F1 2008, Round 14 - Italy
Friday Free Practice was a complete washout with monsoon style rain that even started flooding the commentary boxes, and the pit garages. Mechanics were reduced to bailing out the water from around the cars with a broom. Saturday didn't appear to be much better, but drivers had to take to the track for qualifying, no matter how limited their running had been.
Hamilton and Raikkonen were two big names to fall at the qualifying hurdle, as Hamilton and his engineers made the wrong tyre decision and couldn't get out of Q2. The Ferrari was one place in front of the McLaren, although Kimi's problems were less obvious.
At the front, Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Vettel made the most of his opportunity to shine and scored his first ever pole position. It wasn't a fluke, however, as team mate Bourdais was pushed from third to fourth on the grid at the very last minute.
Race day was just as wet as the previous days, and the race had to start under a safety car. It only circulated for two laps though, and then returned to the pit lane, leaving the action to continue. Unfortunately, Bourdais had stalled on the grid, been pushed into the pit lane, and joined the back of the pack one lap down. Vettel meanwhile was stretching out a comfortable lead at the front.
Hamilton began to storm his way through the field, as the track began to dry, and at one point he had hauled himself up to second place. He was on a one stop strategy, but unfortunately, his pit stop window was at the wrong time, and he changed to extreme wet tyres, just before everyone else began putting on intermediate wet tyres. After a few laps, it was clear he had to return to the pits, which pushed him down the order once more.
There were plenty of good overtaking manoeuvres, although it did appear that the chicane cutting penalty of last week was fresh in everyone's mind, as we saw lots of drivers handing places back to each other. In the end, though, it was all good, clean racing, and the result couldn't have been better. Vettel led from start to finish (minus his visits to the pit stop, of course), and he was joined on the podium by Kovalainen and Kubica. A refreshing change to the usual podium line-up, and Vettel becomes the youngest Formula 1 race winner.
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