Round 13 - Italy 7-9 September 2012
Circuit Length: 5.793 Km
Lap Record: 1:21.046 = 257.320 km/h; R. Barrichello (Ferrari) 2004
Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes), 1:24.010 = 248.241 km/h
1st: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes), 1:19.41.221 (race average speed 230.943 km/h)
2nd: Sergio Perez (Sauber Ferrari), 4.356s behind
3rd: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 20.594 behind
Fastest Lap: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes); 1:27.239 = 239.053 km/h on lap 53
‘A Perfect Sunday' - For Some: Monza In 10 Quick Bites
What a difference a week makes! Seven days after their Belgian no-scores, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were two of the heroes of the Italian Grand Prix. Hamilton won for McLaren Mercedes to go second in the Championship chase while Alonso’s Ferrari flew from 10th on the grid to the podium and extended his overall lead once more. Meanwhile Red Bull were the zeroes of the hour...
Hamilton, embroiled in controversy and confusion after his Turn 1 exit at Spa, produced the best possible response: his third win of the season, the fifth for McLaren this year and their 180th overall. It should have been a 1-2 for the British team but Jenson Button, who joined Hamilton on a record-equalling 61st all-McLaren front row, stopped with a fuel pressure problem when comfortably second. McLaren have won the last three Grands Prix, halved Red Bull’s lead in the Constructors’ Championship and are now many people’s favourites for both titles.
Hamilton, whose previous 19 victories had not included Monza, wore an Italian flag on his helmet for the occasion and it worked. “Winning at Monza is one of the greatest experiences of my Formula 1 career,” said the 2008 World Champion. “I absolutely love this place: I’ve been coming to Italy to race since I was 13 years old and I just love the culture, the food and the people. Since I started in Formula 1, Monza has been one of the races I always wanted to win at – it’s such an incredible, historic circuit and all the great racing drivers have won here. To finally put my name on that list makes me feel extremely proud, but also very humble.”
Alonso, hamstrung by a rear roll-bar problem in Q3, made light work of his grid handicap, passed cars with gay abandon until he caught ex-Ferrari man Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes, eventually dispensed with the German and then watched events play into his hands. First Sebastian Vettel was given a drive-through penalty for forcing the #5 Ferrari off-track at Turn 3, then Button stopped; with five laps to run Vettel also retired with renewed alternator failure and two laps from the end it was Mark Webber’s turn to spin and retire in the sister Red Bull.
“Absolutely perfect Sunday for us,” beamed Alonso. “Obviously the win was out of reach after the problem yesterday. Starting tenth is not easy to think about victory, so if you cannot win, podium is next target. In all the simulations and all the predictions we had, it was never a podium finish, so basically it’s much better than expected. Jenson was out of the race and the two Red Bulls… so perfect Sunday maybe.” Ferrari is also a player in the constructors’ stakes after a strong weekend from Felipe Massa, qualifying third and finishing a dutiful fourth.
Unlucky 13th race of the year for Red Bull: Webber, who was pushing hard to keep Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes at bay, spun on lap 51 and flat-spotted his way into retirement. He has slipped from second to fifth in the title chase. “The rear tyres were completely finished, so I dropped it out of the Ascari chicane; I managed to keep it off the wall, but then the tyres were so heavily flat-spotted, I was worried about damaging the car. We do 330 km/h round here, I couldn’t see the track, so we decided to retire,” Webber explained. Hindsight is always 20-20, but since announcing his re-signing for Red Bull the Australian has had a run of 8th-8th-6th-DNF, started in the top 10 just once and never been a major player in any of those four races. This was Red Bull’s first double DNF since Korea 2010.
The other star of the day was Mexican Sergio Perez, whose Ferrari-powered Sauber rocketed from 12th on the grid to second place at the finish with a perfect two-stop strategy – the 22-year-old’s third podium of the year. “This was a very enjoyable race for me. It was one of those where you have the pace and are the one to attack. I am very happy for the team which is working very hard. It is a really good team, I am proud of it,” said Perez. With Kamui Kobayashi in the top 10 again, Sauber had both cars scoring points for the fourth time this season and are comfortably sixth with Mercedes in their sights.
Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus was one of only two Renault-powered cars in the top 10 but the Finn complained of a lack of straight-line speed, the handicap that affected the French-engined runners at Spa the previous week. Even so, fifth was good enough to promote the 2007 World Champion to third overall. Lotus slipped back in the Constructors’ stakes with stand-in Jérôme d’Ambrosio unable to score points in Romain Grosjean’s absence.
There was a frustrating finish to Dan Ricciardo’s race. The West Australian was 10th right up to the final corner of the final lap but finished out of the points in 12th behind Williams pair Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado. “It’s been so hard to score points this year and that means it is incredibly disappointing not to get one today,” Ricciardo lamented. “I was tenth until the last corner on the very last lap. At that point, I accelerated to exit Parabolica and nothing happened. At the moment, I don’t know the cause, but to miss out on a point by a few hundred metres is bitterly disappointing.” Doubly so for the team as Jean-Eric Vergne’s brake failure spun the Frenchman into early retirement.
Monza rounds off the European season. With Singapore next and seven races to go, the momentum is clearly with McLaren – three straight poles, three straight race wins – in a way no other team has enjoyed this season. In the last four rounds they have amassed 101 points; in that time Red Bull have managed 56 and Ferrari 74. Alonso leads by 37, Red Bull by 29: Fernando carried the luck in Ferrari’s home race, but who would bet against McLaren closing those gaps?