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GP Week : Issue 166
TO PUT SERGIO’S PACE INTO PERSPECTIVE, THOUGH, IMAGINE A RACE IN WHICH ALL OF THE Q3 RUNNERS HAD BEEN ABLE TO START ON PRIMES AND THEN SWITCH TO OPTIONS. " 26 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> MONZA 26 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: the steering even as he lifted only a fraction. Monza momentarily ceased to breathe. Fernando backed away and calmly pressed his radio button: “OK. That’s enough....” He waited and teased, waited and teased, wondering now if he had damaged the underside at all. The car felt slightly less grippy on the slow corners, slightly less stable under braking; he needed to be super-precise with everything he did. And then there came a more open door: Seb, now ‘under investigation’, slowed markedly. Fernando – again at the Lesmos – made the pass. Then, for easing Fernando off the road, came a drive-through penalty for Seb. Felipe would slow to let Fernando pass; that was never in doubt – and Fernando was quicker, anyway, in the later stage of the race, when they were both on hard tyres. Jenson lost a sure second place with a fuel pick-up problem. Fernando would after all finish as high as P2. Or would he? Monza had not yet released its grip on Fernando’s weekend. Sergio Perez’s traffic issue in Q2 had allowed him to start on Pirelli primes. He drove beautifully in his first stint, running longer even than the meticulously-driven McLarens, and thus alone amongst the high-end of the field – in this one-stop race – faced the closing laps on relatively fresh Pirelli options. He maximised them. He pumped out lap after brilliant lap, free road or other wise. He caught Felipe and passed him into the Parabolica, where he was perhaps five or six mph faster on entry. To the dismay of Monza he did likewise to Fernando. There was nothing to do; Pirelli options, at that stage of the race, were a huge bonus, the more so because the fastest way to race Monza was with only one stop for tyres. To put Sergio’s pace into perspective, though, imagine a race in which all of the Q3 runners had been able to start on primes and then switch to options. That is what Kamui Kobayshi should be telling himself as he comes to terms with the differences between his own race and Sergio’s. Lewis from the start of the year has always been the driver most likely to race Fernando hardest to the 2012 World Championship – and so it proved at Monza, where he bit a 10-point chunk from Fernando’s lead. It could have been more, though; much more. Fernando after all faced the podium crowd, TV camera aloft, with his day safe and secure. Despite the problems on Friday or the roll-bar on Saturday. Despite the gear ratios, despite the Vettel pass. And Monza itself could rest again. It’s quiet now, down at the Parabolica, down amongst the trees and the fallen leaves. The track is empty, the litter swept away. The red car, though, the blue helmet angled back slightly, still lingers, vivid in the memory. For more of Windsor on F1 watch The Flying Lap live every week on http://smibs.tv