Guest Author - Christine Blachford
Being Ferrari’s home Grand Prix, both Massa and Raikkonen were looking to fare really well at the last race. Raikkonen had an enormous crash in the Saturday morning Free Practice session, and although he clambered from the car safely, the incident was not without repercussions.
Qualifying was the usual affair of watching the top four drivers battle it out, and this time Alonso won the fight to take pole position. Below them, more interesting things were taking place. Button made it into the top ten for the first time this season – no higher than tenth, but still impressive. His teammate Barrichello pushed too hard on his last lap, and flew off the track, but it was in regaining the track that he caused trouble. He ended up directly in Fisichella’s way, effectively ruining the Renault’s flying lap. I’m sure plenty of words were exchanged afterwards.
Race day dawned, and the lights went out. Hamilton dived to the left to protect his position from Massa, and the pair jostled round the first corner. There was light contact, which pushed Hamilton off track causing him to miss the apex of the corner, and although the stewards looked into the incident, they let it go with no penalty.
The track at Monza requires very little downforce, which could explain Button, and Honda’s, resurgence to form. Throughout the race, Button was pushing his hardest, and he managed to gain a single championship point by the end. That’s not much, but for Honda this year, it’s a step in the right direction. Time will tell if they can continue the form through the last few races of the year.
A lot of the field decided that a one stop strategy was their best option, and only the few drivers at the front of the grid decided to come in twice. Raikkonen was the notable exception to this, making it halfway through the race before diving into the pits for his one and only stop. He did manage to jump up to second place through this strategy at one point, but Hamilton would not stand for that and used his “no fear” attitude to outbrake the Ferrari at an important corner. Raikkonen backed off considerably towards the end of the race, but afterwards, put this down to a sore neck from his Saturday crash.
Unfortunately for Ferrari, Raikkonen only managed third, whilst Massa suffered yet more reliability problems and retired from the race. His championship fight is effectively over, unless something miraculous happens, whilst Alonso closed in even more on current leader Hamilton. With only a few races to go, the championship is hotting up, but this week’s espionage hearing may put a dampener on McLaren’s 2007 dominance.