No prizes for guessing what prompted the biggest cheer of day from the tens of thousands of Italian fans gathered trackside at Monza.
Yep, Lewis Hamilton’s spin on the final lap sent the huge crowd around Della Roggia into raptures, the world champion punting his McLaren off the tarmac through Lesmo to allow Ferrari’s Raikkonen to take the final podium spot.
The Italian faithful didn’t have much to cheer over the previous 52 laps, with new boy Fisichella failing to make headway into the point-scoring positions and Raikkonen, though quick enough to keep up the pressure on the front runners, never quite looking like challenging for the lead.
But Hamilton’s big off – particularly inexplicable as he was surely too far behind second-placed Jenson Button to possibly pass the Brawn driver before the end of the race – finally sparked a full-scale party amongst the tifosi, who had already been cheered by the sight of the two Toyotas getting each other in a proper tangle. What’s the Italian for schadenfreude?
“He [Lewis] had a purple sector in the first score of that last lap and he was trying to catch Jenson,” McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh told the BBC after the race. “That’s what makes him the great racing driver that he is.”
Whitmarsh may be putting on a brave public face, but how much of a (how to put this politely?) dressing down is Lewis going to get once the cameras are switched off?
It was a frankly daft error from the Brit that, though unlikely to make much difference to the world championship standings come the end of the season, doesn’t do much to enhance his reputation as a shrewd, mature racer.
Is it this sort of mistake that stands between Lewis and the true greats – the Sennas and the Schumachers? No, I don’t mean Ralf. When Schumacher pushed his car to and beyond its boundaries, it was always a calculated risk – could you imagine the German spinning out on the last lap with no realistic chance of gaining a place?
And, just as a side note, does anyone else think that Vettel’s lowly finish today has actually made Jenson Button’s championship charge just a little more difficult?
With the Red Bull driver effectively out of the running from the drivers’ title, it’s a head-to-head between Jenson and Rubens, so Brawn won’t have to worry about playing favourite with their two drivers to make sure of securing the championship. Is that a little cynical?
At least it’s the Singapore night race up next. Surely nothing underhand or dodgy could possibly happen there… could it?