Lewis Hamilton takes a commanding lead at Monza (Image by HOCH ZWEI)// Monza
It's hard to see straight across the sea of red. The most passionate, brilliant red reserved for the most famous automobile brand with a horse was all over the grandstands at the Italian Grand Prix. Everywhere around the tracks, there were red Ferrari flags, red shirts, red hats, red hair wigs, like I said, sea of red. Massive crowds of fans gathered at Monza to watch the Italian Grand Prix unfold. And Monza did not disappoint!
At the qualifying, odds on favorite Alonso did very well until he had a mechanical problem, Massa capitalized on that and qualified ahead of Alonso to land at P3 while Alonso had to settle with P10. Hamilton and Button took over the front row of the grid with tremendous drives. Red Bulls were less than stellar at P5 for Vettel and P11 for Webber.
The 1st Lap is always exciting to watch. Hamilton defended his position right away from Button but it was Massa who surged ahead, passed Button then went side by side with Hamilton, though ultimately not able to pass. Alonso, incredibly have gone up from 10th to 6th by Lap 2. There was no stopping Hamilton though, he did a flawless drive and converted his pole to a 3rd win this season.
Perez qualified P12 but stealthily climbed up the positions. He started with the hard tyres, stayed out as long as he could until Lap 29 (!!) and switched to soft tyres after pit stop. This was a brilliant tyres strategy from the Sauber team. Hedid some great overtaking throughout, and with fresher soft tyres near the latter part of the race, he was easily passing other drivers to take home 2nd spot. Perez is definitely a rising star. Some even rumored that he may be take Massa's spot for 2013!
There was a bit of tit for tat playing out between Vettel and Alonso at Lap 26. Last year at Monza, Vettel tried to pass Alonso at one point and wasn't able to make the pass stick, but got slightly wide as Alonso tried to claim the racing line. This move left Vettel with 2 wheels on the grass at high speed. This year, some are calling this a revenge move from Vettel, Alonso tried to pass Vettel at the exact same spot but Vettel didn't leave enough room for Alonso, and made Alonso slid onto the grass on all wheels. As if he's expecting this, Alonso got on team radio immediately to complain about Vettel's move which subsequently got Vettel a drive through penalty. Innocent driving incident or premeditated revenge? We'll never know.
In the end, it didn't matter for Vettel. Both Red Bulls had mechanical issues that caused neither of Vettel or Webber to finish the race. Vettel had mechanical problem and had to stop on the grass at Lap 47, meanwhile Webber flat spotted at Lap 51 and got called in by the team to retire before damaging the car. With a 53-Lap race, to retire at Lap 51 is entirely too painful. It's been a very long time since Red Bull had a double retirement. Are reliability issues rearing its ugly head at Red Bull again? Tell us what’s up, Adrian Newey!
Other drivers with misfortunes include Button, Hulkenberg and Vergne. Button had a fuel pickup issue with his car and had to roll onto grass and retire at Lap 32. Hulkenberg also had car problems and retired at Lap 50. Vergne was out much earlier at Lap 9 getting airborne (and then back down) as a result of spinning out.
All of drama and retirement did not distract Alonso though, who never for a moment gave up with P10, but hustled all the way to land at 3rd spot on the podium. This is an important win for Alonso with him not scoring any points at Spa last weekend and Hamilton taking the most points by winning this race.
We wrap up the race with Alonso leading the championship (still), Hamilton is now 2nd, and Raikkonen 3rd. What a shake up!
The next race will be at Singapore on 9/21 - 9/23. This is one of my favorite tracks to watch - night race, street circuit, Singapore skyline and landmarks as backdrop, not a dull moment. Catch you then!