Back at the temple of speed: Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. I have been there twice myself and it’s a delight. Its a huge beautiful park that just happens to have a fantastic race track, smack dab in the middle of it. Walking on the old banking is a must if you are there. I have always dreamed of seeing a modern track built with these kind of slopes again. Watching a modern F1 car go round that would be fascinating. But those days are gone. Still, nothing beats standing on the back straight right up to the railing on the inside of the track as the cars go by at 330 kph. The sound just hits you right in the gut.
Rumors about Kimis whereabouts for next year are filling up the cyberspace with an evergrowing rate. Somehow Kimis doings always draws an incredible amount of attention. And they never cease to amaze. What was (at least for me) completely and utterly unthinkable is now seemingly about to happen. But I will talk about that later on. First my qualifying run down.
A long wheel base version of the E21 was to make its debut here. And hopefully aid Lotus in their previous struggles on low downforce tracks. After the practice sessions it was clear from Kimis feedback that was not the case. So they reverted to the shorter wheelbase for qualifying and the race. Q1 sees both Lotuses come through with relative ease. Q2 not so much. Kimi misses out by just hundreds of a second to start 11th. Grosjean down in 13th.
Now I know Kimi fans won’t like me saying this. But Kimi would comfortably have made Q3 if he had just put his lap together. What makes me say that? Well, looking at the F1 live timing app, I can tell that on his fastest Q2 lap he is unusually blessed with no immediate traffic ahead of him. He does a good sector 1 but for no apparent reason a weak sector 2. Weak how? Well, he had gone faster before in that sector when the track was slower. And on his next lap with the best life taken out of the tires, he does a faster and personal best sector 2. Had he done that in his first quick lap, he would have made it into Q3. But Brundle said he had traffic? Yes, but that was on his final attempt. His sector 3 was 2 seconds slower because he came up on Hamilton. But that had nothing to do with the previous lap where he, as far as I could tell, made a small mistake in S2 that cost him advancement.
Okay, even if he had made it into Q3, the Lotus would not have had pace to start any higher than 8th at the best. That would have put him ahead of Perez though and the race might have been a different story. But that is just speculation and that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this world. Besides, there were other interesting things happening in qualifying.
And that would be Alonsos angered radio outburst towards his team after the Ferrari tow-machine once again failed to make any real impact. Last year Ferrari made an attempt of getting Alonso higher up the order by sending out Massa ahead and making him Alonsos tow-bitch. Not too successful it was. But this year was even worse as Massa actually qualified one place ahead of Alonso in 4th. This prompted Alonso calling his team idiots (or geniuses sarcastically – which amounts to the same) with an eye-rolling “mamma mia” at the end. Clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1WacjgOnE0
Not exactly respectful behaviour considering how hard the guys work behind the scenes. That is one thing. But what makes it much worse in my eyes is seeing Alonso do his usual bold faced lying to the press after the incident. This is far from the first time he applies this tactic. He has the gall to hail qualifying as “perfect tactics” and that it was “an extremely, extremely good qualifying for us.”: http://adamcooperf1.com/2013/09/07/fernando-alonso-i-will-be-able-to-see-the-red-bull-rea-wings-on-the-grid/
Was it now Fernando? Could have fooled me. It almost sounds like he believes it himself. It takes a special man to make false words ooze out of his mouth with such ease. And Vettel is the one having all the booing..? Go figure. I don’t approve of booing, but if someone deserves it, it would be Alonso for his long history of spies, lies, two-faced tactics and shamelessness. In particular saying he was “proud” of his Singapore “win” in 2008 that only came about by cheating.
Ok. Enough about the small-minded man with a penchant for paranoia and on to better things.
The first chicane in Monza is tight when 22 cars scramble for best position at one time. In particular when there are a few rotten eggs in the bunch. With Kimis midfield starting position, he unfortunately fell foul with one of those. His name is Perez. He is an idiot. He has one move when trying to gain or keep a position and its called a chop. He has received penalties for this before. But he doesnt learn. And it doesn’t matter when you are buddies with the richest man in the world.
Kimi gets a fantastic start off the line. The track is fairly clear ahead of him down to the chicane. Until Perez decides to move over and force him onto the grass. It would have been fair if he had been clear ahead of Kimi, but he wasn’t. Kimi then had to lift to avoid contact, move off the track, get his left wheelset slightly dirty, then lose downforce that resulted in less stopping power. End result: he was powerless in stopping before hitting the back of the McLaren and smashing up his own front wing: http://youtu.be/G-d4ybeA6e8
Yea, it’s deemed a racing incident. But this would have never happened with a driver like Button or Alonso. The Mexican doesn’t seem to know where his car is in relation to those around him. And that is a problem in wheel to wheel racing. So Kimi has to pit after the first lap for a new wing and is dead last with more than 20 seconds up to the nearest Marussia in front of him. And so began his long hunt for a measly point or two.
A driver with no motivation would have said “why bother?”. But he wastes no time and begins chugging away at the gap, setting times on par with the race leader Vettel. Except for perhaps a tenth or two now and then. In fact they swap fastest lap times over a good part of the race. And that strongly highlights what could have been a great fight if only Kimi could have been up there somewhere. And now with Pirelli being more conservative in their choice of compounds, the Monza race is a one stopper. So no chance of gaining ground by making one stop less as in the first part of the season.
So the race is pretty much run from there. Highlight for me was Kimis daunting pass on Sutil on the outside into Parabolica. That was just a stunning move. You dive into that corner with over 200 kph. Spectacular!
Kimi finally gets back at Perez and passes him but runs out of time and laps to pass Button for 10th. So he ends up in the same position as he started. It was a heroic effort and he gave a good show for all the fans watching.
Which brings me to my next point. Vettel crosses the line as victor once again in Monza. For a 3rd time actually. And he did it while nursing a very worn gearbox. And nursing a flat spotted tire in his first stint that gave him tons of vibrations. He still had no problems keeping a 10 second gap to Alonso and his teammate behind him. He put on a good show as did the rest of the field. Which is why it is so very disappointing to hear boos towards
Vettel when the podium ceremony starts. I really thought that F1 was a sport above the simpleminded hooliganism of say football. But apparently not.
It is so idiotic and lowbrow to boo any driver on the podium when he has been out on the track, risking his life to put on a show for the spectators. I am not just talking about Italy but also the other places this has taken place. If you are a booer, get a grip and get a life. You are not smart for doing it. You only present yourself as a wanting specimen of the human race.
Anyway, congratulations to Vettel. He is well on his way to his 4th title. By the way. You know the next 4 races coming up? Vettel won all of those last year. Nuff said.
KIMI AND FERRARI
So what is this Kimi to Ferrari business? Chances are that when you are reading this, Kimis contract with Ferrari for the next 2 years have already been made official. If not, I will have to go back and make some serious editing here
(Edit: Yes, it is confirmed now. So check out this brilliant article on Kimis return by the guys at blogf1.it: http://f1bias.com/2013/09/11/back-to-red/ )
But the sources reporting that this is a done deal are coming from all over now. Pekka Franck, editor in Chief from SuomiF1 was the first to claim that Kimi was definitely going back to Ferrari next year. It took a long while before more known sources touched on that subject, but now its all over the F1 media that a return to the Scuderia for the last Ferrari champion is imminent. The latest rumors say that Shell will be on Kimis side and taking care of his 20 million euro base salary as well. They sure had a soft spot for him last time around:
What do I think of this Ferrari move? Well, I am not a completely happy camper. I remember how his last stint with Ferrari ended. How he became a pawn in a PR smearing campaign to justify his outing to make room for Alonso. And how he was not listened to in 2008. Even when he was the reigning champion nonetheless. Had they listened to Kimi like they did in the second half of 2009, they would have had a double champion. That is a betrayal in my eyes. And frankly – I do not understand Kimis desire to return to Ferrari.
If you read the rundown of the events in 2008 behind the scenes, you might agree with me: http://f1bias.com/2012/04/05/truth-about-kimi-ferrari-santander-2008/
Then again, Kimi is nothing like me. In the slightest. As I am known to be able to hold a grudge for far too long, Kimi on the other hand has an uncanny ability to let bygones be bygones. The question is, are they bygones? Kimi is a smart man. I am sure the contract is long and filled with clauses and conditions. But how much value does words on a paper have when push comes to shove?
If I am to make an estimated guess of his motives for this move it would be the 2014 engine regulations. Next year those turbo powerplants are going to play a major role in what team has the upper hand. And a works team will always have a big advantage. And there are only 3 of those. Mercedes, Ferrari and to an extent – Renault with Red Bull. But effectively there are only 2 true works teams. This is why Hamilton made the move to Mercedes. An inspired choice it seems. And Kimi wants a piece of that. He has not returned to F1 for podiums and great drives. He wants to win.
Another motive would be funds for the team. 2 years in Lotus have taught him that it isn’t enough to have a dedicated balls out racing team that Lotus is. And that is very sad and unfortunate in itself. You also need money to keep the pressure on the car development. To keep up with the rivals. Lotus have tried to do so and they are in deep debt at the moment. I believe Kimi would have stayed at Lotus if they had been able to give him some kind of reassurance of the budget for next year. Apparently they could not do so.
I still wonder why Kimi didn’t land a deal with Red Bull instead. They have ties with Renault and they have the funds. They have Adrian Newey and so on and so forth. Judging from comments from Webber and Horner, it was in fact Kimi himself that chose not to go with Red Bull. Not the other way around. The reasons for that are unknown to the public for the time being.
The big question mark for me is Alonso. In fact there are a lot of question marks. But a big one is Alonso. He was the chosen one. Supposed to bring the Scuderia into Schumacher-like glory with his supposedly uncanny car development skills. That has not happened in 4 years now. He is getting older as well. There are reports that he is on his way out of Ferrari for next year. Perhaps to McLaren and some even say to Lotus with Renault returning to the team. That just sounds bonkers so I don’t buy that just yet. However, what is a widely known fact coming from voices inside Ferrari, is that Alonso was very vocal for retaining Massa and against employing Kimi. But with the tension that has been this year between Montezemelo and Alonso, I think Luca may be taking this opportunity to show Alonso who the boss is.
But two roosters in one henhouse? And with one of the roosters being notorious for having fits when he doesn’t get the special treatment he feels he deserves? We all know that Kimi will care less about that stuff as long as his preferences are heeded and he gets equal treatment. He is probably the only one of the top 4 drivers that could function alongside Fernando. The problem is that I don’t think the Spaniard would or could function beside anyone who can regularly challenge him on track. His past says no. But I doubt he has anywhere to go to since he, unlike Kimi, has burned his bridges. So he just has to suck it up and stay at Ferrari. Or take a sabbatical. But I give the latter a snowballs chance.
Another question is car development. Kimi and Alonso have very unsimilar driving styles and preferences. How is that going to work out? Like in 2008? I will burn down Maranello if I see signs of that happening again. Are there time, capacity and money for two slightly different routes? This remains my biggest worry. Kimi is very particular in what he wants. If he gets that just right, no one in the world can match his speed. It is one of his strengths but also his weakness. This is what the Ferrari engineers raved about when he was there. They did not understand the speed he got from the car at times. Alonso on the other hand has a driving style that makes it easier for him to adapt to different cars. This is one of his strengths. In my mind that means that the main focus actually needs to be on Kimis car for next year. Are you sure you got that part included in the contract, Kimi?
I am glad that Kimi will be with a team that is a works team. That has plenty of finances to keep a championship challenge going to the end. The fact that he knows the team from before, knows the team members and so on, may also have been a deciding factor for him against Red Bull. And I am glad that he will be in F1 for at least 2 more years. Other than that I am holding off the champagne. Too many unknows and memories of things that were that still haunt me. Do I have trust issues when it comes to Ferrari? Darn straight I do. Does Kimi? He hasn’t forgotten. Of course not. But perhaps he is just that bullheaded, just that determined and that much on fire that he wants to come back and set the record straight. Prove every doubter and detractor wrong. This is what I hope will happen. And he will do it if given half a chance. But he needs the team on his side more than he did before. And until I see that happening, I will remain a sceptic.
Until Singapore, stay frosty.
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