Half an hour after the end of the final qualifying session here at Monza, it rained. Not just a few drops, but a full-scale apocalyptic deluge, as vicious as the storm that engulfed last year’s Italian GP.
The rain was so heavy, in fact, that it brought a halt to the GP2 race that followed quali. It couldn’t, however, extinguish the party atmosphere of the big crowds camped out around Roggia, who are armed with beer and sleeping bags and Ferrari flags and, presciently, massive tarpaulins to hide under. They must have learned from last year.
It wasn’t quite the qualifying session that the Italian faithful had been hoping for, with local hero Giancarlo Fisichella failing to get through to Q3 and having to settle for 14th on the grid.
Raikkonen’s third spot brought a massive cheer, though not as big as that for Adrian Sutil’s lap that briefly saw him take pole before Hamilton went quicker. Maybe it’s the Ferrari-Force India connection. Maybe it’s just the team’s underdog status. Whichever way, the Italians are loving Force India’s new-found pace.
As for Hamilton’s last-gasp pole – well, it might well have been greeted with complete stony silence around the stands if it wasn’t for the sizeable contingent of travelling Brits. The only sight that united the locals and the UK contingent was that of England football coach Fabio Capello in the Ferrari garage, beamed on the giant screens around the track.
The feeling from the locals is that Hamilton is looking just too quick for the rest of the field… so long as it stays dry. If Sunday sees anything like the downpour of today, though, it’ll be a no-holds-barred scrap – and remember how much Vettel likes the rain at Monza.
We’re told the conditions are set fair for tomorrow, but as one Ferrari fan told us, the Milanese like to give the English some familiar weather when they come to visit.
So, a nice dry day and an easy win for Lewis… or a mighty downpour and a glorious charge from the back to give Fisichella his maiden Ferrari win? What’s your money on? We’ll give you odds of six-to-one on the latter. Go on then, seven-to-one…