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GP Week : Issue 63
Team-By-Team: Italian Grand A weekend for Renault which was ruled by o -track events more than on-track competition, the team seemed to have other things on its mind. Not surprising, really, given all of the mud-slinging going on between them and the Piquets, and the continual rumours over Fernando Alonso and the worst kept secret in F1 that he'll be moving to Ferrari. Renault's drivers, however, simply got on with their jobs and were both in the top three by the end of Friday. In qualifying Grosjean narrowly missed the cut for Q3, but Alonso was well within the top 10. Grosjean's race was messy, with a bad start and contact at the first corner damaging his car and affecting its race- long handling. Alonso drove well but couldn't get past Liuzzi until he retired. A fifth position at the flag was a great result. Toyota started o their weekend with a pretty solid run in practice which left them not overly con dent, but not incredibly worried about their weekend prospects. The TF109 seemed to run well over the new kerbs and there was a general feeling that the weekend would go okay. In the end, Glock failed to make it out of Q1, and Trulli missed the cut for Q3 in 11th, so all was not as well as at first thought. The ultimate opinion was that the race was going to be tricky. It was. Glock took 12th and Trulli came home 14th after an afternoon in which the Toyota drivers seemed to have only each other to race against. At one point the duo nearly put each other out, causing much mirth in the media centre, but increased heart rates on the Toyota pit wall. A pretty disappointing weekend all in all. With KERS enabled on both cars, Monza with its long straights and chicanes was always going to suit McLaren. Both Hamilton and Kovalainen had been encouraged by practice, and were hopeful of a good weekend. Grid positions of fifth for the Finn and a magnificent pole for Hamilton showed that the potential was there to make the most of Monza. The team hedged their bets with strategy, placing Kovalainen on a one- stopper, and he struggled. Hamilton led much of the race, but his two-stop strategy left him third and needing to use his KERS to catch Button. This he did, but then pushed too much, ending his race in the wall on the very last lap. Still, much promise for the last few races of the year. With both drivers in the top 10, BMW had reason to be cheerful after practice, and its not often we've been able to say that this season. BMW has always gone well at Monza, and hopes were high of a respectable weekend. Then came qualifying, and it all went wrong. Both cars got to Q2, and both were promptly left stranded at the side of the track with engine failures. Nightmare. In the race, Kubica tangled with Webber on the first lap and had to pit for a new nose and front wing after being shown the black and orange flag, despite not dropping that much pace. He retired soon after. Heidfeld, however, drove from 15th on the grid to seventh at the chequered flag. A great result in the circumstances, and some valuable points for BMW's tally. Ferrari. Monza. The tifosi. And a new driver in Giancarlo Fisichella. Of course it was a dream for the Italian to be making his debut in these circumstances, but the fate of Italy's new favourite son showed just how incredible the di erences between modern F1 cars truly are. In Spa two weeks ago and in different cars, Raikkonen and Fisichella had matched each other lap for lap. In Monza, Raikkonen had the advantage of understanding KERS and the front wing flaps. And so it was little surprise that the Finn qualified and raced better to finish on the podium. Although not scoring points, Fisichella bedded himself in far better than Luca Badoer did, and is likely to be properly on the pace when the circus gets to Singapore. 30