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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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty

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

  1. I hope it is a Grande Weekend for Alonso

  2. Red Bull will run a 1.000 km tyre test at Barcelona next week. 2011 car. 2014 tyres. Buemi & Ricciardo.

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