Vettel looks a likely winner, rain or shine

2013 Italian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monza, 2013For all his caution over the potential of the Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel must have felt confident about his chances of taking pole position at Monza. In Q1 and Q2 he left it late to join the track, saving tyres in case he needed them later.

But he can’t have imagined his closest championship rivals would make life quite so easy for him. Lewis Hamilton, to his credit, blamed himself first for a scrappy showing in Q2 which saw him fail to reach the final ten, even though Adrian Sutil didn’t help matters.

Lotus seem to have completely lost their way since yesterday. Neither of their drivers improved on their Friday time in this morning’s practice, and both were knocked out in Q2 as well.

Fernando Alonso at least made it as far as the final ten. But while he insisted to the media that everything had gone according to plan, it was clear that the team’s slipstreaming tactics should have seen him at minimum in front of his team mate, and certainly not behind the Ferrari-engined Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg.

That puts Vettel in a strong position for tomorrow’s race, though not an impregnable one – particularly as rain is forecast for tomorrow.

The start

Monza presents the drivers with one of the trickiest first corners of the year: a straight blast towards a sharp, narrow chicane. Even when a driver makes a good start, it can be difficult for them to capitalise on it due to the narrow width of the track.

Red bull have locked out the front row for the first time since the season began in Australia. While Vettel has consistently got away from the line well, Mark Webber has produced a mixture of strong and poor starts this year. He could end up pressuring his team mate into the first corner, or he might already be staring at the rear wing of a Ferrari by the first corner.

The Ferraris tend to get away very strong at the start, and will be poised to put pressure on the two RB9s. However the straight-line speed advantage they enjoyed over their rivals on Friday has diminished since then (see below).

Strategy

With rain threatening tomorrow’s race there will inevitably be speculation over which drivers have made the biggest concessions to mixed conditions. It is striking, for example, that both Force Indias are now at the bottom of the speed trap figures, suggesting they’ve added wing.

Thunderstorms are expected in the morning and again around the start of the race. Rain is a rarity the Italian Grand Prix. The only race to see sustained, heavy rain in recent decades was the 2008 grand prix which was won by Vettel – little comfort for his rivals.

Should it stay dry the usual Monza one-stop strategy should apply, though last year the Mercedes drivers visited the pits twice.

Here’s all the data from qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’24.319 1’23.977 (-0.342) 1’23.755 (-0.222)
2 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’24.923 1’24.263 (-0.660) 1’23.968 (-0.295)
3 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1’24.776 1’24.305 (-0.471) 1’24.065 (-0.240)
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’24.950 1’24.479 (-0.471) 1’24.132 (-0.347)
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’24.661 1’24.227 (-0.434) 1’24.142 (-0.085)
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’24.527 1’24.393 (-0.134) 1’24.192 (-0.201)
7 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1’24.655 1’24.290 (-0.365) 1’24.209 (-0.081)
8 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’24.635 1’24.592 (-0.043) 1’24.502 (-0.090)
9 Jenson Button McLaren 1’24.739 1’24.563 (-0.176) 1’24.515 (-0.048)
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’24.630 1’24.575 (-0.055) 1’28.050 (+3.475)
11 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1’24.819 1’24.610 (-0.209)
12 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’24.589 1’24.803 (+0.214)
13 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’24.737 1’24.848 (+0.111)
14 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’25.030 1’24.932 (-0.098)
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’24.905 1’25.011 (+0.106)
16 Paul di Resta Force India 1’25.009 1’25.077 (+0.068)
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1’25.226
18 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1’25.291
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1’26.406
20 Charles Pic Caterham 1’26.563
21 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1’27.085
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1’27.480

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Sebastian Vettel 27.373 (1) 28.278 (1) 27.916 (1)
Mark Webber 27.441 (3) 28.351 (2) 28.133 (4)
Nico Hulkenberg 27.560 (9) 28.457 (6) 28.048 (2)
Felipe Massa 27.484 (6) 28.380 (4) 28.255 (7)
Fernando Alonso 27.447 (4) 28.467 (8) 28.197 (6)
Nico Rosberg 27.507 (7) 28.369 (3) 28.307 (9)
Daniel Ricciardo 27.440 (2) 28.651 (12) 28.105 (3)
Sergio Perez 27.622 (11) 28.457 (6) 28.299 (8)
Jenson Button 27.635 (12) 28.440 (5) 28.334 (10)
Jean-Eric Vergne 27.552 (8) 28.704 (13) 28.141 (5)
Kimi Raikkonen 27.567 (10) 28.591 (11) 28.336 (11)
Lewis Hamilton 27.474 (5) 28.482 (9) 28.360 (13)
Romain Grosjean 27.645 (13) 28.711 (14) 28.379 (15)
Adrian Sutil 27.790 (16) 28.579 (10) 28.451 (16)
Pastor Maldonado 27.675 (14) 28.751 (16) 28.366 (14)
Paul di Resta 27.818 (17) 28.718 (15) 28.337 (12)
Esteban Gutierrez 27.832 (18) 28.916 (17) 28.457 (17)
Valtteri Bottas 27.784 (15) 28.939 (18) 28.493 (18)
Giedo van der Garde 28.150 (20) 29.322 (19) 28.934 (19)
Charles Pic 28.148 (19) 29.343 (20) 29.047 (20)
Jules Bianchi 28.398 (21) 29.418 (21) 29.212 (21)
Max Chilton 28.539 (22) 29.426 (22) 29.406 (22)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 340.4 (211.5)
2 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 340.0 (211.3) -0.4
3 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 339.8 (211.1) -0.6
4 Max Chilton Marussia 338.6 (210.4) -1.8
5 Jules Bianchi Marussia 338.6 (210.4) -1.8
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 338.4 (210.3) -2.0
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 338.3 (210.2) -2.1
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 338.1 (210.1) -2.3
9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 337.8 (209.9) -2.6
10 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 337.8 (209.9) -2.6
11 Romain Grosjean Lotus 337.1 (209.5) -3.3
12 Pastor Maldonado Williams 336.8 (209.3) -3.6
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams 336.4 (209.0) -4.0
14 Mark Webber Red Bull 336.3 (209.0) -4.1
15 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 336.1 (208.8) -4.3
16 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 335.7 (208.6) -4.7
17 Jenson Button McLaren 331.8 (206.2) -8.6
18 Sergio Perez McLaren 331.6 (206.0) -8.8
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 330.1 (205.1) -10.3
20 Charles Pic Caterham 329.8 (204.9) -10.6
21 Adrian Sutil Force India 327.2 (203.3) -13.2
22 Paul di Resta Force India 326.8 (203.1) -13.6

Over to you

Can anyone keep Vettel from his sixth win of the year? Will Alonso get his fourth podium at Monza for Ferrari?

Share your views on the Italian Grand Prix in the comments.

2013 Italian Grand Prix

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41 comments on Vettel looks a likely winner, rain or shine

  1. Paul A (@paul-a) said on 7th September 2013, 16:49

    I was going to suggest: either Wet or Vet — you obviously suggest both :)

  2. McLaren and Force India have clearly gone for wetter set-ups it seems.

    Interesting that Hülkenberg was also slower than the Red Bull’s though: if he’s got a wet set-up and is starting from where he is then maybe, just maybe, he could challenge for a win.

    The Red Bull’s have plenty of downforce though, so that’s not really a problem for them. It still looks to be a Vettel win.

    • Jeanrien (@jeanrien) said on 7th September 2013, 17:04

      @vettel1 Withmarsh almost tell it during his pitwall talk and I think they are right to do so. 8th and 9th is their quali place anyway so they didn’t lose too much apparently and it can be a gain tomorrow, let’s see. Don’t think it’s enough for them to win though but with those 2 and some rain, we never know …

      • @jeanrien so do I – they’ve got almost nothing to lose and everything to gain. They were only likely to score low-end points anyway, so if they can get higher than 5th because of being better prepared for the wet then it’s a victory as far as they’re concerned for the circumstances they’re in at the moment!

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 7th September 2013, 22:46

      But *do* the Bulls have downforce? It’s clear from the speedtraps at Monza and Spa they’re running a very low downforce package.

      • The grip And balance seems to be there, and plenty of it!

        That rb’s back looks so planted compared to Ferrari’s.

      • @optimaximal I’d say so: they’re not on McLaren’s levels by any means but they’re still pretty far down the speed traps, so they appear to have a decent amount of downforce. However, on the intermediate tyres the blown floor effect (which I assume is where most of their downforce is coming from judging by the size of their wings) will be reduced due to the increased radius whereas the wing surfaces will be effected minimally, so that puts McLaren in prime position.

        The weather reports also seem to be indicating there to be around 50% precipitation throughout the event…

    • Kiran Paul (@kiranppaul) said on 8th September 2013, 6:54

      If it rains, due to the wet setups in mclaren and force india ,they can score some points.
      Last yr in Brazil we saw how hulkenberg drove in damp conditions so may be he can have a good result as well.
      Extrem low downforce set up for toro rosso. Guess they will be praying for a dry race.
      But still i think redbull will be the team to watch out.

  3. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 7th September 2013, 16:52

    If it rains – anything goes

    If its dry – Vettel storming to an ‘easy’ win

  4. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 7th September 2013, 16:53

    Faultless team, faultless driver. There’s no other way to put it, really.

  5. Maciek (@maciek) said on 7th September 2013, 17:01

    Somebody get that Hulkenberg boy a decent car, please!

  6. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 7th September 2013, 17:18

    i expect more booing for vettel tomorrow… when he uncorks his champagne on 1st place at the podium

  7. George (@george) said on 7th September 2013, 17:30

    It is striking, for example, that both Force Indias are now at the bottom of the speed trap figures, suggesting they’ve added wing

    They were also buzzing heavily into the limiter, they must have gambled hard on rain

  8. Lotus and Hamilton would be stupid not to start on the hards. They have to try something different.

  9. Jason (@saint-jay) said on 7th September 2013, 18:28

    “Yay”

  10. Broom (@brum55) said on 7th September 2013, 20:15

    Wow, another classic world championship.

  11. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 7th September 2013, 20:37

    Hoping for a bit of rain to make things interesting. Either way, it’s Vettel’s to lose, but you never know what will happen once the lights go out and the cars are driven in anger.

  12. Bazza Spock (@bazza-spock) said on 8th September 2013, 1:10

    Should we get a pool going on how many spots mark drops in the 1st lap? It’s morbid I know. Rain or no I say he’s in P6 at the start of lap 2.

  13. New tyres, amazing traction, rear limited circuit and Vettel are really the perfect combination even if the straights won’t help much.

  14. iAltair (@ialtair) said on 8th September 2013, 5:22

    If it rains, can he repeat a 2008?

  15. Himmat said on 8th September 2013, 6:30

    What bugs me most is that Spa/Monza used to be Red Bull’s Achilles heels’. But now….they’re absolutely trouncing their opponents at these two circuits.

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