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Fernando Alonso aces it in thrilling Monza qualifying
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Fernando Alonso aces it in thrilling Monza qualifying
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Sep 2010   |  4:01 pm GMT  |  122 comments

Fernando Alonso took pole position for the Italian Grand Prix, his first as a Ferrari driver, with a blistering early lap, which neither he nor his competitors could beat.

It was his 19th career pole and the first for Ferrari since Brazil 2008, a drought of 30 races.

Alonso on pole in Italy (Darren Heath)


The Spaniard was in determined form on his first outing in front of the tifosi and he now has a win on his debut in Bahrain and a Monza pole to his name. The team brought him in to deliver like a champion and although there have been quite a few bumpsin the road and mistakes along the way in his first season, there is no doubt that this result restored a lot of confidence and put the shine back onto the Prancing Horse after a difficult couple of weeks.

“Normally I don’t get too excited about pole position, but this one is special, ” said Alonso.

It has been close all weekend and qualifying was no exception. The final margin between Alonso and Jenson Button in second place was a tenth of a second. Felipe Massa was third, his best qualifying since the ill fated German Grand Prix back in July, where he was subject to team orders. Massa was fastest in the first qualifying session, but peaked too early, failing to match his competitiveness level in the remaining two sessions.

Button was delighted with second, well ahead of team mate Lewis Hamilton, who opted not to run the F Duct wing on his car and made a series of mistakes in the vital laps at the end. Button intended his decision to help him in the Grand Prix, where he believes he will be able to make the soft tyres last longer by having more downforce and thus letting the tyres slide less. He was surprised to find himself ahead of Hamilton.

“Over a single lap, the car is good, but its real benefit will be felt in the race tomorrow, when we should have stronger long-run pace,” said Button. “We’re running more downforce than most people; that’ll make it more tricky over the first couple of laps, but we should be more consistent in the race.”

Button is the third slowest car through the speed trap at 329 km/h (205mph) and is a massive 15 km/h slower than his team mate, who is running a low downforce rear wing with no drag reducing F Duct. Fastest through the speed trap is Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari at 348 km/h, which is 217 mph.

The Monza grid goes some way to reversing the results of Spa, with Webber and Hamilton on the back foot in fourth and fifth places while Alonso and Button, who both crashed in Spa, in the ascendant. Webber is pleased with his fourth place, which is more than he expected on a track which was never expected to suit Red Bull as much as Ferrari and McLaren.

Sebastian Vettel is the one left scratching his head again. He was faster than his team mate all weekend and in both the first two qualifying sessions, but fell behind when it counted to sixth place.

ITALIAN GRAND PRIX, Monza, Qualifying
1. Alonso Ferrari 1:22.646 1:22.297 1:21.962
2. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.085 1:22.354 1:22.084
3. Massa Ferrari 1:22.421 1:22.610 1:22.293
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:23.431 1:22.706 1:22.433
5. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.830 1:22.394 1:22.623
6. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:23.235 1:22.701 1:22.675
7. Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.529 1:23.055 1:23.027
8. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:23.516 1:22.989 1:23.037
9. Kubica Renault 1:23.234 1:22.880 1:23.039
10. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:23.695 1:23.142 1:23.328
11. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:23.493 1:23.199
12. Schumacher Mercedes 1:23.840 1:23.388
13. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.273 1:23.659
14. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.744 1:23.681
15. Petrov Renault 1:24.086 1:23.819
16. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:24.083 1:23.919
17. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.442 1:24.044
18. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:25.540
19. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:25.742
20. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:25.774
21. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.934
22. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.974
23. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:26.847
24. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:27.020

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122 Comments
  1. JohnBt says:

    Raceday equates to points scoring day! That matters the most.

    1. James Alan says:

      ..and thats whee Lewis will assert his points lead

      1. Mike says:

        James,

        I have to say – This is such a good web site – all the news, inside information,technical articles and contribution from those interested in F1.

        I have given this link to many people it is just so good.

        Thankyou
        Mike (in Australia)

    2. CH1UNDA says:

      My personal view is that it was silly for McLaren to play around with setups and taking unnecessary gambles. If the two set ups were so similar that they could not tell them apart they should have chosen the safest and given it to both drivers – seeing that virtually all leading cars went with the F-duct, that package seems to have been the safest option in Monza and it was totally needless for the team to gamble with their championship leading driver: i am afraid McLaren may well regret their antics come end of the season.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        [ :-) for once...] I fully agree with you.

        When I heard that Lewis was using a different setup from al the other front runners, I could not help but think of Fernando at Spa. Fernando did not need to make such a big bet, he was just 20 points behind the leader, so everything was ok, especially if you consider all that had happened on previous races. And, in my opinion, Lewis did not need to take big risks this weekend. He is the WDC leader, and is driving consistently, being the first favourite for the championship.

        James, who in your opinion was responsible for the decision on Lewis’ car setup?
        I am sure that Lewis has strong reasons for his choice, but I can hardly understand why he did it.

      2. C Pitter says:

        Whitmarsh said it wasn’t Lewis’ decision alone – it was a team decision. Not sure what that means or if we will ever find out.

      3. Nesto says:

        Hamilton, Button and their respective sides of the garage felt different on setups, no playing around there. I’m not a McLaren fan either. We’ll see how the race pans out.

      4. JonGD says:

        From what I understand the choice us high wing angle setup with F-duct OR low downforce setup. F-duct won’ stall a shallow wing so irrelevant. I think when they said no difference between two options it was that that they meant.

      5. Frans says:

        You forget to mention that the McLaren f-duct package is way off the mark in terms of top speed. Sure that everyone else use f-duct, but those car still manage to have better top speed than Button car.
        My point is that Button took more risk than Hamilton and not the other way around. The safest option in Monza for McLaren should be the one used by Hamilton.

      6. RidRed says:

        Lewis Hamilton was a quarter of a second slower in Q3 than he was in Q2. Irrespective of F-duct and downforce, he made mistakes (as James points out) in Q3.

        Had he matched his Q2 performance he would be 4th. A slight improvement would have seen him very close to Button’s time.

      7. MattNZ says:

        Exactly! Lewis took the safe option, and Jenson backed himself with the risky option…again

        It has certainly been an interesting year to follow Jenson’s ‘risky’ strategic choices – which have almost always paid off.

        If Crash Kid Vettel hadn’t taken Jenson out in Spa, it would have been interesting to see what Jenson’s timing of fitting intermediates in the final stages would have been. Odds are he would have made another astute choice that could have seen him mix things up with Lewis in the final laps.

        It should make for some exciting racing tomorrow. That speed differential on the straights is crazy! But imagine seeing Jenson overtaking Alonso round the outside of Lesmo or Parabolica

  2. Mojo66 says:

    Over a complete lap, the F-Duct might be faster, but my guess is that Jenson will go backwards tomorrow, because being fast through the Lesmos doesn’t give enough advantage over the 15 km/h that he’s slower on the straight. It was a gamble on pole position, which failed.

    1. James Alan says:

      I think the cars without the F duct will breeze by during the opening stages of the race. Lewis has a strong chance.

    2. **Paul** says:

      It’s not just the speed at the end of the straight though. With the extra downforce Button should be off the corners quicker than people with low downforce setups. There’s a real chance they’ll make no impact on him until the later half of a straight, which might be too late, plus he should be able to brake later, harder and turn in more aggressively.

      It’s a fascinating set-up he’s gone with, I’d love to see him take the win with it!

    3. Andy W says:

      but if he can get tucked into the slip stream of a faster car then he is going to have one hell of an advantage when it comes to breaking into the chicanes…..

      Whoever comes out on top its going to make for a thrilling race, thats assuming someone doesn’t crash into the side of him in a failed overtaking attempt.

      1. Martin says:

        To do that he would need to compromise the gearing, leaving an extra 500 rpm headroom. It will depend on the engine settings that the team is willing to run during the race and for how long. A taller top gear by nature would reduce the time spent at maximum rpm, so that would have some benefit for reliability.

      2. TexasF1 says:

        Exactly what I was thinking, extra dowforce will allow him to follow close enough on the highspees last corner and get a real good tow down the main straight, jackinthebox right before the chicane and brake way deeper and then be long gone throughthe twisty stuff before the next straight. Making it stick once he gets to the lead may be tricky although the higher downforce setup should also let him stay out of towing distance in the corners as well, Button has taken I to the house 2-2 wen the race came down to strategy this year… My money is on P1 Button P2 Alonso and a final scrap for P3 between Webber and Hamilton

  3. JM says:

    Is it possible that Jenson sandbagged in relation to LH?

    Or is that too farfetched conspiracy theory :) ?

    Or was it that the track temp rise made grip more slippery (hence added downforce was needed)?

    1. James Alan says:

      JB didnt sandbag, coudnt put a lap together.

    2. Nando says:

      I think Lewis just underperformed in Q3. Race is set-up nicely if they’ll get through the first corner.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        I agree with you, regarding his setup and the mistakes he made on Q3.

        The point is that Lewis has Vettel on his side, so who knows what can happen on the first corner…

    3. Nick F says:

      No. Hamilton didn’t do a good job in Q3. His first run was not great and on the second run he got traffic. He should have backed out of it found a gap and then done a good lap, but he carried on and was too close to Webber on his final attempt. He went slower in Q3 than he did in Q2 so I’m inclined to think that his grid position was not down to his low downforce setup.

      It’s good for the spectators though. The best races happen when cars are out of position. Could make it a fun race tomorrow.

  4. Alfonso says:

    Great pole position for Fernando!!
    Great Job!!
    Congrats Fernando!!

    1. James Alan says:

      Agree

    2. **Paul** says:

      Couldn’t fault his performance. I think he’s still well in the mix for the title. It’d be very easy for Webber and Hamilton to get together tomorrow afternoon at the start and open this championship up again.

      1. Jason C says:

        If Alonso wins this title it will be a massive achievement. But then again, he’s not going to, is he…

    3. Nando says:

      Alonso just meet performed to expectations while Hamilton floundered, given Massa’s pace he would of been devasted to not lap quicker than Button.

    4. Tim. says:

      The Ferrari will be faster in the race.

  5. Richard S says:

    Fantastic qualifying session!

    Cant wait for the race tomorrow. Really hope Button and Alonso can capitalize on this to keep it a close 5-way battle in the championship!

    1. Santiago says:

      It would be fantastic to see Spa’s positions somehow reversed to keep an open WDC (sorry for Webber and Hamilton fans there)

  6. Stephen says:

    James slighty of topic. Eddie Jordan says alot of drivers are in and out of the mercedes motor home, are rumours building that Schmacher will retire again at the end of this season?

    Looking foward to a good race tomorrow although I hope its better than the start of the GP2 race. Button for the win. webber for the title.

    1. James Allen says:

      Not especially. Eddie has not always been right about Mercedes, but he was right when it counted last winter

      1. Danny says:

        Agree, it seems that EJ is either completely right or completely wrong.

        I thought Schumacher would be faster than Rosberg in quali today, as I thought the characteristics of the track suited Schumacher and played to his strengths. I think this goes to show what a stinking car that Mercedes car is.

        I am massively frustrated with Mercedes this season they seem to have gone backwards, the fastest Williams, Force India and Renault cars seem to be beating them quite consistently, as a huge Schumacher fan it’s painful to watch at times, because a bit of luck this season would not go amiss. 2011 cannot come soon enough and hopefully this pain will have been worth it.

      2. RickeeBoy says:

        To James Allen
        James, I wish no offence to the Guy who goes by the name of James Alan – but I respect your views tremendously and enjoy your blog and replies – Could James Alan please stop masquerading as yourself, his name is just annoying. Thanks – Great column as per always – RickeeBoy

    2. Andy W says:

      Eddie has been sharpening his knives and trying to stick them in Schumi’s back since the moment Schumi said he was coming back….

      It could just be that this is Eddie grandstanding (something he has been known to do), it could be that there is a test drivers spot open at Mercedes and there are a number of drivers looking to fill it in case they can’t get a drive elsewhere (and maybe hoping that if Schumi doesn’t return next season or continues to under perform next season look to fill his shoes) or maybe he is right and Merc are looking to see who else is available and interested….

  7. Kev says:

    Great lap from Alonso to get the first pole for Ferrari since Brazil 2008. The only man to dip under the 1:22 barrier.

    Hopefully he has a good race in-front of the Tifosi and delivers them a superb race win.

    Good job from Button and Massa too and nice to the the ones in the lead of the WDC starting behind the ones who lost hope in the previous race.

    Should set-up a thrilling climax to the season.

  8. James Alan says:

    I dont nderstand how Lewis was consitently lapping 0.8s a lap faster than JB in FP3 and then end up 0.5s behind in qualy. Did Lewis make an error during his hot lap?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes. On both his hot laps

      1. Irish con says:

        I think he was too close to webber on those laps aswell which is just ridiculously stupid

      2. SKWD says:

        Equally, we don’t know what the relative fuel loads were in FP3. FP doesn’t always serve as a particularly useful indicator as to either qualifying or (relative) race pace!

    2. Carl Craven says:

      I read somewhere that Lewis swapped his setup from the same as Jenson to the fduct-less one for Q3 and it backfired a little, though I could be wrong.

    3. Tim. says:

      He is having troubles with JB being faster when it counts

    4. TexasF1 says:

      My theory is the higher downforce rear wing f-duct paired with a standard monza front wing, on light tanks JB has a setup that more or less understeers to his liking allowing him to comfortably push to the limit in quali and not so much in FP3 where the heavier fuel load limits the performance of buttons setup and tips the advantage back to LH who typically shines with a car that handles more on the edge such as his setup that has a looser rearend with a traditional low downforce monza spec rear wing… I still tip JB for the win

  9. Jason C says:

    Agreed, a thrilling session. Surprising to see Vettel not making it work round here where (let’s remember) he won in a Toro Rosso. I can’t see this working out for Button, but then again, I couldn’t see him getting all the way up there ahead of his team-mate. Shocking.

    1. Nick F says:

      He is only 2 tenths off his team mate. It’s not him I don’t think. The car, or the setup they have isn’t working well around here compared with the Ferraris and Mclarens.

      1. Ben says:

        I’d read previously that Webber has done a lot of the setup work on the cars…could his bad luck in practice sessions affected red bull’s ability to properly setup the car for the race?

  10. Steve McGill says:

    Well I can’t help but think Lewis will still finish ahead of Jenson tomorrow. I think Lewis timed his runs a bit wrong. Shame he seemed so down – 4th would’ve been perfect I guess. A great result for Webber, another psychological footprint on Vettel. Looks good fir a good race I reckon.

  11. mo kahn says:

    I told you Button is a revelation this season… He has a better race approach and a better race craft then anyone on the grid, which he revealed this year… gotta hand the man some respect and not be caught in Hamilton effect.

    Its a little too late for Alonso and Ferrari to win anything this year in terms of championship and can resign themselves to winning odd races here and there and completely turn their resource allocations and energies to next’s car. Trust me, Schumacher and Mercedes are not sitting idle. We know how ubeatable the combination of Schumacher and Ross Brawn can be when they get it right.

    I still doubt Alonso can win Monza… dunno why but just a hunch… if it rains en’ count on Hamilton ‘F’ Duct or not he’ll be a planet apart in wet anywhere and in any set up… but more than Hamilton, Button stands a good chance of winning for he’ll be stopping last for his tyre stop with the set up he is running. If it starts raining from start or in the Middle Button will win keeping in mind the set up he has got.

    So, my earlier Top Drivers pick was accurate :)

    1. Santiago says:

      Didn’t know there were rain forecasts for tomorrow… without f duct it would be suicidal for Lewis, I guess it wouldn’t be good for him, but yes for Button as the McLarens are very good on wet

      By the way, Fernando made a miracle lap and had luck Lewis didn’t chose f-duct, McLarens seemed faster here.

      1. zack says:

        well when jb and lewis had the same configuration button was still quicker 2 tenths in pratice one

      2. santiago says:

        Of course I’m just making suppositions but Lewis seemed to reckon after Q3 it wasn’t a good idea to remove F-Duct, I think he could be faster than JB but maybe it was clear for them he was better without it, I’ll never know. I don’t know if driving here with F-Duct is more delicate due to such precise braking needed and Lewis decided soon not to use it because he didn’t feel comfortable. Anyway he has lots of speed in the straights and wouldn’t surprise if he finishes 4th or better

    2. Waz says:

      I am not one for predictions usually as the permutations that evolve randomly in F1 can be spell-binding as they unfold right in front of your eyes. However, this much I am to a certain extent sure about, Button will lose at least 2 places by the first chicane and another by 1 or 2 before the entry to lesmo 1. After that its anyone’s guess. Being stuck behind other cars with F-ducts is unlikely to allow his ‘saving me tyres for the final push’ strategy to develop. You heard it here first.

      By the way, is there anyone else getting hooked to James Allen’s beautifully detailed and incisive analyses and reports on his site? Have to check the website at least twice a day to see if there’ anything else out. I just desperately wish he gets back to F1 in the role that he reveled in so that we can once again start enjoying the F1 race commentary and analysis live like it was meant to be. Is there anybody out there who wants to start a petition with me?

  12. diane says:

    What happened to Lewis? I hope the pressure is not coming now! I’ll keep my finger crossed so he can have a great race, at least to finish ahead of webber. This way, he won’t lose his lead in the championship.

  13. Clay says:

    I think it was way to early for Jenson to be calling it in the news conference that going with the f duct and heaps of wing was the right way to go. Tomorrow he will be a sitting duck. For eg, he better hope after he pits he isn’t anywhere near the Toro Rossos or he will get eaten alive.

    Hope Webber does well, and that Vettel doesn’t crash into him going into turn 1

  14. Mark edwards says:

    Button didn’t crash in spa ,he was taken out – there is a difference!

  15. momo says:

    hi james please help me understand why lewis decide to run no f-duck and then winge about not having enought downforce,he have been runing without it from friday afternoon, therefore had plenty of times to decide have it on or not,personaly i think it was a big mistake from the begining not to run it ,what will be his chance tomorow from p5…..thanks

  16. Nicholas Thornton says:

    James, any idea as to how the renault (and kubica) didn’t do as well as Spa qualy? I mean they kept the f-duct which brought them a huge gain.
    I was left confused (and dissapointed) with 9th.

    Webber for the win

  17. Craig D says:

    As much as I’d like Button to win, I can’t see how his setup strategy is going to work out for him in the race. More downforce may let him look after his tyres and allow him to stop later, but as we’ve seen throughout the year where stopping early is more advantageous, how will that help when others who’ve already stopped will be on fresher rubber and be lapping quicker? Maybe he’ll in better shape come the end of the race but then he won’t be able to overtake with such weak top speed!

    I reckon it’ll be a Ferrari one-two come the first corner. Hamilton will jump Webber then slipstream past Button as he gets held up by Massa say, in the corners.

    What would be interesting is if Massa does a Germany and gets into the lead at the start while Alonso is covering Button! Then what will happen…

    1. MR says:

      I think Button has got a very good chance at winning the race, he should get a better start than Alonso due to more downforce, tyres will last longer and I don’t think he will be that vulnerable on the straights due to him being able to exit the corners faster thus getting a head start down the straghts and if he is behind a car easily get in their slipstream, and he will also be able to brake later.

  18. Sean M says:

    Today showed that Alonso is in a class of his own when he’s on it and the set up and track is right. No one, not even Hamilton, can push the car like him and maxamise the track as much. I think he will win tomorrow if it stays dry. If Massa gets the jump on Jens off the line they will be looking good because their race pace is right up there. Red Bulls badly off the pace this weekend, dunno whats up with that.

    1. AlexD says:

      Everybody is on the class of his own when the set up, the car and the track is perfect. What is so special here?

  19. Irish con says:

    For me it’s a Ferrari 1-2 into the first corner and for fellow to hold the pack up and let fernando escape abit and take if from there. I don’t like Hamilton blaming the team when if he hadn’t of made mistakes he would have been higher up yet the team always defend him. He will take the credit tomorrow though if he wins

    1. Phil says:

      Where exactly did Hamilton blame the team?

      I think it’s in your mind.

  20. Lewis Jones says:

    I can see Jenson winning tomorrow, with the two Ferraris 2nd and 3rd. Which would set things up nicely for the title run in. Also, I think if Mark beats Seb again, RBR really should put their weight behind Webber if they don’t want the boys from Woking to nick both titles……

  21. Chris R says:

    Start will be interesting between Webber and Hamilton with Vettel behind them. So far this season, Vettel being behind anyone leads to drama :p

    I hope it’s a great race, will be interesting to see if Ferrari can transfer their strength in qualifying into the race tomorrow.

  22. Andy W says:

    I am a little curious of the criticism that Petrov garnered from Q1, there is no doubting that he baulked the Virgin but I would have thought the 1st port of call for blame should be the team… after all they sent Petrov out of the pit lane straight into that corner.

    I can only guess that Renault must have assumed that Timo was on an installation lap, otherwise they should have held Vlad back a few seconds and made sure he wasn’t going to get in the way.

    1. KidrA says:

      It was 100% Petrov´s fault. No matter when you are sent out, you always have to look mirrors to check if the track is clean, before you join the racing line.
      No way did Renault think that Glock was just in an installation lap. His flying lap was just started. How many drivers to you see doing installation laps in qualifying?
      I bet Petrov is out of Renault at the end of the year and probably out of F1 for good. There has been some few good races but mostly he’s done many childish mistakes. Something that top team like Renault can’t afford.

      1. Andy W says:

        Don’t get me wrong Petrov did block Timo 100%, and for that he deserves his grid penalty… My question is why did his team send him out then? Its the teams responsibility to send drivers out of the pits safely, its their responsibility to warn drivers of approaching cars, its their responsibility to try and give their drivers a clean run?

        So why did Renault send him out of the pits in such a manner that he would block Timo into the 1st corner / end of the pit lane exit? The only reason that makes the slightest bit of sense from the teams perspective has them expecting Timo to come straight into the pits…If they thought Timo was about to start a flying lap then surely someone must have considered how that would affect Vlad on his out lap…..

  23. Carl Craven says:

    I had a Lewis win on the cards today and I am still certain he has it in him to win from where he is, but he has a slippery car. I suspect if he pushes too hard like he likes too we might see him stuck in the gravel.

    I’m a Button fan, though I think Lewis would have beaten him in qualifying with a similar setup, however racing isn’t just about racing, it’s about setup choices and thinking ahead and while Button may get picked off on the straights, I believe he’ll have the grip and late braking capacity to uphold his position, if he keeps it clean he may even stay out longer than Alonso and beat him in the pitstops, though I cannot see him beating him on track unless Alonso tries to back him into Massa.

    Lewis might still do it, but I wouldn’t put money on him.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m not so sure. They chose their aero set up based on feeling so why would Lewis go faster than Jenson in a car he had a less good feeling about?

  24. Steve L says:

    Alonso was spot on today and it’s his race to lose tomorrow and I just can’t see anyone beating him.

    They key will be whether Hamilton can get close enough through the corner to use his straight line speed to jump people.

    Has anyone seen the straight line speeds for all the cars? I wonder what the Ferrari pair tops speeds are vs. the rest?

    1. Joe Harris says:

      http://www.fia.com/EN-GB/MEDIACENTRE/F1_MEDIA/Documents/ita-qualifying-speeds.pdf

      This has all the trap speds, Button languishing at all of them. Could be easy pickings if others can get near him.

      1. Mark V says:

        I fail to see why so many of you think Button is a sitting duck. What’s the generally accepted rule of thumb when it comes to easily overtaking someone? You have to be 3 seconds a lap faster? Given the qualifying times, the top speeds in qualifying, the length of the straights (1km) which takes approximately 10 seconds to cover and that Button was just over 8km/hr slower than the top speed at his slowest point. That is approximately a 3 tenths deficit on the straights or what translates to a 25 to 26 meters deficit to the fastest car at the end of the straights. (I won’t go into the math other than to say it is calculated on meters per second). Even with a tow that advantage by a car behind won’t be instantaneous, they’ll have to be close enough behind after a corner where Button will have been superior (approximately the same 3 tenths or 25 meters ahead) and then get the pass nailed down which will likely be right before or even into the braking zone where of course the advantage goes back to Button.

      2. Steve L says:

        I agree – it will be difficult to just ‘drive past’ Button. Hamilton himself was looking pretty dispondent & was saying being fast on the straights was one thing but getting close enough through the corners was another – he didn’t seem to think it was do-able. First few laps when they are all bunched together is Button’s biggest risk & Hamilton’s biggest oppportunity.

        Ferrari seem to high straight line speed & the corner speed to so dont seem them getting beaten today…

      3. Nadeem Zreikat says:

        thanks fo that

  25. diane says:

    According to Martin Whitmarsh, lewis only lost 2 tenths therefore he could have only managed to be 4th. Wrong set up IMO.

    1. Phil says:

      Don’t think it was necessarily the wrong setup.

      I’m a Lewis fan, but I think he definitely screwed up his last couple of laps.

      He was over 2/10ths slower than his Q2 time which was set fairly early on in the Q2 session.

      You typically find that each driver will further improve their times from Q2 to Q3 by a couple of 10ths.

      That would have put him into P3, which is where I think he should have placed it, or maybe even higher.

      He seemed to both overcook it and also get slowed down by Webber. I think he should have backed off more on his last run when he realized he was getting slowed down by Webber.

      Not his best qualifying but then everyone has a bad day, and it’s not over yet. He just has to concentrate on getting a good start tomorrow.

  26. Adam0 says:

    James can you see Force India thinking about replacing Liuzzi with Di Resta before the end of the season?

    1. James Allen says:

      It was another difficult day for Liuzzi, but today was a technical fault, not his fault

      1. Mark V says:

        I laughed out loud when Brundle said Liuzzi’s Italian accent could put him to sleep it’s so nice. Brundle must be a riot to hang out with.

  27. Jacko says:

    I remember Prost and mansell doing something similar at Mexico in 1990 and prost won on low downforce but not before mansell made in my favorite overtake on Berger for second place

    1. Martin says:

      The whole tyre wear thing is interesting. Jenson is using high downforce to stop sliding, but this increases the load and hence wear on the tyres. Prost often went for less downforce to look after the tyres. The difference these days seems to be that as the cars are so reliable the drivers are closer to the limit for more of the race, and therefore slide the car more often.

  28. Any1ButLoois says:

    Button will win. This will be the beginning of his run to the WDC title. Lewis has lost the momentum today.

    1. santiago says:

      I’m sure he’ll be strong in corners but had much less speed than Massa and Alonso in the speed trap (12 km/h less I think) so he can be surpassed in the first lap. On the other hand, he has advantage in the first chicane…we will see!

      1. madjon88 says:

        Its not just speed on the straight, Button will get out of the corners quicker, and can also break later come the next corner. So I dont think he will be that easy to overtake, he’ll also be giving out plenty of turbulent air through the corners upsetting the car following. It will certainly be interesting!

    2. Phil says:

      Jenson will do his usual – go backwards.

      1. Any1ButLoois says:

        So who went backwards this weekend mate? Where did Hamilton finish? :)

      2. Phil says:

        He didn’t finish. Mind you he didn’t go backwards either – he’d gained a place before the accident.

        You said who was going to win? Who was it again? ;)

        I’ll give you that this was Jenson’s best performance today. Enjoy it while you can.

  29. SHIPARCH says:

    Haha, I’m so happy to see Ferrari at on top at home, Alonso on pole, we need a Ferrari 1, 2. Forza Ferrari!!! Il cavallino rampante vincerà.

  30. JM says:

    James, off topic question:

    Luca Di Montezemolo was today in the company of John Elkann (new chairman of FIAT and Luca successor, right?) in the pits..and in that same cozy entourage was also Flavio Briatore.

    What is Flavio doing so close to Ferrari? Is it not true that recently he visited Maranello?

    Can you tell us more what is behind all of this?

    1. JM says:

      There must be something brewing here… I cannot imagine that Luca would want to be seen so publicly with the “disgraced” Flavio in his company… so this show for support to Flavio cannot be a coincidence.

      Maybe Alonso something to do with this? Overhaul of Ferrari pitwall?

      1. tank says:

        “race position engineering” philosophies mesh nicely between the two parties?

    2. James Allen says:

      There are all sorts of theories. I don’t think it has anything to do with Ferrari, but more likely to do with the next Concorde Agreement

      1. paddy says:

        Or Mark Webber Vs Alonso next year. I’m pretty sure Webber will be thinking about his future as the whole Vettel thing is stupid and if he takes out the WDC i’m sure Ferrari would not mind seeing 1 and 2 on the there cars. Massa for Webber swap anyone. This might seem a bit far fetched but look at the world economy. Australians are pretty much the only western country that can afford to buy a Ferrari right now. Not to mention Australia’s huge Italian community, could be a match made in heaven. Also Flav has always want Alonso and Webber in the same car. Remember how angry he was when Webber signed for Williams.

      2. LiamC says:

        Sorry, but I can’t see Webber going for Ferrari. He won’t let anyone past, and Ferrari won’t have anyone in the team who won’t follow orders. Alonso wouldn’t stand for being “equal” either. Flav might pitch the idea, but I can’t see Mark agreeing.

        Mark also tends to be big on loyalty. Flav stood by him in the early years, Mark stood by Flav when Flav fell out of favour. I would think that he would show the same consideration to Red Bull/Dietrich/Christian despite how heated it has gotten this year, unless it is made clear to him that he really isn’t wanted.

      3. Nadeem Zreikat says:

        Wouldn’t that be great. We would of course have to share their public holidays as well.

      4. santiago says:

        Would be a really nice team, two fast, out-spoken guys with lots of guts, maybe the bravest and more honest (with the exception of Kubica) Really would like it but I can’t see it happening in the short term

  31. Steve says:

    Any more thoughts on Vettel’s performance James?

    He said in his interview with the BBC that he just didn’t have the straight line speed compared to practice and couldn’t explain it which seemed odd.

    Also I noticed Webber went out last in Q3 when I believe it was Vettel’s turn to do so this weekend, any reason for this or just how events played out?

    1. Grey says:

      Webber has had car problems all weekend, that may have something to do with it?

      Impressive performance from Mark given his reduced track time through free practice.

      Championship-wise, this race is set up fantastically.

  32. Ola N says:

    I just can understand how Jensons’s f-duct made the car slower than the opposition (not counting Lewis for obvious reasons).
    The Mclaren f-duct is supposed to be class of the field with untouchable top speed. How could it be that most of the others are quicker??

    1. Nando says:

      Button is running a significantly higher down-force rear wing than Hamilton to help him through the corners.
      The f-duct doesn’t stop all the drag from the rear-wing it just reduces it, also the f-duct doesn’t just instantly stall the rear-wing when you’re on the straight it becomes more effective at higher-speeds.
      Don’t really understand why Hamilton wouldn’t leave the f-duct on even with a low downforce set-up, it must create an extra drag component.

    2. Phil says:

      As I (think) I understand it, the f-duct means that they are able to run a steeper rear wing so that in the corners they have the best downforce.

      However, in the straight, even though the f-duct allows Mclaren to reduce the impact of the steeper rear wing, it still ends up creating more drag than the extremely small rear wing that everyone else is running.

      Take a look at how steep Jenson’s wing is compared to everyone else’s (including Lewis’s). You’ll see it’s way steeper. Normally (I would assume) in Monza they would not be able to run such a steep wing but with the f-duct, they can.

      What surprises me is that they didn’t have more of a compromise wing – i.e. keep the f-duct but have a more moderate wing angle – they might not have been so great in the corners but they wouldn’t have lost as much speed on the straights.

    3. madjon88 says:

      Because Jenson used alot more downforce compared to everyone else. Did you see the size of his rear wing compared to everyone elses??

    4. Zobra Wambleska says:

      Because he chose to carry more wing for the down force it would give him…..more downforce = lower top speed. It’s a balancing of options.

    5. irish con says:

      look at the size of the rear wing on jensons car. its like the side of my house and the flap is ginormous on it also.

    6. Martin says:

      During the race compare the size of Lewis’ and Jensons’ rear wings. Ferrari have got their F-duct to work with a smaller rear wing it would seem. Also if you consider that the Renault is less powerful than the Mercedes, how did Vettel get near Button in Spa if the McLaren F-duct is so good? McLaren were first and it works well, but this game always changes.

    7. James Allan says:

      Others are quicker because they lapped the circuit quicker.

    8. Marcus Redivo says:

      The F-duct’s purpose is to shed drag from a high-downforce (and consequently high-drag) rear wing.

      If everyone else is running a low-downforce (and therefore low-drag) rear wing, they probably have less drag in their NORMAL state than the McLaren does AFTER it sheds what drag it can with the F-duct.

      Jenson has more downforce, and can therefore brake later and carry more speed through the corners; that’s how he manages the same lap time while having a lower top speed. Without the F-duct, he would likely not have made it out of Q1 with the amount of wing (and drag) he is running.

      I hope that helps.

    9. santiago says:

      He added lots of wing to increase downforce, the F-duct helps with that but it is not a miracle. I guess RB has more downforce by design and Ferraris have improved a lot there and have always been very good in braking, so Jenson had to put more wing and trust in his engine which is the most powerful

      1. Ola N says:

        But it is still surprising to see that Mclaren didn’t have a slightly compromised wing, one that would produce a higher top speed. It seems a lot of people think that Jenson will be a sitting duck on the back straight and/or the main straight. After all, he’s 22nd in top speed with only the HRT cars slower… For example, Rosberg is just behind on the grid and he’s 13 km/h quicker at the speed trap…

  33. Johnty says:

    Does anyone know why the tweet feed is not working?

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s a Twitter problem. Proving hard to fix

  34. Tom Tinker says:

    F duct or no f duct, Ferrari for the win

  35. For Sure says:

    Come on Massa, overtake Alonso at the first corner then pull over for him at the last lap.
    We know you can do it and we know you need to.

    1. Steve L says:

      Now that would actually be allowed according to the FIA!! If Massa refused to do that maybe mclaren would get a penalty under the Ferrari International Assistance guidelines!!

  36. Yalnif09 says:

    Not read every comment but people are jumping to conclusions about Lewis’s setup. There’s nothing wrong with it. It has different pro’s and cons. As for his Q3 performance which is the 1st time all weekend he’s been ‘off pace’, Whitmarsh clearly pointed out in his interview last night that if you look at sector times, LH was actually quickest on all of them just couldn’t string them all together on the same lap due to traffic which was his error.

    Given Vettels /Alonso’s bad habbits at them moment it could well be a Willams or Renault in 1st after the 1st lap with the 1st 3 row cars in the pits :)

  37. Smiley says:

    Hi James,

    Whatever happened to the overlaid car comparisons? It would be great to see the difference between Button’s set-up and Hamilton/Alonso going through the classic corners of Monza.

    1. James Allen says:

      I agree. I’ll mention that to the director

  38. On 25 September 2005, Fernando Alonso won the Formula One World Driver’s Championship title at the age of 24, breaking Emerson Fittipaldi’s record of being the youngest Formula One World Drivers’ Champion.

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