Race 14: Italian Grand Prix

Something special happened on Sunday. The tifosi needed someone driving a fast red car to come through for them and win on home soil, and the man of the hour, Fernando Alonso, did just that. He responded on Saturday by placing the car on pole, much to his surprise. And if not for a slight mistake, Felipe Massa probably could have wound up on the pole, or at the very least, in second position. As it was, the two Ferraris started first and third on home soil, much to the exuberance of the Italian fans. With Hamilton leading the World Championship, they would also need him to somehow not finish with any points to gain the full clout of a first place finish. It seemed like somethings would go right, but not that all of those things could happen. But on a gloriously sunny Italian afternoon, the gods smiled on the team from just down the road in Maranello and gave them exactly what they needed for results.

At the start of the race, it was Alonso trying to push Button over to the wall to try and block him from getting a good angle into the first corner. This did not work out and Button sliced through to take the lead after one corner. Behind him, Alonso and Massa fought for second and third place, while Hamilton came up the inside of Massa to try and overtake him. He misjudged where Massa’s car was and subsequently hit the right front tire against Massa’s left rear. This instantly broke Hamilton’s suspension and he plowed into a gravel trap, his day done.

From there on, the race was close to a parade, as the high speeds at Monza mean that it is really hard to overtake cars without risking your entire race. The real place to try and make up positions at the Italian Grand Prix is in the pits. It was Jenson who blinked first and dived into the pits. His crew changed his tires in about four seconds and he was on his way. On the very next lap, Alonso came into the pits and needed something special to get out in front of Button. Having to rely on your pit crew can be risky, but these are the best in the business, and when the time came to change the tires and get Alonso on his way, the Ferrari boys were spot on. Fernando exited the pits ahead of Button and stayed in front after Button tried attacking through the first couple of corners. The superior speed of the Ferrari on the massive straights at Monza paid off and Alonso held onto first place to take the victory and the 25 points that comes with it.

I think the most notable drive of the day came from Sebastian Vettel who started the race on the option tires and went 52 of the 53 laps on them. He stopped on the final lap, changed tires and reentered the race in the same position, having made up enough of a bogey time to stay in front of his rivals behind him. It was an impressive drive from someone claiming to have a dying engine partway through the race… Regardless, here is how the top ten looked after the race.

1. Fernando Alonso

2. Jenson Button

3. Felipe Massa

4. Sebastian Vettel

5. Nico Rosberg

6. Mark Webber

7. Nico Hulkenberg

8. Robert Kubica

9. Michael Schumacher

10. Rubens Barrichello

And as for my picks? Honestly I’m pretty pumped about the results! If you take away Hamilton, I had the correct order down pat for the next four finishers! Plus, Rubens, Webber, Hulkenberg and Kubica all got points as well. Not bad if I say so myself!

1. Lewis Hamilton

2. Fernando Alonso

3. Jenson Button

4. Felipe Massa

5. Sebastian Vettel

6. Rubens Barrichello

7. Mark Webber

8. Robert Kubica

9. Nico Hulkenberg

10. Adrian Sutil

In two weeks, it’s off to the lighted streets of Singapore. Should be exciting.

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