We’ve been discussing the F-Duct equipped Jenson Button and the lack of an F-Duct system on Lewis Hamilton’s car for qualifying today. Most of the discussion has centered on why the two cars would run a different set-up, not that this is a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, and why at Monza.
We will know if a few hours time but McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton has suggested he made the wrong call by opting for no F-Duct. What I am intrigued by is just how will the world champion manage his tires and the race if he doesn’t make serious ground with a terrific start. Here’s Lewis telling Reuters:
“Maybe we took the wrong route,” said Hamilton. “I am a little bit disappointed, I think we should have been higher up. Jenson did a great job but I think we have the wrong wing on maybe.
“I gave it 100 percent but we just didn’t have the downforce today. We were on the wrong downforce level, I think,” added the 25-year-old.
“We chose to go with the lighter downforce level which doesn’t have the F-duct. The car was sliding everywhere so I struggled quite a lot. It was the wrong choice, a bit of a mistake, but we’ll still push hard tomorrow.”
The one thing you can usually count on from Lewis Hamilton is speed, passing and 100% effort. What you can also count on is that Lewis is less tire-friendly with those championship-winning attributes. If the car was sliding around during qualifying, it makes one wonder just how Lewis will manage an entire race with the tires and a sliding car. He is slotted right behind his closest rival, Red Bull’s Mark Webber so passing Mark is the most pressing matter of the day.
The strategy at this point has to be getting around Webber who has a dodgy car that has shown several mechanical issues already this weekend and is not known for fast starts. That may be very achievable for Hamilton. Even if he concedes points to both Ferrari’s and his teammate Jenson Button, he still comes out in good shape for the title as long as he stays in front of Webber.
The remaining races have been argued as Red Bull friendly and it will be very critical for Hamilton to beat Webber this weekend and take a points lead to the final races. A Ferrari victory will be bad for McLaren but like the Woking-based team, Ferrari are not favored at the remaining circuits with higher down force layouts and nuances.
For Red Bull, they need Webber to finish ahead of Hamilton. Doesn’t matter what the Ferrari’s do at this point but keeping Hamilton at bay is crucial. Webber’s two mechanical failures during practice have everyone on edge and his recent bout of slow starts isn’t adding to anyone’s calm demeanor. This is a critical race for many teams and paramount for Webber and Hamilton.
Vettel, Alonso and Button all need a victory. They need to haul their way back into the hunt and get within striking range before F1 leaves Europe. Ferrari’s hopes may die this weekend if they fail to win and Vettel’s chances for a title are dramatically weakened if he doesn’t finish ahead of both Hamilton and Webber. The current points for your reference:
1 Lewis Hamilton 182
2 Mark Webber 179
3 Sebastian Vettel 151
4 Jenson Button 147
5 Fernando Alonso 141
Button is in the same boat as Vettel. Both drivers need to finish ahead of Webber and Hamilton and Button needs to finish ahead of Vettel as well as Webber and Hamilton for the optimum result. Obviously each driver needs to win with the rivals suffering a DNF but I am trying to be realistic here.
The one poison pill that isn’t, in my mind, fighting for a title is Felipe Massa. All three teams have both drivers in the hunt but Alonso has a wingman in the mix (as long as Massa is willing to play that role a few days after the team orders decision) who could foil McLaren and Red Bull aspirations and keep Alonso ahead. If Ferrari finish 1,2 with Button behind them, it will be the best result as they fly away from Europe.
We will all see in a few hours time but it should pan out to be a critical points haul for many drivers and teams and in the end, it’s shaping up to be a cracker of a championship.