F1 2013 Italian Grand Prix Qualifying Review and Race Preview
Sebastian Vettel strode to yet another pole position, but this one particularly sweet considering it came at the troublesome Monza track.
Local Time: 2 PM (Italy)
Podium Finish: Fernando Alonso @ 1.67 See the Latest Odds
TV: Sky F1 (UK), NBC (USA)
In what became quite a comfortable affair in the end, the three-time defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel prevailed for pole position in the Italian GP. It was a repeat of his 2011 performance, and a far cry from the dismal weekend the German suffered at the same track this time last year.
Having been at the top of the timesheets for every qualifying session with quite obviously the fastest car, the German had the luxury of securing pole with a lap in hand, but this didn’t stop him from exerting his control by going even faster.
It means that the race for Sunday is incredibly well set-up, with teammate Mark Webber locking out the front row for Red Bull. Webber seemed to have been able to match Vettel late on in Q3, but appeared to have lost a few crucial hundredths out of Parabolica corner where Jean-Eric Vergne had just run horrible wide, kicking up a cloud of dust and gravel.
The first surprise of the afternoon came towards the end of Q2, and it came in the form of three massive failures to get into the top ten shoot out. Neither Lotus was able to get the E21 going, with both drivers languishing, Raikkonen P11 and Grosjean P13.
In between them was the biggest surprise, the man who has been on poll for the last four races, Lewis Hamilton who just couldn’t put the lap together at the right time. He encountered heavy traffic late on during his vital flying lap, but he has only himself to blame for not getting the job done earlier on.
We might have expected only one Mercedes in Q3, but that would have been with Rosberg struggling due to his missed FP3. Instead, he recovered well for P6 and will even be slightly disappointed that he couldn’t make the most of the opportunity to really get back at Hamilton for his recent dominance in their inter-team battle.
Another surprise, if not a confusing one, was Ferrari’s persistence of trying to slip stream Alonso into pole position. It was a strategy first employed by the Scuderia last year, ultimately to no avail, and appeared not to be working to spectacularly this time around either.
In the end their stubborn decision making appears to have cost two places at the very least, and has meant that Felipe Massa is ahead of their number one, a problem they will be forced to overcome very quickly.
Nico Hulkenberg, though, showed exactly why he is being considered by Ferrari as Massa’s replacement for 2014. His season has been of immense performance, partly due to the mediocre car he’s been stuck with for most of the year. One wonders just what this supreme German talent might have been able to achieve had he stuck around with Force India. But P3 is a stirring performance, especially considering there was no indication from Sauber that they expected anything brilliant in qualifying or the race.
The race will definitely be one of attrition as it so often is in Monza where overtaking is a simple process, but never on that happens too often.
Vettel will hope to make his typical blistering start, but beware Webber, the man with nothing to lose and everything to gain by beating the German in his last ever race at a storied track.
A near certainty is that Alonso will show fight. The F 138 is a fundamentally better race car than it is a qualifying car, and P5 is a good position from which to attack. It’s not ideal for Ferrari given what was on offer, but a podium will be the likely outcome for Alonso in front of the Tifosi.
We know that in the grander scheme of things, a podium is almost like scrapping for points, a lot more is needed if Alonso wants to threaten Vettel.
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