This Time Last Year: 2010 Italian Grand Prix – Monza

Posted: September 5, 2011 by thevillainf1 in This Time Last Year.....revisiting the 2010 season

Qualifying and pre race drama

Further sealing Felipe’s fate and endearing himself to the Tifosi, Alonso nabbed a superb pole position in his first outing for the Scuderia at their home GP: Monza, La Pista Magica! The Ferrari’s had been looking strong all weekend with only the Mclaren of Button managing to sneak ahead of the Ferrari waterboy who himself qualified a solid third.

Going into the race Hamilton was still on top in the WDC after his win at Spa, 3 points ahead of Webber. The pair of them had created a bit of breathing space behind them since Vettel, Alonso and Button all failed to score the previous race. At this point, the championship started looking like it would boil down to a Webbo-Lewis fight.

Other noteable performances in quali were Hulkenberg getting a solid p8 ahead of his teammate Rubinho in 10th. Both Williams cars in q3, hard to imagine in 2011! The Red Bulls were struggling on this power track as Webber only managed 4th with Vettel putting in a dissappointing 6th, their worst qualifying performance of the season. The top 10 was rounded out by Hamilton (5th) Kubica (9th) and Rosberg (7th).

Lots of controversy surrounded the interval between Spa and Monza, with Ferrari escaping with a ‘mere’ 100k $ fine for their team orders BS in Germany at a council hearing, and the FIA having introduced more stringent load tests in response to the (ongoing) Red Bull flexi wing drama.

The Race

Jenson Button got a great run off the starting grid and despite Alonso’s best attempts to scare him into the wall or on the brakes in a classic Vettel/Schumi swipe, Button kept his foot in and balls firmly in hand as they headed into the tight first chicane. Massa also got a better start than Nando and was challenging him hard. However Nando being Nando, and Ferrari being his team, he basically barged Felipe out of the way on the corner exit, the pair even banging wheels. But that was not enough bumper cars for Nando, as he also took out a chunk of Button’s rear diffuser late in his desperate, yet ultimately successful attempt to keep his teammate firmly behind. Something tells me that in the 2011 stewarding universe, he may have gotten into some trouble there. While it did not seem to massively hurt Button, it did compromise him as he certainly lost some rear downforce in that incident.

Webber made yet another of his now trademark horrific starts as he dropped from p4 to p9 at the end of the first lap. Either Mark has horrid reaction times or something fishy has been going on at Red Bull with their clutch settings for Mark because this continues to jeopardize his races to this day. Rosberg jumped into 4th as the rest of the field squeezed through fairly cleanly in that tricky turn 1.

The Ferrari bumper cars antics in turn one allowed Hamilton to get a run on them in the slipstream heading into the second chicane. However, he was nowhere near enough to make the overtake stick into that tight turn and slammed his right wheel hard into Massa when he slotted in behind Alonso. This broke Lewis’ steering column and had him flying off into the gravel trap. Perhaps as a sign for things to come this year, an overoptimistic move saw Lewis’ race over at the first Lesmo, and the championship was wide open again with Webber facing a long fight from down in p9.

While Button’s superb start saw him grab and maintain p1, he just could not build a gap to Alonso, and even Massa hung on to them reasonably well for the first 10-15 laps, until Felipe started getting very ragged and had some moments which dropped him a few seconds behind the leaders. Button had gone for a radically different strategy at Monza, using a high downforce setup and counting on the F-Duct for top speed. This meant that in the Lesmos and chicanes Button managed to build a gap in sector 2, but the Ferraris would keep clawing him back in sectors 1 and 3. However it was not  enough as Button fairly easily withstood the constant pressure from Alonso to stay ahead. It would all boil down to pitstops, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Rosberg was leading the best of the rest but was quickly dropping behind the leading trio, followed by Kubica, Hulkenberg, Vettel and Webber. Suddenly we hear a very panicky Vettel on the team radio saying his engine was giving up on him, and indeed he started losing chunks of laptime as Webber cruised past him and Vettel was falling back into the clutches of Schumacher. However miraculously Vettel’s engine ‘fixed itself’ after 1 or 2 laps and he was straight back on the pace, setting the scene for a curious strategy which would see him pit for the hard tires on the final lap of the race. (screw you Bridgestone, thank you Pirelli)

Even the leading trio left it to well past the halfway mark to make their one and only pitstop, and the Mclaren team were the first to blink. Handily announced by the FOM coverage on the team radio, Button was coming in on lap 39 and he was told to push. Of course, Ferrari heard this as well and Alonso in particular started to pump in some quali laps and hope to pip Button in the pits. He came in one lap behind Jenson and true enough, the Ferrari fairly comfortably cleared the Mclaren into T1, and Nando took the lead. Massa came in two laps later but had fallen too far back prior to his stop to make an impact on the fight for the lead.

Thinking about it: how many times have Ferrari had their pit strategy announced to the world over the FOM feed compared to Mclaren, and to a lesser degree, Red Bull? Ah the conspiracy theorist in me is working overtime again!😉 Anyway, that sorted out the top 3 as they headed to the finish with Button failing to make any impression on Nando, who cruised home to his first deserved win of the year (Bahrain he inherited it through Red Bull unreliability and Germany..well you know), even though his bumper car antics in T1 raised my eyebrows, the general public and analysts didn’t make a fuss about it.

Further back, Hulkenberg was badly holding up Webber and defended his position on three occasions by cutting the chicanes. Webber -rightfully- complained about it on the team radio but the stewards wouldn’t budge. When Webber finally did pass the Hulk, it was too late. Vettel’s strange strategy and Bridgestone’s retard ‘soft’ tires saw him maintain 4th on the final lap, something which surely would have left Webber fuming in the cockpit as he finished 6th. Rosberg got 5th and the top 10 was completed by The Hulk, Bobby K, Schumi and Rubinho.

Webber grabbed the lead in the WDC, 5 points ahead of Lewis and Nando’s late WDC challenge really kicked off here as he got himself into third, 21 points off the lead. Vettel was down in 5th, 3 points behind Alonso.

Prediction Time!

So, does this teach us anything to make an accurate prediction for this year’s race? Of course not, but it wouldn’t be fun if we didn’t try now would it! I’ve had a bit of a shocker prediction eating away at my brain, nay my very sanity, for the past few days: I was thinking of predicting a Massa win! Even as I write this I’m still expecting someone to come out of the woodwork and bitch-slap me to see reason, but I’m sticking to my guns: Massa will win the 2011 Monza Grand Prix! Work with me here, see the reasoning behind the madness:  He has upped his quali performance, out qualifying Nando the past two races. His race pace is still off but the flow of Monza makes it a less technical track and more of a powerhouse thing, so it is not really a track where the driver can make that much of a difference compared to other places. Ferrari always bring a bucket-load of upgrades at their home GP so the car should be up there. Monza’s looking to be dry and hot, which will also favor the Ferrari and negate their tire warm-up problems. There’s just one factor I can’t get around: Nando and Luca’s man love for the Spaniard. For this to work Nando’s race needs to get cocked up somewhere, as there’s no way Felipe will be allowed to win if Nando is closely behind him. Stranger things have happened, and Nando’s been quite lucky with the car’s reliability this year, so perhaps it’s time for him to eat the cake this time.

While everyone expected to Bulls to suffer at Spa only to see them come out on top, they did – again- get luck on their side: the rainy qualifying, the perfect timing for the safety car, I believe Spa was more of a fluke Red Bull 1-2 than they would like to admit. Of course they will be up there, but I see Vettel having a horrible weekend to finish third (no sarcasm at all here, move along). Button will look set for the win until another team error hands P1 to Massa, but he’ll finish 2nd, just like last year. Hamilton will again try too hard and end up either in the wall or way down the order. He doesn’t seem to be learning the lessons this year, and for once I’m with Niki Lauda. If he just tones it down a bit, he’ll be WDC again in no time. But the way he’s going now, he won’t be for a long time.

As for quali, I see a Hamilton pole, closely followed by Vettel and Alonso. Button will line up 5th behind Massa with Webbo in 6th.

Wrap up:

quali:

pole: Hamilton

2.Vettel

3. Massa

 

Race:

1. Massa

2. Button

3. Vettel

 

I know I’m crazy but if this comes through I’m a legend😉 Do mock me and share your predictions in the comments below!

 

 

Comments
  1. The Big Man says:

    Button seems to go well at Monza, and with tyres been an issue with lots of heavy braking, I think he’s the man.
    Hamilton’s screw up for this week will be by taking out Vettel.

  2. Raj says:

    you put Massa instead of Alonso mate😀

  3. If you’re really right you indeed would be a legend. But I don’t see that happening without Nando doing a Hamilton and going into a wall or taking himself and Vettel out of the race (which would be my favorite WDC wise).

    My Predictions would be:
    Quali:
    1 Hamilton
    2 Alonso
    3 Vettel
    However I also see the Mercs pretty high up the grid as well. Just remember the straight line speed they had in Spa! They were going faster with closed DRS than some other cars with DRS enabled. That could come in handy at Monza.

    Race:
    1 Button
    2 Rosberg
    3 Hamilton

    Button does his thing, overtakes 200 other cars and wins the thing. Rosberg drives a superb race and uses that straight line speed of the Merc (if the Mercs don’t fall back again after half the race and don’t have to save fuel). Hamilton is being himself, damages his front wing but pits for a new one instead of destroying the whole car.

  4. If Massa wins, it’ll be the best day in my life…

  5. JourneyTH says:

    Time for another prediction that will not come through:

    Quali: 1. Hamilton 2. Vettel 3. Webber

    I mean, look at Lewis’s recent quali times. All he needs for a pole is a standard, no-mistakes lap.

    Race: 1. Vettel 2. Alonso 3. Webber

  6. JourneyTH says:

    Also, Massa? Bwahahahaha.

  7. ninja90 says:

    For the Fun of it.

    Quali: Hamilton, Alonso, Button
    Race: Alonso, Button, Rosberg

    Had to get Rosberg somewhere!
    No Massa.

  8. David says:

    Mercedes will go well this weekend. I feel Schumi will outdo hot shot Rosberg and start to prove he’s still got it with a good result. So..

    Qualifying:

    Pole: Sebastian Vettel
    2nd: Fernando Alonso
    3rd: Lewis Hamilton

    Race:

    Win: Fernando Alonso
    2nd: Felipe Massa
    3rd: Michael Schumacher

  9. Matt Ruda says:

    I think we’ll see the usual suspects in qualifying. Vettel will rise to the top once again, with Hamilton behind him. Look for Alonso to turn in a solid result in third place, Webbo fourth, Button fifth.

    As far as the race goes, watch for Hamilton to get a better start then Vettel, ending with a crash as the two fight to be number one going into the first corner. With their races ruined, Alonso will take over the lead, followed closely by Button with Rosberg behind him. Button will gradually chip away at Alonso, while Nico’s top speed advantage will help him keep right there with the top. Alonso will try and stay out too long on the softer tires, and Button will take the lead. Look for a close battle near the end with Rosberg pipping Nando in the closing stages of the race.

    To sum up:

    Quali:
    Pole: Finger Boy
    2nd: Bumper Boy
    3rd: Eyebrow Boy
    4th: Premature (Clutch) Release Boy
    5th: Conservationist Boy

    Race:
    Win: Button
    2nd: Rosberg
    3rd: Alonso
    4th: Massa
    5th: Hamilton

  10. thevillainf1 says:

    some interesting and bold predictions here, though none as bold (and perhaps idiotic) as mine.😉 Kind of forgot about the Mercs in my predictions. I do expect Schumi to build on his Spa performance and be very close to Rosberg but Britney will still come out on top. I doubt they got better than 5th or 6th in them. As usual this season they’ll show promise in the beginning to peter out as the race progresses.

  11. Gareth says:

    Going on Button’s recent drives if he doesn’t win he will be pretty close. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Mercs can do too. I have to agree with mostly everyone about pole, Hamilton should be right up there.

    Pole: Hamilton
    2nd: Alonso
    3rd: Button

    Race:

    1st: Button
    2nd:Alonso
    3rd: Schumacher

    It would be nice to see Schumi get a podium, something may well happen to Hamilton whether it be strategy or contact.

  12. I really like the Massa prediction, but I just can’t see Massa being allowed to get away with the race…

    I’d say… Quali:
    1.Vettel
    2.Alonso
    3.Button
    (Hamilton 4th, Schumi 5th)

    Race:
    Hamilton
    Alonso
    Vettel
    (Button somehow get’s taken out by Hamilton)

  13. Massa winning? Yeah… No.

    Why? Well.. No.

    Qualifying:
    1.- Vettel
    2.- Alonso
    3.- Webber
    4.- Hamilton
    5.- Massa
    6.- Rosberg
    7.- Button
    8.- Sutil
    9.- Schumacher
    10.- Alguersuari (Upgrades seem to be working fine in high-speed Spa, giving him a Q3 chance ;D)

    Race:
    1.- Alonso
    2.- Button
    3.- Rosberg
    4.- Hamilton
    5.- Massa
    6.- Vettel
    7.- Webber
    8.- Kobayashi
    9.- Alguersuari
    10.- Sutil

    Ferrari always manage to get things up at Monza. If I get right at least 3 predictions right, you gotta give me a cookie!😉

  14. war:head says:

    Well, my crystal ball says…

    Quali:
    1. Vettel
    2. Hamilton
    3. Alonso
    (4. Webber)

    Race:
    1. Vettel
    2. Alonso
    3. Webber
    (4. Button)

    No surprises there. I do hope for a different outcome(Schumi for P3!) but I don’t think it’ll happen.

  15. JMD says:

    Quali: [First three rows of the grid]

    1. Hamilton
    2. Vettel
    3. Webber
    4. Alonso
    5. Button
    6. Schumi

    Race: [Podium]
    1. Hamilton
    2. Vettel
    3. Button

    Race prediction top 3 comments:

    Lewis … I like as a driver ….. and he needs a good clean incident, tantrum, crash, and stewards visit free race weekend to begin his close out of the 2011 season with some degree of stability. He’s a bit of a media whore which is good and bad. Seems to me he’s a little off the rails and getting shit out of his system. Remember, he’s been somewhat cocooned all is career until he broke to bonds almost 2 years ago. Time about now to settle back down. I think this weekend, he’s focusing in the different way. He’s realistic that he’s got enough of the mix [meaning he is far from boring on or off the track] in his F1 personal. Some solid mature race weekends are the order of the day now and some points and even podiums will anchor 2011 as not a bad year in the final analysis. I expect to see him fired up, channeling this strengths and setting the bar

    Sebastian …. Like him or loath him, [let’s say I’m not a fan and cannot really explain why that is] he’s delivering with consistency and any predictions that do not include him are either fool-hardly or insider informed! But that’s probably it for me and Vettel …. There’s a finger signature gesture and not much more. He’s won from the front and is rightly facing the questions of whether he can really on track win from the back. He’s got to start from the back to showcase this. I yawn when I hear or see Vettel simply because he is what he is. But I’ll bet easily, he’ll be in the mix this weekend.

    Jenson …. I am a fan on and off the track … This respect is one that came late and not necessarily with or because of his WDC for Brawn GP but rather, since his time in McLaren. Even with some of his races disappointing me this year, [where I thought he surely could have done more] I still look out for what’s he’s doing on track. He’s winning races and rarely from the front …. I want to see him on the Podium but he’ll be fighting to keep Webber behind him on the closing stages of the race. Button I think sees a strong future with McLaren but also realises the magnitude of his team mate on the track. As 2011 developed, I think he’s learned where his strengths within the McLaren F1 team really are [this takes time and mid way through his second season is probably right on schedule for this]. I expect to see Button in the mix for the remainder of the year.

  16. JMD says:

    Well, this sorts out the first half the predictions …

    Qual: 2011 Monza – (front 3 rows of the grid) ..

    Vettel
    Hamilton
    Button
    Alonso
    Webber
    Massa

  17. thevillainf1 says:

    yup, nobody got quali right, but it’s Sunday that really counts! Warhead and Matt got the top 2 right at least😉

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