• Italian Grand Prix - The Final Stint

More Red Bull joy at Monza

Laurence Edmondson and Chris Medland
September 8, 2013

A round-up of the good, the bad and the downright ugly from the 2013 Italian Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso could do nothing about Sebastian Vettel's pace © Associated Press
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Raikkonen back in red?
While one of Kimi Raikkonen's 2014 options appeared to close ahead of the race weekend, a potential return to Ferrari was always going to be high on the topics of conversation at Monza. As usual, there were a lot of claims and counterclaims during the early part of the weekend, but Luca di Montezemolo's insistence that Ferrari would immediately be looking to make a decision on its 2014 driver line-up after the race increased the interest. A German report soon after the chequered flag claimed that Raikkonen had signed a deal to replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari next season, with Nico Hulkenberg likely to be moving to Lotus as a result. It's certainly feasible but would still represent a very surprising move for Ferrari. Ultimately, though, after Red Bull's announcement it is now Ferrari's move as Eric Boullier admitted Lotus is waiting on that seat to be confirmed before moving into serious action itself.

Hats off to Red Bull
Another race, another Sebastian Vettel victory and it looks increasingly likely that it will be four consecutive championship doubles in a row. While the ease with which Vettel pulled away from the rest of the field drew groans around the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza - and probably from the majority of living rooms around the world too - it shouldn't be underestimated what Red Bull achieved this weekend. Last year Vettel was comfortably beaten at Spa and then both cars failed to finish in Italy, leaving Fernando Alonso with a strong championship lead. This car might be an evolution, but the results over the last two races were in stark contrast to those 12 months ago and Adrian Newey and Co. should at the very least get the congratulations they deserve for ultimately doing the best job on the grid. It might not have made the race exciting or helped the championship picture but it was very impressive.

The Story of the Weekend

© Sutton Images
  • Shock: Nico Hulkenberg - Third in qualifying was a brilliant performance and converted it in to very strong points
  • Shocker: Paul di Resta - Missed his braking point for the second chicane on lap one and was rightly reprimanded. Fortunately he didn't take Romain Grosjean out
  • Best overtake: Fernando Alonso - A crucial move around the outside of Webber in to the Roggia chicane delighted the Tifosi
  • Best lap: Nico Hulkenberg - Not a race lap, but qualifying third ahead of both Ferraris was mightily impressive
  • Worst lap: Paul di Resta - On the opening lap he only reached the second chicane before running in to the back of Grosjean
  • Drive of the day: Lewis Hamilton - 9th is not a good result, but after the slow puncture he delivered an entertaining drive through the field as the top seven order barely changed

Boo to the winner
An end-of-race track invasion is a Monza tradition, so much so that the podium is built over the pit straight so that fans can gather below. So often in modern F1 the drivers are kept separate from the fans, and when on track the sound of the engines and the tinted visors of the helmets means there is no interaction between the two. But just like in the Colosseum of Ancient Rome, on Monza's podium the mob can communicate directly with the modern-day gladiators fresh from battle. Not for the first time this year, Vettel got a resounding thumbs down when he was interviewed in front of the crowds. He put that down to him not being a Ferrari driver, but when Red Bull's Mark Webber came on the mike he was cheered by the Tifosi. It's easy to say Vettel's dominance has made him unpopular, but there's no doubt that his stunt in Malaysia lost him the respect of a lot of fans earlier thus year. He may be on his way to a fourth world championship but the mob has spoken.

Alonso's radio message
After qualifying the paddock (and the Italian press especially) was abuzz with interest in to a radio message from Fernando Alonso to his Ferrari team. It appeared Alonso had either called his team "stupid" or sarcastically used the term "geniuses", but the message wasn't clear. Ultimately it turned out that the latter was true, but it really was a storm in a teacup. In high level sporting situations, team-mates are often shouting and swearing at each other, only on this occasion it appeared to have been played out on air. If a strategic decision backfires a driver often complains over the radio, and while Alonso's relationship with Ferrari might have appeared more strained over recent races he was right to be unhappy that the media was attempting to make such an issue about his comments.

FIA set for presidential battle
The fight for the title may look a little one-sided now but the fight for one of the top jobs in motorsport is just getting started. David Ward used the Italian Grand Prix to launch his agenda for his FIA presidential campaign, while Jean Todt confirmed he would stand defend his office. The election won't be won in the paddock, but support from the Formula One fraternity is a major boost and will make any president's life easier when they get down to work. Todt made a low-key paddock appearance in Monza while Ward curried favour with a meal for select journalists ahead of the weekend. The battle is only just heating up but it should make for an intriguing sideshow as the title battle looks more and more one-sided.

Happy 50th McLaren
A single point is not the way McLaren would have wanted to celebrate its 50th anniversary at Monza. But the MP4-28 is what it is, and the result was a timely reminder that Formula One is not a sport that lives in the past. Nevertheless, McLaren did allow itself a "celebratory event" (the word "party" is not in the team's vocabulary), with a mural of past champions on the motorhome facade and a few drinks on Saturday night. On Sunday the team arrived decked out in "retro" team gear, including Vodafone flathats and lapelled shirts. Some pulled it off better than others - Martin Whitmarsh looked surprisingly effeminate in his - but it seemed like a missed opportunity. Rather than resembling a bunch of camp farmers, surely a better tribute would have been to paint the MP4-28 in papaya orange like the Bruce McLaren cars of old ... finishing on the podium would have been even better.

© Sutton Images