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Barrichello Masters Monza

NEWS STORY
13/09/2009

Although it remains one of the most exciting circuits on the calendar, thanks to its constant emasculation in the name of safety, not to mention the consistent failure of the powers that be to get things right when it comes to promoting overtaking, Monza rarely offers up the thrillers that fans of a certain age grew used to.

Those that remember the great slipstreaming battles of the sixties and very early seventies now have to get used to the fact that at the Autodromo Nazionale, like various other circuits on the current calendar, the race is very often decided at the first corner.

In terms of today's race, there are two factors that will probably decide the outcome, the weather and the first chicane.

As far as the weather is concerned, it is claimed that there will be no rain during the course of this afternoon's event. Then again, that what they said about yesterday's GP2 race, which was subsequently delayed by almost half-an-hour courtesy of a sudden storm of Monsoon-like proportions. Rest assured, when it rain in Monza, it really rains, as those of you who remember last year's race can attest.

As far as the first corner is concerned, the fact that four of the first eight cars on the grid is running KERS should mean a madder than ever scramble to the chicane. Sutil will enough on his hands holding off Raikkonen and Kovalainen, consequently it is unlikely that he will be in a position to give Hamilton a hard time. However, the length of the run to the first corner, not to mention the generous width of the track, means that we could see the cars four or five abreast as they filter into that narrow, unforgiving right-left complex that leads to the Curve Grande.

In terms of strategy, there appears to be little difference with the two tyre options - medium and soft - though, as ever, the softer tyre was the choice for the really fast lap in qualifying. Furthermore, there are no reports of graining or blistering.

It is clear that some drivers are opting for a one-stop strategy as opposed to two, and in a couple of cases, most notably McLaren, teams are putting their drivers on entirely different strategies rather than placing all their eggs in the one basket.

Taking all things into account, it looks as though this has to be Hamilton's race, though we expect his teammate to give him a run for his money - which is more than Kovalainen did last year when it came to challenging Vettel.

We remain unconvinced by Raikkonen, who has had a mixed weekend, but feel that at the end of the afternoon he'll be up there, along with Button, Barrichello, Sutil and possibly Alonso.

The Red Bulls haven't been convincing this weekend, and no doubt Webber and Vettel - who will no doubt spend the afternoon checking their mirrors for puffs of smoke - will be looking forward to Singapore, whose temperatures and track layout should suit the RBR5.

While we do not expect him to win, we do expect a strong performance from Button who cannot continue relying on his rivals to keep missing penalties. The Englishman has scored just 11 points in the last 5 races and if he is to keep his - and Brawn's - title hope alive he must rediscover some of his early season pace and self-belief.

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