2008 Italian F1 GP – Wolf’s Race Review

Sebastian Vettel, 2008 Italian GP

Sebastian Vettel, 2008 Italian GP

This was a funny Formula 1 weekend. Rain in Monza turned this classic but recently often processional race into a grand theater. As expected, we have a first time Monza winner. But few would have expected that this would be Sebastian Vettel – now the youngest ever Formula 1 race winner (and pole position holder). This was also the first time since 1957 German GP (win for Maseratti) that Italian team other than Ferrari won Formula 1 race.

It is often the case that when we have a surprise winner it is a fluke result. Just look back at Fisichella’s win in Brazil with Jordan or Panis’ win in Monaco with Ligier. Vettel’s Monza win doesn’t fit into this fluke category though. Yes, Vettel had luck on his side during the qualifying. But his and his team’s race performance was well worth the race win.

The race started behind safety car. When that pulled off Vettel took the lead from Kovalainen, Webber, Rosberg and Massa. Making the most of the clear track and no spray Vettel slowly started to extend his lead. Still it was surprising that Kovalainen could not match Vettel’s pace. At the same time at the back Hamilton was quicker than anybody else and on lap 10 overtook Kimi Raikkonen. No one however matched Vettel at the front and by the time he went in for his first pit stop on lap 19 he was 10 seconds ahead of Heikki. Vettel rejoined the race in 4th place behind Kovalainen, Webber and Massa. This was the only time in the race Vettel was not in the lead.

The only real scare for Vettel was Hamilton’s chase. Just before his first pit stop Hamilton was running 2nd, only about one second behind Vettel. And it looked like Hamilton is on one stop strategy with Vettel still to make one more stop. The timing of Hamilton’s first (and only one planned) and Vettel’s second pit stop is what made the difference. Hamilton took on another set of extreme wet tyres. The track was however beginning to dry and when Vettel went for his second pit stop he, same as others pitting at that time, chose intermediate tyres. Hamilton had to go back to pits for another tyre change and dropped down to 10th. His hopes for win were over. From that moment on there was no one left to fight with Vettel. He mastered the remaining 15 laps with class and went on to win the race.

This was thourougly deserved win for Sebastian Vettel and Toro Rosso and I do not want to take anything away from him. But besides Vettel’s near perfect race and his teams perfectly timed strategy the other main factors were the performances of Ferrari and McLaren. I simply could not believe what I was seeing …

Kimi Raikkonen was nowhere. Nowhere for most of the race. I am a big fan of this guy, but his speaches after races with all the reasons why it again did not work are getting very boring … He did not even bother to defend his position from Hamilton early on in the race, he did not attempt to overtake anybody for better part of the race. Then, on the intermediates he suddenly started to record one fastest lap after another. What was he doing for the first 1 hour of the race ? Where was he ?

Felipe Massa’s race was ruined by his team … First, everybody who watched the race must have seen that he simply had to give the position back to Nico Rosberg after that failed overtaking attempt on lap 13. Well everybody except his team. They let Massa to pull away from Rosberg only to inform him later to slow down and let Nico pass. Massa wasted a whole lap and lost lots of time … Then the timing of his pit stop … Massa’s crew must have seen the busy traffic but they made sure that Massa rejoined the race stuck behind several drivers who were fighting for position with him …

Ferrari are yet to find new Ross Brawn …

Heikki Kovalainen can’t be very proud of himself either. His car was McLaren, very similar to the one that in Hamilton’s hands was slicing through the field even with heavier fuel load. Kovalainen should have won this race, it is as simple as that… Toro Rosso has improved a lot but it is still Toro Rosso, not McLaren !

Monza 2008

Monza 2008

The big winner was (besides Vettel of course) Robert Kubica. Well not that big winner, but the strategy worked in his favour and from 11th on grid Kubica climbed up to 3rd. He gained nice few points on both Massa and Hamilton. Kubica is now only 14 points behind Lewis Hamilton with 4 races to go … He is not yet out of the title chase.

Fernando Alonso made his only pit stop only 3 laps later than Hamilton but those 3 laps made the difference. The track was drying and Alonso was able to switch to intermediate tyres. Alonso finished in strong 4th place, Renault is now on even points with Toyota …

As Hamilton and Kubica examples show, it was perhaps better to start outside the top ten and have te tank filled up with fuel up to the rim. The examples of Webber (who slipped to 8th but at least still finished in points) and Rosberg who started from P5 but finished down in 14th (even 2 places behind his team mate Kazuki Nakajima who started 18th) seem to prove this theory.

All the celebration in Toro Rosso was spoiled by some sort of failure on Bourdais’ car on the starting grid. The team managed to restart his engine but as the race took off behind the safety car Bourdais found himself immediatelly a lap down and his race was ruined …

Honda and Force India were the teams that could have capitalized on these freaky conditions the most. It was not to be. Giancarlo Fisichella was the only driver to retire from the race, Adrian Sutil’s performance was nowhere near his Monaco magic. Hondas simple were not there at all.

Toyota missed out on points this time and so the fight for 4th place is on again …

It was a bit freaky weekend. Rain on a track that is almost as good as guaranteed to be sunny and dry produced one of the most interesting races and race result of recent F1 history … I wonder what effect will the events of last weekend have on Dietrich Mateschitz’s intentions to sell the Toro Rosso team …

Photos: Red Bull/GEPA


2014 Teams and Drivers

Red Bull
Sebastian VETTEL
Fernando ALONSO
Adrian SUTIL
Force India
Sergio PEREZ
Felipe MASSA
Valtteri BOTTAS
Toro Rosso
Daniil KVYAT
Jean Eric VERGNE

2014 F1 Calendar

14-16 March - Australia
28-30 March - Malaysia
4-6 April - Bahrain
18-20 April - China
9-11 May - Spain
22-25 May - Monaco
6-8 June - Canada
20-22 June - Austria
4-6 July - Great Britain
18-20 July - Germany
25-27 July - Hungary
22-24 August - Belgium
5-7 September - Italy
19-21 September - Singapore
3-5 October - Japan
10-12 October - Russia
31 October-2 November - USA
7-9 November - Brazil
21-23 November - Abu Dhabi


2010 Mercedes GP F1 Merchandise
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