Race Notes: Italian Grand Prix 2009

2009 Formula 1 Gran Premio Santander d’Italia
Date: 13 September 2009
Circuit: Autodromo Nazionale di Monza (PitlaneFanatic) (GoogleCircuits)
Location: Parco Monza, Milan, Italy
Distance: 53 laps
Tyre choices (red): SS / S / M / H

Coverage: BBC One / BBC Radio 5 Live[*]
Anchor: Jake Humphrey
Analysts in the paddock: David Coulthard (DC) and Eddie Jordan (EJ)

R5 commentary[*]: David Croft (Crofty) and Anthony Davidson (Ant)
R5 pitlane[*]: Holly Samos

[*for many years the BBC has held the UK radio rights to F1. In ’09 they also picked up the TV rights and they now offer an alternate feed on digital television, combining TV pics with radio commentary. I tend to use this feed.]

Coverage begins at 12.10pm.

DVR Notes

Monza. Home to the Tifosi. 5 races remain. 4 title contenders. Webber on 51.5, Vettel on 53, Barrichello on 56, Button on 72.

Eddie says the contenders are falling away, they aren’t making the most of Brawn not scoring.
David thinks lots of driver contracts have been agreed, they just haven’t been announced yet. This is the normal contract-signing time.

Singapore 2008
Alonso had a fast car but was only 16th after an engine problem. Renault gambled on a light fuel load. When Piquet crashed the SC came out, which was perfect because Alonso had just pitted and nobody else had.
Fast-forward to Hungary 2009 where Piquet was sacked. Piquet told the FIA he crashed deliberately because he was asked to by Briatore and Symonds. Alonso says he knew nothing.
[We’ve since learned the outcome of the hearing which you can read elsewhere on this blog, so I will skip this part of the notes.]

Qualifying
Two weeks ago Giancarlo Fisichella took pole for Force India, this week he’s sitting in a Ferrari.
Liuzzi has taken his Force India place.
Fisichella took 14th and Liuzzi bagged 7th, his team-mate Sutil took 2nd position which is his career-best starting place in F1.

Sutil could have had pole without a slide.

BMW suffered two engine failures within two minutes. Theissen says both engines were new, and they had the same failure.

Title contenders in the middle of the grid.

Webber, 10th: “Tough weekend, we can’t pass the KERS cars on the track so we’ll do something in the pit stops.”

Rubens, 5th: “Lots of the fuel in the car, wasn’t expecting the times, it was great.”
Jenson: “It felt good on a heavy fuel load, we’ll have that for most of the race.”

Hamilton says it will be anyone’s race and he has the best opportunity.

Ted: Raikkonen has a chance from 3rd. Kovalainen was the star of qualifying fuel-corrected.

Grid
Hamilton (pole), Sutil
Raikkonen, Kovalainen
Barrichello, Button
Liuzzi, Alonso
Vettel, Webber
Trulli, Grosjean
Kubica, Fisichella
Heidfeld, Glock
Nakajima, Rosberg
Buemi
Alguersuari starts from pitlane after changing ‘performance parts’ on the car.

Jenson feature.
JB: “Season is very long, you have ups and down, you have to perform as well as you can as often as you can. You’re not going to be the best at every race, that’s never been done before. The last couple of races have been frustrating for one reason or another, we’ve got 5 to go, I’m not thinking of points at each race. I go thinking I wanna win.”
Says he also wants to have fun, there’s no point being here if you’re not having fun. There’s more but I can’t say I’m interested. We’ve had so many Jenson and Lewis features this season I’m failing to care any more.

Pitlane open.
We can no longer hear the pundits because they are standing in pit lane.

EJ visits his old team Jordan, now Force India, in their pit garage.
Chief engineer Dominic: “We showed we’ve really got performance in the car here and at Spa. We almost got pole. I think Adrian’s got certainly the measure of all of them. [Tonio] has been a revelation all weekend, he’s very well placed.”
Team manager Andy Stevenson: “We’ve had a tough season but the boys have been developing very well, we’ve got more parts coming in Singapore to give us more speed.”

Live in the pitlane again. Kevin Pieterson, cricketer for England. Blah blah blah, why are we talking to him?

Walk to the grid..

Brundle & DC Gridwalk!

MB: “Cars have a lot of front wing but a skinny rear wing.”
DC: “30% less load on the car here than at a typical Grand Prix track.”
Drivers concerned about the first chicane but the main focus for the driver is getting a clean start.

Sutil: “1 stop and 2 stop is very similar time on the simulation so we stick on this plan, we’re confident. I have to defend my position quite hard, 3 KERS cars around, big fight at the start.”
He’s not concerned about Raikkonen a row behind, despite all the times they’ve come together in races.

Rubens, gearbox ok? “Everything’s fine, the gearbox was not a problem for the whole Spa race.”
They talk about the coolpack Rubens is wearing.
Bernie, who’s your money on: “I hope its somebody driving an Indian car.”
He’s not worried about Renault, we’ll have to wait until the 21st.

Good gridwalk today.

Italian National Anthem

Anthem from a brass band, sounds terrible, perhaps they are being distracted by the dead crows on their heads.

Track guide with MB and MW.
Turn 1, Variante del Rettifilio. Large kerbs with heavy braking.
They skip the Curva Granda and the second chicane to go to the Lesmos, specifically Lesmo 2 which is tricky tight corner.
Variante Ascari is skipped (what??), to talk about the Parabolica. Webber says you just have to try and find a line, then the track opens up and away you go so you’ve got to the get the right line all the way through.

Ted repeats Kovalainen is the favourite to win as he was fastest fuel-corrected. He needs to be no more than 15sec behind Hamilton at Lewis’ first stop.

We’ve got three two-stopper cars at the front on a completely different strategy to the rest, the heavy one-stoppers.

Formation Lap
Switching to 302 for 5Live audio. Love their coverage of the formation lap. The main TV feed is very dry and boring, big gaps while they try and fill for time, while on the radio feed it is action all the way, pumped up music and rapid-fire scene-setting.

Live Notes

Grid set.
1.2.3.4.5..GO!

Someone missed chicane.
Webber in the wall!
Liuzzi passed Kovy.
Lots of passing! Can’t keep up with notes.

Replays:

Kimi on the outside passes Sutil.
Glock went through chicane.
Alonso alongside Liuzzi in turn 1, can’t quite make it.

Back live and Alonso passes Kovalainen who is dropping like a stone it seems.

We are on Lap 5. Rosberg pits for a front wing endplate.

Replay: Kubica tagged Webber and turned him around.

We can see damage on Kubica’s front wing similar to what was just repaired for Rosberg.

Hamilton is setting very quick laps. Only the first few cars are on light fuel so expect them to pull away.

L8 Black and orange flag for Kubica’s front wing.

Hamilton, Raikkonen, Sutil, Barrichello, Button, Liuzzi, Alonso, Kovalainen, Kubica, Vettel, Heidfeld, Fisichella, Nakajima, Trulli, Glock, Buemi, Alg, Grosjean, Rosberg

L10 Kubica pits for a new nose.
Sutil sets a purple fastest sector 1!

Radio to Grosjean… “2nd gear in turns 1 and 2, we have hot gearbox”

This race is flying by!

L13 Radio conversation with Hamilton. They will take the harder tyre in the next stint.

Hamilton stops on lap 16. He’s out between Button and Liuzzi.

Kubica pits and retires.
Rosberg has had another stop.

L18 Sutil pits, he’s out between Alonso and Kovy. Heikki tries to use to KERS to pass but not enough room! As soon as Sutil’s tyres come in, he just drives away from the McLaren.
Just Raikkonen left of the light runners. Button gets a message that he’s only 1sec behind Raikkonen on strategy and closing nicely. As the message ends Kimi pits and he’s out between the 1-stopping Liuzzi and Alonso.

L20 Alguersuari is being wheeled back into the garage, he is out.

L21 The Brawns are currently leading by 12 seconds but they are actually racing Hamilton for position after the stops shake out – remember their stops will be longer than Hamilton’s.

L23 Lewis being told he’ll need 3 or 4 tenths to beat the BRawns.
Oh no! Liuzzi has stopped off track!! Car failure. Parks it at the Roggia.

L25 Barrichello is gradually opening it out against Button.

L27 Alonso is the first 1-stopper to pit.

L28 Kovalainen and Vettel pit. Heikki is out behind Nakajima and Trulli – Alonso beat both of them, but only just. We’re not shown where Vettel emerges.
Before that stop Barrichello sets fastest lap.

L29 Button pits. Thermal image!

Liuzzi says he had gearbox problem.

L30 Barrichello pits. His stop is half a second faster than Button’s! Great job for both cars.

This puts Hamilton back into the lead – but he still has to make his second stop, as do Raikkonen and Sutil. Hamilton has 14 seconds on Barrichello and that’s not enough.

L31 Fisichella pits from 7th. A long line of cars mug him as he’s at pitlane speed..

L33 Buemi passes Fisichella for 13th. Hamilton sets the fastest lap of the race.

L35 Hamilton makes his second stop. 7.7sec. Barrichello passes him… so does Button! Hamilton 3rd!

L36 Nakajima and Trulli are in.
L37 Fastest lap from Sutil!
L38 Raikkonen and Sutil just half a second apart and both pit together.
Raikkonen still leads between the two and emerge into a clear track, looks like they should be 4th and 5th behind Hamilton.

Sutil had a slide into his box and hit one of his men, who knocks off his right wing mirror.

L40 Race between the two Toyotas! Trulli ahead of Glock.

L42 Crofty says if Heidfeld finishes it will make 41 consecutive race finishes.

Things have gone into a stalemate now.

Barrichello leads by 4s over Button, then 1.6 to Hamilton who is pushing Button, then 12.7 down to Raikkonen and Sutil running very close together.

L47 Button responded to Hamilton on the last lap with a personal best, he’s catching Barrichello gradually.

L49 Big Toyota fight! Glock and Trulli fighting each other after Trulli was pushed out wide by Nakajima. Trulli then off track and loses a lot of time.

L51 Hamilton pushing hard and catching Button, but there isn’t enough time.

L53 Final lap.

Hamilton crashes at the Lesmos on the last lap, BIG hit, debris everywhere!

Yellows out, SC boards. No overtaking on the last lap – shame..

Rubens Barrichello wins!

Slowdown lap.. cars picking their way through Hamilton’s debris.. I have no idea if the SC actually went out, there wasn’t much point if it did, being the last lap..

Parc Ferme

Rubens makes a Bolt-style arrow motion..

R5L coverage ends, back on main feed.

Newly-beardless Rubens makes his way upstairs to the little room behind the podium.

Podium

Should be a popular victory for the Italians after his Ferrari stint. Air horns!

Brazilian anthem
British anthem
Trophies.
Champagne!

Absolutely love the track invasion at Monza. Great atmosphere.

Ross Brawn: “You could see it was tidy, Lewis was pushing him, Jenson looked very smooth I felt he had it under control.” Says he’ll demand his drivers fight for the title fairly if/when it comes down to them for the the championship. New experience and new pressure for Jenson, a pressure which is a privelidge.

Conference
with Peter Windsor once again, because James Allen was called away for some reason.

Rubens:

“It feels great, I have no words. I had a tough night, we didn’t know the gearbox and this and that, there are some concerns. Had a great start. Kovalainen was coming fast with the power button, I had to defend wide, great first lap. Pace was there, brakes were great. Felt great.”

Jenson:

“It was a messy (first) lap, we made up a position which was fantastic. Kovalainen was struggling a little bit, through the second chicane, through Lesbo 1 (!!) and I put nose in by Lesbo 2 (!!) so it was a much needed move. It’s nice to be back up here, 2nd position, would rather be where Rubens is sat but 2nd is good. “

He said Lesbo instead of Lesmo. Everyone’s childish side breaks down sniggering. The press in the conference room must be struggling to contain themselves.

Kimi with what looks like a new mullet:

“Got a very good start then somehting happened with Lewis, he slowed down so I had to back off. It didn’t really change the end of the race because in the end he went off. Good points for us when we need that. Bit disappointing to drive as well as you can every lap and not make any difference. Good for the fans to be on the podium. We’re gonna keep pushing. “

Adrian Sutil is talking to the BBC, he said he thinks he did well against the KERS cars – I agree with him, it was a good drive.
Hamilton tell us he was pushing like a qualifying lap, apologises to the team. Says there are upgrades coming which means instead of pushing 130% he can push 110%… Cut back to Jake, “well if anyone can manage 110% I’d be impressed”. Ha!

Results

* heavily delayed on the final lap by the debris from Hamilton’s accident

Driver Gap Pts
1 Barrichello 53 laps 10
2 Button 2.8sec 8
3 Räikkönen 30.6sec* 6
4 Sutil 31.1sec* 5
5 Alonso 59.1sec* 4
6 Kovalainen 60.6sec* 3
7 Heidfeld 82.4sec* 2
8 Vettel 85.4sec* 1
9 Fisichella 86.8sec*
10 Nakajima 162.2sec*
11 Glock 163.9sec*
12 Hamilton accident
13 Buemi DNF
14 Trulli 1 lap
15 Grosjean 1 lap
16 Rosberg 2 laps
DNF Liuzzi transmission
DNF Alguersuari gearbox
DNF Kubica engine
DNS Webber accident

Good result for Sutil and Force India. Heidfeld gets another good result, too. Fisichella out of the points in the Ferrari but significantly better than Badoer in the same car.

Drivers’ Championship

Driver Prev ITA Total
1 Button 72 8 80
2 Barrichello 56 10 66
3 Vettel 53 1 54
4 Webber 51.5 51.5
5 Räikkönen 34 6 40
6 Rosberg 30.5 30.5
7 Hamilton 27 27
8 Trulli 22.5 22.5
9 Massa 22 22
10 Kovalainen 17 3 20
11 Alonso 16 4 20
12 Glock 16 16
13 Heidfeld 10 2 12
14 Kubica 8 8
15 Fisichella 8 8
16 Sutil 0 5 5
17 Buemi 3 3
18 Bourdais 2 2

The title surely must now be between the Brawn drivers. Kimi is continuing his recent march towards the front as he tries to catch the Red Bull drivers. This was another race where the lower order are scoring instead of the midfield.

Constructors’ Championship

Constructor Prev ITA Total
1 Brawn 128 18 146
2 Red Bull 104.5 1 105.5
3 Ferrari 56 6 62
4 McLaren 44 3 47
5 Toyota 38.5 38.5
6 Williams 30.5 30.5
7 BMW 18 2 20
8 Renault 16 4 20
9 Force India 8 5 13
10 Toro Rosso 5 5

Major step for Brawn in the points, Red Bull are going to have to work hard. Renault and BMW are having a nice fight. There isn’t much else of interest at the moment.

* *
Next up is Singapore on the 27th of September, let’s hope it isn’t as controversial as last year! Despite being a night race it will be on at the usual start time for a European GP due to the timezones. During the race I will be on Twitter and Sidepodcast.com as usual while taking the lights-to-flag race notes – I’ll see you then!

Flag courtesy of 4 International Flags

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.

Preview: 2008 Santander Italian Grand Prix


or.. ‘Formula 1 Gran Premio Santander d’Italia 2008‘ – as the official F1 website has it.

This is yet another race sponsored by Santander, yet another unique trophy replaced by corporate tat. The trophies for this race will be identical to those given in Britain and at least one other race, maybe two. Was it Germany? Their corporate logo. Pfft. Every race should have a unique pot.

Let’s not dwell on that though. We’re at our second classic venue in as many weeks, the historic Monza, just outside Milan.

Autodromo Nationale di Monza.

Just reading the full name gives me goosebumps. This is the home track of Ferrari, if you don’t count Imola and most don’t any more since Imola stopped holding GPs. I’m not a fan of Ferrari but I respect the history of the team. Ferrari is the oldest F1 team by quite some margin, formed in the 40s and having roots in the Alfa Romeo teams of the 1930s. What blows the mind is this: Monza is older than that – it was built in 1922. That was ages ago! It isn’t as old as Indianpolis, it does have as much history. Indycars even raced at Monza in the 1950s on the oval, so in some ways the USGP at Indy was completing the circle. I love this stuff.

The cliche about Monza is that you can feel the history at Monza, sense it in the air. That cliche is actually true. There is just something about the place which you can’t help but soak up when you are there. Okay it doesn’t have the spectator facilities of a modern circuit, and it can be a bitch to find. It is worth it. It isn’t like any other track I’ve visited and I’ve now been to several. I’d like to go to an F1 race there.

The other, maybe bigger cliche: Monza is the Temple of Speed. The fastest F1 circuit on the calendar, both in average lap speeds and I believe in top speeds as well. They run wings specifically designed for Monza and remove many of the little aero devices, winglets, etc. The GP2 cars even run with oval-style rear wings! That makes GP2 races at Monza unmissable.

I went to Monza in May 2003 as a warm-up before going to the Monaco Grand Prix. The Ferrari Challenge was there for a test day, which meant access was basically unrestricted, the only place we couldn’t go was the track itself.

I was with a group and we got into the pitlane, climbed on the pitwall, leaned through the gaps in the fence to see the cars come by. The drivers even waved at us as they left pitlane! We watched turn one from a grandstand with the old banking below us. We visited the second chicane and saw smoking tyres and the killer gravel trap which has now been replaced by asphalt.
We also found a way on to the banking, got our car on to it – I can say I have driven on the old Monza banking. It was a rental people carrier but that doesn’t matter. We got out, walked around, tried to climb to the top – very difficult, it is near-vertical. I didn’t manage it but others did.

This was taken from the very end of the pitwall during the Ferrari Challenge test. From 2003 Monza

Many of my photos from that day are on my Picasa page. If you get the chance you should go and visit Monza on a day where you can walk around anywhere, preferably when there are cars of some sort on-track. I imagine the place can be quite restricted at Grand Prix time.

Take a look at the Picasa link and bear with it while it loads each picture. Go to the official F1 website map and follow the drop-down menus to their history write-up. If you are not familiar with Monza, and I have no idea how you couldn’t be, but if you aren’t just go and take a look at those two links before this weekend’s race. Like another historic venue, Indianapolis, you have to ‘get’ Monza before you watch any race held there.

Speaking of Indy, the MotoGP crowd has landed there, hopefully causing a buzz with the locals. I can’t wait to see what they’ve done with the place, and what the MotoGP people make of Indy. It’ll be a good race, make sure you watch it on Sunday some time after the Italian GP is over.
If you are in the UK it will NOT be live on BBC2 as per usual according to the RadioTimes.com listings, they are showing it delayed at 10:45pm (it might be available via ‘red button’ or on the BBC Sport website). Check BBC2 at 7pm and 8pm anyway. Eurosport will air it live from 7:15pm, as well as the 125s and 250s earlier on. I don’t have Eurosport so will either watch online or hang on avoiding the internet for the delayed showing (in which case my F1 notes will appear Monday). I think one of the big networks is showing it in the USA? I hope so.

I nearly decided to go to Silverstone for the 1000km Le Mans Series race but with a double-header this good, no way, I’m staying right here in front of the TV.

Okay, enjoy the weekend’s racing!

Bits and bobs

Just a few things you can expect from me in the next few weeks:

F1
Race notes on the remaining F1 races this year, starting with the Italian GP this weekend. If I think about it tomorrow or Friday I’ll do a race preview but it won’t be as good as the Belgian one. I liked that preview. I guess I could gloat about having been to Monza.. Nobody likes a show-off, least of all me, but everyone likes to show off…. so that sounds like a plan. Consider it done.

Then there’s Singapore, Japan, China and Brazil. I think that’s the right order. I haven’t been to any of those so the previews would probably be a bit rubbish.

MotoGP Indy
A little after the Italian GP this Sunday is the MotoGP race at Indianapolis. If last Sunday’s IndyCar madfest at Chicago and F1 craziness in Belgium didn’t get you going, then how about back-to-backs at two of racing’s most storied venues? Shit if these 8 days don’t do it for you, you don’t like racing, and if you don’t like racing what are you doing reading this? Go away!

GP2
I keep promising to watch (and post about) some GP2 – and then I end up doing something else entirely. I’m not watching the races and ignoring the blog updates, I really haven’t seen the races yet. Basically this means I’m like 8 weeks behind on GP2. So yeah I need catch up with that, now the IndyCars are done I should have an extra couple of hours a week for doing that. Any bets on when I’ll *actually* watch the things?

A1GP
I said I’d do a series preview for A1GP. Their first race of the new season was due ten days from now but it got postponed, apparently indefinitely. I think there’s a clear weekend in there somewhere so I’ll see if I get time to knock something up but I’m not promising anything.

I’ve just realised I have no clue why I’m posting this, yet I’m going to hit Publish anyway. Does this mean I’ve become a Blogaholic? Is that a word? Help!

By the way, on the whole Lewis vs Kimi thing:
Both put in great drives and I’d have been happy for either to win – ON THE RACETRACK. Post-race decisions disappoint me, especially ones which make no sense at all.
Glock got the same penalty as Hamilton but I understand that, he passed under yellows, that’s a No-No. Fine. Yet Hamilton backed off enough that Raikkonen was ahead by a nose. The position was returned in accordance with accepted precedent.
Hamilton was faster on the straight because he had been faster for the whole of the previous lap. The McLaren is just better in the rain on this type of track.
What about all of this did the FIA stewards miss? Even Charlie Whiting of the FIA told McLaren it was safe – twice! The stewards are independent of Whiting..
The FIA’s structures are too rigid and old-fashioned, and they always have been. Time for a rethink.