Rain on Saturday and Sunday mixed the order up at Monza in 2008, with the main championship protagonists struggling, giving a lively mixed up race which saw plenty of wheel to wheel action, and a new star emerge for Formula One.
But this weekend see’s the Tifosi willing their top driver Sebastian Vettel on for a win at the hallowed ‘Cathedral of Speed’ that is the Monza circuit in the heart of Ferrari country. The question is, off the back of a very convincing performance at the high speed circuit of Spa, can they go one better at Monza?
Sebastian has known the passion of the Tifosi before, his only win at the circuit in an Italian car albeit in a Toro Rosso. Lets take a trip down memory lane and revisit that incredible victory, his first of many wins in fact.
During the Grand Prix in 2008 Ferrari were down the order, but it was an Italian team powered by Ferrari who would take the glory. A fresh-faced Sebastian Vettel would emerge from the haze to become the youngest F1 race winner at that time. His first win came with Toro Rosso, and was of course Ferrari powered, at Monza of all places! It is still Toro Rosso’sonly win in Formula One to date, and was the first win for an Italian team other than Ferrari since 1957, when Juan Manuel Fangio took victory for Maserati.
After a damp qualifying, Vettel had become F1’s youngest polesitter, with Heikki Kovalainen lining up alongside him on the front row for McLaren. Mark Webber was third for the senior Red Bull squad with Vettel’s Toro Rosso team mate Sebastien Bourdais in fourth. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was back in sixth, but he fared better than both his team mate Kimi Raikkonen, who lined up in 14th place, and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who had to settle for 16th place, after they both had taken the wrong tyre for the start of the wet qualifying session, and failed to set a time before the track conditions deteriorated.
The race too was held under wet conditions, with the race started under the safety car. When the safety car pulled in Vettel kept the lead, using the clear track and better visibility to his advantage, and he coasted serenely clear to his first win, only losing the lead during the pit stops. Behind, Vettel’s team mate Bourdais was in trouble from the get go, his car not starting on the grid, the unfortunate Frenchman being rolled into the pits as the cars pulled off the grid and losing a lap and falling out of contention immediately.
In the spray behind Vettel there was plenty of action on track, but the end result saw the championship contenders fail to pose a threat. Felipe Massa may well look back on this race as a lost opportunity, he seemed to play it all too safe in the slippery conditions and to come home in sixth, while his championship rival Lewis Hamilton minimised the damage to his title hopes by charging through the field to come just one place behind Massa in 7th. Kimi Raikkonen, who like Hamilton had gotten his Saturday all wrong, had a pointless race to 9th place.
Behind Vettek, the podium was completed by McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen in second place, withRobert Kubica taking third for BMW-Sauber after the conditions went his way, his single planned stop allowing him to change to intermediate tyres at just the right moment. But the day was all about Toro Rosso and F1’s new youngest race winner, the emerging talent of one Sebastian Vettel.