Vettel looks a likely winner, rain or shine

2013 Italian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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For all his caution over the potential of the Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel must have felt confident about his chances of taking pole position at Monza. In Q1 and Q2 he left it late to join the track, saving tyres in case he needed them later.

But he can’t have imagined his closest championship rivals would make life quite so easy for him. Lewis Hamilton, to his credit, blamed himself first for a scrappy showing in Q2 which saw him fail to reach the final ten, even though Adrian Sutil didn’t help matters.

Lotus seem to have completely lost their way since yesterday. Neither of their drivers improved on their Friday time in this morning’s practice, and both were knocked out in Q2 as well.

Fernando Alonso at least made it as far as the final ten. But while he insisted to the media that everything had gone according to plan, it was clear that the team’s slipstreaming tactics should have seen him at minimum in front of his team mate, and certainly not behind the Ferrari-engined Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg.

That puts Vettel in a strong position for tomorrow’s race, though not an impregnable one – particularly as rain is forecast for tomorrow.

The start

Monza presents the drivers with one of the trickiest first corners of the year: a straight blast towards a sharp, narrow chicane. Even when a driver makes a good start, it can be difficult for them to capitalise on it due to the narrow width of the track.

Red bull have locked out the front row for the first time since the season began in Australia. While Vettel has consistently got away from the line well, Mark Webber has produced a mixture of strong and poor starts this year. He could end up pressuring his team mate into the first corner, or he might already be staring at the rear wing of a Ferrari by the first corner.

The Ferraris tend to get away very strong at the start, and will be poised to put pressure on the two RB9s. However the straight-line speed advantage they enjoyed over their rivals on Friday has diminished since then (see below).


With rain threatening tomorrow’s race there will inevitably be speculation over which drivers have made the biggest concessions to mixed conditions. It is striking, for example, that both Force Indias are now at the bottom of the speed trap figures, suggesting they’ve added wing.

Thunderstorms are expected in the morning and again around the start of the race. Rain is a rarity the Italian Grand Prix. The only race to see sustained, heavy rain in recent decades was the 2008 grand prix which was won by Vettel – little comfort for his rivals.

Should it stay dry the usual Monza one-stop strategy should apply, though last year the Mercedes drivers visited the pits twice.

Here’s all the data from qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.

Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Sebastian VettelRed Bull1’24.3191’23.977 (-0.342)1’23.755 (-0.222)
2Mark WebberRed Bull1’24.9231’24.263 (-0.660)1’23.968 (-0.295)
3Nico HulkenbergSauber1’24.7761’24.305 (-0.471)1’24.065 (-0.240)
4Felipe MassaFerrari1’24.9501’24.479 (-0.471)1’24.132 (-0.347)
5Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’24.6611’24.227 (-0.434)1’24.142 (-0.085)
6Nico RosbergMercedes1’24.5271’24.393 (-0.134)1’24.192 (-0.201)
7Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso1’24.6551’24.290 (-0.365)1’24.209 (-0.081)
8Sergio PerezMcLaren1’24.6351’24.592 (-0.043)1’24.502 (-0.090)
9Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’24.7391’24.563 (-0.176)1’24.515 (-0.048)
10Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1’24.6301’24.575 (-0.055)1’28.050 (+3.475)
11Kimi RaikkonenLotus1’24.8191’24.610 (-0.209)
12Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’24.5891’24.803 (+0.214)
13Romain GrosjeanLotus1’24.7371’24.848 (+0.111)
14Adrian SutilForce India1’25.0301’24.932 (-0.098)
15Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1’24.9051’25.011 (+0.106)
16Paul di RestaForce India1’25.0091’25.077 (+0.068)
17Esteban GutierrezSauber1’25.226
18Valtteri BottasWilliams1’25.291
19Giedo van der GardeCaterham1’26.406
20Charles PicCaterham1’26.563
21Jules BianchiMarussia1’27.085
22Max ChiltonMarussia1’27.480

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Sebastian Vettel27.373 (1)28.278 (1)27.916 (1)
Mark Webber27.441 (3)28.351 (2)28.133 (4)
Nico Hulkenberg27.560 (9)28.457 (6)28.048 (2)
Felipe Massa27.484 (6)28.380 (4)28.255 (7)
Fernando Alonso27.447 (4)28.467 (8)28.197 (6)
Nico Rosberg27.507 (7)28.369 (3)28.307 (9)
Daniel Ricciardo27.440 (2)28.651 (12)28.105 (3)
Sergio Perez27.622 (11)28.457 (6)28.299 (8)
Jenson Button27.635 (12)28.440 (5)28.334 (10)
Jean-Eric Vergne27.552 (8)28.704 (13)28.141 (5)
Kimi Raikkonen27.567 (10)28.591 (11)28.336 (11)
Lewis Hamilton27.474 (5)28.482 (9)28.360 (13)
Romain Grosjean27.645 (13)28.711 (14)28.379 (15)
Adrian Sutil27.790 (16)28.579 (10)28.451 (16)
Pastor Maldonado27.675 (14)28.751 (16)28.366 (14)
Paul di Resta27.818 (17)28.718 (15)28.337 (12)
Esteban Gutierrez27.832 (18)28.916 (17)28.457 (17)
Valtteri Bottas27.784 (15)28.939 (18)28.493 (18)
Giedo van der Garde28.150 (20)29.322 (19)28.934 (19)
Charles Pic28.148 (19)29.343 (20)29.047 (20)
Jules Bianchi28.398 (21)29.418 (21)29.212 (21)
Max Chilton28.539 (22)29.426 (22)29.406 (22)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso340.4 (211.5)
2Esteban GutierrezSauber340.0 (211.3)-0.4
3Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso339.8 (211.1)-0.6
4Max ChiltonMarussia338.6 (210.4)-1.8
5Jules BianchiMarussia338.6 (210.4)-1.8
6Felipe MassaFerrari338.4 (210.3)-2.0
7Fernando AlonsoFerrari338.3 (210.2)-2.1
8Lewis HamiltonMercedes338.1 (210.1)-2.3
9Nico RosbergMercedes337.8 (209.9)-2.6
10Kimi RaikkonenLotus337.8 (209.9)-2.6
11Romain GrosjeanLotus337.1 (209.5)-3.3
12Pastor MaldonadoWilliams336.8 (209.3)-3.6
13Valtteri BottasWilliams336.4 (209.0)-4.0
14Mark WebberRed Bull336.3 (209.0)-4.1
15Sebastian VettelRed Bull336.1 (208.8)-4.3
16Nico HulkenbergSauber335.7 (208.6)-4.7
17Jenson ButtonMcLaren331.8 (206.2)-8.6
18Sergio PerezMcLaren331.6 (206.0)-8.8
19Giedo van der GardeCaterham330.1 (205.1)-10.3
20Charles PicCaterham329.8 (204.9)-10.6
21Adrian SutilForce India327.2 (203.3)-13.2
22Paul di RestaForce India326.8 (203.1)-13.6

Over to you

Can anyone keep Vettel from his sixth win of the year? Will Alonso get his fourth podium at Monza for Ferrari?

Share your views on the Italian Grand Prix in the comments.

2013 Italian Grand Prix

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Image © Red Bull/Getty

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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41 comments on “Vettel looks a likely winner, rain or shine”

  1. I was going to suggest: either Wet or Vet — you obviously suggest both :)

    1. I got that one first :-P

      1. @hamilfan you were definitely quicker on the trigger ;)

  2. McLaren and Force India have clearly gone for wetter set-ups it seems.

    Interesting that Hülkenberg was also slower than the Red Bull’s though: if he’s got a wet set-up and is starting from where he is then maybe, just maybe, he could challenge for a win.

    The Red Bull’s have plenty of downforce though, so that’s not really a problem for them. It still looks to be a Vettel win.

    1. @vettel1 Withmarsh almost tell it during his pitwall talk and I think they are right to do so. 8th and 9th is their quali place anyway so they didn’t lose too much apparently and it can be a gain tomorrow, let’s see. Don’t think it’s enough for them to win though but with those 2 and some rain, we never know …

      1. @jeanrien so do I – they’ve got almost nothing to lose and everything to gain. They were only likely to score low-end points anyway, so if they can get higher than 5th because of being better prepared for the wet then it’s a victory as far as they’re concerned for the circumstances they’re in at the moment!

    2. But *do* the Bulls have downforce? It’s clear from the speedtraps at Monza and Spa they’re running a very low downforce package.

      1. The grip And balance seems to be there, and plenty of it!

        That rb’s back looks so planted compared to Ferrari’s.

      2. @optimaximal I’d say so: they’re not on McLaren’s levels by any means but they’re still pretty far down the speed traps, so they appear to have a decent amount of downforce. However, on the intermediate tyres the blown floor effect (which I assume is where most of their downforce is coming from judging by the size of their wings) will be reduced due to the increased radius whereas the wing surfaces will be effected minimally, so that puts McLaren in prime position.

        The weather reports also seem to be indicating there to be around 50% precipitation throughout the event…

    3. If it rains, due to the wet setups in mclaren and force india ,they can score some points.
      Last yr in Brazil we saw how hulkenberg drove in damp conditions so may be he can have a good result as well.
      Extrem low downforce set up for toro rosso. Guess they will be praying for a dry race.
      But still i think redbull will be the team to watch out.

  3. If it rains – anything goes

    If its dry – Vettel storming to an ‘easy’ win

    1. It should rain mid-way through the race to spice things up, otherwise, if Webber doesn’t manage a decent start Seb will dominate the event.

  4. Faultless team, faultless driver. There’s no other way to put it, really.

  5. Somebody get that Hulkenberg boy a decent car, please!

    1. I Second that!

  6. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    7th September 2013, 17:18

    i expect more booing for vettel tomorrow… when he uncorks his champagne on 1st place at the podium

    1. ya it’s Monza . You bet .

      1. At least it won’t be because he’s Vettel, only that his car’s not red.

        On a totally unrelated subject, Android’s autocorrect changes Vettel to Better.

        1. @raceprouk What can be more Red than the Bulls?

          1. David not Coulthard (@)
            8th September 2013, 10:45

            Red Bull without INFINITI on the sidepods.

            And Ferrari, and Lancia, and Alfa Romeo, and Spyker, and a Gold Leaf Lotus, and Chip Ganassi.

            and Air Asia, TWA, Air
            Canada, SwissAir….

            The Chinese flag, the Moroccan flag, the the Vietnamese flag, the Red Army, Soviet Union’s flag….

            :) :P ;p

          2. Weirdly this weekend, Toro Rossi :-P

    2. Today I was at the track and I was surprised by the fact that the Tifosi didn’t boo him when he took pole. Actually, there were a couple of people who where cheering for him.

      1. @yobo01 I didn’t expect that, but that’s really kind!

      2. Maybe they were contemplating his future as a Ferrari driver. ;-)

        1. Exactly my thoughts!

  7. It is striking, for example, that both Force Indias are now at the bottom of the speed trap figures, suggesting they’ve added wing

    They were also buzzing heavily into the limiter, they must have gambled hard on rain

  8. Lotus and Hamilton would be stupid not to start on the hards. They have to try something different.

    1. They will, I just hope they survive the first chicane.

    2. I think only one of the two Lotus will start on hard.

  9. “Yay”

  10. Wow, another classic world championship.

  11. Hoping for a bit of rain to make things interesting. Either way, it’s Vettel’s to lose, but you never know what will happen once the lights go out and the cars are driven in anger.

  12. Should we get a pool going on how many spots mark drops in the 1st lap? It’s morbid I know. Rain or no I say he’s in P6 at the start of lap 2.

    1. I think he’s gonna be P3 or P4, he might have bad starts, but he still got a RB, not a Sauber!

      1. As shaky as Filippe’s employment future is, he’s not bad off the line and I’d bet my wife on Alonso making it past too.

  13. New tyres, amazing traction, rear limited circuit and Vettel are really the perfect combination even if the straights won’t help much.

  14. If it rains, can he repeat a 2008?

  15. What bugs me most is that Spa/Monza used to be Red Bull’s Achilles heels’. But now….they’re absolutely trouncing their opponents at these two circuits.

  16. I hope it is a Grande Weekend for Alonso

  17. Red Bull will run a 1.000 km tyre test at Barcelona next week. 2011 car. 2014 tyres. Buemi & Ricciardo.

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