Sunday's Italian Grand Prix went according to plan for Sebastian Vettel, who cruised toward yet another victory, extended his championship lead and drew the boos of the home crowd—the ultimate sign he had got one over on Ferrari.
Having started from the front of the grid, Vettel was so comfortable at Monza that television coverage often chose to focus elsewhere, safe in the knowledge the world champion was en route to a 53-point lead in the standings.
For a full list of finishing times, go to ESPN F1.
Home favourite (by virtue of his Ferrari drive) Fernando Alonso was second, maintaining a distant hope that he could still catch the German, but in truth, the Ferrari driver was more concerned with the Red Bull of Mark Webber than that of Vettel.
For the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen, though, world championship dreams are all but over—“like climbing Mount Everest in swimming trunks,” according to the Brit, via the Daily Star's James Murray.
The title race might already be entering a procession, but there are still a couple major talking points to keep the sport bubbling. Not the least of which is why Vettel is hated at every track he visits.
Vitriol for Vettel
To the list of Montreal and Silverstone, now add Monza. Vettel seems to get booed wherever he goes nowadays, not that he appears to mind, as reported by ESPN F1:
Obviously Fernando was up there [on the podium] and it's clear most of the Tifosi support Ferrari. I said to the guys on the in-lap the more booing we get the better we have done today. So it's obviously proof we have been very strong today.
The reasons for the booing of the three-time world champion are three-fold: Vettel is dominating the sport to a boring degree, he is getting the better of Ferrari and people still remember ”multi-21” in Malaysia.
Of the three motives, Vettel cannot be blamed for the first two and is even undeserving of his treatment. He may have the best car, but he is still outdriving Webber, even after a first-lap lock-up on Sunday which—in the words of team boss Christian Horner—“rattled his eyeballs out” for 24 laps, according to Sky Sports' Pete Gill.
However, those who boo Vettel for the Malaysia controversy, when he ignored team orders by overtaking Webber, have every right.
The criticism of Vettel is that he has the best car and is therefore, to some extent, celebrating hollow victories over less-equipped rivals.
By racing a team-mate who had been ordered to lead home the one-two in Malaysia, as Webber was, Vettel showed he is more than willing to accept hollow triumphs.
Champion in name, and most certainly a champion to go down in history, but the spirit of a champion? Not in that instance.
Angry Alonso Set for Raikkonen Rage
The always fiery Fernando Alonso was not happy with the media after what he perceived to be an attempt to unsettle his bond with Ferrari in the team’s homeland.
Speculation is growing that Kimi Raikkonen will become the Scuderia’s new addition, at the expense of Felipe Massa, for the 2014 season.
Should that move be made official, it would be the first time in four years that Alonso’s seat as the out-and-out No. 1 driver at Ferrari will come under serious scrutiny.
And under such context, the media leapt on Alonso’s sarcastic use of the word “geniuses” over radio messages on Saturday, when he qualified fifth.
Alonso felt the media’s interpretation of his comment was a clear ploy to portray a lack of harmony between he and Ferrari on Italian soil, per James Galloway of Sky Sports:
Yesterday it was the third or fourth consecutive race some people tried to create some tension between the team and the drivers.
Then we come to the press conference, we explain everything but obviously this doesn't sell so many newspapers, the normality.
From a fan's perspective, the introduction of Raikkonen, a fellow former world champion, alongside Alonso next season would arguably be the greatest way to spice things up for the 2014 campaign.
Still one of the best drivers on the circuit, there had been excitement over speculation the Finn could move to Red Bull to replace the retiring Webber, in order to see if Vettel would flourish against Raikkonen when both men have the same car.
However, Daniel Ricciardo’s promotion at Red Bull ruled out that possibility, so the next best option is to see Alonso and Raikkonen pit their wits against one another, while simultaneously launching an assault on Vettel’s dominance.