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My Italian Grand Prix predictions

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Jonathan Legard | 08:15 UK time, Saturday, 12 September 2009

First of all, if you managed to pick the top three in Spa, congratulations because most of the Formula 1 community were completely surprised and taken aback.

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza promises to continue the Spa formbook because this is another unique track with its own unique challenges.

Without a circuit like Montreal on the F1 calendar, which also demands a lot of the cars in terms of power, the teams are coming here entering hugely different territory.

Up to 70% of the lap at Monza is spent at full throttle, another 15% is spent braking and the ban on in-season testing means they have not had the chance to test the low downforce set-up required here in the build-up to the race weekend.

The key to Monza is finding the optimum compromise between drag and downforce. Each team will have a specific front and rear wing package designed for the Italian race and all the teams I have spoken to told me they are learning all the time.

The track is getting faster as more rubber goes down with each session - although heavy rain on Friday evening will have washed most of it away.

And that leads us to another variable; the weather. A chance of rain is forecast for Sunday when it is also expected to be another 5C cooler.

Having said all that I will predict that, at a track where power and braking is so crucial, we will see the first power-boost Kers whitewash on the podium of 2009.

Here are my top eight finishers:

1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2. Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
4. Adrian Sutil (Force India)
5. Fernando Alonso (Renault)
6. Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP)
7. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
8. Jenson Button (Brawn GP)

The conspiracy theories will say that the Monza authorities have done their best to help Ferrari win in front of their home fans by raising some of kerbs to 15cm at the first two chicanes; the Rettifilo and Roggia.

Ferrari find it difficult to ride the kerbs but now no-one will attempt it because they are so mountainously high they will damage the underbelly of the cars.

leggy595.jpg

Nonetheless, I'm going for Lewis Hamilton to lead home the first McLaren one-two since Monza 2007 when Alonso was followed home by his English team-mate.

If there is one team who seems to have found a way to ride the kerbs successfully it is the McLarens.

The Mercedes Kers system will also be a huge help in qualifying and during the race, particularly at the first corner. The power boost effect at Monza could be worth four tenths of a second per lap and around 15m in distance gain.

Raikkonen was hugely positive before his victory at the Belgium Grand Prix and that seems to be the case again here in Monza.

The safety car helped him enormously in getting past pole-sitter Giancarlo Fisichella's Force India in Belgium but Kers should help him reap rewards on Ferrari's home patch.

As it is, Raikkonen is still going to be more motivated by the challenge of driving than he is by performing in front of the tifosi.

If Adrian Sutil can drive like his former team-mate Fisichella, who has become Raikkonen's third partner of the season, then he could threaten for a podium.

Force India are on such a high at the moment after scoring their first ever points in Spa that Sutil probably thinks he could ride a bike round just as quick.

Team insiders say they are targeting the third qualifying session and a definite points finish without daring to dream of a repeat podium performance.

For Tonio Liuzzi, who is back in F1 as Fisichella's replacement, a solid qualifying performance has to be his goal.

Despite all their off-track tensions, Renault finished strongly in Friday's second practice with Romain Grosjean second ahead of Fernando Alonso.

I suspect that was based on lighter fuel loads but they did some long runs too as they try to understand how to reintegrate Kers back into their car this weekend.

The signs are that Alonso is set to move to Ferrari at the end of the season and what better way to prepare the ground for his arrival than for him to turn it on in front of the tifosi?

The championship battle has almost got lost amidst the drama of Spa and the charge of the Kers cars.

Brawn enjoyed a more effective practice concentrating on long runs whereas rivals Red Bull had an electrical problem with Mark Webber's car and Sebastian Vettel turned his revs down to help conserve his dwindling engine quota.

Rubens Barrichello's experienced head could make all the difference at Monza, where he has won twice in the past.

The Brazilian seems to be much happier with the balance of his Brawn than Jenson Button so, out of all the championship contenders, I pick him to score the most points in sixth.

I wonder if Webber is unravelling; two ninth places and limited mileage in Monza could see him leave Vettel and Button to tidy up the rest of the points on offer.

One final prediction: I expect, just like in Spa, this will be another weekend where Button will see his championship lead shrink but he will still be the man to beat as the season races to its conclusion.

Comments

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  • 1. At 09:24am on 12 Sep 2009, Tim wrote:

    Roughly correct, by Alonso would jump sutil easily.

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  • 2. At 09:28am on 12 Sep 2009, liverpoolrulesyeah wrote:

    My Top 10:
    1. Hamilton
    2. Kovelainen
    3. Barrichello
    4. Raikkonen
    5. Sutil
    6. Button
    7. Webber
    8. Heidfeld
    9. Vettel
    10. Rosberg
    11. Alonso
    12. Fisichella
    13. Kubica
    14. Luizzi
    15. Trulli
    16. Buemi
    17. Nakajima
    18. Alguesuari
    Grosjean Out
    Glock Out

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  • 3. At 09:28am on 12 Sep 2009, liverpoolrulesyeah wrote:

    oops, meant full results

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  • 4. At 09:33am on 12 Sep 2009, Kalma1212 wrote:

    i think the renaults might contend for some serious points here with the help of the kers. bmw will put in a good performance again.

    1) raikkonen
    2) alonso
    3) kubica
    4) button
    5) heidfeld
    6) barrichello
    7) fisichella
    8) grosjean

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  • 5. At 09:58am on 12 Sep 2009, Estesark wrote:

    Alonso to win and make it seven different winners in the same number of races.

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  • 6. At 10:55am on 12 Sep 2009, Carlonso wrote:

    Alonso the winner - regardless of result as I'm hoping anytime soon his confirmed switch to Ferrari P.B.T.T.L

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  • 7. At 11:16am on 12 Sep 2009, Nadaliator wrote:

    Mmm, I was hoping Ferrari would make the announcement this weekend but it looks very unlikely now........so, my top 8:

    1. Hamilton
    2. Button
    3. Barrichello
    4. Raikkonen
    5. Sutil
    6. Rosberg
    7. Alonso
    8. Webber

    I get it wrong every single time so I don't know why I bother!

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  • 8. At 11:33am on 12 Sep 2009, cordas wrote:

    I am gonna hold off my race predictions till after quali ;)

    For Quali

    Alonso to steal pole (light on fuel), Lewis 2nd (and fuel adjusted pole), Sutil, Kubica and Rubens for the next 3 spots then Kimi, Button, Vettel in the next 3, with Rosberg and Fisi rounding out the top 10.

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  • 9. At 11:34am on 12 Sep 2009, TheBBCFan wrote:

    Hi

    Predictions this week:

    1. Hamilton
    2. Raikkonen
    3. Vettel
    4. Barrichello
    5. Alonso
    6. Button
    7. Kubica
    8. Heidfeld

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  • 10. At 12:15pm on 12 Sep 2009, DjarnNicholas wrote:

    When last have you ever made a correct predicition? Here's mine.

    1. Kimi
    2. Barrichello
    3. Sutil
    4. Vettel
    5. Heidfeld
    6. Kovi
    7. Hamilton
    8. Button

    First time I've done this, will be good to see how I do :)

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  • 11. At 2:07pm on 12 Sep 2009, Estesark wrote:

    Jonathan's predictions are looking pretty good after qualifying.

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  • 12. At 2:31pm on 12 Sep 2009, VioletPingu wrote:

    1st Hamilton
    2nd Raikkonen
    3rd Button
    4th Sutil
    5th Barrichello
    6th Kovalinen
    7th Vettel
    8th Webber
    9th Luizzi
    10th Alonso

    12th Fisichella
    16th Grosjean
    18th Alguersuari

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  • 13. At 2:42pm on 12 Sep 2009, I Am Deluded - Hughton Is A Geordie wrote:

    Button
    Raikonnen
    Barrichello
    Kovalainen
    Sutil
    Alonso
    Webber
    Kubica

    Despite qualifying which seems to be a bit false this weekend. Will be interesting to see the fuel adjusted grid.

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  • 14. At 2:50pm on 12 Sep 2009, sadisticend wrote:

    After seeing Qualifying it seems to me you have made a really strong prediction there Legard, I think it's your most accurate this season.

    Really looking forward to the race, I think we will see a lot of intresting action and strategy.

    I want Hamilton to win with Button in 2nd and it would be nice to see Sutil in the points.

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  • 15. At 2:57pm on 12 Sep 2009, GFasulo wrote:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Great commentary today. Martin was better and you both seem to get on well, which is good.

    These were my predictions before Friday Practice.

    1. Kimi Raikkonen
    2. Lewis Hamilton
    3. Mark Webber
    4. Giancarlo Fisichella
    5. Rubens Barrichello
    6. Jenson Button
    7. Sebastian Vettel
    8. Robert Kubica.

    Your predictions are very good indeed, and I doubt anyone predicted what happened in Spa. Maybe Mystic Meg did, but I certainly didn't!

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  • 16. At 3:05pm on 12 Sep 2009, Kyros wrote:

    why have you written off the Brawns for a win? They are very heavy yet very much on the pace where as the top runners are probably very light going for the glory of pole.

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  • 17. At 3:30pm on 12 Sep 2009, cordas wrote:

    1. Lewis
    2. Button
    3. Webber

    I can see Kimi and Sutil having a coming together at the start of the race, this time it will probably be Sutil who makes the mistake taking Kimi out, but he will get a drive through and fight back to get into the points.

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  • 18. At 4:09pm on 12 Sep 2009, hung720 wrote:

    my prediction:

    1. Hamilton
    2. Kimi
    3. Sutil
    4. Rubens
    5. Kovalainen
    6. Button
    7. Alonso
    8. Vettle
    9. Liuzzi (poor Otonio, I really like him)
    10. Webber

    but, who konws?
    maybe there will be another incident and totally mixes up the track?

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  • 19. At 4:11pm on 12 Sep 2009, dgmcl3284 wrote:

    1. Barrichello
    2. Kovalainen
    3. Sutil
    4. Liuzzi
    5. Grosjean
    6. Button
    7. Webber
    8. Alonso

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  • 20. At 4:20pm on 12 Sep 2009, 0ggers wrote:

    If Renault can get their crash strategy right I'd have to go for Alonso ;-)

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  • 21. At 4:30pm on 12 Sep 2009, FastBBBB wrote:

    Button is going better than the other title challengers. I honestly think your prediction will be wrong. Alonso would be lucky to get that high and Vettel.

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  • 22. At 4:53pm on 12 Sep 2009, Pedro300ZXTT wrote:

    Erm...

    It'll be a brawn 1 - 2

    3.Hiki
    4.Alonso
    5.kimi
    6.Hamberger* possible accident waiting with Sutil! :)
    7/8.Either Red Bull

    Maybe Fisi will scrape a point or two

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  • 23. At 5:05pm on 12 Sep 2009, g baby wrote:

    hi it would help if you could spell. The word is CURBS not KERBS. call yourself a journalist.

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  • 24. At 7:17pm on 12 Sep 2009, yeovil_til_i_die wrote:

    That's just beautiful hunterlevi, shoot down a hack when you get the chance. Yes he calls himself a journalist, because in the UK we spell it KERB, because otherwise he would be talking about restraining something!

    It would help if you could use punctuation. Capital letter after a full stop I think...

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  • 25. At 8:17pm on 12 Sep 2009, Saleh394 wrote:

    1.Hamiltom
    2.Raikkonen
    3.Sutil
    4.Barichello
    5.Button
    6.Kovalinen

    Kimi's gna get the jump on Sutil at the start. I can't see kovalinen keeping the Brawns at bay for the whole race

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  • 26. At 10:47pm on 12 Sep 2009, maestro48 wrote:

    Hi Gonathan! You have a chance now to call Bettel by his correct mane: VETTEL (that is, 'Fettel', not 'Vettel'; he is German not Genglish). So, it is 'Folksvagen', not Volkswagen, it is 'Vagner', not Wagner. You're a great commentator but an embarrassment when it comes to pronouncing foreign names...

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  • 27. At 10:55pm on 12 Sep 2009, A HiFi wrote:

    1. Kovalainen
    2. Raikkonen
    3. Barrichello
    4. Hamilton
    5. Button
    6. Sutil
    7. Webber
    8. Alonso

    9. Vettel
    10. Heidfeld
    11. Kubica
    12. Rosberg
    13. Liuzzi
    14. Glock
    15. Fisichella
    16. Grosjean
    17. Trulli
    18. Nakajima
    19. Buemi
    20. Alguersuari

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  • 28. At 11:44pm on 12 Sep 2009, ButtonFTW wrote:

    1. Barrichello
    2. Kovalainen
    3. Button
    4. Hamilton
    5. Raikkonen
    6. Sutil
    7. Fisichella
    8. Grosjean

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  • 29. At 1:59pm on 13 Sep 2009, jfewery wrote:

    Just wondered why oh why Martin Brundle is so keen to endlessly praise Jenson Button above the likes of Barrichello and Hamilton?

    Hamilton, Barrichello, Alonso and Raikonnen are so clearly better drivers than Button, who in the first part of the season lucked out in a decent car. When it went a bit wrong we saw the same old poor attitude from Button, whilst when faced with difficult cars, Raikonnen and Hamilton worked hard with their teams and have improved their situations.

    If anyone deserves this year's championship it is Barrichello and I hope he wins it. Button is obviously a very good driver, but so far from the complete package as he is genuinely nothing without the car as we have all seen since he started in F1.

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