Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull won the Italian Grand Prix, defying the jeers of Ferrari’s home fans as he extended his lead in the Formula One championship.
Vettel finished 5.4 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso at Monza yesterday, with Red Bull teammate Mark Webber third after the 53 laps. It was Vettel’s sixth win from 12 races so far this season and the 32nd of his career. The 26-year-old German is seeking a fourth straight world title.
Vettel, starting from pole position, controlled the race throughout. Alonso, fifth on the grid, moved up to second as Ferrari colleague Felipe Massa let him past, and maintained his position until the end to stay second in the drivers’ standings.
“You can hear the difference when you don’t win in a red suit,” Vettel said at the post-race ceremony, amid booing from thousands of Ferrari fans massed on the track in front of the presentation stage. “I said to the guys on the in-lap, the more we get booed the better we have done.”
Vettel had to overcome problems with a tire and with his gear-shift before wrapping up the victory.
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said the Italian fans’ reaction will urge Vettel forward.
“Anybody racing a Ferrari and beating a Ferrari at Monza, in Italy, is never going to be cheered,” Horner told reporters. “So the reaction didn’t surprise us. If anything it fuels motivation, certainly of Sebastian, to go out there and continue to improve.”
Webber overcame gearbox problems to secure his first podium placing at Monza in his last race there before he retires from Formula One at the end of the season.
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, who’d been looking for a fifth straight pole position, started 12th after a poor performance in qualifying. He battled his way up the field after a slow puncture and problems with his team radio sent him as low as 19th, and finished ninth.
“That was a difficult weekend,” Hamilton said in a team statement. “We paid the price for not qualifying far enough up the field. It’s just tough fighting so far down the field when our car was clearly really quick.”
Massa was fourth, ahead of Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg, Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo of Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean of Lotus. Hamilton and McLaren’s Jenson Button rounded out the 10 scoring positions.
Vettel extended his lead in the standings to 53 points with 175 points available from the remaining seven races. He has 222, followed by Alonso (169), Hamilton (141), Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus (134) and Webber (130). Red Bull leads the constructors’ championship with 352 points, ahead of Ferrari (248), Mercedes (245) and Lotus (191).
The next four races on the 19-event calendar are in Asia, starting with the Sept. 22 Singapore Grand Prix.