Italian GP: Minardi’s maiden win

There was an interesting question for Mario Theissen as BMW’s motorsport director emerged from the pits at Monza. Rather than ask for a comment on Kubica’s well-executed third place, a journalist wanted to know if Theissen had any regrets about letting Sebastian Vettel go.

Before Toro Rosso got hold of Vettel, BMW had been brave enough to give the young German his opening in F1 at Indianapolis in 2007.

It was a fair question which received the anticipated politically correct reply about being the right decision under the circumstances. But you can bet Theissen might just wonder about what, so far, has been the only questionable move in an otherwise faultless F1 campaign by the German manufacturer.

You also sense an air of bemusement as Dietrich Mateschitz made his way towards the podium. Here’s the man who is pumping millions into Red Bull Racing and it’s the ‘B Team’, the former Minardi outfit he had been ‘persuaded’ to purchase by Bernie Ecclestone, which has been the first to win. And win handsomely.

Okay, Toro Rosso doesn’t have the massive development and build programme taken on by Red Bull Racing. But you could read his thoughts: ‘How come a team of less than 170 people can achieve this?’

It was a question many people were asking. Vettel was unchallenged. Many of us expected him to make the most of a clear track in the rainy opening phase but it was assumed that the big players would come through as Vettel made an early stop.

In the event, no one got near him. It was an incredibly mature performance that the 21-year-old could hardly take on board as he sat beaming before the media for the second day in succession.

‘That slowing down lap was the best lap I ever did at Monza – not the fastest but the best,’ said Vettel. ‘The last part of the race was unbelievable. I kept seeing P1, P1, P1 on my board, with the gap to Heikki (Kovalainen) not getting smaller. I thought “F***! If you keep this up, you’ll be winning.” Sorry about putting it that way – but that’s what I thought!

‘I knew I had to keep up my concentration. It was so easy to overshoot under braking because it was so slippery off line. So I just pushed all the way. Okay, the conditions weren’t easy. You could not see a thing when there was traffic and you just look left and right and then you see the 200 metre board and you know it’s time to brake.

‘It seems amazing to say this, but this is probably the most trouble-free race I’ve ever done. I was able to concentrate on my car and my driving. I had a lot of fun, from the first lap until the last lap.’

By the way, Toro Rosso is still for sale. Interested parties contact Mr. Mateschitz, the bewildered guy in the Monza paddock. Think the price might just have gone up.

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