Sunday, September 14, 2008

Italian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Italian Grand Prix
Sunday 14 September


Track: 5.79 km

Laps: 53

Monza is the ‘spiritual home’ of Ferrari, just 180km north of their factory at Modena, so just an hour away for the average Italian driver. The ‘Tifosi’, as the great band of Ferrari fans are known, will be out in force to cheer on Felipe Massa who, following the controversial decision at Spa last week, is just two points behind Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers Championship table.

It is probably the fastest track in the current Grand Prix calendar. The long straights encourage the use of full throttle and low downforce, so less grip in the corners. If you add torrential rain into the equation, it becomes very interesting indeed. This was very evident in Saturday’s qualifying sessions as first one, then another top driver failed to keep his car pointing in the right direction. Whether it was poor tyre choice or simply bad timing, both Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen failed to post good enough times to get into the top ten. Even Felipe Massa struggled to claim sixth on the grid. It was left to Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso), to show the way and secure pole position. Vettel turned 21 in July and so becomes the youngest driver ever to head a Formula 1 start. He is joined on the front row by Heikki Kovalainen, with Mark Webber (Red Bull) in third. Sebastian Bourdais is fourth in the other Toro Rosso with Nico Rosberg (Williams) in fifth.

The forecast is for more rain on Sunday. The big questions are when and how much? The race starts at 14.00.

The grid line-up:
1 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
2 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
3 Mark Webber (Red Bull)
4 Sebastian Bourdais (Toro Rosso)
5 Nico Rosberg (Williams)
6 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
7 Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
8 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
9 Timo Glock (Toyota)
10 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW)

Top six after 13 races:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 76
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 74
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 58
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 57
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 49
6 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 43

Mike O’Neill

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