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Vettel blows them away in Monza thriller

NEWS STORY
11/09/2011

Lewis Hamilton believes that he and his teammate, Jenson Button, have a good chance of scoring their team's first 1-2 of the season today.

Now, while one might be tempted to say, 'I'll have some of whatever he's on', the fact is that barring that mistake in Ascari on his final run in Q3 yesterday, the 2008 world champion would have been a lot closer to pole-man Vettel.

And while the pole-sitter, certainly in recent history, has a habit of winning here, and Vettel is clearly on very good form this weekend, would anyone risk serious money on Hamilton being wrong?

With virtually no chance of raining, barring a major tangle on the first lap necessitating the presence of the Safety Car, in round about seventy-six minutes all will be revealed.

Nobody gave Red Bull much hope this weekend, even the Austrian outfit downplayed its chances on a track where it has rarely managed to shine. However, from the second session onwards, it was pretty much business as usual, Vettel, in particular, looking to have everything under control.

Teammate Mark Webber did himself no favours when he chose to go his own way in terms of strategy in Q3, and his run of poor starts of late will be costly if continued today. Indeed, with the McLarens up ahead, Ferraris either side and the Renaults and Mercedes right behind, the Australian will have his hands full in the opening moments, right about the time his teammate sails off into the distance.

Hamilton has looked good all weekend, all that remains is for the Englishman to stay out of trouble, keep his car on the black stuff and drive with his head as opposed to his heart. Teammate Button, providing his car doesn't let him down and providing he doesn't suffer another bout of bad luck, should be right up there at the finish.

It is highly unlikely that Fernando Alonso will repeat his 2010 achievement, indeed it will be a surprise to see the Spaniard, or his teammate, on the podium. That said, the partisan crowd does give Ferrari drivers a real boost here so who knows what might happen.

Vitaly Petrov will be keen to continue where he left off at Spa, while (new) teammate Bruno Senna will be equally eager to score his first ever F1 points, especially in light of the debacle at La Source two weeks ago. As we have said before, much could be decided on the very first lap, at the first or second chicane.

On the back of his excellent performance at Spa - his living room - Michael Schumacher has been looking good all weekend here at what some might consider to be his cucina. A five-time winner here, the German would dearly love another high-points finish, and would it be too much to ask of Lady Luck to see him on the lowest step of the podium later this afternoon. Teammate Nico Rosberg has had problems for much of the weekend, however, we expect him to add to his tally.

It is behind them that things get really interesting, the Force India duo starting ahead of the Williams duo followed by the Toro Rossos and Saubers.

Having shown promise on Friday, the Swiss team has been alarmingly off the pace ever since, even team boss Peter Sauber now extremely concerned that Force India has taken 18 points from it in the last three races.

With the second best reliability thus far this season, the Force India duo must be confident of scoring more points today, thereby leap-frogging Sauber to take sixth in the championship.

While Toro Rosso has struggled here all weekend, one has to wonder what magic Williams has weaved in order to have Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado starting ahead of the Italian team and Sauber. Whether the Grove outfit can add a few more points to its tally and at least try to close the gap to its Italian rivals remains to be seen.

Tony Fernandes, clearly stung by Eddie Jordan's comments yesterday has warned that heads will be on the block next season if there isn't a marked improvement, citing qualifying positions of 14th/15th as the target. On the day that Jarno Trulli committed to another season with the Malaysian outfit now is as good a time as any to begin that long climb up the grid. Could the green cars benefit from some first lap mayhem?

Despite the emasculation, despite the constant tinkering with the rules, Monza remains one of those very special tracks that touches all those who visit it. Though its true glory days are long gone, it still has the ability to surprise, while passion, history and drama ooze from every pore. As we head to some of the more sterile venues on the calendar, take the time to soak in one of the tracks that first enticed many to this sport… not least our esteemed editor.

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