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Sebastian Vettel wins at Monza as Hamilton loses appeal

Sebastian Vettel A near faultless performance in the Italian Grand Prix by 21-year-old German, Sebastian Vettel, made him the youngest race winner in Formula One history.

In very wet conditions, Vettel followed his debut pole position with a maiden race win after an astonishing weekend.

Behind him, Felipe Massa was sixth in his Ferrari, and drivers’ leader Lewis Hamilton seventh for McLaren, with the gap now just one point between them.

Heikki Kovalainen, in his McLaren-Mercedes, was second and Robert Kubica, driving a BMW Sauber, came third.

Over the team radio Vettel said, “I can’t believe it. I am lost for words. It is amazing.”

The weather caused chaos, as it did in qualifying. The race began behind the safety car. The race director announced that extreme wet tyres were compulsory because of the worsening conditions.

Lewis Hamilton, who started 15th on the grid, gained one place within seconds of the safety car pulling away as Sebastien Bourdais, starting from fourth, failed to get away.

It was Hamilton who led the way as he scythed his way past David Coulthard in the Red Bull, then Giancarlo Fisichella in his Force India before taking Raikkonen.

Amazingly, on lap 22 Hamilton was up to second and closing in on leader Vettel.

On a one-stop strategy, Hamilton remained on extreme wet tyres as more rain was forecast, but it was not heavy enough. He eventually had to change strategy and dropped back to seventh.

As forecast by Jackie Stewart, Hamilton lost his appeal against the 25-second penalty handed down by the stewards in Belgium and remains just a single point in front of his only realistic challenger this season, Felipe Massa.

Unlike last year, the Englishman looks faster than his rival and has the better package to drive.

Drivers’ Championship Table

1 Lewis Hamilton GB 78
2 Felipe Massa Bra 77
3 Robert Kubica Pol 64
4 Kimi Räikkönen Fin 57
5 Nick Heidfeld Ger 53
6 Heikki Kovalainen Fin 51
7 Fernando Alonso Spa 28
8 Jarno Trulli Ita 26
9 Sebastian Vettel Ger 23
10 Mark Webber Aus 20

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Italian Grand Prix — another grand farce

Ron Dennis While Lewis Hamilton and McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso yesterday battled for pole position for today’s Italian Grand Prix, Italian police said they had served writs on five McLaren employees, including team boss Ron Dennis.

In the real event, McLaren fended off Ferrari on the track, with Alonso taking pole ahead of Hamilton.

Off track, Ron Dennis has vowed to clear his team of any wrongdoing at a hearing of the World Motor Sports Council in Paris on Thursday. Now they may have to defend themselves in the Italian courts as well.

Formula One seems to be morphing from grand prix to grand farce.

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Yet More on the “Blocking” Controversy

Yes, I’m nearly as sick of the subject as you are but some things need to be pointed out since nobody else seems to be mentioning them. Hopefully, this will be my last post on the matter.

It seems that the FIA is moving to clarify the rules regarding blocking in qualifying. SPEEDtv.com reports that the FIA released this statement yesterday:

“Complaints that a driver has been impeded during qualifying will no longer be referred to the stewards of the meeting. Only in cases where it appears to race control that there has been a clear and deliberate attempt to impede another driver will the stewards be asked to intervene.

“We now feel it is pointless for the stewards to engage in long and painstaking enquiries if competitors ignore clear scientific evidence and instead abuse the regulator.”

The first paragraph looks like an admission that the rule was incorrectly applied against Alonso. If the stewards did not make a glaring error, why is it necessary to clarify the rule at all? In effect, the FIA is admitting that the whole thing was absurd and that something needs to be done about rules that are open to abuse.

To then turn on Renault in a pointed remark about competitors ignoring “clear scientific evidence” is mere bad temper. Renault had every right to protest against such an awful decision and to make their views known. Had they kept quiet, as the FIA is clearly suggesting, nothing would have been done to alter the rule; the FIA can’t have it both ways.

Max Mosley

Max Mosley

FIA President, Max Mosley has attempted to justify the actions of the stewards by saying that “blocking in fact did take place as the Ferrari driver lost time through the long right-handed Parabolica turn” (F1 Racing-live.com). This is the biggest load of baloney I’ve heard in a long time. So Massa lost some time in the Parabolica? Where is the proof that this was caused by Alonso, who was over a hundred yards ahead of him at the time? For all we know, Massa may have slowed for other reasons entirely.

Presumably, Mosley means that the Ferrari’s aerodynamics were affected by the turbulent air created by the Renault – but welcome to F1 qualifying, Max; this happens time and again to every driver and they accept that it’s part of sharing the track with other cars. Plenty of drivers were much closer to the car ahead on their hot lap than Massa ever was but they didn’t see a need to complain to the stewards.

The plain fact is that the Monza stewards made a decision grounded entirely upon their favoring of Ferrari and we all know it. The FIA is engaged in a rearguard action to save its reputation but, let’s face it, that reputation was blown long ago and this latest incident merely serves to confirm what we have suspected for years.

Okay, I’ll shut up now.

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More on the Alonso Travesty

When even Bernie Ecclestone says that a stewards’ decision is a farce, you can bet that something is wrong. In an interview with Germany’s Sport Bild publication, as reported by Update F1, Bernie admitted that he understood Briatore’s anger at the Monza stewards’ penalizing of the alleged blocking by Alonso of Felipe Massa in qualifying. He labeled the decision a farce and went on to say that Ferrari is the only team to get political support from the FIA.

Bernie

Bernie Ecclestone

These are stunning admissions, even if no surprise to those who follow the politics ever-present behind the F1 facade. Bernie has always been regarded as an important part of the monolith that is the FIA and has even been termed “Mr Formula One”. For him to break ranks and disagree with the party line shows that there is some justification for suspicions that the FIA is manipulating the result of this year’s championship.

Unfortunately, it will count for nothing in the end. Although it now seems unlikely that Briatore will be penalized for his angry remarks after hearing of the stewards’ decision, nothing will be done to right the wrong perpetrated upon Alonso. It will drift off into the past and be forgotten until the next blatantly partisan ruling by the FIA.

What really irritates me is the FIA’s accusation that Briatore brought F1 into disrepute by his statements. It seems to have been missed that the statements were directed against the FIA, not F1; are we to understand that the FIA considers itself to be Formula One and therefore untouchable? Let’s get things into perspective here: the FIA is the sport’s governing body, composed of delegates from various countries and interests, and it is as capable of error and bad judgement as any other assemblage of human beings. It should never be considered as above criticism.

Formula One is the sport, the teams, the cars, the drivers, the circuits, the fans, the races and, oh yes, the governing body too. Any of these elements can be criticized but the FIA seems to think itself the one constituent that is sacrosanct. And the sad fact is that the FIA has done more than anyone else to bring F1 into disrepute with its long list of dubious decisions, court cases and high-handed rulings.

Yet we continue to watch the show. In truth, the political wranglings that are so much a part of F1 these days are almost as fascinating as the sport itself. We are as human as the delegates of the FIA and we do enjoy a good fight. It stirs the blood to become incensed over some idiotic decision that affects a driver that we’re rooting for; we may get angry but that is a very good indicator that we are hooked on this sport, that it has come to be an important part of our lives.

Ironically, it seems that it’s our passion for F1 that enables the FIA to act in the way it does.

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