With the tabloids still revelling in thier new-found interest in cricket, Formula One is basically left to pick up the scraps. The Italian Grand Prix may have been significant for the championship chase, but it was still rather dull, which also explains its poor billing in the Monday ‘papers.
David Tremayne in The Independent has it spot-on: “Montoya survives the curse of McLaren”. It seems as if hardly a race has gone by in 2005 without at least one of the McLarens suffering some race-ruining trauma. If it weren’t for that, perhaps there would still be a drivers’ championship battle to speak of. But, as Tremayne notes, “If Alonso repeats today’s achievement of scoring three points more than Raikkonen…it is over”.
As usual, the real interest is in where the scond-billed F1 story after the main feature lies. For Tremayne it is Antonio Pizzonia’s solid, if unspectacular, drive to seventh. He has found himself, “suddenly in demand,” according to Tremayne.
Everyone’s favourite cardigan-wearers at The Guardian find more editorial capital in the Ferrari/Marlboro contract extension story as noted in our news blog. The crux of the matter, as Alan Henry notes, is whether F1 cars with tobacco branding can legally be broadcast within the European Union.
With the Daily Mirror you rather get the feeling that the headline was plucked from a cache of quotes dreamed up before the season even began: “Young buck’s fizz” is the pun du jour above a predictable shot of Fernando Alonso drinking champagne. The cursory coverage, punctuated with a motorbike racing story, is nothing to write home about.
It’s by-the-number stuff at the Daily Mail too: “Sweat and tears” is a less-than-half-hearted headline from Ray Matts, whose write-up leaves you with the distinct impression that he had better things to do than visit motor sport’s mecca last Sunday. At least the Daily Star could be bothered to find an angle: “Schu hands over crown” is almost poetic by their standards.
The big story at Monza, of course, was Raikkonen’s eternal misfortune yet again inflicting mortal damage on his championship hopes. In The Sun David Facey (Stan Piecha absent for a second week) has no qualms about hailing Raikkonen as “the fastest driver in Formula One,” and suggests Ron Dennis’ efforts to keep him at McLaren despite their woeful unreliability may cost them more than Michael Schumacher’s retainer at Ferrari.
The Times, scrupulously dotting the i’s, a’s and o’s in Raikkonen as usual, paint the faintly comic picture of Michael Schumacher nursing a stiff drink after the Italian race. Like most papers, they pay tribute to Juan Pablo Montoya, who might have been forgien a few promotional Johnnie Walkers after nursing his McLaren home at 320kph with a disintegrating tyre.
The less said about the UK terrestrial television coverage the better. The camerawork was dire, and ITV made things little better as commentator Mark Blundell made a laughably one-sided case against his former CART rival Montoya for his clash with Tiago Monteiro at Turkey. As usual, Martin Brundle was the only positive aspect to the commentary team.