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GP Week : Issue 63
d Prix, Monza After the highs of Spa, there was every reason to think that Monza was going to be an almighty let down. Fisichella, the pole and podium hero of Belgium had departed for Ferrari, and into his place stepped a driver who hadn't been racing in F1 for 18 months. As it turned out, the team as a whole looked possibly even better in Monza than it had in Spa. Sutil topped two practice sessions before grabbing second on the grid, while Liuzzi bedded himself in softly, and then grabbed seventh in quali. In the race the Italian was robbed of points with a broken driveshaft, while Sutil's botched pit-stop cost him a podium. His pace comparative to Raikkonen, however, will give everyone reason to be cheerful. Williams arrived in Monza expecting little from the weekend. With such lofty ambitions, it was little surprise they barely even registered ... again. Rosberg was much in demand over the weekend as rumours continue to link him with a move to one of the Mercedes teams in 2010, but he showed no reason for people to get overly excited in Monza. Nakajima out-qualified him on Saturday with the duo lining up 17th and 18th on the grid. Nakajima moved up the field to finish 10th after a spirited drive, while Rosberg picked up damage and finished 16th. Williams will no doubt now be awaiting the arrival of newly-crowned GP2 champion Hulkenberg to fill one of their seats next season, and bring a breath of fresh air with him. On a weekend when Brawn was back to its best, Red Bull fell to pieces. Only in Australia and Valencia had the team failed to score points, but Monza very nearly became their third non-score weekend of the season. Had it not been for Lewis Hamilton's last-lap crash, Vettel wouldn't even have made it into the points. Webber was dinged out on the first lap after he turned in on Kubica at the second chicane, but the Red Bulls hadn't looked on it at any distinct point of the Italian Grand Prix. With four races to go, anything can happen. It will take a miracle, however, for Red Bull's drivers to come back from this. They've failed to capitalise when Brawn has struggled and have completely flopped when Brawn got back on top. While Sebastien Buemi is now an "experienced" F1 racer, with three quarters of a season under his belt, Jaime Alguersuari admitted he had struggled to get to grips with Monza and the low downforce con guration on his car. Qualifying, however, was worse than even the team's worst nightmare might have predicted. Alguersuari was 20th and Buemi was 19th. Ouch. Alguersuari never saw the chequered flag in the race itself. He started form the pit-lane and retired with gearbox troubles. Buemi raced hard to finish 13th, but he is hoping that the team returns to form on tracks with slightly more downforce later in the season. Not an easy weekend by any stretch of the imagination, at the very circuit where the team took its maiden race win 12 months ago. After the disappointment of Spa, Brawn knew it had a mountain to climb in Monza. Fighting against the KERS cars of Ferrari and McLaren was always going to be tough, and the prospect of Force India also getting into the mix and taking more points away, left Brawn worried. What the team did was ingenious. A heavy qualifying session for a one stop strategy in the race handed the team not just victory but a famous 1-2. Barrichello, in spite of his heavier fuel load, proved quicker than Button in quali and dutifully went on to win his second race of the year. Button was almost caught by Hamilton for second, but when the champion crashed he was able to bring it all home to remain on top of the standings with four race weekends to go. F1 ITALY >> 31