Sunday, 9 September 2012

Italian GP - Qualifying

The great Juan Manuel Fangio winning at Monza in 1955

Monza. Home of the Tifosi. A Mecca for all fans who have racing in their blood. Along with Spa, it is the one Grand Prix that I haven’t yet been to that I really, really want to go to. Next year, the Italian Grand Prix will be taking place in September which in a massive coincidence will be the month of our 10th wedding anniversary. Just saying.

Confused who is racing for whom next year? Apparently Eddie Jordan is on the case. 

What could be the big talking point of the week? Take a bow, Lewis Hamilton…tweeter extraordinaire, hugely talented racing driver and as we all know, a fragile, sensitive soul who likes poetry. Will he, won’t he leave McLaren possibly in the direction of Mercedes and the cheque book of Norbert Haug. The story was broken by Eddie Jordan last week (kudos to Eddie who also broke the ‘Schumacher returns to F1’ story) and so the Beeb sent their very own Inspector Clouseau off to find out more. Martin Whitmarsh’s tight lipped reply was “any sentence that begins ‘Eddie Jordan understands’ is immediately questionable”. Still reading between the lines and the body language (a lot of Lewis shrugging and tired resignation on the face of Martin Whitmarsh), I would say that Lewis is offski.

There was a lot of mention of Lewis’s management company and the fact that Mercedes is a huge global enterprise. Yes, but on evidence so far, they will also offer him a rubbish car. Still this is what happens when you hook up with Simon Fuller, a man so Machiavellian that he makes Simon Cowell look like Timmy Mallet (but who wouldn’t want to see Simon Cowell hit over the head with a big spongy hammer - there's one for Children in Need).

Bets please on which lap will we hear that Maldonaldo is 'under investigation'

Quick recap of all the naughtiness from last week’s race. Grosjean is in absentia and is replaced in the Lotus by Jerome d’Ambrosio who you may recall from some previous rubbish F1 outings last year. Apparently, Maldonaldo has impressively acquired two 5 grid-place penalties ahead of Monza. At this rate, he might pick up so many grid-place penalties that he might not even get on the grid.

So screeching rapidly through to the last five minutes of Q1 (it is Saturday evening after all – though it could be worse, I could sitting here blogging about X Factor!). With 1 minute to go, d’Ambrosio was hovering just above the drop zone. In a Lotus for heaven’s sake. Poor Nico Hulkenberg hadn’t even set a time as his car had a gear box problem. So Q1 finished up with Alonso, Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, Di Resta and Massa setting the fastest times.

Narain Karthitheyan starts from a lofty 21st on the grid. Exciting times! 

And STOP PRESS…Narain Karthitheyan out-qualified his team-mate for the first time since the 2005 Chinese Grand Prix. This man is on a roll. DC said there would be a billion people in India cheering – and here in the House of Power we are also going wild.

It was safe to say that Schumacher was driving on the ragged edge, ie. making quite a lot of mistakes. Still with 3 minutes of Q2 to go, he was in 7th place while Webber was languishing down in 13th. At this point in time, it looked very much as pole position would be a battle to the death between Alonso, Hamilton and Button. The husband was meanwhile eulogizing about Maldonaldo who apparently ‘wrings the best out of his car’. Yes, in a kamikaze-crash-jumpstart kind of way. And Webber’s final flying lap was to no avail – he missed the cut and will be starting in 11th tomorrow. His days in F1 are numbered I feel. *Remembers* that he has signed a new contract for the 2013 season. Hmmmm, not Christian Horner’s greatest coup ever.

Kimi was just above the dropzone of doom in 10th place but it was enough to squeak into the top ten shoot-out. However, missing out were Maldonaldo and d’Ambrosio. Its safe to say the F1 principals won’t be beating a path to Jerome’s door! The three fastest drivers going into Q3 were Alonso, Button and Di Resta. Not sure I could call this one. Ok then, I will…Alonso for pole.

With 6 minutes to go, only Massa had set a time. Presumably just to keep the Tifosi happy. Then a flurry of flying laps and Hamilton took provisional pole. Alonso aborted his lap and returned to the garage. Uh-oh. This didn’t look good. Clearly, I have jinxed him Murray Walker style. Time for Mercedes to show their hand, and Schumacher and Nico moved into 4th and 5th spots respectively. And from nowhere, Paul Di Resta did a storming lap to take 2nd place.

Another McLaren one-two! But will they be team-mates next season?

The usual frenzied last minute of qualifying eventually revealed that the top 6 drivers at the end of Q3 were as follows: 1. Hamilton 2. Button 3. Massa 4. Di Resta 5. Schuey and 6. Vettel. Shall we just take a moment to absorb the startling information that Massa qualified 3rd and Alonso qualified 10th. Alonso did have a problem however so he is one to watch for pace during the race.

So a commanding front row lock-out for McLaren. Is Lewis utterly deranged…why would anyone in their right mind want to move from McLaren to Mercedes? I am so looking forward to this race and the unparalleled excitement of seeing Narain Karthitheyan starting in 21st place. Right behind him is none other than Pastor Maldonaldo. Literally anything could happen. Enjoy!

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