Sunday, 7 September 2014

Italian Grand Prix: The best man won, in Monza!

It was a bit of an anti-climax, in terms of the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. However, I think one thing became clear today, and that was the difference in quality between the two drivers. In conclusion, I believe that Lewis is the better driver. They are very different racers, but Hamilton has consistently salvaged success from a troubled start, this season, and today was another example of that. He had a poor start, dropping back to fourth, but characteristically fought his way back in to contention. Nico, on the other hand, made not one but two unforced errors, which unquestionably cost him the race win. Many will feel that this result was karma for Rosberg's underhand move in Belgium, but either way Hamilton was the deserving winner.

Most of the action occurred further down the order, much like many of the other races this season. The battle for sixth place, in the closing stages of the Grand Prix, was on fire. It began with the two ex-teammates, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, in the McLaren and Force India, respectively. They had a breathtaking period of racing, through the beginning of lap forty, in which they were side by side for an unbelievable stretch of the lap. That heated battle drew Daniel Ricciardo in to the fight and he proceeded to dispatch both of them with skill beyond his years. He went on to catch and pass Magnussen and then Vettel, with the same efficiency, albeit on fresher tyres than his team mate. He still deserves a huge amount of credit, for the fashion in which he took the positions.

It is for this stage of the race that Daniel Ricciardo receives my coveted Driver of the Day award. The moves he made on Button, Perez and especially Magnussen were magnificent. The dummy he sold Magnussen in to the second chicane, was very special and stuck in my mind as the move of the race. He made a similar move on Sebastian Vettel and the reigning world champion must have wondered where the hell the Aussie, driving the exact same car as him, had come from. It wasn't a bad race for a team who were supposed to be well off the pace at this high speed circuit.

The biggest moment came on lap fifty-two, when Kimi Raikonnen, closely followed by Kvyat, had caught up to the back of the Button and Perez battle. On the approach to the first chicane Kvyat had some sort of issue with his brakes, whether they were damaged or he just forgot how to use them, and almost ploughed heavily in to the back of the Ferrari. Instead he was able to avoid the impact and hurtled on through the run off area, taking out one of the temporary bollards. He was fine, but his car and his race were effectively ruined, on the penultimate lap.

With the Italian Grand Prix over, the Mercedes rivalry is still very much alive and the gap between Lewis and Nico has shrunk rather than grown. Roll on Singapore, as the season enters its final stages and, despite the Mercedes dominance, an unprecedented climax.

Check out The Italian GP podcast and listen to The F1 Spectator himself.

The Result:
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes531:19:10.236125
26Nico RosbergMercedes53+3.1 secs218
319Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes53+25.0 secs415
477Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes53+40.7 secs312
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault53+50.3 secs910
61Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault53+59.9 secs88
711Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes53+62.5 secs106
822Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes53+63.0 secs64
97Kimi RäikkönenFerrari53+63.5 secs112
1020Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes53+66.1 secs51
1126Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault53+71.1 secs21
1227Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes53+72.6 secs13
1325Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault53+73.0 secs12
1413Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault52+1 Lap16
1599Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari52+1 Lap14
168Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault52+1 Lap17
1710Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault52+1 Lap18
1817Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari52+1 Lap19
1921Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari51+2 Laps15
209Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault51+2 Laps22
Ret14Fernando AlonsoFerrari28+25 Laps7
Ret4Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari5Accident20