Preview: The Italian Grand Prix at Monza

Vettel is relaxed, Webber is bullish, Alonso is less than optimistic and Lewis Hamilton just needs a holiday. We preview the Italian Grand Prix…

Sebastian Vettel spies a title.
Sebastian Vettel spies a title.
Image: Antonio Calanni/AP/Press Association Images

THE FORMULA ONE season moves to Monza this weekend for the Italian Grand Prix. More F1 races have taken place at the venue than anywhere else in the world, and it’s known as one of the fastest on the calendar.

This is the final European race of the season, with Sebastian Vettel hoping to emulate last year’s winner Fernando Alonso and claim his eighth win of the season. Alonso, on the other hand, is less than confident of mounting a challenge after a run of poor results saw him slip 102 points behind Vettel in the standings.

“We want to win races no doubt, but we are also very realistic. We know we were not very competitive in the last two or three grands prix and the updates in the car will be minimum now, so we remain more or less similar,” said the downcast Spaniard.

Vettel, meanwhile, hasn’t a care in the world.

“We’ve made very few mistakes and I think we deserve to be in that position,” the German said on Thursday, reclining in such a relaxed fashion that his chair tipped over*.

“As a team we’ve learned a lot. Our pit stops are very good but a lot of the things that you don’t see on TV have made us more consistent. The team is a lot calmer and doesn’t panic as much.”

Vettel and Red Bull have been in stunning form all year, claiming pole position in all 12 races so far, and have truly left Ferrari and McLaren in the shade.

The latter’s team boss Martin Whitmarsh has jumped to the defence of Jenson Button in the run-up to this weekend’s action, insisting his carefree demeanour is just a facade and he truly does care about winning races.

“There are people who feel he does not give everything, or risk everything, but I ask the question: How then have we seen from him this year things like Hungary, Canada and Belgium?” queried Whitmarsh on Speed TV.

Fireworks can be expected between Button and Mark Webber this weekend, after the Australian insisted that the Briton had no serious competition when he won the title with Brawn in 2009.

“Yes, it would be great to have a World Championship,” the Australian told The National newspaper, “but I have many special victories against tough competition.

“Unfortunately, when I got myself in a good car, I had Sebastian (Vettel) as a teammate.

“Jenson didn’t have that at Brawn; he had Rubens (Barrichello), so there are a lot of one-championship drivers that have had a phenomenal car, but no real competition.”

Finally, Button’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton is hoping that he can perform in the last seven races after what has been the worst season of his career so far.

Hamilton may have won two races but he goes into the Italian Grand Prix having crashed out in Spa two weeks ago, while he has been criticised for a number on unsavoury incidents this season involving stewards and fellow drivers.

“I’m trying to get back to some good results,” he told the BBC.

“It feels like it’s been a worse year than I’ve had previously. I’m an easy target because I’m always in trouble.”

*His chair didn’t really tip over.

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