Formula 1 Insight

Thoughts on the Italian GP 2009

The F1 calendar seems so lop-sided at times. We have groups of the most featureless tracks imaginable and then the best two circuits on the calendar arrive one after the other, rather like British buses. I suppose the long anticipation of Spa and Monza does keep us watching through the earlier races, however. Timing them for the end of the European tour may be good sense indeed.

Rubens Barrichello
Rubens in the lead

Monza is a lesson to all modern circuit designers. On the map, it looks a bit simple and dull, a bent oval without much interest, but the reality of those flat out blasts through the parkland and fast chicanes, the razor edge temptation of the Parabolica and the desperate late braking for the chicane after the start/finish straight give us some clues to the ingredients of a truly great track.

Add to these the sense of history and the massed assembly of red-swathed Ferrari fans and Monza presents an awe-inspiring spectacle. It never disappoints and, even in a race such as last Sunday's when all real overtaking was done with by the second lap, the sight of the cars at full speed and on the edge through each corner is sufficient.

It is not only about passing, anyway. There was plenty of tension in the close and hard-fought battles throughout the field and even a bit of comedy in the Toyotas' squabble amongst themselves. Trulli does not care anymore, it seems, and Glock has too much still to prove.

The start was more or less as expected, the KERS cars coming through, Raikkonen nearly making it to the front until Hamilton's kicked in and allowed him to hang on to the lead. The surprises came from Sutil, who did well to drop only one place in the mad dash to the chicane, and from the fact that there was no massive pile-up at that first corner. It was the second chicane that claimed a victim, Mark Webber ending his race in the barriers thanks to a brief argument with Kubica.

Fuel strategy may have won the race for the Brawns (and there is no denying that the team managed it perfectly) but the real star was Adrian Sutil, in my opinion. He kept up the pressure on Raikkonen throughout the race, set the fastest lap, sportingly had a botched pit stop to compensate for Kimi's and brought the Force India home in fourth. The car may have become very quick on fast circuits but it still has to be driven at its limit yet without mistakes; Adrian did exactly that.

Hamilton was the sole threat to a Brawn victory from early in the race and it is difficult to see how he could have done better. He freely admits that his last lap accident was the result of pushing just a little too hard and who can blame him for that? At this stage of the season, a few more points either way for the also-rans are details for the statisticians but we will remember those final laps as the McLaren edged closer to Button's Brawn.

Which is to take nothing away from Barrichello's win and the way in which both Brawns took the initiative in the race. It was a demonstration of how races are won, a combination of fine strategy and excellent driving. Button's praise for his team mate after the race was also a good example of how to preserve team unity - a lesson, perhaps, for some of the more inflated egos of the driving fraternity.

Kovalainen was disappointing after backing up his team leader so well in qualifying; we might have expected a bit more fight from him, given that his KERS should have offset his heavy fuel load at the start. There is no doubt that he can be quick on occasion but too often we have seen him drift backwards through the race as others muscled their way past him.

While Liuzzi put in a strong performance until his gearbox broke, the other first timer for a new team, Fisichella, gave a little less than we had hoped for. It was an acceptable drive, given his unfamiliarity with the complexities of the Ferrari and certainly better than Badoer's efforts, but dreams of a Barrichello-like flowering of overlooked talent in the twilight of a career were never realized.

Alonso did a sound job to finish fifth in the Renault, its return to KERS apparently making no difference even at such a high speed circuit, and Heidfeld managed to salvage a couple of points after BMW's disastrous qualifying session. There is hope for the German/Swiss team's survival, however, a buyer reportedly having been found.

It was not a classic GP but enjoyable even so. I may be biased but any race at Monza is worth watching as far as I am concerned. As one of the few historic races left on the calendar, every moment is to be savored for it may not last forever. Nothing is sacred to the money men, after all.


Monza is a great track, I totally agree.

"...and who can blame him for that?"
Well, I think the team should have told him to back off, there was no chance that he could have passed Button, unless he did a totally crazy move there could have taken both cars out.
But I admit it gave the spectators some excitement.

What a great drive from Liuzzi, without F1 racing for some time and testing, he did what Badoer couldn't do. And it also raise the question, how bad is the Ferrari F60, when you compare Liuzzi with Fisi.

Before this race I rated Liuzzi as an average driver, but maybe I have rate him higher in the future. The next races will tell.
On Danish tv, Niklas Kiesa, commented that Liuzzi is actually faster than most of the drivers, but his weakness is, he doesn't know how take of tyres and his driving style also uses more fuel than other drivers.

I think, Kovalainen lost his 2010 McLaren seat at Monza. What a disapointment.

Date Added: 14/09/2009

Yeah, I think the bell is tolling for Kovi. He's just not showing anything of real value compared to other drivers who are on the market.

All in all (except for Hammy's shunt), I thought it was a good event. Of course the circuit had a lot to do with it. Great speed, interesting corners...a nice deal.

Clive: How can Ferrari justify dumping Kimi? And can McLaren not justify taking him back?
Date Added: 14/09/2009

Hezla: I found it refreshing that Hamilton admitted that he just lost the car rather than blaming the tyres or the curbs or anything else. There are some drivers who never make mistakes... ;)

As for Heikki, I agree that he is almost certainly going to be replaced next year.
Date Added: 14/09/2009

Don: How can Ferrari justify dumping Kimi? They may not have to, since much depends on whether Massa can return or not. And Kimi may make the decision for them anyway - I think it's quite likely that he'll retire from F1 and go off rallying in 2010.

But, assuming that Massa returns, Raikkonen wants to stay and the team really do have a contract with Alonso, it comes down to who must go to make way for the Spaniard. Two years ago that would have been Massa but now Raikkonen looks the more likely. So I suppose they would justify it by saying he was not really good value for money or giving him a lot of money for making up some story about wanting to try new things.

To be honest, I think that Ferrari signed Alonso at a time when it looked as if Massa would not be able to return and they figured they would sort it all out somehow in the event of his complete recovery. But would Kimi stay in a team with Fernando? He might, but what happens if he proves quicker than Alonso? More tantrums...?
Date Added: 14/09/2009

This has to be the silliest, silly season ever, not helped by that silly boy from Heidleberg. (so as not to confuse him with OK Brazilians).

The 2010 driver situation won't be clear for several weeks yet following the outcome of the WCM next week.

Some thoughts: Kovalainen-out; Trulli-out; Fisichella-out; Hulkenberg-in; Renault-out; Alonso-sabbatical; Toyota-buy a really quick driver; Rosberg-McLaren, He'll regret that!; One of the three new teams won't make it-Aston in.

Just getting ready for the off-season.

Date Added: 15/09/2009

Leslie: Interesting predictions. Fizzy is already taken on as a Ferrari test driver for next year, I believe, which means the end of his F1 racing career. Trulli, too, is almost certainly out, his recent comments on his team being a bit critical if he wants to keep his job. Difficult to see who Toyota can get as decent replacement however.

As for Hulkenberg, I really don't see what the fuss is about. From the GP2 races I've seen, Vitaly Petrov is a better bet. And neither are set to astound the world, methinks.

It will be an interesting off season, with so many new teams on the market for drivers and plenty of musical chairs amongst the old hands. I'll stick my neck out and say that next year we'll see Alonso in a red car...
Date Added: 15/09/2009

Clive I've just read a comment somewhere that alonso might or "surely" must have known what was going on in Singapore. Should any findings become fact to the matter surely that must have an impact on any sort of contract alonso has or is vying for. do you have any silly-season thoughts on that?

If LH did not push as he did then 20 laps prior to race end we all would be talking about a rather boring event - I think.

unbelievable the way Brawn mastered Monza hats off to them! Just watching the BGP pair lapping in formation was like a warning to me. Wait for 2010 :-)

Rosberg Brawn Mercedes seems like a Santada-Deal wanting best of both worlds.
Date Added: 15/09/2009

Michael: The only scenario I can imagine where Alonso did not know what was going on in Singapore would be one in which Briatore arranged it quietly as a help to persuading Fernando that Renault could still win races. That is very unlikely and, in all probability, Alonso did know about the "strategy". Proving it would be a different matter, of course, and I doubt that the FIA will try very hard to do so.

Even if it does come out that Fernando knew, I can still see Ferrari wanting him. He has been on Luca's wish list for a long time and they have experience of drivers who interpret the rules creatively anyway.

As regards Rosberg, it strikes me that he's better be as good as everyone thinks. If he is to go to Brawn or McLaren, a lot will be expected of him and it is going to be very embarrassing if he does not produce the goods. That might be a tall order, especially if he is paired with Hamilton.

Perhaps his father could advise him on what happens when you move from Williams to take up a seat alongside a star driver at McLaren...
Date Added: 15/09/2009

thank you Clive,

just reading that makes me want to wish for 2010 to come today:-)

But I am not only guessing when I say that it is not only the Hamiltons who would prefer to keep Heikki and not have Nico as a team-mate. Keke who would share your exact thoughts, Clive, is known to voice his discomfort at seeing his son alongside Lewis he actually would prefer to have him seated next to Button.

And I am now guessing that Mercedes would actually be in a win win situation. They could prime their successes with McLaren and Lewis in the english speaking world just as good as with Nico in Europes biggest market Germany - that is - should he deliver the goods.
Win Sunday sell Monday would prevail.

Clive, I just love this one: they (Ferrari) have experience of drivers who interpret the rules creatively anyway.

all the best

Date Added: 15/09/2009

Peter Boyle
and Luca is a smart enough Italian to give anyone who knows where bodies are buried a very big golden handshake.


Date Added: 16/09/2009

RSS feed icon RSS comments feed

Back to the main blog

Have your say

You may use some HTML in comments. For bold text use <strong></strong> and for italic text use <em></em>. If you know what you're doing feel free to use more complex mark-up but please no deprecated tags, break tags or JavaScript.

Enter the code shown above:

Name *

Comment *

Email *


Copyright disclaimers XHTML 1.0 CCS2 RSS feed Icon