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Hamilton’s Title to Lose

Lewis Hamilton took another step towards his third World Championship this weekend with an utterly dominant victory in the Italian GP. His steps towards the title were helped massively when his closest challenger, and team mate, Nico Rosberg’s engine blew up with just two laps remaining. Sebastian Vettel took second place in his first race in Italy for Ferrari, with Felipe Massa rounding off the top 3. Despite winning by a huge 24 seconds and extending his championship lead by 53 points, Hamilton was made to wait 3 hours for the victory to be confirmed as a debate over the legality of his tyre pressures was raised.

In response to the tyre failures in Belgium two weeks prior, Pirelli had raised the minimum recommended tyre pressures, with the rears needing to be at 19.5psi. However, immediately after the chequered flag fell, it was announced that before the race Hamilton’s left rear pressure was .3psi below and that Rosberg’s was 1.1psi below the recommended limit. Thankfully for Hamilton however, the FIA concluded that both tyres in question were at the correct limits when they were fitted to the car.

Behind Hamilton, the massive following of Ferrari fans were hoping race day would continue their strong weekend, with Kimi Raikkonen lining up behind Hamilton in 2nd place. Sadly for the fans and team, they couldn’t turn Saturday’s qualifying pace into race pace, and couldn’t get near the Mercedes of Hamilton. Raikkonen, almost stalling and being last to the first corner, certainly didn’t help the cause either. He did however manage to battle back through the field, and finished in 5th behind fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas.

Raikkonen’s battle through the field was possibly the only in-race action that would have kept viewers interested. Once again, the excitement, action and turning points that fans want to see on track has come off the track. If it isn’t the bitter divorce spat between Red Bull and Renault, or Honda claims of progress, it’s something else. This weekend’s theme: tyre pressures. This season has produced some, quite frankly, rubbish Grand Prix, with actions and spats overshadowing the spectacle that is the race.


McLaren and Honda at Breaking Point

When McLaren announced that they were to be teaming up with Honda once again, I remember how much excitement went through my system in anticipation to see the great duo reunited. I wasn’t alive during the McLaren-Honda dominance of the 1980’s, but I have watched so much footage of it that my mouth watered at the prospect of seeing this again. So you can imagine how disappointed I am, and I’m sure McLaren and its fan base are too, at the utter shambles that has been the 2015 season.

At the Italian Grand Prix, the partnership reached breaking point, as rumours circulated that McLaren have asked Honda to remove Yasuhisa Arai from his position of chief motorsport officer at Honda. Arai is under huge pressure after a series of promises have went undelivered, and the team have shown very little sign of progress since the beginning of the season. Arai was present at a press conference at Monza and was given what was described as a brutal interrogation. He rejected suggestions that he should resign, and unbelievably reiterated his belief that Honda have a better engine than Renault.

It is claimed that McLaren are so disillusioned by Honda’s lack of progress over the season that they wrote to the company’s president asking for Arai to be removed. The whole situation has now became such a farce, that it is now getting embarrassing for both McLaren and Honda. The claim from Arai that the Honda engine has more horsepower than the Renault was the final straw for me. Arai said that for the Italian Grand Prix, the Honda engine would have more horsepower than the Renault, and be quicker in a straight line. How wrong can one man be? The Honda power unit is poor. There is no other way of putting it. Fernando Alonso has come out and said that they are losing 3 seconds a lap to the Mercedes due to the lack of power on the straights. If there were signs of progress in the races, there is a good chance that nobody would be talking about this issue. If you could see McLaren blistering down the start/finish straight challenging the likes of Red Bull and Williams, then it would ease the pain for the team. Even if they were doing this and the engine went up in smoke, at least its progress. Something has to be done and done quickly.

Monza Must Stay

Bernie Ecclestone has been very pessimistic about the future of the Italian GP continuing at Monza beyond its contract which runs out next year. The thought of not seeing Monza on the F1 calendar is a tragic one. Even the thought of Imola replacing Monza is still not an option as far as fans and drivers alike are concerned. Sebastian Vettel said to lose the Italian GP for money issues would be like ripping out our hearts. Monza has staged grand prix racing since 1922. It is up there with the likes of Monaco Spa and Silverstone for its rich history, and to lose it from the calendar would be a kick in the teeth for the sport’s history and heritage. It’s combination of fast straights and chicanes means it presents a different challenge to more modern circuits such as Russia and Abu Dhabi. With these characteristics, it means drivers are massively in favour of keeping it on the calendar. Because of races such as Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi bringing lots of money to the table, it puts races such as Italy under threat. In the end, it all comes down to money - the only thing Bernie Ecclestone seems to have an interest in. Teams such as Ferrari and McLaren get extra prize money given to them because of their history in the sport; so to protect circuits such as Monza, why doesn’t Bernie give them a discount of sorts for holding the race because of their history? Just an idea.

Report courtesy of Simon Gray

Read more on Simon's blog here

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