Sunday, 5 October 2014

Japanese Grand Prix - The Race

A dark day for F1

I debated long and hard whether to still post this blog after Jules Bianchi’s terrible accident near the end of the Japanese Grand Prix but whatever happens (and we pray that Jules makes a full recovery) a motor race did take place, there was a winner, a 1-2-3 and points were awarded. These things are not hugely important while a man’s life hangs in the balance. The Japanese Grand Prix of 2014 will forever be remembered for what happened on lap 44 but the results of the race will still count. We can forget sometimes that Formula 1 is dangerous and whilst you can work to minimise the degree of risk that drivers are exposed to, you can never make it completely safe. It is 20 years since the last driver race fatality – Ayrton Senna, the best driver of his generation – but there have been some very near misses since then. So I decided to post my blog as a record of a race with sadly very tragic undertones.

I blogged while watching the race ‘recorded but as if live’ (avoiding all news, spoilers and Twitter). Apologies if the tone seems irreverent or flippant at times in light of later events. Like all F1 fans, I started watching the race in a happy state of anticipation and sadly by the time it ended we were all in a state of shock.

Thoughts and prayers are with Jules, his family, friends and the Marussia team.

Back to the start.

Sorry about the lack of blogging (life has an annoying habit of getting in the way – and also three little letters called ‘PTA’ and if you don’t know what that means then lucky you) but wow Singapore hey? Who knew Singapore could be SO exciting? Well that spiced things up nicely didn’t it. With just four races to go until the Boom or Bust Finale in Abu Dhabi. In a highly unusually prescient moment, I did say in my preview blog for Singapore that Lewis Hamilton was less than a race win away and a DNF for Nico Rosberg from leading the championship race. And guess what? Its game on. What a stupendously exciting season this is proving to be.

Last time out, Hamilton triumphed in Singapore

I am currently home alone with the 3 year old while the husband and the 7 year old have trekked off to some rugby tournament in another county. I actually got a comment yesterday from the husband "you are not a rugby mum are you". Erm let me think about that one. No. So I have Sunday morning heaven of coffee and the Japanese Grand Prix in a warm roasty toasty house.

Japanese GP races have been a little bit disappointing in recent years but still I love Suzuka and am so looking forward to this race: (1) Japan can give us epic races and has provided some of THE most dramatic and emotional F1 moments ever, (2) Japanese F1 fans are absolutely brilliant and (3) clearly it is all shades of exciting as the husband was frantically checking his phone every 2 seconds for updates just before he left on rugby-martyr-watching duty and he was only up to lap 26!

Apparently, we haven’t had ANY rain during a race so far this season or apparently had any rain during a race since the 2012 Brazil GP. Blimey. If ever a season needed some rain it was the Death-Defyingly Dull 2013 season. Puddles, rivers, reservoirs, oceans you name it, the Suzuka track has got the water equivalent. So not surprisingly the race is starting behind a safety car. I’m beginning to think I’m going to need something much stronger than coffee to get through it.

Martin is very surprised the race wasn’t brought forward and said he had a chat about it all with Charlie Whiting this morning. Charlie said the job of the FIA is to monitor safety and all he can do is to assess whether its safe to race at the times they are allocated. Whoever is to blame then for not moving the race it is not Charlie. It is all down to the Japanese organisers/promoters. Maybe they had their £££££ reasons hey.

The race gets underway behind the Safety Car 

It’s the first safety car start since Canada 2011 – and we all know how that race turned out?! 4 hours of pure F1 gold. So we’re off, albeit very, very, very slowly and already the drivers are struggling to get heat in their brakes behind the safety car. I pity the poor safety car driver being sent out in those conditions. When Vettel comes over the radio to report he is aquaplaning you know things are horrendously difficult out there.

Just as Lewis comes on over the radio to say he can’t see Rosberg in front of him the race is RED-FLAGGED. Maybe Charlie had a vision of the apocalyptic fall-out if Lewis crashed into the back of Nico. So all the cars are now parked in the pitlane and NOT the grid. The red flag came out before the leader had completed 2 laps. So are we into half points territory yet? No one seems to know. And Martin and Crofty are pouring all over the rule-book. I need another coffee.

We have had an announcement that ‘tents are allowed in the pitlane’. Ever tried to put up a gazebo in the rain? Hell on earth. But in a cram-packed pitlane? Still F1 engineers are made of sturdy stuff. I always find these random atypical moments in a race quite interesting – Christian Horner, Toto Wolff and Eric Bouillier all chewing the cud. Presumably like me they are dismayed that Mel B took Emma Bunton and not Geri along to the Judges Houses on X Factor.

The most expensive campsite in the world

Martin reads out to us the relevant provision – Article 41.2: If the race is suspended during a Safety Car intervention and if the Safety Car is directed into the pitlane, cars should stop in a line behind the Safety Car in the fast lane of the pits. So what has happened is totally spot on. I love a good legal type clause. I know I know Saddo Klaxon. But GOOD NEWS we are going to get some racing very shortly. The 3 year old has just looked up from her play-doh table and spotted Charlie Whiting on the TV and squealed “he’s not on holiday any more”. Ain't that the truth. That’s what I call a stressful job.

And we are off. Behind the Safety Car. Again. And we have a new Natural Hazard to contend with – the sun will set in around two hours and Suzuka isn’t exactly awash with floodlights. Oh Alonso has suddenly stopped with some electrical failure. Nooooooo. Bet he is thinking I won’t have to put up with this crap next year at McLaren.

Holy cow it has actually stopped raining. Some of the drivers reckon its time for intermediates. The Safety Car has been out for an eternity and Martin is seriously unimpressed. But on lap 9 we are told that the Safety Car is coming in at the end of this lap. Hallelujah!

And still the Safety Car leads the two Mercedes cars

Lap 10 and we have real proper wheels-turning-in-anger racing! So to recap its 1. Rosberg, 2. Hamilton, 3. Bottas, 4. Massa, 5. Ricciardo (who surely will be on the right side of team orders today given Vettel’s defection next season to Another Team Who Might Have Red Cars) and 6. Magnussen. Button has moved very early onto inters and now a lot of the cars are starting to come in and whack on inters as well. Lets hope there are no stray tent pegs lying around.

Button who was in 20th place a minute ago is now already in 8th place. Clever old Jenson and McLaren hey! So who will get the first pitstop nod at Mercedes? The race leader or the championship leader? Vettel meanwhile has pitted and rejoined just ahead of Ricciardo – wonder how long those positions will be maintained.

And its Rosberg who has got the pitstop nod. He slots back in 2nd place which shows just what a whopping lead the Mercedes had already built up. Button is now in 3rd place. Go Jenson! Right Lewis is now coming into the pits…..drum roll please….. and its Rosberg who retakes the lead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Wet conditions, unpredictable conditions? Button is your man.

Massa has now been passed by both Red Bulls and the next Williams to be gobbled up by Vettel is Bottas. Vettel is now in 4th place and Ricciardo not to be outdone pulls off an exquisite move to pass Bottas himself. And now Hamilton is right on the back of Rosberg. Squeaky Bum Time to nick one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s sayings.

Ferrari is having a torrid day. Kimi pits and has a problem with the wheel gun and loses places to Kvyat, Bianchi and Ericsson. Dear god. And Hamilton is now only 0.289 seconds behind his team-mate. The Red Bulls are the fastest cars out on track, admittedly a VERY long way behind the two Mercedes cars but still there are 28 laps to go. Hamilton is swarming all over the back of Rosberg who is complaining of oversteer. Toto Wolff must be having heart palpitations on the pit wall.

Hamilton is pushing and pushing and has just gone wide. Good to know he is keeping it nice and steady as per his the team’s instructions! But he is clearly so much quicker than Rosberg and to my surprise apparently he has never won at Suzuka. Halfway order is 1. Rosberg, 2. Hamilton, 3. Button, 4. Vettel and 5. Ricciardo.

And on lap 29, Lewis Hamilton takes the LEAD of the Japanese Grand Prix after some very overly defensive driving from Rosberg. A defining moment in the championship race? We shall see.

Button pits from 3rd on lap 32 and has to change his steering wheel just like Magnussen (the McLaren electronics clearly like rain about as much as Alonso's car) and unfortunately as a result loses his place to Vettel who pitted a couple of laps earlier. Rosberg pits ahead of Hamilton who seems quite happy to stay out. But Lewis then comes in on lap 36 meaning that Ricciardo (who has not yet pitted again) leads the race.

A huge round of applause for Kevin Magnussen who unlaps himself by passing Ricciardo in audacious style. Just sometimes he shows us exactly what McLaren saw in him. Vettel is having a lively time out on track and Jenson Button is now starting to play catch up. Can he snatch a podium with 14 laps to go?

It is raining a lot more once again. And is it just me or does it look very dark out there? Button is now embroiled in a full on battle with Ricciardo and is using every ounce of his considerable guile and experience to keep him at bay. For now. The rain is tippling down and DRS has been disabled which is good news for Jenson. The 3 year old has just asked “is the red car winning?”. Bless. For reasons I haven’t quite ascertained, Alonso is her favourite driver. Not that I am questioning her excellent judgment but she might need to rethink her allegiances next year. For her the redness of the car is pivotal.

In the ever deteriorating conditions, Sutil appears to have emplanted his car into a barrier. Mad Gamble Alert. Jenson is now pitting for FULL WETS. His call apparently. And it’s the return of the Safety Car. Oh dear a medical car is out on track. Presumably for Sutil. And a stream of cars head into the pits for new tyres. Poor old Jenson. He could not have timed that pitstop any worse.

Martin has just said those awful words “something is not good up there” and then it went eerily quiet in the commentary box. Feeling very, very worried now. They have just spotted another car in that incident – the Marussia of Jules Bianchi. Oh how terrible. Sutil is definitely ok but we don’t know anything else.

Poor Adrian Sutil looks on in horror at the scene of the crash

There is now an ambulance out on track and on lap 46 the race has been red-flagged. Because of the ambulance on track? Or the track conditions? Or something worse? It is now so dark that surely the race won’t be restarted. No news is being made public about Jules Bianchi’s condition but Ted just said there was no response from Jules when the team radioed him.

The cars once again are all lined up in the pitlane. And I can’t help but wonder what the drivers know or don’t know about Bianchi’s accident. I am trying to push Imola thoughts out of my mind but it has that same terrible wall of silence feeling about it. Perhaps I am just over-analysing but Martin, Crofty and Ted sound very sombre – which of course is entirely understandable and appropriate even if they don’t know much more than all of us sitting at home. But I fear that they do know more than they are able to tell us.

We are told the race will not resume. Ted says its complete chaos in the medical centre and the FIA’s press delegate is having to force open the door to let in Bianchi’s team members and his manager (who is the son of the FIA president).

Lewis has won the race in what must be the strangest win of his race career. It doesn’t seem at all important with the uncertainty as to Bianchi’s condition but it finished: 1. Hamilton, 2. Rosberg, 3. Vettel, 4. Ricciardo and 5. Button.

A sombre Lewis Hamilton on the podium

Rosberg has clearly just passed on an update to Hamilton in the Green Room after speaking to Herbie Blash and a few moments later very quietly and very discreetly Lewis does the sign of the cross. Every single F1 person looks shocked and devastated. It has transpired that Bianchi's car hit water and aquaplaned off at exactly the same spot where recovery vehicles were attending Sutil’s car that had crashed the lap before. Bianchi suffered a severe head injury and has been transported to hospital where he is now in surgery.

Such a desperately shocking and tragic end to the race.

Forza Jules.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Singapore Grand Prix - Preview

Act III, Opening Scene - Downtown Singapore

All of a sudden we are down to just 6 races. We are reaching the end-game.

The globetrotting denouement to this fiercely contested and impossibly hard to call season will get underway in Singapore this weekend. In recent seasons this has normally heralded a run of horrifically dull, processional races (normally won by Red Bull). But joy of joys the Indian GP (should have worked but just didn’t) and the Korean GP (the all-time highlight being PSY waving the chequered flag in 2012 to put an end to all our misery) have been dropped from the F1 calendar. *High Five to Bernie* So goodbye Indian and Korean GPs, we barely knew you at all but I think we can all agree a conscious uncoupling is the best thing all round.

And this means we have a very eclectic, diverse and fascinating collection of races to see out the season. First off, its back to the Far East for the longest race (309km – that’s a whole lot of street) and one of the most gruelling races for drivers of the season. Cards on the table, I’ve never been much of a fan of this race. On paper, it sounds great. A night race around a visually stunning street circuit that by all accounts has an incredibly charged atmosphere. Its basically like watching Bladerunner with cars. No other race on the F1 calendar has that package so what’s not to love?

A scene from Bladerunner or the Singapore GP? Spookily alike!

Well its very difficult to overtake for starters meaning that other factors such as tyre/pitstop strategy and unreliability will have much more of a bearing on how the race unfolds. Interestingly, it has a 100% record of a Safety Car (normally a good indicator of a lively race, see Montreal) so it obviously has had its fair share of crashes and incidents, not surprisingly given the length of the race and constant braking around a tight, walled track.

It undoubtedly poses a unique set of challenges for the drivers but doesn’t tend to throw up any real surprises. Whisper it quietly (or hey just tell the FIA 1 Race Director like I did – ahem!!) it is quite a b-o-r-ing race. Which is generally won by Sebastian Vettel (for the last 3 years at any rate). Although ironically a Vettel win this year would probably mean its been an rollercoaster humdinger of a race as the likely Mercedes benefit gig would have not gone to plan. Mind you he’d have to see off Daniel Ricciardo first!

But this year I am quite hopeful. Firstly, the stand-out dominant car doesn’t not have a stand-out-running-away-with-the-championship driver (like the Vettel-Red Bull dream team of the last few seasons). There is the tantalising prospect of Hamilton and Rosberg racing each other like loons around a track where there is no margin for error. And we all know how that can play out.

And to add some further spice to proceedings in Singapore, there is also the new all-singing and all-dancing directive from the FIA banning teams from giving their driver coded messages over the radio or passing on any performance related information (including on pitboards). All the teams have been given a long list of banned messages and the teams, as is their wont when their lives are made a teeny bit more difficult, are quite vexed by the whole situation. So what’s on the Banned List? Quite a lot actually – sector time information, clutch maps and settings (so expect to see an interesting start to the Singapore GP as drivers have been used to a LOT of help in getting the car ready during the formation lap), fuel flow settings and fuel saving, engine settings, gearbox settings and brake balance settings (which could make a big difference at a brake-heavy track like Singapore). Pretty much all settings you can think of. Also teams can’t answer direct questions from drivers such as “what’s Nico’s sector time” or “at what corners is Lewis gaining time”. For example. Oh and from Japan it will get a whole lot harder as brake wear/temperatures and tyre pressures/temperatures will join the Banned List.

The thinking behind all of this from Charlie Whiting and FIA is to strip away the relentless ‘coaching’ that a team gives their driver throughout a race. Its fair to say the amount of help and instructions that drivers were getting over the radio was becoming a bit ridiculous. Stuff like “try using 5th gear into turn 4”. Really? And I had to laugh at the senior engineer who said people should be careful what they wish for - this is going to mean almost no radio traffic at all”. Honestly guys, on the whole your radio messages aren’t actually all that interesting. Back in the day, we hardly ever heard any radio messages and gasp, shock, horror we still had some stunningly exciting races. And bless the Sky team who literally saturate us (in a good way!) with non-stop analysis and post-race dissection of every key moment on the Sky Pad. We’re hardly going to be left in the dark as to what’s happening out on track, even if the drivers are!

The SkyPad in action. No stone left unturned etc!

From the perspective of my sofa, I’m quite looking forward to watching a race where drivers are less spoon-fed and their driving isn’t oh-so-carefully managed by their team during the race. They are all top-class drivers or they wouldn’t be in F1 so let them just race as much as is possible in modern day F1. This new directive is hardly going to rip up the F1 grid order and lead to a Caterham snatching a race win from Sauber next weekend but it should reward the instinctive, natural drivers and those who have a deep, intuitive feel for the handling of their cars and can relay that to their engineers. And that has to be a good thing in my opinion.

So after Monza, Lewis Hamilton trails Nico Rosberg by a mere 22 points. Not insignificant but the title lead is now less than a race win (for Lewis) and a DNF (for Nico) away. Both drivers have welcomed the FIA crackdown on radio messages as something that will enable their own superior talents to come more to the fore - psychological mind-games are well and truly in full force - but only time will tell who will benefit the most from a return to what Nico Rosberg calls ‘purer racing’. Pure racing hey? That could kickstart a whole other debate...!

Nuvolari - the purest of them all?

Or the incomparable Fangio?

Or Jim Clark, regarded by many at the most naturally gifted driver ever?

Or Senna, more at one with his car than any over driver?

Friday, 29 August 2014

Belgian GP - The Race (and fall-out)

The moment Civil War erupted

And so its all-out war. The ‘clear the air’ talks at Mercedes between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were about as successful in preventing hostilities as the ‘peace in our time’ Munich Treaty. And as angry as Niki Lauda was after the race, I’m not sure I have ever seen anyone quite as incandescent as the normally very mild-mannered Toto Wolff who was the very definition of seething fury.

Angry man

As well Toto might be after the fragile ceasefire at Mercedes imploded spectacularly when his two drivers crashed in each other on lap two. As a result, Rosberg damaged his front wing and Hamilton sustained a puncture and further damage to the car floor as he nursed his car into the pits. It was pretty much race over for Hamilton after that. In a delicious piece of dramatic irony (and a nomination nod to the Guardian journo who referenced ‘Banquo’s ghost’ when writing about this moment in the race – surely a contender for this week’s Pseuds Corner in Private Eye!), Rosberg ended up with flailing streamers from Hamilton’s delaminated tyre becoming attached to his aerial and fluttering in front of him for a couple of laps. That must have made Eau Rouge interesting.

Rosberg battling to remove Hamilton's tyre streamers. I think they call that karma.

All of which played into the hands of the one driver who is always there to pick up the pieces when Mercedes self-destructs, the lovely Daniel Ricciardo. But it was by no means a gifted walkover of a win. Ricciardo had to overtake the supremely combative duo of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel (6 world titles cannot be wrong) and then withstand some significant pressure from Nico Rosberg in the closing stages to seal the deal.

Ricciardo has now won 3 of the last 6 races and lies just 35 points in 3rd place behind Lewis Hamilton in the title standings. And while it would be inconceivable to imagine a non-Mercedes title winner, Ricciardo’s superb form (harnessed to perfection by a brilliantly run team) could add a lot of spice to the title battle. What an absolute joy it must be for Christian Horner to have a driver like Ricciardo in the team – massively talented, hungry for success but composed and level-headed in the cockpit. Just a class act on and off the track. As and when he wins the title (as surely he will one day), he will be an enormously popular champion.

Daniel Ricciardo. Class Act.

Bottas took another richly deserved podium by coming home having raced his heart out with stunning moves to pass Alonso and Vettel (his balls of steel overtake of Vettel on the outside of Les Combes rightly brought a standing ovation from his mechanics!) and in the closing laps he overtook Kimi Raikkonen to secure 3rd place. But for the first time this season Kimi finished ahead of his team-mate and had his best result of the year so far. Whatever happened in the summer break, Kimi was like a driver reborn in Spa and just seemed like the Kimi of old – aggressive, focused and really enjoying himself. Maybe that is the Spa Effect. But more of the same in Monza please!

The next 4 drivers across the finish line were 5) Vettel, 6) Magnussen, 7) Button and 8) Alonso who treated us to a wild and thrilling four way scrap that in all honesty could have ended any one of 24 different ways (unless my extremely rusty A-Level in statistics has failed me which is entirely possible). If there is such a thing as a pure shot of ‘racing’ then this exhilerating sequence would be your poison.

The calm before the storm

And so lets pick over the wreckage of Mercedes’ weekend.  The front row lock-out (their fifth of the season) had set the stage for double Mercedes glory and a fabulous battle round the greatest track in motorsport. Lewis had a stunning start to pole-vault himself into the lead and Rosberg initially dropped back to 3rd behind Vettel before quickly regaining his place. Perhaps Rosberg was slightly shaken by nearly throwing away his precious pole position advantage and his subsequent actions were borne more out of desperation to regain the lead than anything more sinister. But as Nico closed up on Lewis going into Les Combes, looking to make the pass, Lewis held firm to his racing line and Nico clipped Lewis’s rear left tyre which immediately suffered a puncture. Only the most stone-hearted fan would not have felt some small ounce of sympathy for Lewis as he staggered into the pits with a delaminated tyre and irreparable damage to the floor having been only moments earlier leading the race. But (and it’s a big ‘but’) this is motor-racing. Sometimes it is cruel and it is unfair. While undoubtedly Lewis has had more than his share of bad luck this season (although a far greater spotlight shines on his misfortune than retirements by drivers scrapping away for the odd point lower down the field), he is in exalted company with others who had the gods conspire against them (see Nigel Mansell, Johnny ‘bad luck’ Herbert and even the great Michael Schumacher at…oh yes… Mercedes).

This tyre blow-out in Adelaide cost Mansell the title. I could still sob at the very memory.

Of course deliberate accidents can and do happen between team-mates but I would definitely interpret this as more of a clumsy manoeuvre than any deliberate attempt by Rosberg to destroy Hamilton’s race. Firstly, Rosberg is leading the championship and there are still 7 races to go; secondly, nine times out of ten both cars would have escaped unscathed from that small sliver of contact; and thirdly, Rosberg has to answer to Toto Wolff who is Very Scary. While he might have misjudged and miscalculated the situation on lap 2 in Spa, and possibly acted a bit petulantly (but its one driver’s word against the other’s on that score), it was IMHO nothing more than a racing incident that even the FIA did not see the need to investigate. That it unfortunately cost Hamilton far more than it cost Rosberg is harsh and unfair but doesn’t mean Nico acted with malice aforethought.

There was another sub-plot in Hamilton’s race story that I found almost equally intriguing. From even before the half-way stage on lap 20, Hamilton implored the team to let him come in, retire from the race and save the engine. Mercedes rightly resisted his overtures at first by pointing out there could be the game-changer of a safety car. Always a distinct possiblity in Spa. But Lewis kept on and kept on pleading and the team clearly felt with 5 laps to go there was no point in him continuing and called him in to retire from the race.

Lewis retires on lap 39

Now this is a tough one. Lewis was obviously struggling without downforce to overtake far inferior cars and clearly his car’s performance deteriorated as the race went on. Probably by the time he did retire, there was little point keeping him out as his car was getting slower. But when he first begged the team to come in, he was still over a whole second faster than Grosjean. So to me it smacks of being a little bit precious and more importantly it shows that Lewis doesn’t have the same degree of fighting spirit out on track when things go wrong. He talks a good talk off the track but his head often goes down far too easily. He is so used to having a blindingly fast car but a Formula 1 grid is made up of 22 cars, most of which don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell in winning a race but all the drivers see the race through (if they possibly can). How much would Andre Lotterer, making his F1 debut at the grand old age of 32, have given to race around Spa for 44 laps as opposed to the one lap before his car conked out with mechanical failure? And what of the fans, Lewis? Its one thing to throw in the towel on lap 39 but did you not really owe it them more than to try and quit the race on lap 20?

The fall-out from the race was seismic. Rosberg was given the Full Vettel Treatment on the podium – a deafening chorus of boos. Mercedes then convened an emergency team meeting, details of which Hamilton ‘helpfully’ passed on to the media.

"We just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose. He said he could have avoided it, but he didn't want to. He basically said, 'I did it to prove a point'.”

Rosberg’s initial response was to say:
"As drivers we are here to entertain and to show the fans a good time, our duels are always on the limit. I regret that Lewis and myself touched but I see it as a racing incident – just as the stewards did. I was quicker at the time and there was an opportunity, so I gave it a go around the outside as the inside was blocked. The opportunity was there and, for me, it wasn't a risky situation.”
And Puncture-Gate shows no signs of going away anytime soon. Mercedes has issued this statement today saying they have taken disciplinary action against Nico Rosberg following his collision with Lewis Hamilton in the Belgian Grand Prix.

‘Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton met today in the boardroom of Mercedes AMG headquarters in Brackley to discuss the events of the Belgian Grand Prix.

During this meeting, Nico acknowledged his responsibility for the contact that occurred on lap two of the Belgian Grand Prix and apologised for this error of judgement. Suitable disciplinary measures have been taken for the incident. 

Lewis and Nico understand and accept the team's number one rule: there must be no contact between the team's cars on track. It has been made clear that another such incident will not be tolerated. But Nico and Lewis are our drivers and we believe in them.

They remain free to race for the 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship.’

Fair play to Mercedes for allowing their two drivers to continue to race although it will be fascinating to see how that plays out in practice. All I can say is BRING ON MONZA!

Stirling Moss driving for Maserati leads the field at Monza in 1956
Michael Schumacher wins at Monza for the 5th time in 2006

The fabulous Tifosi at Monza