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F1 Race Review: Italian GP 2008

The last time the German Anthem sounded in F1, it was for the invincible Michael Schumacher at Shanghai two years ago. And, come Sunday, what nostalgia was it, to hear it again in combination with the ‘Il Canto degli Italiani’ that we so much so associate with Ferrari. Only this time around it was played for Sebastian Vettel and the Ferrari powered Toro Rosso after a win in treacherous wet conditions that broke many records!

Autodromo Nazionale Monza was at its wettest in the recent years. The damp qualifier saw bigwigs Kimi, Lewis and Kubica not even making it to Q3 as the trio started their run late. While the McLarens set the pace in Q1, ultimate pole sitter Vettel was close behind in third. The latter though, was a class unto himself in Q2 and Q3 as conditions got treacherous. To close, the tifosi had to be content with a Ferrari powered team on P1!

With conditions not improving on Sunday, the race started behind the safety car. Vettel’s team mate Bourdais stalled from P4 and started from the pit lane. After Bernd Maylander pulled his CLK63 AMG into the pits, Vettel without the spray in front of him and with a low downforce setting giving him a good speed on straights managed to pull ahead of Heikki and went on building his lead as the track started drying and cars shifted to inters.

Down the order, Lewis went on gobbling car after car to get ahead up to second before his one-pit stop where a rain prediction by his team put him on extreme wets. If not for a drying track compelling him to pit for inters, a podium was surely up for grabs. After the brush with the stewards at spa, Lewis didn’t cut chicanes this time but played borderline Schumacher-esque aggression in this moves, once deliberately touching poor Alonso.

Another driver good in the wet, Robert Kubica has his helmet painted in Italian colors for this week, owing to his Italian upbringing. He too stormed past cars bravely to bag third. For Ferrari, Massa could only manage fourth, but at least it was to his solace that Lewis was behind him, albeit by one place. Kimi, for all that he tried in a Ferrari that didn’t efficiently heat its tyres, a ninth was his second serial no-point finish. Call it hard luck!

Vettel is much beyond the hype or for the fact that Schumi himself has praised this prodigy. The 21-year old is now the youngest in the following in F1: to score a point, race lead, pole, podium and win! Guess who held four of these five records before Vettel? Fernando Alonso! No wonder, the latter especially came up to congratulate Vettel after the win! And just imagine, the first time Vettel is on the podium; he’s got to the top step!

With just four flyaway races left at Singapore, Fuji, Shanghai and Interlagos, Lewis with 78 is now just one point ahead of Massa in what is seemingly a two horse race. With 40 points up for grabs, who knows, Kubica and Kimi with 64 and 57 may have a chance too. In the team table, the prancing horse leads with 134; McLaren and BMW are at 129 and 117. Brace yourselves for the first ever night race in F1 two weeks hence at Singapore!
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