Saturday, 11 September 2010

Alonso and Button set up for title revival

Fernando Alonso delighted the Ferrari fans, and indeed president, who had flocked to Monza with pole position today. It was only the second non Red Bull pole of the season. Jenson Button, running with the F-Duct on his McLaren, was second after putting in two strong laps in Q3. Felipe Massa was 3rd whilst title favourites Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton were 4th and 5th. A good result for the Australian after practice problems but frustration for championship leader Hamilton who ran a low downforce setup and complained about a lot of sliding in the corners. Sebastian Vettel was also unhappy after qualifying 6th, claiming his car wasn't working as well this afternoon than in practice.

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Ferrari have had good starts recently and will be confident of maintaining the lead. A key factor could be the man not in the title race, Felipe Massa. If he can jump ahead of Button at the start, then he can control the pack and allow Alonso to pull out a gap. Button's setup makes him vulnerable on the straight though overtaking will not be easy, it won't simply be a case of breezing past the reigning world champion. Tyre wear shouldn't be a big issue but the advanatge for Button is he should keep his tyres very well, giving him the flexibility of running a long stint on the soft tyre or stopping early and running to the end on the hard tyre. I think a one stop will be the normal strategy though i wonder if Toro Rosso would try a two stopper. They are extremely quick on the straights so i feel they should try something different from 14th and 15th on the grid, an agressive approach and one that is viable with the straight line speed they have.

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For Webber, it was a case of maximising a tough weekend. He will probably feel that the top three are too quick for him and Red Bull tomorrow and will have the concerns of the poor starts that him and team mate Vettel have had recently as well as Hamilton attacking on the opening lap. Hamilton felt the setup choice was wrong after qualifying but he can still recover tomorrow. He seemed to stay close to Webber as he began his final lap. Perhaps he wanted to pick up some slipstream but a slide into turn 1 indicated he may have been affected by some turbulence. For Vettel, he may need some dramas ahead or he could well leave Italy 5th in the championship with 5 races to go

It could be a grand prix that sees the title battle squeezed back closer again. It should be another sunny and dry day and will hopefully be another fascinating grand prix. Race start is 1pm.

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