Events at Monza are of course important, but the Formula One paddock is keeping half an eye on the London Paralympics this weekend. Former F1 star Alex Zanardi is ripping up the asphalt at Brands Hatch in the handcycling event, where he’s just added a gold medal in the H4 individual road race to the sprint gold he won on Wednesday.
“I’m so proud of what Alex has achieved,” says racing legend Mario Andretti. “It’s as if he were my own son.”
This was a closer race than the one Alex won on Wednesday. He took the lead on the final lap, but he was always a cool customer in races, as anyone who saw him car racing – particularly in IndyCar – will no doubt concur. With just the relay event to go, can he make it a triple whammy of golds? Go Alex!
As for Monza, the teams were able to bask in glorious autumnal sunshine during practice. It was the perfect conditions for Jerome d’Ambrosio (aka ‘Custard’ – see yesterday’s post) to learn the Lotus E20 and get back up to speed at Monza, where he hasn’t driven for a year. He’s part Italian and he certainly got a vote of confidence from the crowd, who cheered loudly whenever he arrived at the first chicane.
Mark Webber didn’t seek inspiration from the crowd. Instead, the Aussie has been seeking stimulation from a ‘Mook’ (half magazine, half book) about rallying legend Colin McRae, who died in a helicopter crash in 2007. Mark has always had a soft spot for rallying, going back to his days on his parents’ farm near Queanbeyan, Australia, when he used to race his dad’s Ute around. Sadly for Mark, that’s not the fastest way to lap Monza in an F1 car!
As always happens at the last European race of the year, driver managers are bouncing from one motorhome to the next in their efforts to sort deals for next year. Jenson Button’s manager Richard Goddard raised a few eyebrows on Friday when he emerged from Force India with a smile on his face, until it became clear that he’s now the new manager of Paul di Resta. Whoever thought Paddock Cat would be breaking hard news stories like that!