for impeding Hamilton in qualifying was not enough. With those two there's previous and so what might have been the correct penalty for a driver with no serious grudge, was inadequate when there was a suspicion it might have been less than accidental. Monza is a high speed track and the higher the speed the more difficult the radio communication from the team, but even so, that was a five placer...

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 9th
If Lewis and Kimi's World Championship campaigns were tottering before the race, two unexpectedly early stops at Monza dealt them a fatal blow. Lewis, Kimi and Fernando all needed to score big points in Italy with Vettel sidelined, but it required a major gearbox failure or similar - and though Red Bull did replace 5th, 6th and 7th gears in the cars after qualifying, the team managed to get away with it penalty free.

Lewis was gloomy after qualifying and also the race - however global broadcasters will be grateful that both he and Raikkonen suffered setbacks because without their heroic moves up and down the field it would have been a monumentally dull race. As it was we hardly got to see the top six cars, all the action was elsewhere.

The reason that everybody has been focusing so hard on who the new No.2 driver at Red Bull was going to be and if Felipe Massa will stay at Ferrari and if Kimi Raikkonen will stay at Lotus is because it's the only real uncertainty in F1 right now. The drivers' title is a forgone conclusion.

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 11th
Raikkonen set some phenomenal lap times during the race and Eric Boullier was keen to point afterwards that he was the second fastest man after Vettel. That may be so, but like Hamilton, he had Medium tyres on for most of the race and was racing around on his own, not impeded by a hard-to-pass Toro Rosso or a stubborn Sauber. As mentioned above, he and Hamilton provided all the entertainment and shared out two points between them.

Sergio Perez, McLaren, 12th
Checo missed an opportunity at the start when he got in front of Ricciardo yet got punted down the escape road by Kimi Raikkonen. When he filtered back in it was behind the Toro Rosso which then acted like an effective plug on anybody getting past as it was so quick in a straight line. Had Checo been in front of it...

Interestingly the stewards didn't investigate the incident at all, or didn't appear to. Last race Perez got a drive-through penalty for moving across on Grosjean in the braking zone for Les Combes. He must wonder why, when he gets a shove from behind with an impact big enough to warrant a front wing being replaced, that incident goes without some sanction. Like Williams when they celebrated their 600th race this year, it wasn't the best of results for McLaren to celebrate 50 years in existence - a 10th (Button) and a 12th place.

Eddie Jordan: "You know I hate predictions"
Christian Horner:"That's because you're not very good at them."

David Coulthard: To Christian Horner talking about Red Bull's impressive double pit-stop on Lap 23. "Have you employed some octopuses in the team...?"
Suzi Perry: There are a few octopsus in the paddock, that's for sure."

Rumours Fly About El Grumpo

Andrew Davies

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