Gear ratio key in Vettel's victory chances at the Italian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel's hopes of winning the Italian Grand Prix will almost certainly depend on him being able to make a clean break at the front of the field in the early stages of the race, reckon his main rivals

Gear ratio key in Vettel's victory chances at the Italian Grand Prix

Although Vettel caused a surprise by qualifying on pole position by almost half a second, his rivals are optimistic that the fight for victory is far from over because of the gear ratio choice that the German has taken.

Onboard footage and straight-line speed figures from qualifying suggest that Vettel has almost certainly opted for a shorter gear ratio than his main opposition - which could leave him exposed if he comes under threat from rivals in the DRS zones.

Vettel was slowest of all through the Monza speed trap before the first corner - with his 327.7 km/h figure comparing to Fernando Alonso's 342.2 km/h, Mark Webber's 336.1 km/h, Jenson Button's 333.1 km/h and Lewis Hamilton's 332.7 km/h

The maximum speed that is measured just before the finish line, shows Vettel is already slower than his rivals there - with him recording 316.6 km/h in qualifying, compared to Michael Schumacher's 323.5 km/h, Alonso's 321.3 km/h, Button's 319.4 km/h and Hamilton's 318.4 km/h.

Those figures have delivered encouragement for his rivals, who believe that Vettel will not only face a hard time defending the lead if he does not build up more than a one-second cushion at the DRS zone, but also that he will be unable to make the best use of DRS to overtake his rivals if he is behind.

Ferrari technical chief Pat Fry said: "Vettel is running on the limiter for 400-500 metres. So he has a very short gear, and if you look at the overlays, he is a match to us before he hits the limiter.

"That is the choice you make. When you are not using the DRS you will have a better gear ratio choice, and by the look of it Mark has got a longer gear in the car."

Button said: "I think if you look at the two cars of Mark and Sebastian, I think you see the one who was confident going into qualifying.

"I think Seb expects to lead from the front and not have the issue of trying to overtake anyone. If he is in the DRS zone then he will be on the limiter for the whole straight because he is at 327 km/h the whole straight.

"It is a gamble, especially as we are behind him, and I think he will be quick in the race. But if we can get the jump on him, then I think it will be tough for him."

Hamilton is even more encouraged by the situation, reckoning that McLaren has the chance of scoring a 1-2 finish in the race if they can put some pressure on Vettel.

When asked why he felt like that, Hamilton said: "It is just optimism. It is because clearly we have been strong all weekend, we have clearly had quite good long run pace and Jenson is in P3 and I am in P2, and there is only one step for both of us to do.

"I think starting here from pole isn't the best place to start from, I think we are in the best position because it is such a long run down to Turn 1, and we have a strong team behind us and we are quick. There is no reason why tomorrow we cannot compete with the Red Bulls."

Hamilton insisted, however, that he would not be taking any big risks in the race - because he felt he was still in contention for the title.

"We are still fighting for the championship," he said. "I don't want to take any chances. Hopefully we will get a good start, we are in the best position to still fight but again Jenson started quite far back in the last race and showed it is a long, long race and lots can happen.

"Regardless of whether we get the best start of not, we will still be in a fight until the end, so that is the plan."

shares
comments
Post-qualifying press conference

Previous article

Post-qualifying press conference

Next article

Top ten magic Monza moments

Top ten magic Monza moments
Load comments
How Britain’s lost Ferrari star epitomised a bygone F1 era Plus

How Britain’s lost Ferrari star epitomised a bygone F1 era

The 1956 Italian Grand Prix was over for Juan Manuel Fangio, along with his hopes of winning the world championship – until his Ferrari team-mate (and title rival) voluntarily surrendered his own car so Fangio could continue. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls Peter Collins, a remarkable sportsman

The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France Plus

The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France

Red Bull led the way after the first two practice sessions for the 2021 French Grand Prix, but only just ahead of Mercedes. There was all the usual practice skulduggery complicating the performance picture, but one aspect seen at the world champion squad gave it a ‘surprise’ lift, as it looks to leave its street-circuit struggles firmly in the past

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Plus

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Plus

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
The figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again in F1 2021 Plus

The figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again in F1 2021

OPINION: An interloper squad got amongst the title contenders during Formula 1’s street-circuit mini-break, where Red Bull left with the points lead in both championships. But, as the campaign heads back to purpose-built venues once again, how the drivers of the two top teams compare in one crucial area will be a major factor in deciding which squad stays in or retakes the top spot

Formula 1
Jun 16, 2021
Why Alfa's boss is ready for the task of securing a stronger F1 future Plus

Why Alfa's boss is ready for the task of securing a stronger F1 future

Two tenth places in recent races have lifted Alfa Romeo to the head of Formula 1's 'Class C' battle in 2021, but longer-term the Swiss-based squad has far loftier ambitions. With the new 2022 rules set to level out the playing field, team boss Frederic Vasseur has good reason to be optimistic, as he explained to Autosport in an exclusive interview

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
How Barnard’s revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction Plus

How Barnard’s revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction

The MP4/1 was pioneering by choice, but a McLaren by chance. STUART CODLING relates the tangled (carbonfibre) weaves which led to the creation of one of motor racing’s defining cars

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool Plus

Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool

Windtunnel work forms the bedrock of aerodynamic development in Formula 1. But as PAT SYMONDS explains, advances in virtual research are signalling the end of these expensive and complicated relics

Formula 1
Jun 13, 2021