2006 Italian Grand Prix

Well the Grand Prix itself has been overshadowed by the announcement that Michael Schumacher is going to retire from motor racing at the end of this season. As expected, Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa have been announced as Ferrari’s drivers for next season.

It was a good time for Schumacher to announce his retirement, having just won at Ferrari’s home Grand Prix at the historic Monza circuit. He probably wants to retire “in his prime”, but I always hate it when people do that. Schumacher has a good chance of winning this year’s World Championship, and the Ferrari is going to be a strong car for the next couple of years (with the Bridgestone advantage). Still, there’ll be plenty of time to reflect on Schumacher’s retirement later.

On to the Grand Prix itself, and yet another nail in F1’s coffin was struck by Max Mosley and the FIA yesterday. It is getting more and more shameless by the race. It really is difficult to say now that the FIA’s prime concern is for Ferrari, not Formula 1. Fernando Alonso had his three fastest times in qualifying taken away for “blocking” Massa. YouTube has the evidence: here is the lap in question.

Did you see any blocking happen? I didn’t, Martin Brundle didn’t, nobody did. The only people who saw it were the race stewards, FIArrari and Max Mosley. It is an utter disgrace. Mosley is turning F1 into a complete laughing stock.

The fact is that Massa made an error in the Parabolica — a remarkably similar error to the one Schumacher made in qualifying at the same corner last year. Drivers are human, and they will make mistakes — and Massa’s incident at the Parabolica was one of them. Why does Mosley think that it must have been caused by Alonso, who was 100 metres ahead of Massa?! Absolutely crazy.

The FIA are tying themselves in knots with their attempts to constantly re-write and re-interpret the rules in favour of Ferrari. If any team makes a technical innovation it gets bannedunless Ferrari happened to be the innovators.

If Michael Schumacher cuts a chicane it goes unpunished and the rules are re-interpreted to allow him to get away with it. With this new interpretation of the rules, Alonso appeared to get away with cutting across a chicane today — so presumably cutting a chicane is now one hundred percent legal. Nice work FIA!

One of the most notable aspects of the actual race was the stunning pace of Robert Kubica. Very impressive. This is only Kubica’s third race, yet a lightning start ensured that he was right up with the front runners. The BMW was clearly an extremely strong car at Monza this year, but Heidfeld dropped an anchor on the first lap while Kubica sped away. He led for six laps and earned himself a fully deserved podium finish. Okay, so he was helped by the retirement of Alonso, but at that point Alonso had only just passed Kubica.

Alonso’s retirement will also be pivotal for the World Championship. The reliability of Renault had been bullet proof up until today when the engine blew up. This is important because it is a new engine, and teams will have to use the same engine for three years from now on. Honda rushed out their new engine, only for it to fail twice very quickly. So we’ll probably be seeing a lot of engine failures next year. Of course, it will be the same engines all the time, ensuring that we get the same result every single race — for three years. Another genius idea from Max Mosley!

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