Sunday, September 14, 2008

Italian Grand Prix

Italian Grand Prix
Sunday 14 September


In what proved a shrewd move, the safety car was deployed before the start to avoid the usual first-corner ‘scramble’ which, in the wet conditions, would have almost certainly caused a major crash. As it was, the race got away to a smooth start and the safety car pulled off after a lap. Showing a maturity far beyond his 21 years, Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) defended his pole position from second-placed Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) and quickly secured a few seconds over the Finn.

Starting from 15th on the grid was a new experience for Lewis Hamilton but at least he had company for there at 14 was Kimi Raikkonen. The pair soon showed a clean pair of exhaust pipes to David Coulthard (Red Bull) and Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India) and on lap 42, Hamilton managed to get past Raikkonen. Four laps later, Hamilton touched wheels with former team-mate Fernando Alonso (Renault) and slipped into 7th place, looking hot for a podium finish. Meanwhile, Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) was playing a one-stop strategy, having started 11th on the grid. With 22 laps to go, he had pulled up into second place before pitting and changing to intermediate tyres.

Alonso, who had earlier been passed by Hamilton, had also switched to intermediate tyres and it was this strategy that allowed him to turn the tables on the Englishman and secured him a fourth overall. Felipe Massa had a relatively uneventful race apart from an overtaking incident with Nico Rosberg (Williams), which the Ferrari team decided he had to five back. Realising he still had Hamilton behind him decided the Brazilian on a cautious approach which narroes the gap between them to just one point.

Unhappiest man of the day has to be Sebastian Bourdais (Toro Rosso) who, after qualifying fourth, stalled on the grid and lost a lap whilst being re-started.

His team-mate Sebastian Vettel is now the youngest driver ever to have won a Formula 1 race. As he later said when asked how it felt: “It is better than I had ever expected. A big thank you to everyone in the team for their great work.”

The next grand prix takes place in Singapore on Sunday 28 September

The top eight finishers were:
1 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
2 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
3 Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber)
4 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW)
6 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
7 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
8 Mark Webber (Red Bull)

After 14 races, the leader board looks like this:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 78
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 77
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 64
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 57
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 53
6 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 51
7 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 28
8 Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 26
9 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) 23
10 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 20

1 Ferrari 134
2 McLaren 129
3 BMW Sauber 117
4 Toyota 41
5 Renault 41

Mike O’Neill

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