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Magnificent Vettel finally gives F1 something to smile about

NEWS STORY
14/09/2008

We had rain during yesterday's GP2 Feature Race, we had rain overnight, and we had rain at the start of this morning's GP Spring Race. Therefore, with just over an hour to go it comes as no surprise when it starts spitting. It is also very, very cool… and we don't mean in the traditional Italian sense.

Sebastian Vettel scored a historic pole position yesterday, however, it is unlikely that we are going to see him follow that up with a win today. That said, if conditions continue, with the rain stopping and starting, anyone could win, even Fisichella or Barrichello. However, in terms of the championship(s), we know that should it rain, McLaren should have an advantage over Ferrari.

Ignoring the weather, which isn't easy, the fact is that we have an unusual grid, and with three of the fastest drivers - Hamilton, Raikkonen and Kubica - towards the back, it's fair to say that the start could be interesting, to put it mildly. At the same time, it will be worth watching how Kovalainen and Massa perform, since both, particularly the Finn, appear to be the best placed drivers to add to their respective teams tallies today.

While we don't expect to see Vettel to win, he should be up there, as should Webber, while Alonso will also be looking good for a points finish.

Even in the dry Monza has witnessed its fair share of accidents at the first chicane, while only a couple of years ago a marshal was killed in an incident at the second chicane. The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is a superfast circuit, which though heavily emasculated over the years must still be treated with the utmost respect.

As the drivers begin making their way to the grid the rain increases in intensity, leading to questions over whether drivers will begin on inters or extreme wets. However, let's not forget that drivers are only allowed so many sets of each type of tyres, with e extreme wets, in particular, having been put to plenty of use thus far already this weekend.

As we have seen this weekend, when it rain here it really rains. Should it be raining at 14.00, it is likely that like yesterday's GP2 race, the Grand Prix will get underway behind the safety car… a dreadful prospect for the purist, but the only alternative if we are to avoid carnage.

On his parade lap, Alonso is fitted with extreme wets, as is Kovalainen. However, the tyres can be changed on the grid should conditions improve. Even on his out lap, Massa gets out of shape on the approach to the second chicane. Earlier this morning, Ferrari announced that it had changed the engine in the Brazilian's car, taking advantage of the new 'joker' rule. On Friday, Red Bull revealed that it had changed the engine on Mark Webber's car, again without penalty.

Max Mosley inspect the grid, the FIA President being warmly greeted by Dietrich Mateschitz and Gerhard Berger, amongst others.

With ten minutes to go, Jenson Button is in the pitlane, from where he will be starting, though we are not sure why. Then again, he was due to start from nineteenth anyway. Nakajima is also starting from the pitlane.

Meanwhile, Race Control confirms that the race will get underway behind the safety car. With five minutes to go, the air temperature is 14 degrees C, while the track temperature is 15 degrees. Unseasonably cool.

Because the field will start the race behind the safety car, all cars are fitted with extreme wets. The rain has stopped, but it is very, very wet, and there is no doubt that there will be further rainfall over the next couple of hours.

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