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GP Week : Issue 63
LEWIS Hamilton's exit from the Italian Grand Prix showed, if there was ever a doubt in anyone's mind, that the guy simply doesn't understand the concept of giving up. As the cheers went up from the tifosi in the grandstand opposite the media centre in Monza, and indeed around the entire Autodromo, the reigning world champion sat calmly in what remained of his McLaren, apologising to his team for throwing away a certain podium. The team's reaction said it all. Sure they were disappointed, but they understood why it had happened. Lewis had a sniff at second and he'd wanted to give it his best shot. He'd wanted to push until the chequered flag had fallen. As he explained after the race, the laps after his final pit- stop had been a run of qualifying laps, on the ragged edge. As Martin Whitmarsh explained, if a driver is constantly giving 100 percent, he can sometimes give 101 percent. But it is for that very reason that Hamilton is the reigning world champion. Overtaking Timo Glock at the final corner on the final lap in Interlagos last year is what sealed the championship for the McLaren driver. It is part of Hamilton's character. It is what sets him out from the rest of the bunch. It is what defines him as a champion and as a man. It is also why Heikki Kovalainen won't be his team-mate next season. The Finn's performance in Monza reinforced the ever-cementing opinion that he just isn't bubbling with the same kind of intensity as Hamilton. On a one-stop strategy he dropped behind four other drivers on the same strategy with minimal effort to hold position. It just wasn't good enough. Like much of the likeable Finn's career, his performance in Monza fell way below expectations. At the same time, Rubens Barrichello was shooting off to win his second race of the season. In the autumn, and some might say winter, of his racing career the Brazilian is having the season of his life and stands a very real shot at the title. That never-say-die attitude, that same determination to push until every hope has gone, is what has seen him amass more F1 starts than all other drivers in history, and it is a mindset which could see him crowned champion in 2009. There was another standout performance in Monza. It was that of Tonio Liuzzi. While his team-mate Adrian Sutil recorded a fourth place finish from a front row start, it is worth remembering that Sutil has been racing all season and knows the Force India well. For Liuzzi, this was his first race weekend in F1 for a year and a half. It was at his home Grand Prix, and it came off the back of the incredible Force India result in Spa, and he hadn't done any real testing. While the world watched how Fisichella got on in a Ferrari, his compatriot Liuzzi took his Force India into the top 10 in qualifying. He took it to the verge of a podium position. And then his driveshaft broke. One hopes his weekend will not go under the radar, as his incredible talent has done for far too long. Three very different races, but all delivered by the same kind of driver. In the end, those who never give up, who throw the dice even when they could lose it all, are the ones who stand to make the greatest gains. And it is a pleasure to watch them all race. Pos # Driver Team Laps Time Grid 1 23 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 53 1:16:21.706s 5 2 22 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 53 +2.8s 6 3 4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 53 +30.6s 3 4 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes53 +31.1s 2 5 7 Fernando Alonso Renault 53 +59.1s 8 6 2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 53 +60.6s 4 7 6 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 53 +82.4s 15 8 15 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 53 +85.4s 9 9 3 Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari 53 +86.8s 14 10 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 53 +162.1s 17 11 10 Timo Glock Toyota 53 +163.9s 16 12 1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 52 Accident 1 13 12 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 52 +1 Lap 19 14 9 Jarno Trulli Toyota 52 +1 Lap 11 15 8 Romain Grosjean Renault 52 +1 Lap 12 16 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 51 +2 Laps 18 Ret 21 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes22 Transmission 7 Ret 11 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 19 Gearbox 20 Ret 5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 15 Engine 13 Ret 14 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 0 Accident 10 FORMULA 1 Round 13 MONZA Points -- Drivers: Button 80, Barrichello 66, Vettel 54, Webber 51.5, Raikkonen 40, Rosberg 30.5, Hamilton 27, Trulli 22.5, Massa 22, Kovalainen 20, Glock 16. Manufacturers: Brawn 146, Red Bull 105.5, Ferrari 62, McLaren 47, Toyota 38.5, Williams-Toyota 30.5, BMW Sauber 20, Renault 20, Force India 13. The 11-tenths drivers opinion WILL BUXTON GPWeek Editor F1 ITALY >> 29