Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel won yesterday’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza, stretching his lead to 112 points as the German closes on a second straight Formula One driver’s title.
The 24-year-old cruised to his eighth victory of the season after taking the lead on the fifth of the 53 laps. He’d started on pole position, but was overtaken by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso at the start.
“It is a circuit that has been tough for us the past couple of years,” Vettel, winner at Monza in 2008, said at the post-race news conference. “It is a great race for us, a fantastic win.”
McLaren’s Jenson Button, the 2009 series champion, was second, Alonso third, with Lewis Hamilton in the other McLaren taking fourth spot. Michael Schumacher, the record five-time winner of the Italian Grand Prix, was fifth.
Vettel has 284 points through 13 of 19 races, Alonso 172, with Button and Red Bull’s Mark Webber on 167. Hamilton has 158 points. There is a maximum of a further 150 points that any driver can collect.
The German got a slow start and was in a fight with Hamilton and Alonso to lead into the first corner. Alonso, who started fourth on the grid, slipped past the two cars from the front row.
“The start wasn’t good, I don’t know where Fernando came from and it took me a while to realize we were three across the track,” Vettel said.
The safety car was brought out soon after as Hispania’s Vitantonio Liuzzi got a wheel on the grass and slid sideways into several other cars in the middle of the pack.
Racing resumed on lap four and Vettel was able to sweep past Alonso on the next lap before slowly building a lead which wasn’t threatened for the remainder of the race.
Webber’s race ended as he lost the front wing following a clash with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who was able to rejoin and eventually finished in sixth.
Hamilton was sluggish when the race restarted on the fourth lap and was passed by Schumacher. The Englishman managed to get past on lap 14, but couldn’t hold the position as the 42-year-old Schumacher regained the spot almost immediately.
As the two drivers scrapped, Button took advantage to move ahead of Hamilton and after a pit stop began to chase down Alonso. Hamilton again found himself behind Schumacher, who was reminded by Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn on his radio to “leave room” for his rival so as not to be cited for an illegal block.
Race for Third
He finally ceded the position on lap 28, freeing Hamilton. Button was able to take second with 17 laps remaining and Hamilton then began to close on Alonso.
“It was a good race, just not for the lead which is a shame,” Button said. “Great job by the team, just some little things we’ve got to work on.”
By the final lap, Hamilton was right behind Alonso but ran out of opportunities to pass and take a spot on the podium.
In the other points-scoring positions, Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari was seventh, ahead of Force India’s Paul di Resta, Bruno Senna of Renault and Sebastien Buemi in the other Toro Rosso.
Red Bull has 451 points in the constructor’s championship, McLaren has 325, with Ferrari on 254.
The season continues in two weeks in Singapore.