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Italian GP: Hamilton Claims First Monza Win

Sunday 9th September 2012

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Italian GP: Hamilton Claims First Monza Win

Italian GP: Hamilton Claims First Monza Win

Lewis Hamilton scored a comfortable first win in Monza coming home in front of an inspired Sergio Perez with Fernando Alonso finishing third..

Hamilton drove away from the field after resisting a challenge from Felipe Massa on the opening lap, but McLaren team-mate Jenson Button was later forced to retire from second place with a fuel pick-up problem.

That left the way clear for a late-stopping Sergio Perez to carve through the front-runners on a set of medium tyres and crush the hopes of the tifosi hoping to have both Ferraris on the podium.
Race Report
A sunny Sunday afternoon in Monza with bright sunshine and an ambient temperature of 27C with the track at 39C.

Seven rows of grid: 1. L. Hamilton, 2. J. Button, 3. F. Massa, 4. M. Schumacher 5. S. Vettel, 6. N. Rosberg, 7. K. Raikkonen, 8. K. Kobayashi, 9. P. di Resta, 10. F. Alonso, 11. M. Webber, 12. S. Perez, 13. B. Senna, 14. D. Ricciardo Toro Rosso

Start: As the lights went out the two McLarens got reasonable starts, but it was the Ferrari of Felipe Massa starting from P3 who was on the move. He got clear of Jenson Button to take P2 but in his ambition to pass Lewis Hamilton as well, allowed Button back up the inside. However Jenson's challenge didn't last long and Massa was clear in P2 after the Roggia (2nd) chicane.

Behind them everyone made it through the tricky Turn 1 unscathed, barring Timo Glock who lost part of his front wing. Fernando Alonso got a great start and was up from P10 to P8 and managed to get ahead of Kobayashi on the opening lap. Nico Rosberg had a dreadful start though, dropping from P6 to end the first lap back in 10th place.

Positions on Lap 11.Hamilton, 2.Massa, 3.Button, 4.Schumacher, 5.Vettel, 6.Raikkonen, 7.Alonso, 8.Kobayashi, 9.DiResta, 10.Rosberg

Into Lap 2 and the man in a hurry was Fernando Alonso. Even before the DRS was enabled he got past Raikkonen for P6, while Nico Rosberg was having more dramas/traumas. A failed overtaking move on Bruno Senna at Turn 1, with contact between the cars, dropped him even further back so that by Lap 5 he was in P13 having started from P6.

By the third lap Fernando Alonso was already looking at the fifth place of Sebastian Vettel who in turn was trailing the exhaust of Michael Schumacher. Right from the start it was clear that the Mercedes were going to stop twice - this was emphasised by Nico Rosberg's race engineer who admonished him. "We need to get past these cars - they're all one-stoppers..."

By Lap 4 Vettel had got himself past Michael Schumacher using the DRS. So the positions on Lap 5 were: 1.Hamilton, 2.Massa, 3.Button, 4.Vettel, 5.Schumacher, 6.Alonso, 7.Raikkonen, 8.Kobayashi, 9.DiResta, 10.Perez, 11.Senna, 12.Webber, 13.Rosberg, 14.Ricciardo.

Alonso had treated Michael Schumacher a little warily at first but on Lap 6 he was through. Out in front Lewis Hamilton was building a steady gap at about 0.2 to 0.3 a lap, with a series of fastest laps. Button wasn't close enough to Massa to use the DRS but Vettel was closing on Button.

On Lap 7 Sergio Perez showed what a great opening stint he was having by overtaking team-mate Kobayashi for P8. Further back, Bruno Senna was tussling with Paul DiResta and went off-track on the outside line into della Roggia chicane, nudged there by DiResta - when he regained the circuit he almost collided with Mark Webber. Both were dangerous moves that the stewards chose not to act upon.

By Lap 10 Hamilton had built a 3.4 second cushion to Massa and we had our first retirement. A failure on Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Ross sent him airborne over the bumps at the first chicane, the impact of the car landing hurting the Frenchman's back in the process.

Sergio Perez had started on the harder tyre and an indication of things to come was given on Lap 13 when the Sauber produced a purple (fastest) sector in S3. By Lap 14 Hamilton had built his lead over Massa to 4.7 seconds and Rosberg pitted for the first time. A lap later and Schumacher came in. The rest of the front half of the race looked like they were sticking to the strategy of one stop.

By Lap 18, though Massa's rear tyres looked like they were in trouble as Jenson Button - who'd been 1.5 to 2.1 seconds behind the Ferrari for most of the opening stint - was suddenly within 0.5. Button produced a sublime overtaking move on Lap 19 take Massa going into Turn 2, opting for the outside line into the chicane and making it work. Massa came in for tyres at the end of the lap.

It was revealed that Massa's engineers had lost their telemetry data from the car and so for the rest of the race Felipe would have to work out if tyres were overheating or the engine was losing power in the old fashioned way. His pit-stop kicked off a round of pit-stops including a controversial one where Alonso's Ferrari was released in front of Vettel's Red Bull as the two cars came in on the same lap.

Vettel managed to keep the place in front of Alonso, but there would be friction between the two to come. With Alonso and Vettel in on Lap 20, Webber and DiResta pitted on Lap 21. Out on track Daniel Ricciardo had yet to stop and was then hit by the train of Massa, Vettel and Alonso, losing three places in two corners.

Button pitted on Lap 22 and despite a sticking right front was able to rejoin still in front of Massa. When Hamilton came in a lap later the crew were able to turn him round in an impressive 2.7 seconds. Perez hadn't stopped and now led the race.Positions on Lap 24: 1.Perez (not stopped), 2.Hamilton, 3.Button, 4.Massa, 5.Vettel, 6.Alonso, 7.Schumacher, 8.Hulkenberg (not stopped) 9.Raikkonen

Alonso had followed Vettel for quite some time now and on Lap 26 went to overtake the Red Bull Racing car and got pushed out wide onto the grass. He was not best pleased. It could have been a far more dangerous moment with someone less experienced, but Alonso kept control as the F2012 bounced and the red mist descended.

By Lap 29 he had closed and passed Vettel in a move again between the two chicanes and after that was done the stewards decided to announce they would investigate the Lap 26 move. Given that Alonso had done virtually the same thing the previous year on Vettel in exactly the same place, it would seem logical that the stewards would make enquiries afterwards. They didn't and by the time we got to Lap 35 Vettel had been given a drive-through penalty.

Sergio Perez had finally been overtaken by Hamilton and dived into the pits at the end of Lap 29 to take on some Medium tyres. Both Hamilton and Button had been swapping fastest lap times and on Lap 30 Hamilton had an advantage of 7.2 seconds over Button who was 4.1 clear of Massa who was 3.1 ahead of Alonso in P4. It all looked plain sailing for the Mclaren team with no more pit-stops and everyone around them on the same strategy. But on Lap 33 Jenson Button pulled his car of to the side of the road with a fuel pick-up problem, the second retirement of the race.

Vettel served his drive through and resumed behind Mark Webber. Meanwhile Perez and Raikkonen were involved in a duel which saw Perez in front and then Raikkonen take him back. Perez finally got past the Finn on Lap 37 and was on much fresher tyres. He then started an extraordinary march to the front.

Perez put in the fastest lap of the race on Laps 37, 38, 39. Ferrari were beginning to get edgy - this looked like Canada all over again. Massa's race engineer Rob Smedley radioed through to him: "Think about how you're going to manage the tyres. Fernando is in third position." Which was obvious because Felipe still had a pitboard and could see Fernando in his mirrors. This was 'the call'.

On Lap 40 Massa duly moved over as instructed and let Alonso past.

Positions on Lap 40: 1. Hamilton, 2.Alonso, 3.Massa, 4.Perez, 5.Raikkonen, 6.Vettel, 7.Webber, 8.DiResta, 9.Kobayashi, 10.Schumacher, 11.Ricciardo, 12.Senna

Now Perez was catching both Ferrari drivers at over a second a lap. On Lap 40 Perez was 1.0 quicker than Massa in S2 alone. The gap to Perez was 4.2 seconds. On Lap 41 it was 2.5 and then 0.8 on Lap 42 and then Perez was past and gone.

He closed down Alonso in a similar way and overtook him on the run down to Ascari on Lap 46. Could he catch Hamilton? Only if Lewis had a problem - the gap on Lap 47 (of 53) was 10.5 seconds - too big.

Sebastian Vettel had recovered to P6 but then his car suddenly gave up on the start/finish straight as he went through his second alternator of the weekend. So, Button and Vettel were both out and then Mark Webber, whose tyres were degrading badly, lost control on the exit of the Ascari chicane, put in a slide of massive proportions but kept the Red Bull out of the barriers. However he had given himself such a front tyre flat spot, with the rubber down to the canvas, that vision was impossible due to excessive vibration. He retired the car.

Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg had demoted themselves down the order with their second pit-stops, but now they were both flying taking little time to pass the cars they caught. Schumacher was past DiResta on Lap 47 and on Lap 48 he was past Webber. Rosberg passed DiResta and then Mark Webber took himself out of the way on Lap 51.

Out in front Alonso and Massa both eased off as their tyres fell away badly and Hamilton upped his pace to stay clear of the charging Perez. At the flag Lewis was just 4.3 seconds clear, with Alonso now a massive 16.2 seconds behind the Sauber in third and Massa a further 9.2 seconds back in fourth. Raikkonen came across the line just in front of the fast finishing Michael Schumacher in fifth and sixth with Rosberg just 2.2 seconds back in seventh finishing the race with the fastest lap.

It had been a thrilling Italian Grand Prix with the podium drivers the same three drivers who had been taken out by Romian Grosjean at the start of the Belgian GP. What a difference seven days make.

FH

01. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1h19:41.221
02. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 4.356
03. Alonso Ferrari + 20.594
04. Massa Ferrari + 29.667
05. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 30.881
06. Schumacher Mercedes + 31.259
07. Rosberg Mercedes + 33.550
08. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 41.057
09. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 43.898
11. Senna Williams-Renault + 48.144
12. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 48.682
10. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 50.316
13. d'Ambrosio Lotus-Renault + 1:15.861
14. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault + 1 lap
15. Petrov Caterham-Renault + 1 lap
16. Pic Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap
17. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap
18. De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth + 1 lap
19. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth + 1 lap
20. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 2 laps
21. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 3 laps
22. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 6 laps
Did Not Finish
Button McLaren-Mercedes 32
Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 8

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