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French Grand Prix
Monza, 12-14 September



Result after 53-lap race:

1 S Vettel (Ger) Toro Rosso-Ferrari

2 H Kovalainen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes

3 R Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber

4 F Alonso (Spa) Renault

5 N Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber

6 F Massa (Bra) Ferrari

7 L Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes

8 M Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault

LATEST ACTION (all times BST)

606: DEBATE
To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)
By Sam Lyon

"Fantastic drive from Vettel. I'm a Hamilton fan but Vettel just blew me away with his brilliance in this race. He will be one to watch out for in the future."
Telloth on 606

"Vettel kicked Hamilton's rear. Vettel is a far, far better rain driver than Lewis Hamilton is, and a better dry weather one as well. Vettel is no Davide Fore or Ardigo or Cesetti, but this current crop of F1 pilots are no match for him."
spectacularsteve on 606
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1435: Who says nice things don't happen to nice people? One of the nicest blokes on the circuit, Sebastian Vettel, celebrates his sensational win with all the abandon of a kid in free-toy shop.

Champagne
The familiar Italian-followed-by-German national anthems (remember Michael Schumacher?) ring out at Monza as the 21-year-old, flanked by Kovalainen and Kubica, drink in the race. Brilliant scenes.

"Congratulations to the young lad, great race, great pit strategy. Great race from Hamilton too, if the rain had come he could have won, but losing only one point to Massa is great considering how they qualified."
onlydez on 606

"That is some drive from Vettel. It's drives like that that make the sport what it is."
vidic4ever on 606
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"The most unlikely start to finish win that I remember. The only race that comes close was when only a mechanical problems stopped Damon Hill winning with an Arrows years back and he "only" managed 2nd after leading for much of the race."
Cricketing_stargazer on 606

Chequered Flag
SEBASTIAN VETTEL WINS THE ITALIAN GRAND PRIX
Vettel punches the air with delight as he crosses for what is a quite stunning victory, followed by Kovalainen and Kubica in second and third. Alonso, Heidfeld, Massa, Hamilton and Webber - in that order - finish off the points.

Hamilton's championship lead is now down to one point over Massa, but today was all about Vettel - incredible win after a stunning race.

Lap 52: Vettel can afford to ease off a bit now, his lead over Kovalainen is down to 11 seconds, but the German is just loving what will be his first Grand Prix victory.

Lap 51: Massa runs through the debris at Parabolica left by Coulthard and Nakajima and Hamilton, from nowhere, looks to be closing on the Brazilian with Webber hanging back on the Briton. Surely it's too late for Hamilton to overtake his title rival?

Lap 51: Coulthard and Nakajima clash and both are forced into the pits to repair nose cones... Unsure as to the debris on the track at the moment...

Lap 50: This race is Sebastian Vettel's people, and what a remarkable victory from the 21-year-old it will be - he is 14 seconds clear. Kovalainen and Kubica appear to have settled for second and third - the main battle now looks to be between Webber and Hamilton for seventh.

Lap 48: Webber makes his move on Hamilton, steaming down the inside and he has all the pace, but Hamilton closes him out and holds onto his position as the Australian is forced off the track. Borderline legality that from Hamilton and he continues to push his luck with five laps to go.

Lap 47: Kimi Raikkonen is enjoying a late-race surge as he attacks Nelson Piquet Jr for ninth, but the Finn is over 16 seconds behind Webber in the final points position. Hamilton will have to pull something out of the bag to hold onto his seventh place at the moment if Webber keeps lapping as he is - the Australian is storming round.

Lap 45: Hamilton just doesn't have the pace at the moment and instead of pressing Felipe Massa for sixth, the Briton is finding himself looking over his shoulder with Mark Webber closing. Hamilton is nearly two seconds behind Massa now, with Webber under three seconds behind the Briton.

Lap 43: Less than two seconds now separate Alonso, Heidfeld, Massa and Hamilton from fourth to eighth.

Lap 42: Sebastian Vettel continues to stretch his lead over Kovalainen - what a race from the young German. Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen passes Nakajima to move up to 13th but his chances of pushing up to the points look slimmer than a supermodel's ankles.

"Cracking battle between Massa and Heidfeld, and the Hamilton fans in those delightful yellow macks will be hoping for a bit of help from the German to hold Massa up. The Briton's hunting him down now…"
Radio One Newsbeat's David Garrido at Monza

Lap 40: Hamilton on the charge in a big way now, the Briton just two car lengths behind Massa. Can he, crucially, overhaul the Brazilian with 13 laps to go?

Lap 39: Massa makes a move on Heidfeld and passes the German, only to go off at the chicane and the Brazilian has to concede the position! That only helps Hamilton, who is 3.5 seconds behind Massa but two seconds a lap quicker than his championship rival at the moment. At the front, Sebastian Vettel leads by 10.4 seconds from Kovalainen, with Kubica a further 10 seconds back in third.

Lap 38: Lewis Hamilton is currently four seconds a lap quicker than, for example, Fernando Alonso in fourth. The Spaniard is holding up the likes of Heidfeld and Massa and could he be doing Hamilton a big favour?

Lap 36: Glorious from Hamilton! He feels the grip immediately and passes Mark Webber with 17 laps to go. He's into seventh and he should be the fastest on the track right now...

Lap 35: Sebastian Vettel pits from the lead and he, obviously, goes with the intermediates and Lewis Hamilton is surely going to struggle on his extreme wets until the end? Does he risk running until the end in the hope for more rain or does he pit for the intermediates? HE PITS! Hamilton is in and he has to swap to intermediates - he emerges behind Felipe Massa and Mark Webber.

Lap 34: Heikki Kovalainen is in and he is also onto the intermediates.

Lap 33: Felipe Massa DOES pit again - and he's onto the intermediates as well. He re-ermeges behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Nico Rosberg is also onto the intermediates, Hamilton - definitely on a one-stop fuel strategy - has a tyre decision to make.

"There's a couple of Brazilian radio commentators right next to me in the media centre - they've gone very quiet in the last 20 minutes or so. If Hamilton keeps up with Massa, the Ferrari man will have to finish 2nd at worst to reclaim the championship lead. No Brazilian flags waving in the grandstand opposite, either."
Radio One Newsbeat's David Garrido at Monza

"Alonso and Renault have done a classic old-style long first stint Monza strategy - and he's gone for intermediates. Interesting. He's gambling that they will see him to the end and the others will have to stop for dries. It could be a crucial call."
BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at Monza

Lap 31: The intermediates are the tyre to be on at the moment - those on the extremes are a second or two slower than those on intermediates at the moment. It's still relatively dry but rain is forecast. Alonso is into the pits - and he's onto the intermediates.

Lap 29: Hamilton is now around nine seconds behind Felipe Massa - with some disagreement among the commentators over whether the Brazilian is on a one- or two-stop policy. If he's fuelled to the end of the race he has the edge over Hamilton you'd think, if he's not...

Lap 28: Nico Rosberg pits now and Heikki Kovalainen is up into second. David Coulthard comes in - and he's on to the intermediates! It's not raining right now but I wonder if that decision will be inspired or suicide.

Lap 27: Hamilton pits - fuels to the end - and he's back in 10th, behind Massa. What will the Briton's pace be like now with that heavy fuel load?

Lap 26: Hamilton just 1.1 seconds behind Vettel now - he must have been absolutely full to the brim at the start of the race - but he will have to pit soon and whatever traffic he encounters on his emergence could be crucial to this race.

Lap 24: Is Hamilton one-stopping? Vettel receives intelligence from the Toro Rosso that the Briton will pit in three laps and Hamilton is lapping quicker than anyone on the track at Monza.

Lap 22: Heikki Kovalainen pits - it's brand new extreme wet tyres for him. Felipe Massa is also in, as is Mark Webber... Lewis Hamilton IS past Jarno Trulli AND has now passed Nico Rosberg! Tremendous racing from the Briton and he is now up to second spot.

Lap 21: Lewis Hamilton eases past Jarno Trulli at Rettifilo but cuts the chicane moments after and, sensibly, concedes the place. Only a matter of time before he re-passes I reckon, though.

"Now Lewis is starting to show his real form in these conditions, rather than the shambles that was yesterday."
Radio One Newsbeat's David Garrido at Monza

Safety Car
Lap 19: The rain returns - it's a light shower at the moment but heavier stuff is forecast... Raikkonen remains in 12th as his attempts to pass Heidfeld are frustrated time and again. Alonso really is struggling now as Timo Glock passes him to move into eighth.

"Hamilton was a bit naughty in edging Glock on to the grass as he finished off his passing move. It was his line, but even so it was pretty rough stuff, albeit no different from what Michael Schumacher used to get away with on a regular basis, and you have to wonder if he might get into a bit of trouble for it."
BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at Monza

Lap 18: Sebastian Vettel pits - re-fuel and he sticks with the extreme wets. He re-joins in fourth behind Felipe Massa, Heikki Kovalainen leads. Lewis Hamilton tip-toes through the wet stuff and impresses on the breaks to pass Fernando Alonso on the first chicane and he is now up into seventh, with Alonso really struggling for pace.

Lap 16: Easy as you like from Hamilton as the Briton storms past Robert Kubica into eighth and he is into the points already. Raikkonen continues to flounder in 12th.

Lap 15: Lewis Hamilton shows "shades of Schumacher" claims David Croft on BBC Radio 5 Live as he forces Timo Glock into the grass in passing the German to move up into ninth. At the front, Sebastian Vettel leads by over 10 seconds. Remarkable.

Lap 14: Sebastian Vettel is told that more rain is 20 minutes away - but in the meantime Hamilton is starting to show some real magic as he eases past Nick Heidfeld to move into 10th. Massa, meanwhile, is told to concede position back to Rosberg by his team after that pass on the previous lap - he duly obliges - and the Italian then re-passes the German at Rettifilo.

"The tifosi go wild as they think Massa has passed Rosberg into the first chicane, slump back into their seats as Rosberg grabs the place back and cheer again as Massa takes it for good by jumping over the kerbs at the second chicane. Will he get a penalty for that? No."
BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at Monza

Lap 13: Titanic battle between Massa and Rosberg in the battle for fourth - Rosberg holds off Massa's initial charge, but the Brazilian responds superbly and passes the Williams-Toyota on the next corner to steal into fourth. They say he's not so great in the wet, but that was terrific from Massa.

"We're edging into territory now where the drivers will start to think about switching to the intermediates because it's starting to dry up a bit."
Maurice Hamilton on BBC Radio 5 Live

Lap 11: Still loads of standing water out there at Monza with visibility difficult in the pack thanks to the spray. It's no matter to Hamilton though as the Briton PASSES RAIKKONEN on the first Lesmos, a terrific manouevre on the corner as he finds the inside line to pass the Finn. Potentially crucial move that in the story of this race.

Lap nine: Raikkonen passes Fisichella nicely at the end of lap eight and he starts to pull away... only for Hamilton to out-break the Force India seconds later on the Rettifilo Tribune. The Briton is 12th, Raikkonen 11th.

"It's almost silence here, except for the odd "ooh" or "aah" whenever someone spins or swerves off-track - that's apart from Patrick Rivas from France Info, who's going mental having seen Bourdais stall on the grid: "C'est pas vrai, c'est pas vrai…""
Radio One Newsbeat's David Garrido at Monza

Lap seven: Vettel's lead is already up to nearly six seconds over Kovalainen. Back in the pack Fisichella just holds off Raikkonen on an overtaking proceedure and Hamilton presses the Finn on the very next turn - Raikkonen holds off the Briton and it's full of incident back there. It's STOPPED RAINING!

Lap six: Timo Glock is the first major player to spin at the first chicane and David Croft on BBC Radio 5 Live suspects he may also have caught Fernando Alonso. It costs Glock a place and Robert Kubica is into eighth.

Lap four: Vettel is already 1.4 seconds quicker than Kovalainen in the McLaren - partly down to fuel load I'd wager, but impressive nonetheless. Lewis Hamilton passes Raikkonen by going wide at Curva di Lesmos, but of course has to immediately concede the place. Lesson learned. That pair have already passed Coulthard and the Force India of Fisichella is next in line... Elsewhere, Kubica and Heidfeld swap places in ninth.

Lap three: The first eight pile over the start line at the start of lap three in formation as the safety car pulls away, all the cars proceding very cautiously with the rain still falling. Further back Lewis Hamilton loses a bit of ground on Raikkonen early on as he tip-toes round the corners. The Briton regains some but Vettel's is in the only place that counts at the moment - clear at the front.

Lap two: Bourdais is released from the pits after having all sorts of tweaks in the pit - if he can catch the back of the pack he'll have all the temperature in the tyres and a great advantage... the lights are off of the safety car and the race proper will start soon...

Lap one: Oh dear, disaster for Sebastian Bourdais - as the race starts (without a regulation formation lap as the safety car leads off) the Frenchman is left stalled on the grid - he will drop from fourth to the back of the grid. Ouch.

1258: Nakajima and Button - wisely - opt to start from the pits, meaning they can change anything they like on their cars. They were way back on the grid anyway and that should help their set-up immensely.

1256: The cars are all set now behind the safety car for their 'warm-up' laps - a great chance for them to assess any standing water, the track conditions and the visibility. The rain is pelting it down now and the crucial thing now will be what cars and teams are set up for the dry and which are set up for the wet. All teams on extreme tyres behind the safety car to start, of course.

"I got odds of 1/450 on Sutil to take a toilet break halfway through the race."
FergiesDan on 606

"Lewis has the cleaner, drier line into the first corner, compared to Kimi, and should take position, but he might live to regret questioning Kimi's presence downstairs."
RidRed on 606
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Safety Car
1250: Confirmation comes through - it will be a race started behind the safety car. Visibility out there is pretty darn poor.

"Re: Anon via text (below) - Everyone has used all three sets of wets, no one has a new set of extreme wets for the race."
RickRipper on 606

1247: Still no official word on a safety car start, but it is very wet out there. Bernie Ecclestone points out conditions at Monza haven't been like this since 1985 and adds: "It would be nice to see the guy who starts the race on pole. That said, the stewards are going to have a tough ol' day..."

"How did Schumacher used to start so way down in the track and still manage to make it to the podium??? Hamilton needs all of that now. He needs to try and win."
sadiewam on 606
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"I heard Lewis had it all planned. He used one set of wets, while the rest used two, he then did a rain dance and now his got two new sets for the race. It's going to be a cracker."
Anon via text

1242: "It's been drizzling on and off all morning but it's properly raining now. There is no doubt the race will start on a wet track and it seems extremely unlikely that anyone would even risk intermediates - although that's counting without another brain-fade moment from Hamilton and McLaren.

"With as many predictions for this afternoon as there are cars on the track, no-one seems to know what's going to happen."
BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at Monza

Safety Car
"We may not see too many cars finish. Fernando Alonso is saying that it is incredibly dangerous and that they will have to start behind the safety car."
Cricketing_stargazer on 606
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1237: Felipe Massa is out on his exploration laps and already he looks to be struggling with grip, almost spinning at half speed at Curve Grande. This could be a lottery and a safety car period has to be a pretty hot tip right now - Saturday's GP2 race started under the safety car, by the way.

"I hope Force India don't get any points, I have £5 on Sutil to not finish!"
TadpoleThe1st on 606
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Rain
1231: Aaaannnddd... after a relatively dry morning the rain is now falling rather heavily. Any consideration of intermediate tyres will now surely be put to bed, it'll have to be the full wets I reckon.

"I am hoping massa does his usual terrible wet weather driving and spins out 5 or 6 times, thus giving lewis at least a breather."
Jimbob, Nottingham via text

1229: Lewis Hamilton has been speaking ahead of the race, saying: "Saturday was one of those days when you look back and realise "what was I thinking?!". It was a terrible qualifying session but, today, I just want to get round of the first couple of laps unscathed and once I've done that I know I've got a competitive car and can push up the order."

"Let's hope for Lewis's sake Heikki wins the race and Massa finishes around 5/6th. Just you watch Lewis take-over the cars but first he has to get past Kimi who has a faster car in a straight line!"
samwaller92 on 606

"If Hamilton has no chance, according to some 606ers, then this is a seriuosly boring sport! I don't ride motorbikes, nor have I ever wanted to, but watching MotoGP as a specatcle makes Grand Prix without rain pitiful."
mullerman on 606
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Celebrity spot!
1222: "Jose Mourinho is one of the celebrities in the paddock here at Monza, fresh from watching his Inter Milan side take a dramatic victory over Catania at the San Siro last night. Ex-Portsmouth midfielder Sulley Muntari was sent off when Inter were 1-0 down, but they equalised almost immediately before going on to win.

"The game was punctuated by a series of player melees and Mourinho is already garnering some criticism in Milan for the lack of flair his side are displaying."
BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at Monza

"I think Alonso could have a chance to win if the conditions are damp and not fully wet. If it is fully wet it could be anyone's race. If it's dry it's more likey to be Massa."
Blasos on 606
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"I don't know about Monza, but there is plenty of overtaking at a sunny Silverstone today - I'm watching the 1000km Le Mans series. Good luck to McLaren as they battle the elements, 10 other teams and the FIA!"
Simon Treen via text

"What a great looking grid. After last week's efforts, this is set up for a cracker - hopefully!"
MightyWhite77 on 606

"My 1-2-3: 1. Massa 2. Kovelainen 3. Rosberg."
The Navster on 606

1214: "Hopes are high for a fantastic race, with the cars lining up on what's pretty close to a dream grid. A Toro Rosso on pole, Massa in sixth, and Raikkonen and Hamilton down in 14th and 15th and desperate to make up places should guarantee plenty of action.

"If it's dry, Heikki Kovalainen, second on the grid in the McLaren, must be a strong favourite for victory, but it doesn't look like being dry - at least not all the time.

"It's not as wet as Friday or Saturday but it has been raining on and off all morning, and with the forecast predicting light rain all day it seems likely conditions will be changing throughout the race, which always spices things up."
BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at Monza

"Well it's obvious isn't it? Hamilton has chosen to demote himself so that he knows exactly what he has to do to win the race. A cunning plan!"
Artcrunchy on 606

"It all depends on the rain because I would think Toro Rosso have their car set up for the wet, which will comprimise their speed in the dry."
vidic4ever on 606
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1209: A quick word on Vettel, then, not to mention team-mate Sebastien Bourdais, the Toro Rossos impressing all in qualifying with a super performance in the wet yesterday. Perfect choice of tyres, perfect timing, and near perfect driving. Two of the more exciting, lesser known talents in the sport and I wonder if this coming of age isn't just what we needed after last week's controversy. Heikki Kovalainen, for one, expects a tough race from the TRs... "We should not underestimate what Toro Rosso have done this year. They have been seriously fast in the last few races. We can't take anything for granted." It's up for grabs, people. Especially with conditions intermediate at the moment - showery.

Lewis Hamilton
1205: "Lewis Hamilton's catastrophic decision to choose intermediate tyres for the start of the second qualifying session, thus resigning himself to 15th on the grid, is the focus of much debate here today. It was a mystifying call at a time when a) it had been raining for six minutes on to an already damp track and b) he didn't need to take any risks anyway.

"If he carries on making mistakes like that - it was his fifth major error of the season - he won't need to worry about decisions by race officials depriving him of the title; he'll do it himself."
BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at Monza

"Silly aero bits and dirty air problems will make it difficult for Kimi and Lewis to overtake, even at Monza. They will both be lucky to make it into the top eight."
Clip The Apex on 606
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1200: Only this week Lewis Hamilton has been telling anyone who would listen that "I'm a racer, I overtake, and I'm one of the best at doing it. I don't feel I need to change that."

Well he's going to have to prove that today if he wants a podium finish - and he may want err on the side of caution in doing so unless he wants to run the risk of another demotion like at Spa last week.

A disastrous qualifying session will mean the young Briton starts 15th on the grid and will have it all to do to overhaul the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen (14th) and Felipe Massa (6th).

Rain
However, with rain and sunny spells forecast we are likely to see one of the most unpredictable and, hopefully, exciting races of the season and it is literally all to play for.

One curve ball that has been thrown into the mix this morning is the news that Massa has played his 'joker' and changed his engine ahead of the race - much like team-mate Raikkonen did at the British Grand Prix following his exhaust problem in France.

Traditionally, when you play a 'joker', you do it before qualifying and not after - but, hey, there's the spirit of F1 and then there's the letter of the rules. And this is Ferrari at Monza, after all...

Don't forget to get involved as much as possible via 606 or text on 81111. I want predictions, musings, stories... pretty much anything. That way I get to keep this commentary ticking along nicely and you get to enjoy your 15 minutes of fame by having your name published on Her Majesty's BBC website. Everyone's a winner. Bosh.
Join the debate on 606


see also
Sutil on top in rain-hit practice
12 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton finds little support
11 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton puts Spa saga behind him
11 Sep 08 |  Formula One
McLaren lodge Belgian GP appeal
10 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Raikkonen vows to continue fight
10 Sep 08 |  Formula One


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