Race: Vettel storms to Italian win

Sunday 11-September-2011 13:52

It took only five laps of the Italian GP before the winner was decided as Sebastian Vettel took the lead and pulled away from the field.

Behind him Fernando Alonso held onto P2 for much of the race before giving way to Jenson Button; but the Spaniard was able to stay just far enough in front of Lewis Hamilton to give Ferrari a podium at their home race

Race Report
It was warm and sunny at Monza for the start of the Italian Grand Prix with an ambient of 29C and the track at 41C. For this race there were two DRS zones, one between the start line and the first chicane and the other between the second Lesmo corner and the Ascari chicane.

Six Rows of Grid : 1.Vettel, 2.Hamilton, 3.Button, 4.Alonso, 5.Webber, 6.Massa, 7.Petrov, 8.Schumacher, 9.Rosberg, 10.Senna, 11.DiResta, 12.Sutil

Sebastian Vettel got away sluggishly and Lewis Hamilton wasn't able to capitalise. Vettel moved across to his right to push Hamilton towards the pitwall as they raced down to Turn 1 side by side, but Hamilton could only go so far right as Lewis had the fast-starting Alonso on his inside. The Ferrari driver had produced another blinding getaway from P4 and as the Red Bull and McLaren squeezed over, he managed to get in front into the braking zone - with his rear tyre clipping the grass.

Alonso was through the first turn in the lead and Vettel slotted into P2 having almost banged wheels with Hamilton in his move across the track. Hamilton took P3 into the corner ahead of Felipe Massa who also had a great start but had to file in behind Hamilton and in doing so allowed Michael Schumacher to get in front of him.

Jenson Button had a dreadful start from P3 and was only able to keep in front of Mark Webber, however all the drama was happening behind. Tonio Liuzzi impacted another car into the braking zone and lost control, his HRT sliding sideways across the grass on the inside towards the chicane and the cars queueing up there.

Liuzzi hit the innocent Nico Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov taking them out of the race. It also trapped the undamaged Rubens Barrichello between the two crippled cars while the field drove round them. After problems on the opening lap Daniel Ricciardo also had to bring his HRT car in. There was such a huge amount of debris at Turn 1 that it was only safe to dispatch the Safety Car.

Positions after Lap 1
1.Alonso, 2.Vettel, 3.Hamilton, 4.Schumacher, 5.Massa, 6.Button, 7.Webber, 8.DiResta, 9.Maldonado, 10.Perez, 11.Alguersuari, 12.Kovalainen

Kamui Kobayashi, Bruno Senna, Rubens Barrichello also used the opportunity to pit and change tyres, while Kobayashi managed to lose his front wing on the opening lap as well.

The restart was on Lap 4 and Lewis Hamilton lost contact with Alonso and Vettel in front; in fact he dropped so far back that Michael Schumacher was able to use the power of his Mercedes engine down the straight and pass the McLaren without DRS. Mark Webber breezed past Jenson Button at the same time.

On Lap 5 Sebastian Vettel was right on the back of Alonso going into Turn 1 and pulled alongside him heading towards Turn 2. Vettel was on the outside of Alonso going round Curve Grande but it would put him on the inside of Turn 2, the Roggia chicane. At this point, Alonso moved across and forced Vettel to put two wheels on the grass. Vettel kept his foot in and made a brilliant pass.

At the same time, Mark Webber was trying a move round the outside of Felipe Massa into Turn 1 that never looked likely to come off. Webber went to turn in as though there was going to be two lanes through the chicane and Massa just took the chicane as usual.

Webber lost his front wing spinning Massa around backwards and various cars nipped past including Jenson Button. Massa was able to continue without pitting but Webber had to head back to the pits for a replacement front wing. However at the end of the back straight he was unable to turn in and went straight on across the grass into the barriers at Parabolica.

Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton were straight onto the back of Fernando Alonso and on Lap 7 DRS was enabled, allowing both to close up further. But Schumacher was struggling to get past the Ferrari and Hamilton was struggling to get past Schumacher.

Positions after Lap 8
1.Vettel, 2.Alonso, 3.Schumacher, 4.Hamilton, 5.Button, 6.Maldonado, 7.Massa, 8.Perez, 9.DiResta, 10.Alguersuari, 11.Kobayashi, 12.Buemi

As Sebastian Vettel started to open up an unassailable lead, all eyes focused on the battle for third place, Schumacher vs Hamilton. Lewis had said before the race that he was going to take it easy, but every time he sought a way past Schumacher the German driver blocked him, testing that resolve. On Lap 13 Hamilton got past Schumacher on the straight, but Schumi had saved up his KERS and used it to get straight back past Hamilton after Turn 1.

All the time Jenson Button was catching the pair of them and when Hamilton got pushed onto the grass by Schumacher in an extraordinarily dangerous move by the German on lap 16, Button was able to get past his team-mate. Heading towards the Ascari chicane, Schumacher chose to defend the inside line against Button and he swept around the outside in another banzai overtaking move.

The glory didn't last long as Schumacher pitted at the end of the lap, Button pitted a lap later and Hamilton the lap after that. Unfortunately for Lewis the undercut had given Michael a speed advantage and he came out still behind Schumacher. On Lap 20, Schumi was guilty of making a double move in blocking Hamilton and FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting contacted the Mercedes team with a warning.

Schumacher then faced the humiliation of being radioed by his Race Director twice in two laps asking him to leave more space for Hamilton at Ascari, something unprecedented in modern F1. The Mercedes team could also see the bigger picture in that by blocking Hamilton he was potentially losing time to the fast-closing Felipe Massa.

Eventually Hamilton got past on lap 27 when the German missed a gear in the run down to Ascari and Hamilton, like Button, got past round the outside. At this stage of the race Button was putting in fastest laps and personal bests in his pursuit of Alonso's second place.

Positions after Lap 28
1.Vettel, 2.Alonso, 3.Button, 4.Hamilton, 5.Schumacher, 6.Massa, 7.Perez, 8.DiResta, 9.Alguersuari, 10.Buemi, 11.Maldonado, 12.Senna

Vettel had a 14-second lead on Lap 31 and barring problems was not going to be caught. Button had closed right up on the back of Alonso by that time, but in the last few laps of his stint the gap started to lengthen again, to 1.5 seconds - Button having taken too much out of his tyres in the early phase of the stint.

Button pitted for the medium, Prime tyre on Lap 34 and Alonso and Hamilton followed suit a lap later. The Ferrari struggles to put heat into the harder tyre and on Lap 36 Button simply out-accelerated the Ferrari away from the first chicane in possibly the easiest overtaking move of the day.

Although Alonso hung on close for a while, eventually he needed to start looking in his mirrors for the fast approaching Lewis Hamilton. Both McLarens were putting in fastest laps of the race but Hamilton was setting more in his pursuit of the final podium place. (On Lap 52 he took the Fastest Lap with a 1:26.187) Vettel had stopped for the final time on Lap 36 and when Massa got his Primes on Lap 42 there was 7.2 seconds of clear air between Alonso in P3 and Hamilton in P4. Schumacher faded in the final stint confident in holding onto P5.

There was only a second between Hamilton and Alonso as the cars crossed the line for the penultimate time and Hamilton arrived on the back of the Ferrari 150 gearbox in the braking zone for Ascari on the 53rd and final lap. One more lap and he would have done it.

As it was, Vettel had a lonely race to his second and more emotional Monza victory, followed home by Button, Alonso, Hamilton, Schumacher and Massa. A great drive from Jaime Alguersuari took him from P18 to P7 and Paul DiResta just about hung on for P8 ahead of the fast-charging Bruno Senna.

Most importantly the tifosi had got a Ferrari man on the podium and could celebrate accordingly, but it was the Red Bull team who had the most to celebrate. They had beaten their Monza bogey with a pole position and a win and now Sebastian Vettel is just one race away from his second World Championship.

Team boss Christian Horner dedicated the win to 'Erin' a member of the Red Bull team who had passed away before the race. Nobody minded that Mark Webber had finished his race early, Red Bull had passed another milestone.


01. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h20:46.172
02. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 9.590
03. Alonso Ferrari + 16.909
04. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 17.471
05. Schumacher Mercedes + 32.677
06. Massa Ferrari + 42.993
07. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
08. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
09. Senna Renault + 1 lap
10. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
11. Maldonado Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
12. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
13. Kovalainen Lotus-Renault + 1 lap
14. Trulli Lotus-Renault + 2 laps
15. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
Did Not Finish
Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 40
Perez Sauber-Ferrari 34
Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 23
Sutil Force India-Mercedes 11
Webber Red Bull-Renault 6
D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 3
Petrov Renault 1
Rosberg Mercedes 1
Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1

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