Three GPs, Italy, Singapore and Japan to be covered in a big catch-up as Winston D'Arcy is still missing. I don't know about you, but if I don't watch the GPs "live", which often happens during the summer if I'm actually going to race meetings, especially those that include the Club's own excellent competition series', I sometimes never get around to watching the recording.
Sunday 12th September was the Italian GP at Monza, but also the Club's Prescott Picnic - no contest, though this was one race which kept me awake and glued to the recording. What it boiled down to was a tense duel between Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Jenson Button. Despite being blighted by chicanes, Monza is still is a high speed track and Button had taken full advantage of the F Duct system to fly in the face of conventional wisdom and run a big rear wing for more grip when he needed it, relying on the F Duct to give him the necessary speed in the high speed stuff. It's interesting that despite intense effort none of the other teams seen to have developed as effective an F Duct as its inventor. Alonso ran the conventional low-downforce configuration, albeit F Ducted, and to the delight of Monza ticket sellers stuck it on pole. JB was second 0.122 seconds behind, but his ductless low-downforce team mate Hamilton was fifth, over half a second down. To make it even better for the Tifosi, Felipe Massa qualified third.
Thus Fernando Alonso secured his place with the immortals - winning an Italian GP at Monza in a Ferrari, the first since 2006 and becoming only the tenth driver to do so. Forza Ferrari!
A fortnight later, the Singapore GP or Monoposto Croft? Again no contest, especially when a Saturday night out in Darlington is involved. It was interesting to go straight from the oldest venue on the F1 calendar to the Brave New World of one of the newest. Could they compete? Err no. Despite the spectacular skyline and contrary to the sycophantic scribblings of the motorsport hacks the Singapore GP track is a Tilkedrome in an underground car park - rubbish, and it was a dull race. Alonso won for Ferrari, Felipe started from the back after a gearbox problem and worked his way up to tenth at the flag which became ninth after Sutil was penalized. Hamilton bashed into someone (Webber) for the second race in succession and retired. Nuff said.
Qualifying eventually took place on the Sunday morning and Red Bull were back on form with Vettel 1 and Webber 2. There had been speculation that Red Bull had been hurt by toughened up "bendy wings" rules, though this was strenuously denied by the team. Hamilton was third for McLaren and Kubica fourth for Renault with Alonso back down to earth with a bump in fifth. Massa was a poor 12th, blaming traffic. Again despite a contract and strenuous denials [which usually means confirmation - Ed], rumours are increasing that Massa and Rob Smedley, disgusted by the "team orders" affair at Hockenheim, will be off elsewhere. This can't have been helped by Luca sticking his oar in saying that Massa has not been driving well for the team. How Stefano Domenicali must love it when Luca "helps"......
Vettel won from pole as he pleased, with Webber a comfortable second, he was gifted the place after Kubica, who had jumped him off the line, had a wheel fall off. Alonso was best of the rest in third and Massa did his prospects of remaining a Ferrari driver no good at all by crashing into Tonio Liuzzi on the opening lap. Button was fourth for McLaren, taking the place from his team mate when the latter lost fifth gear. As often happens with Japanese drivers in Japan Kamui Kobayashi was on a banzai run, forcing his way past Sutil and Jaime Alguersuari at the hairpin before his stop and getting Alguersuari again after, together with Rubens and team-mate Nick Heidfeld, who finished eighth to score his first points on his return to Sauber.
So with three races to go Webber tops the championship table again with team mate Vettel and Alonso tying for second place. Hamilton and Button are fourth and fifth. The Red Bull drivers are prone to make mistakes, Italy and Singapore brought Alonso back into contention and if anyone can do it he can - if Ferrari can give him a good enough car. The McLaren just doesn't look quick enough at the moment.