2014 Italian Grand Prix: Race Analysis

Rosberg Cracks As Hamilton Recovers To Victory

A win from Pole can often be a comfortable lights-to-flag victory, yet Lewis Hamilton never likes to make things easy for himself. Following a disastrous start as a result of glitched launch procedures, the Brit had to fight back from P4 to come within touching distance of his teammate and championship rival, Nico Rosberg. However, Nico uncharacteristically handed the lead to Lewis with a mistake at the first corner which he was unable to recover from. While Hamilton has made his fair share of errors so far this season, it was Rosberg’s time to make a misjudgment and for the second race running, fans were robbed of a titanic scrap for P1 as a result of a Rosberg mistake. Slightly different circumstances this time around…

Down To 22

With just six races remaining this season, Lewis Hamilton has now brought the deficit to Nico Rosberg down to 22 points. The Parc Fermé celebrations from the Brit were a touch muted – a quick thumbs up to the team before disappearing to complete the FIA’s pre-podium rituals. This suggests to me that Hamilton has his sights set firmly on the prize. He knows that to win the championship from this position, he needs a string of not just good performances, but performances in which he eclipses his teammate. Yesterday was one step closer to his ultimate goal.
Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg was hardly unhappy at his efforts, as despite being beaten by Lewis, he has only lost seven points in the championship race and now has one less race to negotiate. His two mistakes at turn one were very uncharacteristic errors and in my opinion, demonstrate exactly the psychological shift which I mentioned in Saturday’s post. Following the Belgian Grand Prix, some pundits considered Nico’s lead to be insurmountable and Lewis has arrived at Monza seemingly free from pressure, as he has nothing to lose. The pressure is now on Rosberg in his mission to prevent a Hamilton renaissance in the title hunt and today, it seemed to affect him. Will this be a trend for the rest of the season? Perhaps not, but Rosberg certainly acted like a man under pressure today.

Optimum Result For Williams

While optimistic Williams fans may have cited Monza as an excellent opportunity to take a well deserved victory, the team will hardly be disappointed with P3 and P4. It was an excellent return considering that the Mercedes appeared to be just out of reach for the Grove based squad and following Valtteri Bottas’ awful start, it was the best recovery possible.
Meanwhile, Felipe Massa’s podium will also prove to be a welcome result for the team as a whole. Bottas’ frequent appearances have unquestionably boosted team morale, but they have somewhat been yearning to see Massa claim his first top three finish at the team. They know he is capable of great results, yet misfortune had largely restricted the Brazilian of late. However, as the lead Williams driver, Felipe drove a flawless race and was good value for his 15 points haul. It was a quiet drive, but quiet often means consistent in Formula One, and this was exactly the case yesterday.
   

Mechanical Failure For Fernando? – Impossible!

A Fernando Alonso mechanical failure is about as infrequent as a FIFA World Cup – they only happen once every four years. The home favourite would certainly not have wanted his points finishes streak to end in Monza and in such uncompromising fashion. All seemed to be progressing well for Fernando until his F14 T bowed out of the race on lap 29, with a total shutdown occurring as Alonso attempted to downshift for turn one. The Tifosi had to head home disappointed, but not before Alonso had given a wave to the fans from the pitlane, which can only be described as typically Ferrari.
To place his retirement into context, the last time Fernando retired from a race due to a mechanical failure was during the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2010, when his V8 Ferrari engine made a decidedly more dramatic farewell speech. At this time, Max Verstappen was only 12 years-old. How time flies in Formula 1.

Supreme Skill

For me, the 2014 Italian Grand Prix will be remembered for the supreme skill displayed by many of Formula One’s brightest young talents. Valtteri Bottas may have been behind the wheel of the fastest car in a straight line, which was unquestionably advantageous, but his moves were still clinical and well judged. Despite what must have been a demoralising start, the Finn seemed unaffected, with the analogy of an old head on young shoulders once again being vilified. As for Daniel Ricciardo – I’ll get to him in good time…  
In addition, Sergio Perez may not be one of the ‘new’ talents anymore, but his battle with ex-teammate Jenson Button was something to savor. As Checo struggled to maintain pace towards the end of his second and final stint, Button sensed an opportunity to snatch some additional points. However, the two enjoyed a tense and thrilling dice which saw them head through both Lesmo corners side-by-side. As Button remarked after the race, “I don’t think I could have had that battle with Chceo last year, but as rivals in different teams it seemed to work pretty well,” – It was great to see the pair enjoy a close battle following their issues faced in Bahrain last season. If they can meet each other on track in future races, fans will surely be in for a treat.

Conclusions

Driver of the Day
Daniel Ricciardo  
I am fast running out of superlatives for Daniel Ricciardo. After being forced wide at turn one, the Aussie seemed to be set for a quiet race spent in the lower tiers of the top ten, but an unexpectedly long first stint allowed him to haul himself back into play in the closing stages. Following clinical overtakes, Ricciardo cruised up to the back of his teammate, who had appeared to have the measure of the Aussie all weekend, but was overtaken in sublime fashion at the Della Roggia chicane. Ricciardo is fast becoming the sport’s best driver when in wheel-to-wheel combat.

Race Result

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +3.1
3 Felipe Massa Williams +24.9
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams +40.5
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +50.0
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +59.6
7 Sergio Perez Force India +62.1
8 Jenson Button McLaren +62.6
9 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +63.0
10 Kevin Magnussen McLaren +65.6
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 70.6
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +72.0
13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso +72.4
14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus +1 lap
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber +1 lap
16 Romain Grosjean Lotus +1 lap
17 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham +1 lap
18 Jules Bianchi Marussia +1 lap
19 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +2 laps
20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham +2 laps
RET Fernando Alonso Ferrari
RET Max Chilton Marussia
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