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Fernando Fantastico !!!

NEWS STORY
12/09/2010

Despite its emasculation over the years, the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza remains a circuit that one should treat with total respect. With a lap speed of just under 160 mph mistakes are severely punished.

While this morning's GP2 and GP3 events were relatively incident free, yesterday's GP2 race proved what can happen when drivers get carried away on this superfast track.

While the long, long run to the Variante del Rettifilo should allow the field time to sort itself out - especially when one considers the mad sprint to La Source in Belgium - over the years we have seen numerous incidents here and at the second chicane, the Variante della Roggia.

Yesterday's GP2 race saw Sam Bird get the jump on teammate and pole-sitter Jules Bianchi, the English youngster going on to take his maiden series win. No doubt Jenson Button will be hoping to emulate his countryman's move this afternoon, though so would Felipe Massa.

The width of the track means that we will see cars four, maybe even five, abreast as they head off the line, then funnelling into the bottleneck that is the first chicane. The Italian Grand Prix might not be won at that first chicane but it most certainly can be lost.

While Lewis Hamilton has had the edge for much of the weekend, in qualifying, when it really mattered, it was Button who delivered, the 2008 world champion subsequently admitting that he got it wrong in terms of (downforce) set-up.

While Luca di Montezemolo is demanding that Fernando Alonso converts his pole position to a win, Ferrari having revealed that once it is out of contention for the titles it will switch its focus to 2011, one cannot help but feel that the odds are against the Maranello outfit. All too often over the years we have seen the scarlet cars spring a surprise in qualifying, thereby guaranteeing a sell-out on race day, only to fall apart once the lights go out.

One cannot help but feel that despite the protestations, the title fight is between McLaren and Red Bull with Ferrari still in contention more as a result of the failures of its two rivals (and their drivers), not forgetting a little help from the WMSC.

With today's race taking place in ideal conditions we can expect a true sprint that, like quite a few races here in recent years, quickly becomes processional, we don't even expect tyre degradation to be a problem. Compounds are hard (prime) and soft (option).

The smart money has to be on Button while the Ferraris and Red Bulls will be up there, reliability notwithstanding in terms of the Milton Keynes cars. Rosberg should have fun with the Williams and Kubica while Schumacher must be longing for this season to end in the hope that 2011 can only be better.

The superfast nature of this track has clearly shown up the deficiencies in some of the cars, the Force Indias, in particular, proving very disappointing. Toro Rosso and Sauber have also been worryingly off the pace.

There are grid penalties for Timo Glock and Vitaly Petrov, the German after his team changed the differential on his car before qualifying and the Russian for impeding the Virgin driver during Q1.

As the field heads off on the warm up lap the air temperature is 24 degrees C, while the track temperature is 35 degrees.

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