Sunday, 9 September 2012

Hamilton adds a zero to the asking price.

Well, if you want the Big Boss to sit up and listen to your demands for more money, dominating the race weekend is pretty much the best plan. And to then have your old Boss turn up and put the screws on his replacement ..... well team Hamilton must pretty happy with the Monza weekend.
Lewis was all over this race from practice numero uno. He was just loving pinning his ears back and spanking the car through the Lesmos’, Ascari and the Curva Grande. It wasn’t much faster than Button or Alonso but it was and that was all that was required.
Out of the car however, well that was a different matter. I like the happy bubbly Lewis that kisses the camera and goes to celebrate a pole or a win with the team and the fans. Not the quite introverted Lewis that pats the car after getting pole and walks off to get weighed. I don’t think he’s back to the slashing the wrists “why me” dark soul Lewis of last year. But he doesn’t look like a man who’s feeling the love round the team at the moment.

So then qualifying was pretty easy for McLaren, not a case of ‘if’ more a case of ‘which one will it be’ they were just streets ahead of the rest. But Ferrari tried to make a fist of it and we witnessed another Classic “Ferrari shooting themselves in the foot - Italian style” event. They knew they didn’t quite have the straight line grunt to overhaul the McLarens so they had been practicing the old “draught your buddy to the pole” routine all Friday. This involved sending a car out for a lap, then as the first crosses the line the other is sent out to sit in front of the first car and help punch a hole in the air for the hot lap, usually out of Lesmo two the first car gets a slipstream gaining a few tenths of a second. The second car then gets out of the way before Ascari and gets a bit of a tow down to the Parabolica and onto its hot lap. If timed right both the cars will get an advantage and lock out the front row. Get it wrong and Alonso starts in 10th and Massa starts 3rd.  Not what the team actually wanted.  Actually Alonso had a loose bolt on his rear roll bar which meant he couldn’t get the power down out of the corners, some of the more unkind pit lane lags suggested Ferrari needed a bit more practice with Alonso following Massa.

The result was though, that Alonso was a long way back on Sunday morning. Along with the Redbulls which looked very down on power, Webber especially who hadn’t made it out of Q2. He and Vettel looked forward to a very long race.
When the red lights went out Massa got a flyer off the line and almost took Hamilton into turn one. But perhaps being mindful of last week’s carnage and Grosjean sitting on the naughty step, he backed out and settled into second spot. Alonso managed to make up two spots off the line which does suggest there’s nothing wrong with the Ferrari launch system.
And that was pretty much it for the race for the win, Massa couldn’t live with Hamilton and Button got held up by Massa. Meanwhile Alonso and Vettel moved up through the field. The expected attack by the Mercedes never materialised, the cars where there or there abouts, but they didn’t look they could take the fight to the big boys. Eventually Vettel made the mistake of pushing Alonso on the grass on the outside of the Curva Grande and the Stewards decided they hadn’t had enough input and slapped Vettel with a drive through penalty.
Now some might say, “Well Alonso did the same to him last year, with no problems! Why ping him now?” and the answer is probably that the FIA is now wary of drivers getting too feisty and pushing competitor off the circuit. Last year in Indy cars Dan Weldon was killed by drivers taking too big a risk, Alonso was inches from losing his head or arm in Spa last week. As Indy car found out, it only takes one accident and all the fun is taken out of the sport.  More importantly the Money doesn’t want to be seen with blood all over it. So they are going to ping driver more and more for this sort of move. There is no right or wrong here, no one wants to see a driver get hurt in the name of entertainment.

So that left Alonso behind Massa who was back behind Lewis after Button had a fuel pick up problem and parked the car on the circuit, so thing all looked fine and dandy for two Ferrari drivers on the podium. Except Perez was on another one of his blinding runs, after pitting  later for his ‘soft’ tyres he was coming back through the field like a hot knife through butter. When the Italian boys realised this they quickly put Alonso ahead of Massa and told the boys to get a hustle on.  But Perez was on a charge and was looking for a win this time. He passed Massa with ease out of Ascari and despite Alonso’s best efforts who knew that points today when Vettel and Webber were doing so badly, was worth more than stopping a Sauber from getting a few points. Let him threw without too much trouble.  Which left Lewis 10 seconds up the road, with 10 laps left it was going to take some hot laps top make this work, he started to catch the McLaren at 1.5 seconds a lap until Vettel suddenly decided that he’d had enough of having a slow car and parked up just after the pit exit, yet another alternator melting under the bodywork.  The marshals threw double waved yellows into the first chicane and effectively stopped Perez’s charge. Lewis had responded anyway and controlled the lead until the flag which he passed with a pretty comfortable margin of 5 seconds to Perez.

So Hamilton won pretty comfortably and looks to have the upper hand when contract negotiations restart on Monday. Will he go to Mercedes? Well they’d love him to I'm sure, the rest of the world knows it would be for the money and Not the glory if he did.  As wrong moves go it would be akin to walking up to Bernie and resting your pint on his head. Funny, but probably the last thing you’d ever do.  

Perez gets a very well deserved second place and I am not going to say anything bad about him this time. No, he drove a storming race, overtook two Ferraris at Monza and didn’t cock it up this time.  The odds on him being in a Ferrari next year just shortened again.

Alonso salvages a third place after the disaster that was qualifying.  That is how you win championship. He is still leading the race for the chase for the cup whilst his rival trip up and drop points.  

Massa does a very good job of getting out of the way of his team mate when required and made Lewis work for the win for 250 metres. He was lucky that Vettel and Button dropped out but fourth place is a pretty fair result for the Brazilian.

Kimi was fifth in a lotus that wasn’t fast enough.

Schumacher was sixth and the best of the two stoppers. He was carving his way back to the front as the race wound down, but he was left with too much to do to make it a podium finish. Still the Merc had the grunt to do the job, just not the tyres.

Rosberg was seventh and got the fastest lap, but again as with Mikey the tyres let him down.

 Di Resta had a pretty good weekend and he needed it. The team said on Saturday that they wouldn’t stand in the way of any other team giving them a shed load of cash for any of their drivers. Which I don’t suppose is comforting for either Di Resta or the Hulk.  I suspect VJ Mally would sell his own grandmother if he thought he could get enough money for her. So anyway Paul need to deliver a result to keep the McLaren boys interested in him if Lewis does go mental and leave for Mercedes. A good qualifying result ruined by a five place penalty for a gearbox change, then a fine drive back to eighth was what was needed to keep the stock high. There is a slight feeling that the Hulk might have got the better of him during the mid season, so a few more of these runs should keep his name linked with the bigger boys.

Talking of fancied drivers being made to look ordinary by supposedly inferior team mates, Kobayashi was only ninth and didn’t really look like being anywhere near his team mate on the podium. Koby has had a bit of a lack lustre year so far and this isn’t helping him.

Finally Senna was tenth beating Maldonado out of the last point, jolly well done to him.

And as usual way back down there in last place was Karthikeyan.

And that’s your lot. The Paralympics are about to finish and I want to see the fireworks see you in two weeks for the Singapore GP. 

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