There is no race on the F1 calender more important to Ferrari fans than the Italian Grand Prix, and Ferrari turned in a memorable performance at this year’s event. Fernando Alonso started things off on a good note by winning the pole for Sunday’s race. His Ferrari teammate, Felipe Massa was behind him on the grid, in the third starting position.
Jenson Button, starting from second position in his McLaren Mercedes, out-dueled Alonso through the first chicane to take the lead. It looked to be game over for Ferrari, since Alonso couldn’t quite muster the speed to pass Button’s car. The Ferrari was noticeably faster on the straights, but the higher downforce McLaren Mercedes was faster in the corners. It took an epic pit stop on behalf of Alonso’s crew to get him out in front of Button, and the race finished with a win for Alonso, a second place for Button and a third place finish for Massa. If you were a Ferrari fan, it was time to break out the chianti.
The points lead changed hands when Lewis Hamilton tried an ill-advised pass on Massa during the first lap. Hamilton’s McLaren Mercedes had no chance of overtaking Massa’s Ferrari, and Hamilton simply ran out of track. Massa’s left rear wheel made contact with Hamilton’s right front wheel, destroying the front suspension and ending Hamilton’s race at the second chicane. With Hamilton unable to capture any driver’s championship points, the lead in the standings now goes to Red Bull Renault’s Mark Webber with 187 points. Hamilton is in second, with 182, followed by Fernando Alonso with 166, Jenson Button with 165 and Webber’s Red Bull teammate, Sebastian Vettel, with 162.
Twenty four points separate the top five drivers with only five races remaining. If the Red Bull Renault team can continue their early season dominance, then both Webber and Vettel still have a shot at the title. If Hamilton continues to make bold but futile pass attempts, Button could indeed repeat as the World Driver Champion. Alonso, himself a former world champion, remains the wild card and is still in a position to take this year’s title. The only certainty is this: the last five races will certainly prove to be entertaining.