September 14, 2008
*WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS: The last time there was a wet race at Monza was 1985. By coincidence, that was also the first year in F1 for a little independent team from Italy named Minardi. There have only been four rainy races in the 59 year history of the Italian Grand Prix. Make it five, as it was so wet today that the race started behind the safety car. It appeared that Toro Rosso's gamble on a wet-weather setup had paid off, but would Sebastian Vettel be able to hold off the McLaren of Heikki Koveleaninninnie, starting right behind him? Very quickly it became obvious that the answer had a seriously good chance of being "Yes", as Vettel ran away from the rest of the field when the safety car went in on lap two. By the end of the first flying lap, the Toro Rosso driver had a two second lead on Koveleinaninninnie, and it was growing every lap. Then the question became "how much fuel does Vettel have?" He must be light, how else could he fly away so quickly? Well, yes, he did have less fuel, but only by a couple of laps... after his pitstop on lap 18, he fell back to fourth, but everybody else still had to stop. After the leaders had all stopped... Vettel was leading again, by a good 15 seconds. Lewis Hamilton, who started 15th, was on a one-stop strategy and had closed up on the Toro Rosso, getting as close as one second behind, but he had to stop and disappeared. Vettel was never challenged again, and cruised to a 12 second win for his first victory, his team's first victory, and becoming the youngest winner in F1 history.
In 2005, Minardi was sold to Dieter Maeterschitz, founder of the Red Bull empire, to become Toro Rosso.
*YOUTH IS WASTED ON THE YOUNG: Not only did Vettel win the race to become the youngest winner in F1 history, but with Heikki Koveleaininninnie finishing second and Robert Kubica third, this was the youngest podium in F1 history. When Michael Schumacher retired after the 2006 season, people said that F1 was doomed. Then some kid named Lewis Hamilton appeared, and now Vettel, Kubica and Heikki have all won their first races this season. Michael who?
*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Duh. Sebastian Vettel made a grand total of zero mistakes on a slick, slippery track and never had to worry about a serious challenge as a result. Yes, he had the advantage of driving at the front of the thundering herd, meaning he was the only person to actually be able to see all day, but at any second he could have skidded into a graveltrap or a wall. He didn't, and completely earned this victory.
*TEAM OF THE RACE: Double Duh. Minardi Toro Rosso had the perfect strategy for the race, executed it perfectly, and timed their pitstops to perfection. Those two stops went flawlessly, and as a result, they were rewarded with a dominant victory. Toro Rosso has about 1/10th the number of employees of McLaren, and are considered the "junior team" of the two Red Bulls. Yet Minardi Toro Rosso has entirely crushed their more senior teammates. Embarrassing for Red Bull, great for F1. Bravissimo, signores! Now do it again and we'll start talking about a fourth "big team". Darn shame SeaBass stalled his car on the grid, otherwise we might be talking about a double podium for y'all.
*MOVE OF THE RACE: On lap 36, Lewis Hamilton had to go back into the pits to switch from full-wet tires to intermediates. He was still getting the speed from the heavy weather rubber, but they were quickly going away on him; it wasn't wet enough for them. Into the pits he went, and on cold tires he was forced to watch Mark Webber steam past him in the first chicane. Immediately thereafter, the McLaren went ripping off after the Red Bull, and with a grand total of one turn's worth of experience on the Intermediates (which couldn't've been heated to race levels yet), Hamilton outbraked Webber into the second chicane. Nothing more than a driver at the top of his profession showing what could be done, and how to do it.
*MOOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE: What happens when you take the best drivers in the world... and you remove their brain for a second or two? You get the Mooooo-oove of the Race. Today's Mooo-oove goes to Giancarlo Fisichella (again). On lap 13, he somehow managed to run his Farce India into the back of David Coulthard's Chin's Red Bull in the first chicane (top speed: 45mph) with enough speed to damage his front wing. The wing, wobbling as he went, stayed on the car just long enough to fall off in Parabolica, sending Fisi straight off into the wall... where his entire car got borked, thereby becoming the first and only car to retire from the Italian Grand Prix. At his home race, too! Bravo, Giancarlo, Qui è il vostro premio della mucca!
*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:
"I can't believe it! Thank you guys, thank you, you all did a great job, thank you, thank you, YEESSSSSSSSSSS!!!! Whoo!" - Sebastian Vettel, to his pitcrew.
"I should have won. I pissed it down the leg of my firesuit. Maybe Renault knew what they were doing when they let me go to McLaren." - Heikki Kovaelieniiniininnie
"Sometime skill doesn't matter. Today, I got lucky with the second pitstop, because it was exactly the right time to change to inters. If it gets me podiums, I don't care how I got it." - Robert Kubica
"I am very happy." - HWMNBN (note: real quote. Also note that HWMNBN hasn't been happy since 2006, and that he's lying)
"Kubica passed me on the first flying lap, allegedly. I never saw him, and he couldn't've seen me." - Grizzly Nick Heidfeld (note: he's not kidding... visibility was maybe six inches when the safety car pulled off, at least for those in the Thundering Herd)
"In normal conditions, in other words in the dry, I think I could have made it to the podium. I also think that the stewards at Spa made exactly the right decision, how dare that Hamilton beat a Ferrari? This is Italy, we should be able to get the drivers in front of me penalized, right?" - Felipe Massa
"If it had kept on raining, I feel pretty confident I probably could have even won from 15th grid position. I also feel confident that I want some of what Massa is smoking, it must be really good." - Lewis Hamilton
"Driving is hard." - Mark Webber
"mrmmbl mrmrmm mrmlbllblbl mrmrmmmlbblblmm mrmrmb. Mm." - Kimi Raikkonen
"My teammate finished fourth to my 10th. I have this strange feeling I should be looking for alternate forms of employment pretty soon." - Nelson Piquet Jr
"I have nothing to say that is either relevant or true, as nothing of interest occurred during my race." - Timo Glock
"Ditto. And stop calling me Kazoo." - Kazoo Nakajima
"It doesn't matter how I did behind the wheel today. This humidity has just ruined my hair." - Jarno Trulli
"So my tires wore out faster than everybody on the track? Maybe I should learn how to drive... then I'd get a point or two when I should, like today." - Nico Rosberg
" 'Honda always does good in the rain,' they said. 'They stand a good chance in the rain,' they said. Look, the car is total crap. There could be an ark being built just off Parabolica and this car wouldn't win." - Jenson Button
"Pants." - David Coulthard's Chin
"I would just like to second everything Jenson said, and add that a Yugo with a tailfin would probably be faster than this thing." - Rubens Barrichello
"How, exactly, does a car equipped with anti-stalling devices stall? On the grid when I'm starting 4th, ferchristsakes? Merde on a stick, man..." - SeaBass
"For sure it was not the best race for us." - Adrian Sutil (master of understatement)
"How does one say 'AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!' in Italian?" - Giancarlo Fisichella
So that's it for Bizarro Race. In two weeks we get to what might be the most eagerly anticipated race of the season: Singapore. The first night race in F1 history, and a REAL street circuit to boot. We'll be here, you be too!
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 14, 2008 03:12 PM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Wonderduck at September 14, 2008 03:52 PM (AW3EJ)
Vettel did an awesome job today. Plus the anthems on the podium were a trip down memory lane. (Can't help it, I'm still a Schumey fan.)
Posted by: Mallory at September 14, 2008 04:15 PM (WJ2qy)
Posted by: Stefan at September 14, 2008 05:19 PM (TH8lm)
Well, it's always really nice when someone other than Ferrari or McLaren wins it. It's particularly nice when it's a no-hoper like Toro Rosso, showing everyone that there's always hope.
Now it's time for Force-India to win one.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 14, 2008 07:55 PM (+rSRq)
It's interesting that this is the first time ever that a Ferrari-engine customer team has won a race.
Posted by: Wonderduck at September 14, 2008 09:30 PM (AW3EJ)
Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at September 15, 2008 10:25 AM (/ppBw)
Fantastic race, so happy for Toro Rosso, so good seeing how much the whole team enjoyed that.
Posted by: flotsky at September 15, 2008 11:38 AM (cnPFe)
Posted by: madmike at September 15, 2008 11:43 AM (mV2q+)
Posted by: Wonderduck at September 15, 2008 03:38 PM (DcSb+)
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