F1 2013: Italian Grand Prix – Driver Of The Day

I ended yesterday’s piece wondering if Sebastian Vettel’s march on to a four consecutive title would continue in Monza, and the answer from today would seem to be a resounding ‘yes.’

Vettel was once again in imperious form, just as he was at Spa, and extends his championship lead once more. He’d be a fine candidate for driver of the day once again, but at the risk of being accused of taking the easy choice, as well as wishing to make things less predictable than the race, I’ll choose someone else.

My candidate for driver of the day is therefore Nico Hulkenberg. He surprised everyone yesterday with what will surely go down as one of, if not the, lap of the season to qualify a brilliant third on the grid.

But given how much Sauber have struggled at times so far this year, you would have been forgiven for believing that he’d only go backwards in the race, as Valtteri Bottas did following a similarly giant killing performance back in Montreal.

That wasn’t the case today though, and Hulkenberg held his own to finish a commendable fifth place, behind the two Red Bulls and two Ferraris. He also managed to hold off the faster Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in the closing stages of the race.

At a time where the president of Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo, has stated that a decision on the team’s drivers for 2014 is “imminent”, such a performance will not have gone unnoticed. Perhaps this was the weekend that secured Hulkenberg a move to Ferrari?

His cause will be helped even more thanks to both Kimi Raikkonen and Paul di Resta suffering troubled weekends.

Regular readers of this piece will know that it is very rare for me to just nominate one driver though, and that’s the case again today. Lewis Hamilton deserves a mention for some of the overtakes he pulled off throughout the race, despite only having improved by three positions at the time of the chequered flag.

Lastly, Daniel Ricciardo once again deserves praise too, for matching his best ever result with seventh to complete a very strong weekend. It was exactly the kind of performance that will silence his detractors and show why Red Bull chose him to replace Mark Webber.

Those are my choices, but as ever, let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments section.