Arriving in Milan, was convenient, and this time I have a bit of McLaren company in my hotel (They always stay at the Hilton). Its the first time in Europe, where unlike Belgium I don’t have to keep saying ‘Anglais… Angeles’… or ‘Do you speak English?’ . Milan is probably the easiest city to get in and out of, however the track might not be. Monza is located a bit on the outskirts, and if I had not taken my younger racer brothers advice on travel here, maybe I would have managed fine. But thats the thing, in a family with motorsport, every major circuit in Europe is travelled and explored by the rest int he Ghorpade clan, and too much advice can be confusing.
Belgium started with Max mania and orange clad Verstappen fans last week but Monza Thursday with the 18 year old driver dragged into a controversy of his own making. A sentimental announcement of retirement made by Felipe Massa at the Williams motorhome and the rest of the paddock following their reactions on it. It was a long Thursday end by a Heinekken football match between all time champions from clubs all over Italy and the F1 drivers. From a orange sea of fans in Belgium, the colour changes to a red sea of Tifosi (sounds badass like mafiosi, but it in Italian it means fans).
Reaching here it was obvious, which topic would highlight the Thursday- Mad Max. Two moves on Kimi and one on Vettel during the Spa GP has dragged him into the firing line. When I was in Brussels two fans staying at my hotel warned me of the Thursday I would walk into at the Monza paddock.
The young Dutch has somehow been convinced that he is exceptional and better than a 36 yr old World Champion, which is possibly the reason why he has taken the liberty to do what he’s done and say what he’s said. His responses to the media and what Kimi and Vettel had to say have been absolutely unapologetic and defensive about his driving. Hamilton had said in Hungary that Kimi is someone who rarely speaks up and whenever the Finn bothers to open his mouth he usually has a point to make. However Max has been adamant about his statement and that he won’t change his driving . For an 18 year old who got his rare break into F1, his critics who had been silenced with a win in Spain, but in Spa and Monza everybody feels maybe the steps that he skipped, which were GP3 and GP2 might be the reason for his go-kart style of driving in F1, which hasn’t been just termed ‘dangerous’ , but fellow drivers have been outraged about it. However to calm things down the FIA has given him a ‘gentle warning’.
Apart from the Dutchman another topic that graced the media sessions was the confusing steward penalties, where in Alonso’s words, ‘the stewards should have penalised me for an unsafe release’. The stewards change for every race and some can be lenient while others can be pointlessly ruthless. The Kimi vs Max and Sebastian vs Max or first corner incident, wasn’t even investigated into. Nico Hulkenberg and Alonso’s unsafe release in the pit-lane release which was obvious to the viewer too went unpenalised. The drivers have demanded more clarification on the issue and stand untied on this issue.
The news that hogged lime-light however was Felipe Massa announcing his retirement along with Claire Williams. After fifteen years in Formula 1 the Brazilian teared up while making the announcement and showing gratitude to all those who have helped him along the way. His son Felipinho, wife and father were present at the announcement. My favourite line form the evening was the one where he said ‘There were three or four times when I thought I would end my racing career even before I entered F1, because of funds’. The Brazilian’s departure now raises speculation on who will replace him, Perez and Button are being linked up there but Button was tight-lipped in the FIA Press Conference that followed.
So thats been the buzz from Thursday, but generally it was a ton of statements on Max, the stewards and Felipe Massa’s retirement/replacement. The day end on a sweet note with a Heineken pitch featuring a football match between champions league players from Italian football clubs and Formula 1 drivers. The F1 team lost to the Italian footballers with a score of 22-5. Playing for Formula 1 team were Fernando Alonso, Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Jolyon Palmer and Daniel Ricciardo.