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Can Ferrari turn their title hopes around?

Some called it 'The Great Escape' as Ferrari dodged further penalty in Paris. Now the big question is will Monza give Fernando Alonso the chance to close back in on the McLaren and Red Bull drivers who have locked out the top four places in the championship?

india Updated: Sep 11, 2010 02:12 IST
Steve Slater

Some called it 'The Great Escape' as Ferrari dodged further penalty in Paris. Now the big question is will Monza give Fernando Alonso the chance to close back in on the McLaren and Red Bull drivers who have locked out the top four places in the championship?

The decision announced by the FIA World Motorsport Council in Paris on Wednesday evening may not have been popular, but it was the logical and pragmatic one. Their investigation into Ferrari's 'team orders' which gave Fernando Alonso his victory ahead of Felipe Massa, elected not to enter into a further debate over the details of the incident.

Instead, they simply agreed that the stewards had been right to fine Ferrari US $100,000 for the misdemeanour and decreed that Ferrari will have to handle all the legal costs for the hearing. Meanwhile back to Monza and after the incident-packed 44 laps of Spa, it could be said that the number of contenders in the title race has fallen from five to just two.

Vettel now lies third and Button fourth in the championship. The two lead title protagonists though, have forged ahead, with Lewis Hamilton leading on 182 points and Mark Webber close behind on 179.

Ferrari's fiasco in Germany at least demonstrated to us that there is a clear team strategy of favouring Alonso in his bid for the title. If Red Bull and McLaren don't adopt similar tactics overtly or otherwise in the final races and their drivers split points between them, it could cost either team the championship. Monza is Formula One's oldest and fastest circuit, with cars reaching speeds of more than 360kph and averaging more than 240kph a lap as they hurtle through the tree-lined park of one of Italy's old royal palaces. McLaren clearly demonstrated their pace with Hamilton's win in Spa, while Red Bull surprised many, including me, with their speed against expectations. Ferrari's was a flawed race in Belgium, but I suspect both Alonso and Massa to be in contention.

Meanwhile Force India will hope their run of form from Belgium will hold at Monza. Last year the team was at its best on the two low-downforce tracks of Spa and Monza and the portents look good for another strong run in Italy.

Steve Slater is an F1 race commentator on STAR Sports