Racenotes: Gran Premio Santander d’Italia 2008

Gran Premio Santander d’Italia
(Italian Grand Prix)

Autodromo Nationale Monza [official site] [wikipedia]
Monza, Milan, Italy
5.793 km (3.56 miles)
53 laps

Coverage: ITV1
Paddock analysts: Steve Rider & Mark Blundell
Commentary: James Allen & Martin Brundle
Pitlane: Ted Kravitz & Louise Goodman

Beverage update: Tea during the race this afternoon, these notes are being edited some 7hrs later with the aid of Whitbread Best Bitter.

12:05 To Monza, where we have what is described by Steve Rider as ‘showery, intermediate conditions’.

Report from Ted Kravitz with replays from Spa, the whole Lewis vs Kimi thing. The stewards believed Hamilton didn’t give all of his advantage back which is why he got the penalty.
Alonso agrees with the stewards. Rosberg says he should have waited until one corner later before trying to pass again.

Ted talking to Sir Jackie Stewart: “If it rains as I rather hope it will [because it is always exciting], I think the McLaren is an easier car to drive in the rain than the Ferrari. Both Kovalainen and Hamilton seem to be able to handle the conditions better than Raikkonen or Massa.”

Max Mosely is in the paddock this weekend for the 2nd time this season. Steve says they wanted to ask him about penalties, stewards decisions etc., but they weren’t granted an interview – “we’ll keep trying”.

12:13 Qualifying report with James Allen
STR is based on the old Minardi team and most of the people there were at Minardi.
Hamilton tried intermediate tyres on an out-lap but pitted straight away, he then had a long delay in which his brakes ‘glazed over’. He’s 15th.

START ORDER
Top ten: Vettel, Kovalainen, Webber, Bourdais, Rosberg, Massa, Trulli, Alonso, Glock, Heidfeld
Out in Q2: Kubica, Fisi, DC, Raikkonen, Hamilton
Out in Q1: Barrichello, Piquet, Nakajima, Button, Sutil

Vettel: “I was always dreaming of driving these fast cars and now I’m on pole position.”
Kovi: “We are strong.” Those Finns are always to the point..
Webber talked a lot of words without really saying anything.
Ham: “Very tricky, couldn’t see much. I missed the good window to get a lap in.”

Felipe Massa has had an engine change. The rule is that you have to run the engine for two races, else you get a penalty. An additional rule for this year: there is a ‘joker’ card which means you can make one free unpenalised change. That’s what Massa has taken this time so no penalty for him. Kimi took his after his Valencia unit blowed up.

Vettel again: “Comfortable in these conditions, I was saying ‘we have to push’.”
STR team manager: “We never thought we were a bunch of idiots, we knew we needed more money to be invested. We’ll have a good race.”
Replay of Bourdais interview last week after the race, he was very frustrated at losing three places on the last lap – almost crying.
This is him yesterday when he was much happier: “Its tricky here but starting up front is never a bad thing!”
Vettel: “Long race tomorrow, tough day, we don’t know about the weather. We will have good dreams tonight and we will see tomorrow.”
Berger: Something about Vettel, missed it… “Not a question of beating the sister team, sometimes they are better than us, and we are here to beat all the other teams.” When asked about Bourdais’ contract: “He is doing a good job in a good position.”

Hamilton: “Myself and my engineer made a decision. My brakes because they were so cold they weren’t really working, so I struggled to get heat into the tyres. I just want to get through the first couple of laps, after that I know I can challenge.” I’m bored of hearing about Hamilton so you can look up the rest of what he said. We get these long post-qualifying interviews with him at every single race.

12:27 DC interview, career retrospective ahead of retirement. Lots of good stuff there which I was paying attention to – rather than half-listening while transcribing here..

12:31 Bourdais leaves the pits as the grid starts forming. Blundell, CART race winner, mentions Bourdais’ career in ‘Indycar racing in America’. Near enough, Mark.
I’m amazed we’ve gone 20 minutes before our first ad break which is only taken now.

A wet GP at Monza is very rare, the last one was in 2004 which was only partly-wet, before that you have to go back to the 1970s. The problem here is the spray hangs in the air, helped by the trees at the back of the track.

12:36 Massa almost throws it off the track on his way to the grid! It is still wet out there.

12:41 Louise on the grid with DC asking which tyres he’ll start with. “I think it is quite clear, it is a full wet. The spray back here will be bad, we need to consider a Safety Car start. When you come to Lesmo or Ascari they spray hangs there, you can’t see the nose of your car.”
Max Mosely is on the grid networking, talking to Dietrich Mateschitz who owns Red Bull. The company Red Bull not just the teams.

Martin’s Gridwalk
We go to Martin Brundle on the grid, who has just spoken to Bernd Maylander who drives the Safety Car. They started the GP2 race yesterday with a rolling start behind the SC, he says it was more dangerous because they are carrying a more speed than with a standing start and they had ‘an almighty shunt’.
MB: “Every car has new tyres on. I can see problems in the pitlane with the shiny apron surface, it was slippery yesterday.” Looking for Heikki.. can’t find him, he’s not there, so he asks a McLaren man – when do you know if it is a SC start? “When you do. If it drives away with 5 minutes to go we won’t have one, if it is still there we will.”
With Gerhard Berger, part-owner STR: “Fantastic for us to be here at front of the grid, let’s see if we can meet expectations.” What can you tell the drivers to help them out? “Stay on the road! You know yourself it can be difficult to make speeches.. stay on the road, make use of the safety cars, it’s all about car control. It’s a good chance for a team like us.”
Martin says good luck to Bourdais who says no to an interview – then turns round and bumps into Bernie!
Bernie: “I’d be surprised if [Kimi and Lewis] come through actually. Unusual for me but I’d like the guy on pole to win. The stewards are gonna be busy. Are you still with ITV?” “I haven’t been fired yet.” “They need to buy you an umbrella.”
Bernie in a good mood today! Martin and Bernie have a great relationship on the gridwalks, throwing one liners at each other all over the world. I like his sense of humour which is dry and understated, doesn’t require the exclamation mark..

Martin throws back to Steve because the drivers are getting ready a little earlier than usual with the conditions, he knows none of them will grant an interview at this stage because they have a lot of thinking to do before a wet race.

Louise has found Fisi, might have been recorded during Brundle’s walk: “I like these kind of conditions, it will be difficult with a lot of spray. I feel okay, I hope to get to the end of the race and score points. Safety Car start is the right decision otherwise there is too much spray.”
Steve says we have confirmation of a Safety Car start. It does look like the rain is falling harder now.

The good news is that f1.com live timing is working for me this week. If you watch F1 live on TV and near a computer, make sure you have timing on. TV commentary often misses things and you can spot laptime patterns while they warble about something boring.

12:55 Out of our final pre-race ad break. Official F1 Swirly Graphics ™ means 5 minutes to go, we throw to James and Martin for race commentary.

James is rambling as he often does. This will be a 53 lap race.

Okay – with a Safety Car start we will NOT have a formation lap. When the green lights come on we will start counting laps and the race is ‘live’. When the track is ready they will set the cars loose from the Parabolica.

A reminder of the start order:

Vettel, Kovalainen, Webber, Bourdais, Rosberg, Massa, Trulli, Alonso, Glock, Heidfeld, Kubica, Fisi, DC, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Barrichello, Piquet, Nakajima, Button, Sutil

Scratch Button and Nakajima who are starting from the pitlane – meaning they can change anything they want on the cars because they are no longer in ‘parc ferme’ conditions. Between Qual and Race you can’t change anything on your car without attracting a ‘go to the back’ penalty. They probably had their cars on dry settings.

13:00 Cars pull away – Bourdais doesn’t get away!! He’s pushed to pitlane. Because of the lack of formation lap he will drop a lap if he’s not careful because this is now LAP ONE. Looks like we’ll go green at the end of this lap.

L2 – We stay yellow with massive spray on the front straight. Bourdais has not yet left the pits, they are still working on it. If this had been a normal start the cars would form up on the grid this time and he would not have lost this lap so he got screwed by the rain.
The pack are halfway around and Bourdais is now released, he’s at racing speed to catch them! SC IN THIS LAP

L3 – Merc SC drives away as Vettel holds them back. You cannot pass until you go over the finish line.
Vettel floors it, three wide in spray!
Cautious under braking into 1.. Martin: “It was absolutely right to start them behind the safety car, the spray is horrendous.”
James says the cars spread out more than they usually would in dry conditions. This is because of the visibility. No shit.

L4 – Alonso is racing the two Toyotas. Vettel is considerably faster than anyone else. James says he’s a lot lighter than anyone else. Replay: DC passes Fisi for 11th.
Hamilton missed the chicane, lets Kimi repass…. deja vu…

L6 – Glock spinning, almost takes out Alonso.
Why haven’t Kimi and Lewis passed Fisichella yet?

Kovalainen is now matching Vettel’s pace. Martin is wondering why Hamilton can’t match those times. He seems to not have noticed Fisi holding them up.

Kimi runs at Fisi, just gets out of it in time or Fisi would be pushed off.. now Hamilton tries Kimi.. Close but no.

L8 – Kimi takes Fisi into the first chicane and is now 12th. I thought DC had passed Fisi earlier but he’s now 14th.. the next car for Kimi is Heidfeld who is 3 seconds ahead.

James: Massa is 5th, 0.6s behind Rosberg.
Hamilton racing Fisichella… got him on the pit straight for P13.
Vettel radio: ‘Balance when you can’. Martin: Tell me the balance of the car when you are able to.

There is no traction control this year, it was banned for this season, these guys have to work for it. Have to say it looks great in the wet, the engines sound great, not strangled.
Hamilton passes Kimi at the Lesmo! We didn’t see the start of it. Hamilton now he has it hooked up and is pulling away from Raikkonen.
Replay – Martin: Better traction through the chicane, put his car in the right places.
Rosberg on the radio complaining of tyre degradation on his full wets – Massa is on his arse. Martin says we are getting close to the crossover to intermediates.

This would be too early for a fuel stop but you would lose too much time on the wrong tyres to even think of not changing. I think the one-stoppers are going to have to stop twice because of tyres.

We’re getting ad breaks every 10 minutes.. Live timing is showing Fisichella has stopped on the track.

L13 – Massa has been passed by Rosberg, we didn’t see the Rosberg over Massa move. Hamilton has passed Heidfeld for 10th as Massa takes Rosberg again. Maybe he had to give the place back before?

Replay: DC passes Fisichella, who hits DC’s tyre. Later in the lap Fisichella’s front wing collapses and he’s in the tyre barrier! That might have hurt. Shame, he was running well for that car.

L15 – Massa sets fastest lap. Hamilton on the outside of Glock, who is fighting back but is pushed on the grass.. not a good thing..
Hamilton is immediately on to Kubica just ahead of them. Vettel is already one pit stop ahead of Massa in 4th!
Martin thinks Hamilton wouldn’t know Glock was there because of the spray and the small mirrors. Replay: Not much spray there IMO…

Rubens Barrichello has stopped but TV missed it. I’ll watch his laptimes as I think he’s on different tyres.

Alonso radio: more rain in 5 minutes, for a long time.
L18 – Hamilton passes Kubica quickly.
L19 – Vettel pits from the lead. I could get used to typing that. They put on a new set of the full wets. Barrichello’s numbers aren’t any different to anyone else’s so that would suggest he’s done the same.

Hamilton has taken Alonso on the front straight! He is now 7th. Kubica had cut the chicane, Glock passes him.
Hamilton is now 6sec ahead of Raikkonen.

Ted: The FIA told Massa to give the place back to Rosberg.
Martin: We need a different camera angle though, if they keep two wheels inside the white line it’s okay, that’s the normal line at Monza.

L20 – Vettel runs 4th. Hamilton is catching Trulli at 1.5sec per lap. Raikkonen is still 12th. Glock makes a clean pass of Alonso who looks like he’s used up his tyres.
L22 – Hamilton passes Trulli, but has to cut the chicane because he’s in too hot. Has to give the place back.

L23 – In all of this everyone seems to have forgotten Kovalainen who is leading. He now pits. Massa is also in, James says earlier than expected. Webber also in.
Hamilton passes Glock legitimately.
Raikkonen trying Heidfeld, can’t do it. Kimi is struggling under braking but Nick has it nailed.
Vettel leads again from Rosberg, Hamilton, Trulli, Glock, Kovalainen, Alonso, Kubica, Webber, Heidfeld, Raikkonen, Massa, DC, Piquet, Naka, Sutil, Button, Barrichello, Bourdais.
Only a third of the grid has made a stop so this is sort of a false picture..

L25 – Hamilton is now 2nd and is the fastest man on the track. Slipstream move on Rosberg, just drove around him.
Hamilton could be one-stopping. Vettel radio: Hamilton will be stopping in 3 laps.
Glock pits. Hamilton sets fastest lap.
No sign of the rain from Alonso’s radio call earlier.

When Massa pitted he came out behind Heidfeld and is losing a lot of time behind him. He’s stuck like Kimi was.

L26 – Ted: “Everyone who has stopped has taken full wets. Thought Glock would try intermediates.”
Raikkonen pits and takes full wets. Trulli is also in.
Hamilton is catching Vettel, he’s only 1.1s behind but does need to stop. Vettel will also need to stop again in this race – will Hamilton need a 2nd stop?
L28 – Hamilton pits and takes full wets. Clear track when he gets out, there’s a Renault in the background.
If Hamilton doesn’t stop again he’s carrying a lot of fuel and will need to protect his tyres – and will need it to rain some more.
L29 – Rosberg pits, he also has full wets. Fuel hose is stuck! Gets going.. This is Williams’ 500th GP.
Coulthard pits and he HAS taken the intermediates! He’s a long way back in the field and has nothing to lose, the track is drying now. Will it rain?
Replay: DC exiting pits doesn’t even take to the first corner, runs up the escape road.
L30 – Heidfeld pits but we don’t see it. Bourdais pits from a lap down..
Alonso, Kubica, Piquet and Nakajima have yet to stop.

L31 – Alonso is now in. Martin says Hamilton has a good chance of winning this race and Massa will have to stop again. Alonso does take intermediates.
Raikkonen passes Trulli for 10th. He’d already taken Glock on the previous lap.
I’d like to know what they make of the chances of Kovalainen.

L32 – From the timing – Coulthard is lapping at roughly the pace of the guys on full wets. That means we’re at the crossover point between tyres – it will now come down to whether it rains or not.

L34 – Massa pits from 5th. He’s on intermediates now. Rosberg is in. Everyone is switching because Alonso is the fastest car on the track on intermediates. DC and Nakajima are also fast but a way back.
Kovalainen is in from 2nd, he’s 16sec behind the leader. Kubica is in for his first stop, Webber is in. Everyone going to inters.

If it rains heavily now all these guys are screwed.
L36 – Massa has passed Webber for position – Webber spins!! Saves it. He’s struggled with the change of tyre.
Kimi changes tyres.

Hamilton is going to have to change tyres, he’s second now and still needs that rain. It is still wet but there isn’t enough water on the track for his full wets.

Vettel pits for the change to inters. He has a full pitstop over Hamilton.
Piquet is running 3rd and still hasn’t made a stop!
Hamilton has pitted for inters, his chance of winning has now gone.
Massa sets fastest lap. Piquet has now stopped, he’s going to get a good result.
Hamilton sliding it past Webber, great driving when he doesn’t know what grip he’ll have on these tyres!

L38 – Kovalainen has cut the gap to Vettel from 16sec to 9.5sec through the stops, in laps, out laps. There are 16 laps to go.
Hamilton sets fastest lap.. some was faster than anyone else. 2 seconds faster! He’s 7th, 5.5sec behind Massa.

Order after stops: Vettel, Kovalainen, Kubica, Alonso, Heidfeld, Massa, Hamilton, Webber, Barrichello (eh??), Coulthard, Button (?), Piquet, Nakajima, Raikkonen, Glock, Trulli, Rosberg, Sutil, Bourdais

Kubica’s long run worked for him, he pitted at just the right time, as did Alonso. Coulthard is 10th so it worked for him too. Where did Rubens come from? Does he need to stop again? It hasn’t worked at all for Kimi who is still 14th.
L40 – Massa is trying to get by Heidfeld. Hamilton is close behind both and catching fast.

L43 – Kimi takes Nakajima for 14th. Martin: It’s interesting but not really what we want to see, we want to see Massa and Hamilton.
Glock takes Nakajima too.

There are ten laps to go.

Replay: Coulthard runs across the middle of the Ascari chicane.
L44 – Barrichello pits from 9th, he did need a stop.
Ted: “Barrichello has put on the full wets – do they know something the others don’t? All the teams are given the same forecast by Meteo France.”

Piquet messes up turn one.

L46 – Kimi now sets fastest lap as he catches DC and Button.
Kovalainen was 0.7s slower than Vettel on that last lap! McLaren vs Toro Rosso. This isn’t supposed to happen!
Button has now pitted. He’s taken the inters again.

Webber now sets the fastest lap! Kimi takes it straight back again. Shame you don’t get an extra point for that. Replay of Kimi passing Coulthard, he’s caught Piquet now.
Kimi passes Piquet for 9th. Piquet missed the chicane as Glock and DC fight.
Webber has caught Hamilton, he was 1sec faster last lap. Has Hamilton wasted his tyres already?
Lewis pushes Webber wide so Webber has to take the escape road.. they touched wheels.. Martin says he’s pushing his luck. I say Mark will NOT like that..

L50 – Raikkonen is still setting fastest laps but he’s 16sec behind Webber who is 8th, the last points-paying place.

Vettel is fourteen seconds clear of Kovalainen. Martin: “I tell you this kid has gotta change his attitude, he’s polite with the media, shakes your hand, shakes the soundman’s hand, gives explanations and has a great sense of humour – he’ll give Grand Prix drivers a bad name!”

L51 – Coulthard hits Nakajima! DC has to pit with damage.
Raikkonen is consistently two seconds per lap faster than pretty much every car except Alonso.

L53 – Final lap. James on Vettel: “Every now and then you see something which reminds you why love Formula One. This is one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in 20 years of Formula One.”

The fans horns are blowing. Final corner.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL WINS!!
He applaudes himself. Even HE can’t believe it. Martin: “Faultless in dificult conditions.”
No position changes on the last lap.
Radio: “You have won the Italian Grand Prix. We’re proud of you.”
Vettel on the radio in Italian. I like that he took time to learn the lingo.

James: “I won’t even ask your driver of the day, it has to be Vettel, it has to be the drive of the season let alone day.” Martin agrees, suspects STR have moved ahead of RBR in the teams standings. Ferrari engine, the main team has the Renault.

Result:
Vettel 53 laps [10 pts]
Kovalainen +12.5sec [8]
Kubica +20.4s [6]
Alonso +23.9s [5]
Heidfeld +27.7s [4]
Massa +28.8s [3]
Hamilton +29.9s [2]
Webber +32.0s [1]
Raikkonen +39.4s
Piquet +54.4s
Glock +58.8s
Nakajima +62.0s
Trulli +65.9s
Rosberg +68.6s
Button +73.3s
Coulthard (-1 lap)
Barrichello (-1)
Bourdais (-1)
Sutil (-2)
Fisichella (-42 DNF)

STR get 10 pts, McLaren 10, BMW 10, Renault 5, Ferrari 3, RBR 1

Fastest lap: Kimi Raikkonen, 1m28.047, lap 53 (the final lap!)

Cars have returned to the pits. Vettel is out of the car, diligently replaces the wheel and head restraints, then arms aloft! Alonso congratulates him as does Kubica. I’m glad F1 doesn’t do that false choreography of NASCAR and IRL, I hate manufactured reactions.

Martin: “McLaren’s cloud should’ve had a Kovalainen today.” groan!

They are on the podium! Vettel is grinning. Great to see this. German anthem for Sebastian. Look at the crowd on the straight now. Italian anthem for STR!
Who would believe this team used to be Minardi?
We’ve heard that combination of anthems far too much over the years with a certain Herr Schumacher. This is the first time I’m genuinely pleased to hear it.
Gerhard Berger collects the trophy for STR. He won 10 races as a driver, Brundle says this will top all of them.
Kovalainen does NOT look happy.
Kubica gets the trophy for third.

Champagne! Sprayed over the masses by the youngest ever winner in F1. He takes that record from Alonso.

Steve is with Mario Theissen who used to employ Vettel as test driver: “They were the best team today. Sebastian did a fantastic job. He’s just 21 we shouldn’t put too much pressure on him.”

STR team bloke: “Sebastian wrote a bit of history.” And you used to be Minardi! “We always dream of the podium, our first podium is P1 in Monza in Italy. Unbelieveable.”

Press Conference
Peter Windsor: All I can say is Sebastian, over to you: “Unbelievable. All race we had no problems, good race, very good strategy. For sure the best day of my life. So much better than you might think it is. Big big thank you to all the guys in the team. It’s great, fantastic, I’m speechless.”
“We were thinking it might be dry today and we didn’t change wing settings, so on the straight lines we were bloody fast. I was pushing hard, nearly over the limit. It was more tricky in the middle of the race with no standing water [to help the tyres]. Overall what a weekend! Pole position, race win, I don’t know what to say really.”
“I was thinking it still says P1 on my board, how can that be?”

Heikki: “Clearly not possible to win today, Sebastian and Toro Rosso very strong. I had a problem in the first couple of stints especially with the full wets. Problem warming the brakes. Got some good points, we can look forward to the next one now.”
“The problem was related to the ambient temperature.”

Robert: “Quite good weekend. We were the first car out of Q3 so we could choose our strategy. I make up quite good pace closing gap to Heikki but he was too far away. Start of the race was difficult, I overtook Nick without seeing him, suddenly I realised I’m ahead of him. Lewis got by quickly, he was faster but we stayed out longer.”

ITV cut away here so we didn’t see what Vettel said when they returned to him.

Louise with Lewis: “I drove a good race, started to close, think I was up to second at one stage and if it had rained I would have won. Once I got behind Felipe I overcooked the tyres and struggled to stay with him.”

Ted with Norbert Vettel, Sebastian’s dad: “Thank you very much. It’s perfect.” I don’t think he can speak much English – or he might just be speechless!

Not many post-race interviews from ITV today, they are talking to Mark Blundell more often.

ITV Sport has left the building in order to get Police Academy 3 on the air. Really!

Points:
Drivers: Top Ten
1 78 Hamilton
2 77 Massa (-1 back)
3 64 Kubica (-14)
4 57 Raikkonen (-21)
5 53 Kovalainen (-25) [+1]
6 51 Heidfeld (-27) [-1]
7 28 Alonso (-50) [+1]
8 26 Trulli (-52) [-1]
9 23 Vettel (-55) [+?]
10 20 Webber (-58) [-1]

Massa only scored one more point than Hamilton, mission accomplished in terms of damage-limitation from 15th. Kimi didn’t score! Frankly now I’d be more worried about Kubica.

Constructors
134 Ferrari
129 McLaren
117 BMW-Sauber
41 Toyota
41 Renault
27 STR-Ferrari
26 Red Bull-Renault
17 Williams-Toyota
14 Honda

Toro Rosso are indeed ahead of Red Bull Racing! Both McLaren and BMW close on Ferrari. Renault have caught up to Toyota.

Next up is the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix, the first F1 race to be held under the lights. Because of the time difference, and the fact it will be night there, the race will get under way at the same time as it did today in Italy, that’s 1pm UK time.

Some of the F1 personnel are a little wary of the safety aspect but I think it’ll be fine. They race in the US under lights all the time, albeit ovals, and it seemed to work okay on a road course for that MotoGP race in Qatar. It’ll look spectacular with the city as a backdrop – I’m not sure the racing will be up to scratch after seeing the track map. Let’s hope it is.

That’s a fortnight away and there isn’t the usual IndyCar race in the middle to keep us occupied, so it gives us a little break. I’m not sure I want a break…

I’ll see you later in the week for something, I’m sure.

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2 thoughts on “Racenotes: Gran Premio Santander d’Italia 2008”

  1. I thought I heard Vettel speaking Italian at the end. That was pretty cool.That was quite a crowd they had at the podium ceremony. I am not sure if it was just the camera angle or what, but it looked like they a ton of people there. Must be something to see..

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