Vettel gambles on short top gear at Monza

By on Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jenson Button furrowed his brow at Monza when he considered how Sebastian Vettel had dominated qualifying.

"Difficult to understand," said the McLaren driver.

Vettel, indeed, was half a second quicker around the high speed Autodromo Nazionale with a small wing setting and a Renault engine not expected to dominate.

His top speed was the least impressive in the entire field, a full 22kph down compared with the best.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the answer to the "mystery" is that the 24-year-old German's RB7 was set up specifically for qualifying, with a very short seventh gear.

"Vettel is planning to drive away from the front," Mercedes' Ross Brawn speculates.

"If he gets away at the start he will go on and have a lonely race. His car is tuned to laptime, not top speed," added the Briton.

If Vettel is passed at the start by a McLaren, then, he may be in trouble, unable to keep up on the straights or make best use of DRS because of the short gearing.

"In fact, we have a good chance to get our first one-two of 2011 -- I'm optimistic," said fellow front row-sitter Lewis Hamilton.

Added Button: "If he (Vettel) wants to pass someone, he will be on the limiter."

"If he (Vettel) falls behind, it will be hard to get back past," a Renault engineer agreed.

As for the ranks of passionate Tifosi, they are likely to be disappointed on Sunday. "We will try to have some fun and to get on to the podium," said Fernando Alonso ahead of Ferrari's home race.

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