Vettel soars as Monza roars

Sebastian Vettel started from pole position at Monza, but Alonso brilliantly cruised ahead to take the lead for a short time until Vettel after 5 laps stormed past Alonso to take the lead and won the Italian GP in style on Sunday.

Reigning World Champ, Vettel, did have problems initially after a bad start with an opportunity well capitalized by Alonso who led the race for 5 laps before being overtaken by Vettel. Alonso started the race on 4th (second row). Alonso took lead in the first corner to the delight of the home crowd, which sadly was seen only for a short time. Vettel was worried about Hamilton on the left that gave Alonso optimal time to pounce on the small gap and overtook from the right. Vettel, true to his reigning world champ status proved why he was such a good racer when he forgot about being overtaken in the first corner and taking the lead back on the 5th lap. Vettel finished the race 10 seconds ahead of Button and Fernando Alonso.

McLaren Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton ended up finishing 4th in a race where he was held for the most part by former World Champ Michael Schumacher who finished 5th. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, the Brazilian, finished 6th, Toro Rosso’s Jamie Alguersuari finished 7th and was lapped by the race leader while others who were lapped and finished , 8th, 9th and 10th were Force India’s Paul di Resta, Renault’s Bruno Senna and Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi.

Vettel's 18th GP victory at MonzaSebastian Vettel now leads the F1 World Championships at 284 points much ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso at 172 points. Mark Webber of Red Bull Racing and Jenson Button of McLaren Mercedes are both tied up on 167 points. It’s all easy now for Sebastian Vettel who needs to stand on the podium once in the remaining races or at Singtel Singapore GP to defend his 2010 title. If he does make a podium at Singtel, this would be his second consecutive World Championship title.

As far as constructors’ Championship goes, Red Bull leads the pack followed by McLaren Mercedes at 325 and Ferrari at 254.

Main Race

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso couldn’t have asked for a better start as he squeezed past Vettel and Lewis Hamilton almost brushing past the pit wall as he seized the initiative with a small window of opportunity ahead of him. The three cars of Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso raced towards the braking area and were looking to break ahead when Alonso made his move in the 1st corner. Home Ferrari fans were delighted by Alonso’s move and Monza roared, but was short-lived when Vettel overtook him on lap 5.

Just when things were heading smooth for Ferrari and Alonso, Hispania Cosworth’s Vitantonio Liuzzi, who was racing for Force India Mercedes last year, did skid past the grass, came back to the track again speeding sideways and took out Petronas Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, Renault’s Vitaly Petrov and William Cosworth’s Rubens Barrichello. This caused deployment of the safety car to Vettel’s advantage where the cars had to cut speed and follow the safety car before the race was resumed again. The safety car was on the track for 3 laps.

When the race restarted, former Champion Michael Schumacher overtook Lewis Hamilton while Vettel was finding a way back against Alonso, but was unsuccessful initially on the 2nd chicane.

Just behind the leading pack, Red Bull’s Mark Webber had a moment when he clipped his front wings at Roggia Chicane against Ferrari’s Felipe Massa who spun around for a while. Webber drove without his front wings in his attempt to get back to the pits, but was unable to do as he lost momentum and control crashing his car to a standstill and his race was all over while Felipe Massa continued to race along.

Vettel found his chances back when he got past Fernando Alonso on the fifth lap while Schumacher who was closing in on tried to get past Alonso with Lewis Hamilton just behind Michael Schumacher waiting for his chances if Schumacher made any mistake. While Vettel stormed past Alonso to take a significant lead in the coming laps, Alonso was also able to get past the 1-second DRS criteria against Schumacher and both were racing 1 and 2 comfortably for quite some laps. Schumacher, however, was kept busy by Lewis Hamilton who wasn’t able to get past the former Champion, and Schumacher really showed his experience and displayed his skills making a statement as why he was the best for a long time.

On Saturday during qualifying for pole position, Vettel used shorter gear ratio than Webber, his teammate, or other drivers driving at Monza. This enabled Vettel good acceleration at Monza’s chicanes which were slow but at substantially low top speed, Vettel had to stay clear from the 1-second DRS criteria ahead of drivers following him; if he couldn’t, then it would’ve been quite easy for Alonso to get past him with the DRS enabled.

Vettel's victory at MonzaAll the drivers had the choices of using either soft compound tyres or medium soft tyres and drivers had to use these compound tyres once at least in the race. Among the 10 qualifiers, only Rosberg did start with medium compound while all others chose soft tyres, but Rosberg was unfortunately taken off by Liuzzi’s car on the 1st corner ending his race too early than expected, but teammate Michael did all he could to keep the team floating and challenging the McLarens for a long time in the race. The drivers were expected to pit twice in the race.

Lap 17 saw Hamilton getting past Michael Schumacher driving through the main straight, but Schumacher took back his 3rd position immediately. Jenson Button was closing in on both Hamilton and Schumacher and the three drivers raced close together at the 1st chicane. Both the McLarens were held to almost 1/2 second each lap that did allow both Vettel (now 1st) and Alonso (2nd) to be lapping significantly faster than them. Both the Red Bull and Ferrari were now lapping 8 seconds ahead of Hamilton and Button at this time.

Driving via the main straights saw Hamilton try to get past Schumacher again, but was on rev limiter not allowing him to accelerate fast enough to get away.

In the meantime in the 1st chicane, Michael made an error that allowed Lewis to close in on him as they both raced together, but the aggressive Schumacher pushed Hamilton onto the grassy surface allowing Button to speed past Hamilton and grab 3rd while Hamilton had to back off a bit. Michael, however, did pit after that lap.

On lap seventeen, Button did pit and Hamilton followed him after a lap on the 18th. Button did exit the pit lane ahead of Schumacher setting fastest 2nd sector timings and was racing ahead of Schumacher significantly. Hamilton, on the other hand, exited pit lane behind Michael again and had to work all over again to get past the German.

After the pit stop, Hamilton was a different man and looked spirited to attack Michael who was blocking Hamilton almost everywhere with F1 rules clearly saying one could defend positions, so all was fair regarding holding one’s position, which made Lewis to hold a deficit of 8 seconds against teammate Jenson who was speeding ahead of Schumacher. Vettel was cruising significantly at the top with an 11-second lead against Alonso with Button 1.6 seconds behind Alonso while Hamilton was struggling to get past Michael Schumacher.

While all this drama persisted, Team Principle, Mercedes, Ross Brawn spoke to Michael on the radio while he still continued blocking Lewis superbly. Button was lapping quite significantly while Hamilton managed to keep up lap times a bit lower than Button.

The next lap saw Ross Brawn again talk to Michael on the radio and warned Michael to allow room for cars racing behind when he changes direction. Button had no problems as he did catch up with Alonso and Michael finally obeys Ross Brawn allowing Hamilton to speed past him. Button now was racing alongside Alonso, and in the 2nd chicane forced Alonso to get defensive and Vettel now had set the fastest lap of the race.

On the 33rd lap, Button entered the pits for a change in tyres while Sauber Ferrari’s Sergio Perez did retire with gearbox issues.

Ferrari implemented their strategy by calling Alonso to the pits after Button had stopped earlier. Alonso rejoined the race ahead of Jenson, but the advantage was a bit less. Meanwhile, both Vettel and Hamilton pitted next.

Alonso was a bit slow in the 1st chicane while Button drove well when he exited the chicane and got past Alonso at the 2nd chicane and was 3rd now. Michael Schumacher was 2nd at the moment, but had to make a 2nd pit stop. On the 37th lap, he rejoined the race behind Hamilton.

The all spirited Hamilton now set the fastest lap while Button a bit slower and Massa made his 2nd stop on the 40th lap. Hamilton was now lapping significantly faster and aimed to get past Alonso with a deficit of nearly 7 seconds between him and Alonso.

There were 7 laps remaining out of the 53 when Hamilton was eyeing a podium finish as he was nearing Alonso, now just 5.2 seconds behind, but was only able to pull off 1/2 second a lap when he again set fastest laps on the 48th lap, but these good lap times weren’t helping Hamilton as Alonso looked comfortable for a podium behind Button who was far behind the race leader Vettel who was cruising on his own accord. Vettel now had set a superb lap time with the lead now over 15 seconds over Jenson Button.

With now 3 laps for the chequered flag, Hamilton drew closer to Alonso at 2.6 seconds deficit, but Lewis was held by Toro Rosso’s Buemi (back marker), allowing Alonso a breather who eventually was able to stretch gaps again.

On the 51st lap, Hamilton was very close to Alonso at 2 seconds when Hamilton set his sight on a podium finish and gave everything on the last and final lap. On the last lap, Lewis was now 1 second off Alonso enabling him to use the DRS, but as said before was short of laps allowing Alonso to finish 3rd much to the delight of the home crowd of Ferrari, Italy.

Vettel stopped his car at the finish line claiming his 18th victory of the season, Button with a comfortable 2nd and Alonso 3rd.

Vettel's victory at Monza

Italian F1 GP Results

  1. Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Red Bull
  2. Jenson Button, Great Britain, McLaren Mercedes – +9.5 seconds
  3. Fernando Alonso, Spain, Ferrari – +16.9 seconds
  4. Lewis Hamilton, Great Britain, McLaren Mercedes – +17.4 seconds
  5. Michael Schumacher, Germany, Petronas Mercedes – +32.6 seconds
  6. Felipe Massa, Brazil, Ferrari – +42.9 seconds
  7. Jaime Alguersuari, Spain, Toro Rosso – +1 lap
  8. Paul di Resta, Great Britain, Force India Mercedes – +1 lap
  9. Bruno Senna, Brazil, Renault  – +1 lap
  10. Sebastien Buemi, Switzerland, Toro Rosso – +1 lap
  11. Pastor Maldonado, Venezuela, Williams Cosworth- +1 lap
  12. Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Williams Cosworth – +1 lap
  13. Heikki Kovalainen, Finland, Lotus – +2 laps
  14. Jarno Trulli, Italy, Lotus – +2 laps
  15. Timo Glock, Germany, Virgin Racing – +2 laps

Did Not Qualify

  • Mark Webber, Australia, Red Bull
  • Vitaly Petrov, Russia, Renault
  • Nico Rosberg, Germany, Mercedes
  • Adrian Sutil, Germany, Force India
  • Sergio Perez, Mexico, Sauber
  • Kamui Kobayashi, Japan, Sauber
  • Jerome d’Ambrosio, Belgium, Virgin Racing
  • Daniel Ricciardo, Australia, Hispania Racing
  • Vitantonio Liuzzi, Italy, Hispania

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