Simon Knights: Italian Grand Prix Talking Points

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Just seven days on from the Belgian Grand Prix, and the Formula One roadshow took the short trip down to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix. Despite the repercussions of Spa still being felt, there was fresh talk in the paddock, with Lewis Hamilton’s future the topic of debate. 


With a whole ‘should he stay, or should he go?’ debate swirling, the Italian Grand Prix was given a little added spice. 


Below are just a few points from the weekend. 


Hamilton Sets The Ball Rolling With A Dominant Drive 


Lewis Hamilton’s future was THE talking point of the weekend, and while everyone appeared pre-occupied with his next drive, the Brit put it all aside and drove superbly to a third win of the season.


Hamilton has received a great deal of stick this season, and some of it rightfully given, but when he stops the petulance and self-sabotage, and focuses on his racing, there are not too many better than him.


Where his future lies, only he knows, but if he continues to drive the way he did around Monza, then both McLaren and Mercedes will pay top dollar to have him. And if that is the case, then figures swirling around of £60m over three-years and £100m over five-years aren’t far off the mark.


However, if rumours of Michael Schumacher’s second retirement are true, it will open up an exciting opportunity for Lewis. Another factor may well be McLaren’s obligation to pay for engines from Mercedes from 2013 onwards, a shift which will surely impact on the team’s finances?


Perez Driving Himself Into A Seat With Ferrari


For me Perez was the driver of the day. An inspired tactic with a Sauber car which is over-performing, showed once again that this is a great match between team and driver, and it is no wonder that Ferrari have been linked with snatching him away.


Perez has certainly been one of the surprise packages this season, and despite Luca de Montezemolo and Stefano Domenicali suggesting earlier in the season that he was not ready for a seat at Ferrari, they would have seriously reconsidered their stance when he flew past both of their drivers to grab an impressive second place.


For Perez and Sauber it looks like it will come down to a question of ambition. The team have the chance to build something special with a very talented driver, but if he decides that he has greater ambitions then he will leave. 


Vettel’s Penalty Rightly Deserved 


Last weekend, the talk was centred around safety in F1, and touched on the role of the drivers as much as the build of the cars. I made the point that while I didn’t necessarily feel that a one-race ban for Grosjean was correct, there needs to be greater education for young drivers. 


Vettel’s decision to push Alonso off of the road was a touch reckless, and given the nature of last week’s punishment, a drive-though penalty is probably the right call. However, education needs to come from below in the support race series in order to ensure that there is a safer element to driving. 


Massa Deserved A Better Weekend 


Felipe Massa’s qualifying performance put a smile back on his face that we haven’t seen in a long while.


The Brazilian’s trials and tribulations at Ferrari are well noted, and as it looks increasingly certain that he will leave at the end of the season, he needed a good performance to remind him of just how good he is.


It is therefore a massive shame that telemetry issues turned a promising race into a guessing game, and ultimately that cost him big. Massa may not have had the race pace to contend for a win, but a podium was well within his reach, and how he needed it. 


Red Bull Show Worrying Reliability Issues With A Testing Schedule Ahead 


One of the most notable issues of the weekend was Red Bull’s failure to go the distance, the first time the team have had a double retirement since the 2010 Korean Grand Prix.


Reliability has been a key component of Red Bull’s recent success, but alternator issues for Vettel and the negative effects of a big lock-up for Webber, showed that these cars are far from perfect.


Given Red Bull’s apparent issues with controlling the temperatures of their cars, and the tricky, humid-to-hot circuits coming up in the race calendar, don’t be surprised if we see more retirements from the team this season.


For more Formula One chat, follow Simon Knights on Twitter @SimonKnights