Formula 1

Italian Grand Prix Recap

Track Layout from Wikipedia

Let me first start with how could Formula 1 still be Formula 1 without an Italian GP? Whether it’s Monza or even Imola (which I would LOVE to have happen), that race is ingrained in fans and drivers and teams the world over since Formula 1 began. It’d be even more catastrophic for the sport that losing the German GP, which already happened this year. So Bernie, get off your high money horse telling Italy they’ve been getting too good a deal the past several years. I hope Ferrari will have something to say if he tries to hold his ground on something so ridiculous. Just hearing the announcers talk about it makes my blood boil. I get that Bernie is shrewd, but dammit man, you have more money than you could ever spend–going on record saying Italy gets too good a deal makes you look a selfish prick. Stop it. Stop it right now.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest… what a race weekend, huh?

Mercedes throwing all their eggs in one basket with a 2016 engine, only to have a problem with Nico’s forcing him to go back to a very well used 2015 engine. And leaving questions looming over Hamilton’s engine.

Qualifying with Verstappen’s body work flying off the car in Q3. Kimi blowing the doors off Vettel to grab P2, Vettel grabbing P3, and Rosberg not being able to pull together anything better than P4. And another pole for Hamilton. With authority.

The start of the race continues to prove interesting without engineering help for clutch settings. Kimi bogged badly and put himself in last place. He was lucky everyone was able to drive around him. Vettel had another fantastic start and immediately put the pressure on Hamilton going into that first corner, but Hamilton managed to fight him off and put quite the gap on him coming out of the corner and handedly expanded it throughout the race.

Kimi did an amazing job going from last to 7th but it was pretty clear he wasn’t happy overall because he gave up so much. Vettel continues to be a real threat to Mercedes. And Italy LOVED seeing Vettel on that podium. His broken Italian is kind of adorable–it shows how badly he wants to be part of Ferrari’s history as one of its best drivers.

Sad to see both Lotus drop out of the race so early, especially after Grojean’s promising result on the podium at Spa. I know the team is in serious financial trouble, and I hope the supposed deal for Renault to buy them back works out. They show such promise and it’s terrible to see them fall short because of money.

The McLaren boys had another ridiculous number of grid spot penalties, it almost seems comical at this point. I also read something from them on Twitter (I think) about them claiming their team would be back in top form in 2017. So why race at all next year? At this point it’s embarrassing, and I wonder how long Alonso’s going to put up with it considering he’s left the team in a huff once already. And another retirement for him at the end of the race has to hurt.

Williams had another great drive. Massa and Bottas fought hard for that final podium spot and Massa barely won out. I laughed at his radio comment about being too old for such a close call.

Up until his engine blew, Rosberg had a hell of a drive. He was pushing after Vettel–would he have grabbed 2nd if the car had held together? Who knows. But the pit stop strategy gave him the opportunity to jump both Williams cars, and was brilliant.

And Hamilton. Oh Hamilton. Now just one race away from tying his hero (and one of mine) Ayrton Senna with 41 wins in 161 starts. It’ll be an incredible and meaningful feat to accomplish, but I’m sure Hamilton is wishing people would stop talking about it until it’s actually happened. So many things could happen and he seems to be the kind of guy who likes to focus on what’s in front of him, take care of that, and then worry about the things that are beyond his control. After that first corner with Vettel pushing, he built up and ever increasing gap and never had to look back. He had a 20 second gap built up with we all heard the radio transmission to push the car hard, built a bigger gap, and then to not ask questions. Toto Wolffe and Lauda and really the whole engineering team looked panicked. After the race and the win, he couldn’t enjoy it because of the tire pressure issue. It turned out to be a non-issue, but it hung over his head when he should have been able to celebrate. Hearing the radio conversation on the final lap said it all. They told him to bring it home and not take risks, he told them driving that hard at the end of the race was taking a risk. Then he told him “not cool” as he pulled into victory lane.

This tire thing is getting out of hand. I get that Pirelli is being forced to build their tires to wear out without refueling, but I will never agree with taking away so much control of the actual racing team. They fought hard to introduce these new minimum tire pressure requirements and I think Hamilton summed it up nicely before Monza got started–no one knows what the tires will do at the new pressure so how is that safer? The teams spent all of their limited testing and 11 races with a different set of pressure specs and now suddenly they have to change, making all their data invalid, in the name of safety? I’m not buying it. If they actually pull off requiring lap limits on their tires, I’ll be first in line shouting for the return of Bridgestone tires.

But another exciting race, good pits stops, and clean passes to enjoy. Hamilton has extended his leads to 53 points after Rosber’s unfortunate DNF (the first one this season for Mercedes). And, of course, I like that. Singapore will be fun in a couple weeks–watching the cars under the lights is lovely… and that race always seems to be worthwhile.

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