Monza, September 7th – One could feel the excitement go up a notch or two driving into the Monza circuit this morning, as yesterday’s big crowd grew even larger, with fans flocking to watch the spectacle of the fastest qualifying of the year. It was a session packed with exciting moments and the overall result for Scuderia Ferrari is a very positive one.
It has been repeated so many times this year that qualifying is not exactly a strong point for the F138 and normally Fernando and Felipe have to fight it out with at least three other top teams, usually in the shape of Red Bull, Mercedes and Lotus. However, today, with the very surprising exception of an on form Nico Hulkenberg securing third place for Sauber, the only rivals preventing the Ferrari duo from having a clear view of the run down to the first corner tomorrow are the Red Bulls of pole man Sebastian Vettel and his team-mate Mark Webber.
Aware that competing with Red Bull using conventional means would be difficult, the Ferrari strategists decided to try and boost their performance by slipstreaming, the driving trick that this circuit is famous for and which led to it boasting the closest ever finish to a Grand Prix in 1971, when Peter Gethin won by just one hundredth of a second and even fourth placed Mike Hailwood was less than two tenths behind the winner! This involved getting Felipe to run ahead of Fernando with the aim of punching a hole in the air that the Spaniard could then drive through with an added boost of speed. In the end, it didn’t really work out, partly because a Toro Rosso threw up a huge dust cloud after going through the gravel at the final Parabolica corner just ahead of Fernando. In fact, inadvertently, Red Bull aided our cause, as Felipe admitted he got a great “tow” from Mark Webber’s car, which helped reduce his lap time! That contributed to the Brazilian setting the fourth fastest time, while the Spaniard is fifth, with Nico Rosberg alongside him on the outside of Row 3 in the Mercedes.
Another interesting aspect on this circuit where speed is king and power holds the key, is the fact that thanks to the aforementioned Hulkenberg and both Toro Rossos, five cars out of the top ten on tomorrow’s grid are powered by a Ferrari engine. Now, the biggest unknown for tomorrow’s twelfth round of the world championship could be the weather, as storms are predicted. The Scuderia is ready for whatever the weather and the opposition can throw at it.