2012 Gran Premio d’Italia Recensione
As we headed to Monza where the track is better known as the Temple of Speed, the qualifying was brilliant for the McLaren team and Hamilton continued the domination to win his 3rd Grand Prix this season and the 20th of his career. It was clinical, both on track and in the pits. He has certainly re-kindled his championship chances and is now in second place, 37 points behind leader Fernando Alonso.
He certainly put speculation about his future and a possible switch to the Mercedes team behind him by winning at Monza. It was a bitter sweet day for the McLaren team because Button on the other hand retired from the race with 20 laps to finish with a fuel pick-up failure. With Button finishing second and first respectively at Hungary and Belgium, it looked good for a possible comeback in the championship but this weekend was a severe blow to the process.
Alonso, much to the delight of the Ferrari fans at Monza drove an absolutely impressive race considering it was a track which is home to the prancing horse. After having started from 10th place on the grid due to mechanical issues with the rear anti roll bar in qualifying, he drove an impeccable race overtaking the likes of Raikkonen, Vettel and Schumacher with ease. Massa, with his future at Ferrari being a matter of concern and debate over the past few weeks responded, and drove to a solid fourth holding off Raikkonen who finished a few tenths of a second behind him. Though it wasn’t a 1-2 finish for Ferrari at their home track, they surely did all they could with their mechanics working overtime all through the weekend. Alonso’s car faced several mechanical issues and a major one caused the qualifying heart break, but kudos to the mechanics for delivering a brilliant car for the final race and of course to Alonso, for putting it on the podium. Jeremy Clarkson said, “The amount of concentration with which Alonso drove, he could probably put a road truck on the podium as well”
The Mexican Sergio Perez finished a strong second with a tire strategy that paid him dividends. He was amongst the very few to start on the hard compound and he stayed out long enough till everyone pitted and was also in the race lead at one point in the race. He pitted on the 29th lap and put on the medium compounds and used their pace and grip to breeze through all the front runners to climb back up to second place. The Sauber team’s call on the tire strategy worked to perfection and given 3-4 laps extra, he would have even taken Hamilton without much doubt. Their car seemed to work well with the ambient temperature and Perez was pretty flawless and clinical throughout the race duration.
It was an absolute Italian heartbreak for the RedBull team. It just wasn’t their weekend. Their low aero downforce package did not seem to work quite as brilliantly as those of the Ferraris or McLarens. After a difficult qualifying on Saturday, things did not quite look up on raceday either with both their cars retiring. Vettel retired with an alternator problem and Webber with what looked like a gear box problem. Vettel’s start off the trap was good and it was deja vu when the tussle between him and Alonso started. Especially at the Parabolica where Vettel took Alonso on the outside with a brilliant overtaking manoeuvre last year. This time, when Alonso tried to do exactly the same to Vettel, he wedged him onto the grass giving him nowhere to go which later resulted in him being penalised with a drive through. Well, “You don’t just put a Ferrari off the track at Monza” and the stewards made this amply clear indeed. And Vettel’s race did not get any better afterwards with his retirement a few laps hence. This meant RedBull’s lead in the constructor’s championship took a big hit with both McLaren and Ferrari taking huge chunks off the lead, 25 and 27 points respectively, to be precise.
And on another front, it was poetic justice for the top three finishers. I hope Grosjean had a good luck at the podium for they were the exact three drivers he took out on the first lap at the Spa Francorchamps last weekend.
The track did live upto all the high speed expectation with tremendous tussles between world champions(some multiple, some reigning and some whose second nature is overtaking) like Raikkonen & Schumacher, Alonso & Vettel. There was overtaking all the way down till the HRTs and this track justifiably had the highest average speeds of the season. With the drivers running their cars at full throttle for almost 80 percent of the track distance, engine severity was very high and the reliability of the cars was very commendable. This speaks volumes of Formula 1 standards and the quality of the race engineers and machinery.
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