Hamilton's not singing in the rain at a wet Monza
PUBLISHED: 17:13 18 September 2008 | UPDATED: 22:27 26 October 2009
HOCH ZWEI / Michael Kunkel
BBC Radio 5-live F1 commentator David Croft looks back on events at a wet Monza in the Italian Grand Prix… LEWIS Hamilton left the circuit at Monza last Sunday afternoon with half a smile on his face. The Italian Grand Prix had become a damage limitation
BBC Radio 5-live F1 commentator David Croft looks back on events at a wet Monza in the Italian Grand Prix...
LEWIS Hamilton left the circuit at Monza last Sunday afternoon with half a smile on his face.
The Italian Grand Prix had become a damage limitation exercise after he and his team had made the wrong tyre choice in qualifying and although he'd only finished seventh, he was still leading the championship.
Mission accomplished then.
What had been an unseasonably cold and wet weekend in Northern Italy had started with the expected round of questions regarding Lewis's penalty from Spa.
The man himself said he still felt "great" despite his demotion to third place in Belgium, whilst his peers all pretty much agreed that the McLaren driver deserved his penalty.
I spoke to Fernando Alonso on the Thursday and perhaps unsurprisingly he said he totally agreed with the stewards' decision and that if you cut the chicane you instantly have an advantage.
The Renault driver did very well to suppress his giggles when I asked him, just to be totally clear, that if the same thing happened to him he would take the decision on the chin and wouldn't complain.
He did chuckle that he would be disappointed if affected personally and stifled his smile as he answered the question, making it clear I think that he wouldn't be too pleased if the stewards took away his win. After all, who would?
Friday brought about the first on-track action of the weekend, although we didn't get much in the morning as the rain fell.
In fact, it was so heavy that the practice session finished early, round about five minutes after the 5-live Formula 1 team had abandoned their commentary box when the water started pouring in through a hole in the roof.
It then started to cascade over the fuse box and onto the floor where all our broadcast equipment was sitting.
Now I'm used to going 'live' on air, but in this case I thought it might be best to get out of there before the sparks started to fly.
The commentary boxes at Monza have now been officially declared the worst of the season.
With the rain still falling on Saturday, the car parks in the Royal Park had taken on the resemblance of Glastonbury.
The mud was getting worse, which made me feel for the Santander Grid Girls who arrived at the track without their wellies and were forced to trek through the muck in their heels, a far cry from the Milan catwalks just down the road.
By the time qualifying started, the conditions had worsened, leaving the drivers with no choice but to opt for the extreme wet-weather tyres and hope that they could tip-toe round the fastest circuit on the calendar without trouble.
Hamilton had no problems during the first session, but with his team anticipating the rain to ease at the start of the second, he made the call that was change the course of the weekend.
Lewis went out on the intermediate tyres but the circuit was still too wet and his lap time reflected that.
Realising that he needed to be on the extremes, Lewis came into the pits and was called in for a random weighbridge check.
That was a stroke of bad luck as by the time he came back onto the track the rain had worsened, leaving him no chance to improve his time.
The championships leader would have to start 15th now and had it all to do.
And boy did Lewis give it everything in the race.
Once he got past Fisichella, Raikkonen was left standing, underlining the Ferrari's problems in the wet conditions.
The charge was on to get to Massa, who like his team-mate was making little impression, only further up the field.
On a one-stop strategy, what Lewis needed was for the conditions to stay the same after his pitstop.
Sadly for him, whilst the rain worsened at the wrong moment for him in qualifying, it got better at the wrong moment in the race.
Had he been able to switch to intermediate tyres when he came in for refuelling, he could well have finished in the top three.
But the conditions didn't allow it and handicapped by an extra stop later in the race, he was unable to improve on seventh place.
The smile on his face though reflected his nearest rival's inability to make him pay for that qualifying mistake.
Only when the track started to dry did the Ferrari's improve their pace, Raikkonen setting the fastest lap and Massa keeping Hamilton at bay.
When it is cold or wet, the Italian team have troubles and as we now head off to Singapore, Japan and China where rain is likely, that could be the advantage Lewis needs to take the title.