Italian GP Debrief: Rosberg Narrows the Gap at Monza

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, Sep 5, 2016.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    monzapodium.JPG Going forward where his teammate went backward, Nico Rosberg scored a decisive win on Sunday

    It may be only seven days since his last victory, but on Sunday, Nico Rosberg got the one he was really looking for. A week after an unchallenged stroll around Spa, this time Rosberg having Lewis Hamilton directly in front of (instead of 20 places behind) him on the starting grid, and was still able to best his teammate on the way to his seventh win of the 2016 season, closing the gap to just two championship points.

    Contrasting fortunes in the race to the first corner saw pole-sitter Hamilton slip back to sixth as Rosberg assumed the lead, with the former able to come back through the field but never touch the latter on his way to the chequered flag. A quintessential power track, Mercedes were always in a race of their own, while Ferrari managed to win the battle of the rest, with Sebastian Vettel taking the final podium spot ahead of Kimi Raikkonen at their home race.

    After the explosiveness of Spa, Monza was a much more subdued affair, but one not without its moments – both on track and off. Read on for a look at all the big stories from the 2016 Italian Grand Prix.

    rosbergmonza.jpg Rosberg fightback builds more momentum with another superior start

    Not all wins in F1 are created equal. As much as we’d like for the victory to always go to the best driver on the day, that can’t always happen. Sometimes circumstances don’t even make it possible to make such distinctions. Spa was one of those races, Monza certainly wasn’t.

    Conceding pole by nearly five-tenths to teammate Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg was able to answer back in the best possible fashion on Sunday, with a superior start that made all the difference.

    Not for the first time this season, Hamilton found himself struggling to accelerate off the start line and was quickly swallowed up by both Ferraris, a Williams, and a Red Bull. Where Rosberg was comfortably off his marks Hamilton seemed to struggle with wheel-spin, going nowhere fast and essentially, conceding the race to the German, who was flawless out in front.

    Speaking in the post-race press conference, Hamilton acknowledged his continued difficulties mastering 2016’s new clutch start-procedure, as without the specific pit-wall instruction of previous years the Brit has been unable to consistently find the right bite-point for his starts. And while Rosberg hasn’t been immune either to slow getaways, he does seem to have a firmer grasp of it. With such a head-start and the pace of the W07, such errors make Rosberg unassailable, and at least in one area, given the German a decided advantage, as un-sexy as it is.

    If last week’s race in Belgium was a case of Hamilton fighting with both hands tied behind his back, this week’s edition was set to be the straight fight everyone wanted – and Rosberg needed. As unfortunate as it was for us fans that it was over as quickly as it started, the German has every reason to be pleased with the outcome. If there was still any doubt, starts are one area he has a proven advantage over Hamilton, and in a two-horse (and now two point) season like this one, that could count for an awful lot going forwards.

    butmonza.JPG Legends’ farewell tour begins

    It’s fair to say Monza is one of the most storied tracks on the F1 calendar – as such it provided a fitting place to start the final chapter of two storied F1 careers.

    At 36 and 35 respectively, McLaren’s Jenson Button and Williams’ Felipe Massa both decided to announce their departures from F1 racing over the weekend, and while Button refused to rule out a return to the sport in the future, it still most likely marks the end both drivers’ careers.

    With 26 wins between them, there’s no denying 2016 has been a difficult season for both drivers, albeit for different reasons. Massa has been comprehensively beaten by teammate Valtteri Bottas through the first 14 races, sitting 29 points adrift of the Finn while tenth in the championship, while Button’s hopes of one final championship challenge have once again been stymied by the glacial progress of engine-supplier Honda’s development.

    Particularly with the race over, it’s safe to say both drivers picked an ideal race to start saying their goodbyes. The choice for Massa was obvious, having spent nine seasons with Ferrari – where he came within seconds of winning the 2008 world championship – Massa deserved to be feted one more time by the tifosi. Few drivers are as deserving of the Italian fans’ praise – not just for his performances on track, nor his courage in coming back from his 2009 accident, but also for his willingness to play the complimentary role alongside superstars Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.

    For Button, this race showed that he is very much departing on his own terms, with another masterful drive, coming from last at the end of the first lap to finish twelfth at the finish. The 2009 world champion was at his attacking best on Sunday, executing several precision passes on his way back through the field. It’s clear that while Button may be coming to the end of his 17th season in the sport, time done nothing to diminish his ability.

    Given the state of their teams, it might be too much to ask for a podium for either driver over the final seven races, but hopefully this is the first stop on a successful farewell tour for both drivers. It’ll be mighty strange to race at Monza next year without them.

    ricmonza2.jpg Bottas v Ricciardo shows it takes two to tango

    A week after Max Verstappen showed how to lose friends with his driving, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas proved it doesn’t always have to devolve into “handbags”.

    Executing a move that Sky commentator Martin Brundle called “the best of the season”, on lap 47 Ricciardo was able to launch his Red Bull from multiple car-lengths back down the inside of Bottas on the run down to turn 1, then draw ahead of the Williams out of turn 2 in a pass seemingly out of nowhere. It was a magnificent combination of skill and straight-up ballsiness, and one Verstappen could do to learn from, albeit not for his teammate’s role, but for that of Bottas.

    Coming from as far back as he did, the only way such a move was able to happen with zero incident was because Bottas was willing to cooperate in giving Ricciardo that space down the inside. Furthermore, Bottas’ respect was immediately returned by Ricciardo, who could’ve easily ran the Finn off the road at turn 2, but allowed him space to make the corner. Amidst a race that in many ways epitomised the problems with the current state of F1, it was exactly the sort of racing fans want to see.

    So, credit to Bottas and Ricciardo. Instead of drivers facing-off post-race in a game of “find the Maldonado”, we get to sit back and revel in the excellence of these two drivers. As adversarial as F1 is, it doesn’t have to be antagonistic – all it takes is a little cooperation.

    Does Rosberg have an advantage on starts over Hamilton? What can we expect from Button and Massa in their final seven races? Where do you rank Ricciardo on Bottas for pass of the season? Comment below and let us know.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2016
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  2. Tim.E


    Awesome to see the Tifosi cheer on the Ferrari's. It's a shame it was a boring race in the end where yet again Mercedes showed their supremacy. I'm really hoping Singapore could bring us a bit more excitement and tension than this one. I think in the end Lewis will still edge out on top (if his starts will be okay) as he just simply has a speed advantage over Nico. I also think Ricciardo's move on Bottas was massively overrated. Bottas could've very easily defended that one by just staying on the inside and thus was caught napping.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Deleted member 130869

    Deleted member 130869

    Poor Nico always trying so hard to get the crowd support and often getting the bad end of the deal. He did get the crowd to go along though! That was nice but shame Eddie Jordan was the one doing the interviews and had no idea of what was going on.
  4. Hor-hay


    Yeah he should of defended the inside but I don't think he was expecting Dan to make that move from that far back.
  5. Andy 'Mars Bar' Graham

    Andy 'Mars Bar' Graham

    You think everything about Ricciardo is overrated :D

    No one has an advantage. The Mercedes on pole always seems to make a worse start than the Mercedes alongside them. Like when Rosberg was making bad starts when he qualified on pole ahead of Hamilton.

    They probably won't do anything special, let's face it.

    Very much up there with Verstappen's move on Rosberg at Silverstone.

    Also can I just say how stupid I think Ferrari are. They laugh at criticism they got over their strategy, saying they were aggressive with their strategy. That made me chuckle. Because not taking the fight to Hamilton was an extremely aggressive move.
  6. fortyfivekev


    My scores for the weekend,

    F1 - 2/10 - Exciting for the first couple of laps only.
    Indycar - 5/10 - Exciting for half the race.
    WEC - 8/10 - Exciting for the first 5 hours only!
    MotoGP - 10/10 - Not one boring second in the whole race!

    A great weekend's racing but a shame that F1 was by far the worst of the bunch.

    And how many simracers shouted out "divebomb" when Ricciardo made his pass. ;)
  7. ClaudioRos


    Actually, a lot of Italians like me support Nico because he's part Italian, he grew up here and can speak GREAT Italian, the ones who booed him at Monza were probably Hamilton fans who are everywhere due to his popularity. More people should've booed Hamilton, we don't want that illegal alien in our country lol, he shouldn't be allowed in.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  8. Deleted member 130869

    Deleted member 130869

    Haha, I was thinking Nico's Italian was very good and so much better than Vettel's. That podium is great, I wish I had the chance to sprint to the front of it when I went.
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