|The Mercedes team celebrate their 1-2, after Hamilton led|
home Rosberg. (C) 2014 XPB Images
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) gave his title aspirations a shot in the arm with victory in the Italian Grand Prix. Starting from pole, a technical glitch saw Hamilton drop behind team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg (who also made a great start), as well as Felipe Massa (Williams) and the fast-starting Kevin Magnussen (McLaren). Both Massa and Hamilton cleared Magnussen before Lewis then cleared Felipe with an intricate move into Prima Variante (Variante del Rettifilo). He then chased down Rosberg, reducing the gap to around a second (i.e. getting within DRS range) shortly after the pitstops. It was shaping up to be a close battle, with the faster Hamilton chasing the man with track position, Rosberg. Alas Lewis' pressure told on Lap 29 of 53 when Nico overshot the Rettifilo for the second time in the race. Hamilton duly took over the lead and controlled it to win from Rosberg (who now leads the championship by 22 points) and Massa, who ended up having quite a quiet race but an important one, as it yielded his first podium of a difficult season.
Behind them, a train formed behind Magnussen which included Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Sergio Perez (Force India), Jenson Button (McLaren) and Valtteri Bottas, Massa's team-mate. Bottas had had a very slow getaway and dropped as low as about 11th, but ended up taking 4th after a series of fine overtaking manoeuvres. The Finn's stock continues to grow and grow this season. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) took 5th place; the Australian (of Italian origin) had had a slow start to the race, but benefited from a team call to bring his team-mate Vettel in early to get ahead of Magnussen. Whilst Vettel was successful it meant that he and his rivals (who all followed him and generally pitted a lap or two later) who were part of the Magnussen train all had to finish the race on older, quite worn tyres. Ricciardo, who had run long in the first stint, was thus on much fresher tyres. It was testament to his impressive racecraft that, despite having a slower Renault engine, he not only caught the train but worked his way to the front with a series of fine overtakes, and then duly pulled away. Vettel hung on to 6th, ahead of Perez, who had a really good race holding off Button to 7th. Magnussen was penalised 5 seconds for running Bottas off the road at Rettifilo and thus finished 10th; while Kimi Raikkonen caught the pack at the end to claim 9th after team-mate Alonso was forced out by an ERS failure - his two points a small consolation from a difficult home GP for Ferrari (their worst at Monza since 2005).
|Valtteri Bottas (pictured here on Friday)|
was quick all weekend and made a lot of
overtakes in the race after a start problem
|Stoffel Vandoorne en route to victory in Saturday's GP2 race|
Sunday Race: Step forward Sergio Canamasas (Trident). His buccaneering rallycross act through the Ascari chicane on the opening lap triggered an accident between debutant Pierre Gasly (Caterham) and Artem Markelov (Russian Time). It also helped contribute (more indirectly) to an accident further down between Cecotto and Sergio Campana (Venezuela Lazarus) at Parabolica. This brought out the only Safety Car I saw during the entire race weekend (I did not watch the GP3 Sunday race so don't know if that had one). Not content with ruining those batch of races, Canamasas then ploughed into the side of Rene Binder (Arden), and made contact with the charging Marciello for good measure! The stewards eventually put him out of his misery by giving him the black flag. World feed GP2 and GP3 commentator Will Buxton was scathing about Canamasas' driving standards after the race. Up at the front, Sorensen attacked Palmer early on, but ran wide and dropped back behind Richelmi. With DAMS now running 1-2, it allowed Palmer to get away while Richelmi tried to soak up pressure from Sorensen and the hard-charging Coletti. The race was made memorable by a series of bold overtaking manoeuvres by Coletti, which moved him up to 2nd to chase after Palmer. He caught the Briton, but was unable to pass him. Jolyon extended his championship lead with victory (after the qualifying penalty!), with Monegasque drivers Coletti and Richelmi rounding out the podium. Sorensen was 4th, while Negrao cemented a strong weekend by finishing 5th. Nasr took 6th, Pic 7th and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (Rapax) 8th after Jon Lancaster (Hilmer) was given a time penalty for having all four wheels off the track to pass Pic earlier in the race.
|Vosiou and Kirchhofer race for 3rd position before the former's|
drive-through penalty in Saturday's GP3 race
Saturday Race: Jimmy Eriksson (Koiranen GP) kept his title hopes alive with victory as he held off Dino Zamparelli (ART) to win. Similar to the GP2 Saturday race (albeit without pitstops), Eriksson had a steady gap early on but Zamparelli reeled him in during the second half of the race, though wasn't close enough to attempt a pass. Behind them, Robert Vosiou (Arden) ran 3rd for most of the race, but was given a drive-through for a marginal call for overtaking under yellow flags call (I didn't know this at the time, I just suddenly saw he'd dropped back a lot of places!). Marvin Kirchhofer (ART) thus completed the podium, ahead of Emil Bernstoff (Carlin), Dean Stoneman (Marussia Manor) - who had unwittingly helped Kirchhofer on Lap 1 by outbraking himself and ramming the other car much further up the field as a result! - and title leader Alex Lynn (Carlin), who pulled off a couple of useful late overtakes to put more points on the board. Lynn's main title rival Richie Stanaway (Status) had a very slow getaway and despite picking up a few places thereafter could only salvage 9th place, just ahead of team-mate Nick Yelloly - who in turn just held off compatriot Jann Mardenborough (Arden) for the final point after a difficult race. Patrick Kujala (Marussia Manor) and Matteo Tuscher (Jenzer Motorsport) (7th and 8th) finished in the other points positions.
Sunday race: I didn't actually watch Sunday morning's GP3 race, making it my seat just before the start of the Sunday GP2 race, which was just after it. However, a race report of the race - in which Dean Stoneman held off Alex Lynn to win - can be found here.
|Philipp Eng (in the yellow car) had a few good wheel-to-wheel|
battles in this race. Here he did manage to retake his 8th position
down at Rettifilo. Apologies for part of my hand being in the pic!
It was a lights-to-flag victory for Sven Muller (Team Project 1) in the only Porsche Supercup race of the weekend on Sunday mid-morning. Austrian Klaus Bachler (Konrad Motorsport) put a bold move on title leader (and former A1GP driver) Earl Bamber (Fach Auto Tech) to take 2nd place, on a circuit where it was difficult for the Supercup cars to overtake because of the tightness of some of the chicanes. Bamber used this, and his defensive driving, to good effect to hold off title rival Kuba Giermaziak (VERVA-Lechner) for 3rd place, despite Kuba being urged on by the two Polish fans next to me. Michael Ammermueller (Lechner Racing) had looked impressive in the damp conditions on Friday, and ended up putting a solid drive in to finish 5th being Giermaziak; another former A1GP driver, the German was nicknamed "the Hammermuller" in the those days for his tendency to bash into (hammer into, get it?) other cars. Luckily, this particular character trait was absent on Sunday (and probably has been for some time for all I know). Nicki Thiem (Lechner Racing) was frequently referenced by the British commentator on the tannoy, after overcoming a difficult qualifying to finish 6th with a series of bold overtakes, ahead of Clemens Schmidt (Lechner Racing). Erstwhile Formula 2 driver Philipp Eng (Team Project 1) was in a couple of tight battles during the race but came through to take 8th, ahead of Briton Ben Barker (VERVA-Lechner). 18 year-old home favourite Matteo Cairoli (Antonelli Motorsport), a wildcard entrant who is currently leading the Italian Porsche Carrera Cup championship, qualified well up and came through unscathed to take a commendable 10th place (as well as fastest lap) on his Supercup debut.