Sunday, 9 September 2012

Ferrari take an extra helping of luck at Monza!

It's becoming quite a common occurrence. A driver from one of the front rows of the grid, takes to lead in the first couple of corners, and goes on to run an uneventful race. In Monza it was Lewis Hamilton's turn, and although the race never appears to be difficult for the front runner, I think credit has to be attributed to them for steely concentration and the ability to regulate their pace, with no other cars to gauge it by. It was Hamilton's first Italian Grand Prix win, so that was an achievement in itself and it also promotes him to second in the hunt for the Championship.

However, the real story for me is that of Ferrari's abundance of luck at their home Grand Prix and Red Bull's awful bad luck. It all started with Alonso's incident involving Sebastien Vettel, in which Alonso made a ridiculously rash move around the outside and ended up running over the grass. Pathetically, Sebastien was penalised with a drive-through penalty, for keeping his own racing line, which naturally forces the car out to the outside of that corner, as a result of something called centrifugal force and momentum. Alonso was not past Vettel as Vettel moved out and, all that aside, it was exactly the same circumstance last year, only with the roles reversed. Last year Alonso was not penalised for squeezing Sebastien out and Sebastien made the pass stick, even on the grass (see video).

Ferrari's and specifically Alonso's race went from good to better, as they were able to implement team orders, giving Alonso the third place podium finish. For Red Bull, things went from bad to worse. After serving his drive-through penalty, Vettel was informed that he had an issue with his car, which could result in him stopping quickly. The inevitable happened and Sebastien lost all drive, parking his car on the exit to the pit lane. Mark had problems also, spinning off the track with a couple of laps to go and destroying his tyres beyond the point at which he would be able to achieve anything significant by the end. All in all, it was a torrid race for Red Bull Racing and things appear to be coming apart at the seams for the World Champions.

An interesting thing to note is the increase in the number of incidents and comings together, in the second half of the season. It seems clear that, whilst the first half of the season was a chaotic series of results, many of the top drivers considered that things would settle down and a loss of points here or there wouldn't make much difference. As we approach the three quarter point of the season, the chaos remains but with the drivers and teams are beginning to realise that they need to be the difference if they are to get the result they want in the Championship. In conclusion, expect more incidents as the season approaches its climax, and expect Race Officials' decisions to overtake Pirelli tyres as the subject of controversy.