F1: Italian Grand Prix liveblog

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, September 13th, 2009

 
 

So here we are. A bit battered and bruised, and fleeing to the backup site to make sure we don’t fall over during the race, but ready to go with the Italian Grand Prix liveblog.

What are we expecting this morning? Well, Lewis Hamilton’s pole to prove a little bit shaky, for a start, KERS or no KERS.

When the fuel weights were published both he and Sutil were shown to have been running quite light, presumably with a two-stopper in mind – which might reveal both of them, to coin an old phrase, to be all fur coat and no knickers once the battle’s underway.

And, of course, they have the lethal and equally KERS-equipped Kimi Raikkonen right behind them.

There are some cars further back that are looking to have an extremely promising race. One of them is the heavily-fuelled Kovalainen and the other two are the third-row Brawns of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello.

Brawn GP appears to have capitalised on the weekend a long way ahead of title rivals Red Bull who are making up the numbers in ninth and tenth.

Giancarlo Fisichella has found the Prancing Horse a little bit more difficult to ride than perhaps he was expecting, failing to make it out of Q2 on Saturday. But he seems to us to be getting better session by session – and he’s no Luca Badoer – so definitely one to watch.

Stick with us for the whole race — and don’t forget to keep refreshing to make sure you’re seeing the latest.

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Press conference: An exhausted-looking but extremely happy Barrichello says the race was won on the first lap. Button says the first lap was messy but he was pleased to make up a place, although very wary of the KERS cars. He calls his move on Kovalainen “much-needed” and says he would have been third or fourth behind him. He says he would rather be where Rubens is sitting but offers him very heartfelt and genuine congratulations.

Button says he was reasonably happy with his lap times when it came to holding off Hamilton. He says that the McLaren driver was pushing hard immediately behind his accident, with engineer Andrew Shovlin telling him to push, but says he feels his fellow Brit would have had a job overtaking. He says he doesn’t know what happened to Hamilton, whether it was a mistake or an accident.

Kimi is phlegmatic. But he does actually have to work quite hard not to crack a smile. On another personal note, this one unrelated to facial hair, elements of the Brits on Pole management would be happy to welcome him home to McLaren. Come on, Kimi. You know Woking will suit you so much better than Maranello.

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Post-race: Ross Brawn has been bodily dragged away from a rival broadcaster and in front of a BBC camera. “It’s always nervewracking when you are getting that close, but I felt we had it under control.” He said the team just had to hold its nerve and stick with what its analysis told it to do, in the face of not-very-spectacular results earlier in the weekend. He says that there will be a fair, open contest between who drivers who “are old enough” to fight it out between them. Of Rubens he says: “He has a steely look about him which I have seen before.” He says all the team can do for Button is to provide a calm, distraction-free working environment, otherwise it is for him to keep his head together. “We will now relax for about two hours.”

Whitmarsh comes on the telly to explain what felled Hamilton – no mechanical excuses, just “he lost it coming out of Lesmo.” He says the team is disappointed but also gives the strong impression that McLaren would rather be working with a proper racer than a mere points-collector.

Hamilton himself is interviewed. Says he is uninjured and that the car didn’t have the pace to take on the Brawns. He says he did all he could to try to take Button on, apologises to fans, sends his love to his family. He says the car has upgrades coming “so maybe I won’t have to push 130 per cent. Maybe I can just push 110 per cent.”

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Podium: Button comes out of this race with a 14-point margin over Barrichello. Hamilton ends up classified 12th. Points scorers behind the podium are Sutil, Alonso, Kovalainen, Heidfeld and Vettel. Button is smiling as he prepares for the podium ceremony but the commentators are speculating about the dilemma faced by Ross Brawn. We would, on a personal note, like to endorse Barrichello’s decision to have a shave. A huge cheer for the Brazilian as he comes out onto the podium but those awaiting a happy dance are sadly disappointed. And no Italian anthem for the Tifosi today – instead they have to listen to ours :D

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Lap 53: A nice sight for the Brawn fans, this, another one-two just when things were looking a bit grim. OH SHIT! Hamilton spins on the last lap and there’s debris strewn right across the track. Raikkonen and Sutil struggle for a clear line. Safety car – where will Hamilton be classified? Suddenly Raikkonen is gifted a podium. Sutil fourth. Hamilton shown walking disconsolately down the road and it looks like he dropped the bloody car at Lesmo 2 with a wheel into the astroturf. His own fault, the silly boy. Not world champion behaviour. Now Vettel has a point.

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Lap 52: Kovalainen closing the gap to Alonso but we don’t expect him to pull it off.

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Lap 51: As you were, chaps. Hamilton’s challenge on Button still alive but he hasn’t left himself long, has he? It’ll take an error from Button and we don’t expect that.

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Lap 50: Points at present are Barrichello, Button, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Sutil, Alonso, Kovalainen, Heidfeld. Behind them Vettel and Fisi then Nakajima, Glock, Buemi, Trullli, Grosjean, Rosberg.

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Lap 49: Trulli does manage to rejoin and keep racing at the cost of a place. Alonso is setting personal bests.

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Lap 48: Hamilton still pushing Button as hard as he can. And a Toyota is off – did two of them have hit each other or was the accident-prone Nakajima implicated? The wooden spoon to those guys…

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Lap 47: Button sets a new personal best lap time but is still set to see his championship lead cut by two points. Fisi dropping back from Vettel. Six to go.

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Lap 46: Button picks speed up to deal with the threat of Hamilton and now it’s Barrichello under a modicum of pressure. He must be hoping to Christ that he took the right decision about that gearbox.

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Lap 45: Barrichello remains magnificently, unrufflably, in the lead as Button and Hamilton duke it out behind him.

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Lap 44: Rob Smedley is urging Fisichella to take advantage of Vettel’s slip and nick a place off him. 10 laps to go. Hamilton does the fastest first sector of the grand prix, Button responds by going a bit faster and closing up on Barrichello. Raikkonen and Sutil come up on traffic as the leaders start a new lap.

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Lap 43: Sutil is just four-tenths behind Raikkonen, who seems to be running frankly slow. We saw a brief yellow flag on the last lap – seems to have been Vettel running wide, but he recovered. Has left the track nice and dusty, however.

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Lap 42: Barrichello and Button lapping dead equal, Hamilton just a shade faster. Sutil is faster than Raikkonen but we don’t like his chances of getting past. He lost a right wing mirror, hacked off by the felled mechanic. Glock will be on the naughty step if he cuts another corner.

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Lap 41: Barrichello leads Button by more than five seconds but we don’t back Hamilton to calmly accept third place.

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Lap 40: That would seem to be all the pitstops. Heidfeld has got himself up to eighth and Fisi up to tenth. Vettel in ninth is out of the points whereas Barrichello and Button are assured of a good haul in anything other than disastrous circumstances.

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Lap 39: Barrichello leads from Button and Hamilton, then Raikkonen, Sutil, Alonso, Kovalainen, Glock, Heidfeld, Vettel, Fisi, Nakajima, Trulli, Buemi, Grosjean, Rosberg. Force India mechanics are reported sufficiently shaken to be in need of a calming ciggie, but otherwise unharmed. Toyotas are having a little race, but who cares really? It appears the team might have released Glock straight into his team-mate’s path.

– – – – –

Lap 38: Both Raikkonen and Sutil pit on this lap. Kimi’s pitstop has gone totally wrong and Sutil also said to have had problems. Raikkonen’s was the anti-stall and Sutil has run over a bloody mechanic. Amateur hour! Hamilton must be safe for third.

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Lap 37: Sutil sets a fastest lap of the race as the final pitstop window for the two-stoppers looms. It’s up to Raikkonen and Sutil to try to grab a podium off Hamilton now.

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Lap 36: Sutil gets badly out of shape and cuts a chicane. There’s a three strikes and you’re out rule in place this weekend to try to discourage that. Trulli pits.

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Lap 35: Hamilton pits, having locked a brake in order to avoid speeding in the pitlane. Very fast stop. He’s coming out side by side with Button but falls back on his cold tyres. Excellent result for Brawn. No doubt he’ll be using that KERS button to try to fight Jense for the place now.

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Lap 34: Button seems to have lost a mysterious couple of seconds behind Barrichello, so let’s hope that he’s not in for problems. Tyres? At the front of the race are Hamilton, Raikkonen, Sutil, Barrichello, Button, Alonso.

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Lap 33: Hamilton trying valiantly with another fastest laps that takes eight-tenths out of Barrichello. He’s around five seconds ahead of Raikkonen and six ahead of Sutil and really giving it his all in terms of trying to close the gap to the Brawns.

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Lap 32: Hamilton is asked which tyre he wants for the final stint and says the harder prime. James Allen is saying on Twitter that he’s halfway to the gap he needs from Barrichello to win the race. Only five laps to do it, so unlikely.

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Lap 31: Ferrari mechanics out for Fisi, who pits. Hamilton four seconds or so ahead of Raikkonen. Vettel thought to be on for points.

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Lap 30: Barrichello pits and hands the lead to Hamilton. Soft tyres and a 8.6-second stop – excellent stop from Brawn there. He comes out comfortably ahead of Button. Our current podium prediction is Barrichello, Button, Hamilton, but we could be shown up badly in the second stops.

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Lap 29: Button does a fast 9.1 second stop and comes out on a lovely clear track into fifth place. In front of him are three drivers who have to stop and his team-mate Barrichello. Now it’s all down to where Rubens comes out after his stop.

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Lap 28: Kovalainen has pitted for a 10-second stop. Vettel comes in for a similar stop, setting a standard for the one-stoppers. Kovi comes out in 11th behind Trulli and Nakajima and there’s a bit of pushing and shoving while he finds position. Button two-tenths up on Barrichello when he pits at the start of lap 29, as predicted.

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Lap 27: Halfway point, McLaren mechanics out for Kovalainen, one-stoppers’ pitstops begin with Alonso coming in. He comes out right in front of Nakajima in tenth. Barrichello puts in a sub-1.25 fastest lap of the race.

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Lap 26: Order is Barrichello, Button, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Alonso, Sutil, Kovalainen, Vettel, Heidfeld, Fisi, Nakajima, Trulli, Glock, Buemi, Grosjean, Rosberg. Retirements are Webber, Kubica, Alguersuari and Liuzzi.

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Lap 25: Hamilton in third 12.5 seconds down on Barrichello. Button making tiny inroads into Barrichello’s time.

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Lap 24: Hamilton leading Raikkonen by 4.4 seconds. Replay shows that Liuzzi didn’t crash – rather something went in his engine or gearbox. Good – he was driving a cracking race and really showing some of the other ‘rookies’ how to do it.

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Lap 23: Barrichello leads Button by 2.1 seconds. Will be very interesting, given Rubens’ previously-expressed discontent, to see how the team handles this pitstop. Hamilton being told he is not going fast enough. Whoops! Liuzzi parked up at the side of the track with a car that doesn’t look particularly damaged. He’s being pushed off the track by the stewards, so that’s the end of his race.

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Lap 22: Button has closed on Barrichello. You might think that the two Brawns were actually racing each other! Those cars look absolutely on the nail today.

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Lap 21: Alguersuari retires. Reports from the pitlane tell us that Ferrari are seriously worried about the Force India challenge. What a funny bloody sport this is.

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Lap 20: Raikkonen pits. Soft tyres, 7.2 seconds. He comes back into traffic, side by side with Liuzzi. He falls in behind the Force India driver and in front of Alonso. Fifth-place. Now it’s a Brawn 1-21 until they make their stops, expected at around lap 29. That they will now be expected to get the hammer down is almost too obvious to say.

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Lap 19: Button’s tyres seem to have come up – he’s set a personal best and is going faster than Barrichello, despite being behind him. Ferrari mechanics out for Raikkonen.

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Lap 18: Sutil pits, comes out seventh ahead of Kovalainen and behind the Liuzzi/Alonso battle. Hamilton inherits fourth as a result with Barrichello third, Button second and Raikkonen leading the race. Kovalainen has a look at Sutil but can’t get close.

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Lap 17: Liuzzi has a look at the heavily-fuelled and cool-tyred Hamilton but gets nowhere. A remarkably philosophical Webber is interviewed, saying he’s not really too sure what happened.

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Lap 16: Kubica is going back into his garage – the second retirement of the race. Nico Rosberg pits again.

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Lap 15: Hamilton pits from the lead. Stop is 7.8 seconds. He comes out onto a relatively clear track with a Brawn ahead of him. He’s fifth ahead of Liuzzi in fact, and McLaren has failed to mess up his race! Heavy graining reported on his used soft tyres.

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Lap 14: Kovalainen is well down on Hamilton in terms of pace – around a second and a half, although some of that is fuel weight. Hamilton leads Raikkonen by about six and a half seconds with Sutil less than a second behind. Commentators believe Sutil is actually faster in some sections but the KERS will probably keep him at bay unless Raikkonen makes a mistake.

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Lap 13: McLaren tell Hamilton that he will be going onto the prime tyre at his stop. He’s complaining breathlessly about a slight oversteer on the car. Team set to do pitwall checks on tyre pressures. He sets another fastest lap, however.

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Lap 12: Barrichello has excellent pace but Button isn’t so much in the game in fifth, with a gap opening up to his team-mate.

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Lap 11: Hamilton is building the gap that he needs to stay ahead of Raikkonen. The Finn is being caught by Sutil, however. Oh, revenge could be sweet here. Shades of Raikkonen’s inability to divest himself of Fisi last week.

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Lap 10: Kubica comes in. A new nose goes on the car but no tyres or fuel. Top eight is Hamilton, Raikkonen, Sutil, Barrichello, Button, Liuzzi, Alonso, Kovalainen. Vettel is ninth now Kubica has been pulled in and Heidfeld tenth, Fisichella, Nakajima, Trulli, Glock, Buemi, Algersuari, Grosjean, Kubica, Rosberg. Alonso catching Liuzzi.

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Lap 9: Hamilton has a four-second lead over Raikkonen but Raikkonen has a few laps more fuel. Game on. Barrichello’s speed is picking up but Button on softer tyres and it’s not happening for him.

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Lap 8: Brawn is warning both its drivers that they are going to put their foot down if they want to stay on the tail of Hamilton. Kubica is being told to come in and have his front wing replaced.

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Lap 7: Hamilton said to be lapping a second quicker than Barrichello and a second and a half quicker than Button. Vettel is still down in 10th, having lost a place from his start.

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Lap 6: Gap from Hamilton to Kovalainen is 15 seconds. This was another fastest lap from Hamilton.

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Lap 5: Kubica is revealed as the man who shunted out Webber. His front wing is showing damage but BMW are leaving him out, to the consternation of the race director.

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Lap 4: Possibly Kovalainen has waved goodbye to his 2010 drive. Hamilton is sticking down fastest lap after fastest lap. He’s building a small lead over Raikkonen. Rosberg is pitting with some kind of front wing damage and gets new tyres. Terrible weekend for Williams.

– – – – –

Lap 3: Fisichella has got himself up three places to 11th. Alonso has now got Kovalainen for sixth.

– – – – –

Lap 2: Liuzzi of all people now looking at Kovalainen. It’s Hamilton from Raikkonen from Sutil and then the Brawns. Liuzzi takes Kovalainen. Alonso, extremely aggressive at the start, is working his way up the field and, having passed Vettel, is having a go at the hapless Kovalainen.

– – – – –

Lap 1: Hamilton just hangs on to the lead despite strong challenges on both sides of his car. Sutil swallowed up but hangs on in third. Kovy has lost position immediately to Barrichello and tries to take them back but doesn’t get past. Raikkonen has got up to second and Barrichello third. Yellow flag as Mark Webber goes off. Kovy taken by Button, he’s just going backwards. Webber is out of the race.

– – – – –

Parade lap: Alguersuari due to start from the pitlane thanks to his gearbox change. He would have had a five-place penalty had he not been at the back anyway. Everyone else away without problems.

– – – – –

Grid walk: Hamilton expected in for his first pitstop on lap 15 and Button on lap 29.

Italian national anthem is played by an albeit stationary marching band – certainly better than Belgium’s folk singer. But a bit desultory. And maybe a bit tuneless? Or is that just us?

Rubens is tackled on his gearbox and says that the problem’s a bit overstated. Ecclestone says that he hopes Force India can win but refuses to be drawn on Renault. He says he’s not worried and it will be sorted out correctly. One of the least useful Bernie interviews we have ever heard, but what else could you expect?

Sutil happy to talk and sounds quite calm. “Always an advantage to start from the front row.” Few would argue. He acknowledges that he will have trouble with the KERS cars but refuses to rise to Brundle’s bait about the prospect of a smack in the rear from Kimi Raikkonen.

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Pre-race: A treat for all the cricket fans in the audience as the elusive Kevin Pietersen materialises in the Monza pitlane – something to do with the fact that he plays in the IPL for Vijay Mallya’s team. He’s had a major injury that’s kept him out of sight since halfway through the Ashes. With all the people who usually busily evade questions, the forthright South African is a breath of fresh air.

Jense says he’s not totting up points but aiming to win whenever he can. He describes the championship fight as “good fun” and says there would be no point in it at all if he wasn’t enjoying himself. He says he doesn’t read the negative stuff in newspapers – and good luck to him.

Jenson Button is interviewed by the BBC ‘s Jake Humphreys about whether he can hold his nerve to take the title. He says: “The season is very long. You are going to have ups and downs but it’s about trying to keep on top of it and perform as well as you can.” He points out that not even a driver like Michael Schumacher could be the best in every race.

Eddie Jordan: “I don’t want to speculate.” That’ll be a first, then.

Renault, Renault, Renault, Renault, Renault, Renault, Renault. There’s just an endless supply of nonsense to distract from the racing in this sport, isn’t there?

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