With five races remaining, the Formula 1 World Championship (especially after the Spa debacle) is beautifully poised for a classic finale. Kimi Räikkönen has recently been out-performed by his Brazilian team-mate (although he did put in a characteristically strong drive in Belgium, before shortening his Ferrari against a wall on the way into the Bus Stop chicane), and Lewis Hamilton has endured a season of minor ‘errors’, which has meant he hasn’t pulled such a big gap at the top of the table as he would have liked. Felipe Massa, meanwhile, has proved he is a worthy contender for the World Championship, putting a lot of pressure on Lewis as well as his team-mate.
Leaving this whole Spa overtaking, letting past, crashing nightmare behind for the time being, and accepting (for the moment) that there are only two points between Hamilton and Massa with a further 18 to third-placed Kubica, who is two ahead of Räikkönen, Monza is without a doubt an extremely important race.
Räikkönen wants to win for the Ferrari fans and to keep his title hopes alive, Massa wants to win for Ferrari on home turf as well and, of course, to gain an advantage in the championship, and Hamilton is no doubt determined to put the Spa weekend behind him with another strong performance in Italy.
Much to the dismay of the tifosi last year, McLaren took both the top spots on the podium. Things were pretty evenly matched in last week’s test though, with Massa going fastest on the opening day, Nick Heidfeld’s BMW on day two and then Hamilton on day three. Not too much can be taken from this though as you never know how much fuel the cars are carrying and indeed how much of their programme the teams completed.
Light showers are forecast for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which can only play into McLaren’s hands. Hamilton has proved himself in changeable conditions and the slightly longer wheelbase Ferrari is much harder to handle in the wet. You only need to watch highlights of Silverstone/lowlights of Massa in that race to see just how difficult it is.
No doubt my fellow Scot JYS would have his own view on how the season will end, but for the time being my money’s on McLaren and Hamilton.