The European leg of the F1 season comes to an end with Brawn once again coming 1 and 2 at the Italian GP at Monza. Rubens Barrichello once again seems to be the better Brawn driver and is moving closer to Button as the season comes to an end. With 4 more races to go, it has become a straight shootout between the 2 Brawn drivers and though Button has a significant advantage over Barrichello, he really needs to finish on podium till the last race if he has to have a comfortable victory. The moment he fails to score and Barrichello wins another race, things can become too close to call between them.
Kimi brought the Ferrari for a podium once again and though the car set-up did not favour the high speed Monza track, it was a good effort from Kimi who was once again hounded by a Force India car which followed him throughout the race. Teammate Fisi was impressive with his 9th place finish but imagine had he not left Force India, well he may have got another podium at his home grand prix but then not everyone can claim to drive for Ferrari in F1. Force India proved that their Spa performance was no fluke and Sutil impressed everyone with his 4th place finish while Liuzzi was all set to score points till an electronics failure forced him into retirement but he performed brilliantly after not driven a F1 car in 2 years and this could have well rewarded him with a drive for 2010.
Hamilton and McLaren were the team to beat after qualifying but they were strategically outwitted by Brawn and later with just a lap to go Hamilton threw away a podium finish by hitting the curb too hard which resulted in a spin and crashed him out of the race. Kovalainen had a very quiet and uneventful race which saw him finish 6th but he needs more than this if he has to keep Rosberg, Kubica or even Kimi from taking his seat for the next season.
Red Bull’s chances of fighting it out with Brawn for both the titles seem to have ended with a disastrous Italian GP. While Brawn took 18 points from this race, RBR could take only one point with Vettel finishing 8th. Vettel is also running with his last engine and he will have to take a 10 place grid penalty at the Singapore GP as there is no point running with an underperforming engine while Webber’s title hopes vanished with his retirement early on in the race.
BMW had a very mixed race with Kubica retiring in the middle while Heidfeld came 7th to score valuable points for the team. Given his age, his performance must improve if any of the existing teams would want to take him in for the next season while the team needs to do more than this if they need to find a new buyer very soon as FIA will decide if they will be on the grid for 2010 or they would offer the spot to any of the new teams.
With all the speculations of race-fixing gathering momentum, it was important for Renault to perform on track and though Alonso never looked like he was in for a place on the podium, it was once again a very solid drive from him to finish 5th while rookie Grosjean finished 15th.
It was a race to forget for Toyota, Williams and Toro Rosso as they were way off from the other teams. Toyota needs a podium very soon or else this year could be the last season in F1 for the team while STR just could replicate last year’s magical performance from Vettel for the team.
It was a good Italian GP and though no news of the impending Alonso-Ferrari came out, everyone is set for September 21st hearing on the fate of the Renault race fixing scandal as the driver’s market is directly dependent on the outcome of that proceeding.