Formula1 Italy: Monza mania

Published on September 15th, 2009

It might have been the home turf of the Ferrari’s but even the die-hard Tifosi couldn’t so much as chaffed the Brawn juggernaut as Ferrari old-boy Rubens Barrichello lead Brawn to a one-two finish at Monza.

Strategy was the spark to Barrichello’s victory stroke as he finished ahead of team mate Jenson Button even though the latter qualified ahead of him and with less fuel in his machine.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Tifosi though as Kimi Raikkonen lead his Ferrari to third on the podium after defending championship leader Lewis Hamilton made his acquaintance with the barriers on the final lap whilst running in third and tussling with Button for second.

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The starting grid saw Hamilton on pole and even though the Brit didn’t make a good getaway he managed to hang onto the lead. Raikkonen in third made a lightning start and would have nicked pass the McLaren had it not been for lack of maneuvering room.

Raikkonen did however managed to slide pass the Force India of Adrian Sutil that started in second.

The other McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen was in fourth but without the KERS of the Brawn’s behind him, soon found himself staring down the exhaust ports of the Brawn’s. Barrichello made it pass Kovalainen at Rettifilio but the Finn attempted to reclaim his glory at Variante della Roggia. Instead he almost lost the reigns of the car and that opening was all the invitation Button needed to nick pass him.

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It didn’t get any better as replacement Force India driver Vitantonio Liuzzi made it pass Kovalainen as well, leaving the McLaren languishing in an unlucky seventh heaven as Hamilton lead the pack up front.

Red Bull stalwart Mark Webber had a huge gash struck into his championship dreams as he made contact with Robert Kubica of BMW Sauber and spun out on the very first lap.

Lap four came about and saw Fernando Alonso toeing the line and sweeping past whipping boy Kovalainen as well. The shit was hitting the Venetian fan for Kovalainen’s strategy of starting loaded on fuel.

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Fortunately for them, Hamilton was making pace on his similar strategy opponents behind him. Unfortunately, just like making love, you need to give as well as receive and lady luck was keeping things on equal terms. Hamilton’s tyres were wearing out quickly and Barrichello was matching his pace.

The team finally decided to bring Hamilton in early on lap 15. Following the stop, Hamilton rejoined the action in eight, behind Luizzi and Alonso. Raikkonen on the other hand got sandwiched between the pair as he got back on track following his lap 19 pit stop. Soon after though, Luizzi’s transmission headed for an early shower and Raikkonen moved up a spot.

Luizzi joined Webber, Jaime Alguersuari and Kubica on the crocked list. Kubica had the dubious honour of being summoned to the pits by the stewards using the black-and-orange flag to have bits of his front wing removed after the tangle with Webber that ended the Aussie’s race. He did managed to rejoin the race but retired soon after anyways.

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Now with the Brawn’s leading the pack, race leader Barrichello had enough fuel and room to open up a lead over Hamilton until his scheduled stop on lap 29, putting him in a strong position to take the chequered flag.

Button on the other hand never really resembled a threat to team mate Barrichello and rejoined with a larger deficit behind his team mate after his stop a lap earlier. Hamilton dove in on lap 34 and got out right on the tail of Button and began clawing away at the lead.

As the race reached the climax, Hamilton was just over a second behind Button. Giving it all he had, the Brit chucked his McLaren into every corner trying to scoop out an opening on Button.

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The higher you jump the harder you fall and on the first Lesmo curve of the final lap, Hamilton overcooked it and ran wide, coming to be on first-name terms with the barriers.

The Tifosi were in orbit as Raikkonen moved up to take the final podium place. Sutil drove home in fourth.

Vettel made a slip-up that prevented him from challenging Nick Heidfield for seventh place behind Alonso and Kovalainen.

The second Ferrari driven by Giancarlo Fisichella had an uneventful race and called home in ninth with Kazuki Nakajima, Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli. Renault’s Romain Grosjean took 15th spot while Nico Rosberg rounded up the list in last.

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The Formula-1 circus rolls up its bigtop and heads back to Asia for the Singapore GP next. As the final four races roll in, it might be too little too late for the rest of the pack, particularly after the dominant display by Brawn over at Monza that schooled the rest on strategy, but Barrichello might just about be fancying his odds on overtaking Button for the championship.

text: Dinesh Appavu  pix: F1

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