The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

GRAND PRIX : Monza : Rosberg yet Again

07-10-2016

Report by Jack Target

 

Vettel managed to rescue a third place

Vettel managed to rescue a third place

Ah, Monza. There you sit among the pantheon of classic Formula 1 tracks with the likes of Monte Carlo, Spa and Interlagos. Yes the diehard fans deserved a better race, but you didn’t fail to show why you are always so fondly admired by everyone who loves this sport.

With the winds of change heading their way to F1, there was the same passion and support from the sea of red in the stand for Ferrari’s home race. A win would have been what they wanted but we all knew that was an unrealistic target. A podium place sufficed for now but once again the Mercedes were able to dominate. Much like most of the season thus far it has been a case of which driver would be the one dominating the other. On Sunday it was Nico Rosberg’s turn.

The German closed the gap to two points after his teammate and title rival, Lewis Hamilton, fell to 5th after a very poor start. It was a huge disappointment for the current champion, but he recovered to finish 2nd ahead of the two Ferraris.

Not only was it good for the fans that their beloved team in red had a good weekend and managed to beat the Red Bulls, it was important for the team. After a couple of races where they were falling behind their Milton Keynes rivals, this was a much needed return to form. The battle for 2nd place in the constructor’s championship will be an interesting one.

Before the weekend started we were given two pieces of news regarding drivers for the 2017 season. One retired, the other…can we say semi-retired? Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa will be calling it a day after the conclusion of this season. He will be greatly missed and has to go up there as one of the most liked drivers over the last decade or so. I will forever be heartbroken over his win in Interlagos in 2008 when he was so close to winning the title. The footage of his family celebrating when Hamilton was overtaken in the last lap, only for the joy to last a matter of seconds as Lewis grabbed that place back, and the title, will haunt this writer for some time.

From one former Ferrari driver to someone who I would have loved to have seen drive for Ferrari. Jenson Button is staying in the paddock next year and taking some time away from racing. It seems like he wants to retire really, but cannot bring himself to actually commit to never getting in the car again. Ron Dennis has been heavily praised for getting this agreement with Button as it opens up the options for him when Fernando Alonso’s contract runs out after 2017 and it gives the young Stoffel Vandoorne a chance on the grid, after impressing in Bahrain earlier this year. If this is the end for Jenson, we hope he stays on our screens in some capacity because he is loved and respected by nearly every fan.

Now to matters on the tarmac and qualifying brought up few surprises as Hamilton stormed to pole, his fifth at Monza joining Ayrton Senna and Juan Manuel Fangio as drivers to also achieve this feat.

Ferrari’s reluctance to let down the home crowd was evident throughout the weekend as they were able to stay above the Red Bull’s and Williams all weekend, locking out the second row in qualifying as well as in the race. Speaking of those other teams, Valterri Bottas done very well to qualify in 5th, above the Red Bulls. Don’t worry I can predict now, whilst typing this part on Saturday that, like all Williams performances this season, he will finish at least 4 places below them on Sunday. (Ok so I was slightly wrong with this predication. He still finished lower than he qualified and behind one Red Bull).

The race on Sunday was not that eventful and once again Hamilton’s start set up the main plotline for the afternoon. Going in to turn one the home crowd must have been jumping up and down in excitmenent as Vettel came close to not only overtaking Lewis, but take the lead in front of Rosberg. The two top teams had different tire strategies and it was the Mercedes who had the advantage with their one stop to medium tires as the clouds rolled over northern Italy.

It was a shame to see Pascal Wehrlein drop out of the race halfway through, due to a car malfunction that sounded far more serious on the team radio than it actually was. He had done so well the day before to get his Manor into 14th in qualifying, in front of Button’s McLaren, but there may be signs of another young driver coming through the ranks before too long.

So it wasn’t what we all hoped for but at least there was a Ferrari up on the podium spraying champagne. Vettel held on to 3rd in front of his teammate as he now chases down Daniel Ricciardo in the championship. The German was expected to be the best of the rest this season behind the Mercedes but had struggled of late, adding to the earlier car problems to start the season. He should be happy with his first podium in five races, for now.

The crowd on the track after the race has been replicated very well at Silverstone after the redevelopment there and many other tracks worldwide, but nothing quite beats seeing the sea of red and that huge Scuderia flag. It looks good enough to jump on, like a big red trampoline. Now that would be an excellent way to celebrate a Monza win!

Rosberg now trails Hamilton by only 2 points and there will now be lots of reports and features as the season goes on about how close a battle this title race will be. Other writers on this website will also have the same belief. However, I am not one of those.

I’m sorry but I cannot see Hamilton letting up and I think he will win his fourth title relatively comfortably. He is just too good. Every problem that has been thrown at him he has overcome it easily. The notion that this race will go right down to the wire is one I just can’t buy into. And this is not coming from a place of patriotism or pessimism as I thought Rosberg would win the title at the beginning of the season.

Despite things going more in favour of Nico, Hamilton still has a lead, albeit a slender one. I am open to being proven wrong but I think when the season ends we will be sitting there wondering how we kidded ourselves that this was ever going to be a nail biting conclusion.

We will all see how right (or terribly wrong) I am as we enter the business end of the season. By the time we get to Singapore in two weeks time we may even have a new owner of Formula 1. On Sunday the ever entertaining and well-connected Eddie Jordan broke the news that a takeover was imminent. It could also make the end of Bernie Eccelstone’s reign (please racing God’s, the old and the new, let this be true). Oh yes, the winds of change certainly are sweeping their way through as Formula 1 heads East.