Sebastian Vettel was unchallenged at Monza on Sunday as he extended his lead in the standings with his third Italian GP win.
Only a lock-up of his front right tyre into Turn One at the start and a late-race worry about his gearbox threatened to derail his afternoon, as Ferrari's challenge faded within the first five laps of the race
Fernando Alonso made a tough overtake on Mark Webber on Lap 3, while team-mate Felipe Massa moved over on Lap 8 to allow Alonso to finish second ahead of Mark Webber and Massa,
Nico Hulkenberg clinched his best result of the season following up Saturday's P3 with a P5 after fending off the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg throughout the closing stages of the grand prix.
Race ReportIt was unusually damp at Monza with rain falling in the morning but just about stopping as the cars lined up on the grid, an ambient temperature of 25C with the track at 29C. Cars went out and back through the pits to judge conditions on the track. Mark Webber thought it wasn't wet enough for Inters and that everyone would start on slicks - which is indeed what happened.
Grid: 1.Vettel, 2.Webber, 3.Hulkenberg, 4.Massa, 5.Alonso, 6. Rosberg, 7.Ricciardo 8.Perez, 9.Button, 10.Vergne, 11.Raikkonen, 12.Hamilton, 13.Grosjean, 14.Maldonado, 15.DiResta, 16.Gutierrez, 17.Suti, 18.Bottas, 19.van der Garde, 20.Pic, 21.Bianchi, 22.Chilton
Adrian Sutil had been demoted three grid places after his blatant block on Hamilton in Q2. Red Bull had been allowed to change the dog rings in their gearbox that were damaged in qualifying - they changed 5th, 6th and 7th gears.
As the cars set off on their parade lap, it was Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Esteban Gutierrez who had been fitted with the Hard tyres, with everyone else on Mediums.
The red lights went out and both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber got a reasonable getaway. Nico Hulkenberg starting from P3 was immediately swallowed up by the Ferraris. Massa and Alonso were both straight past, but the distance the intervening Sauber had put the two red cars behind the Red Bulls meant that they couldn't challenge for the lead into Turn 1.
Massa got past Webber into Turn 1 and Alonso was up into P4 despite a last-minute lunge through the turn by Hulkenberg. Vettel led going into the braking zone, but aware that he had a Ferrari on his outside, left it late and locked up his front right, causing a small flatspot.
Further back Jenson Button got a dreadful start and was overtaken by Raikkonen immediately. Kimi came round the outside of Daniel Ricciardo and was challenging Perez into Turn 1, locked up under braking and shunted the McLaren up the rear badly damaging his front wing. This meant that Perez had to skip the first turn and go down the escape road, rejoining behind Ricciardo when in truth he should have been in front.
Hamilton, Sutil and Button also played it safe by taking to the rumble strips at the first turn but didn't get an obvious advantage.
Running down to the second chicane Paul DiResta got his braking all wrong in the Force India and clattered into the back of Grosjean's Lotus. The Force India was out on the spot losing a front wheel and a front wing, though Grosjean only sustained tyre damage and was able to continue.
Positions at the end of Lap 1: 1.Vettel, 2.Massa, 3.Webber, 4.Alonso, 5.Hulkenberg, 6.Rosberg, 7.Ricciardo, 8.Perez, 9.Vergne, 10.Hamilton, 11.Button, 12.Sutil.
Raikkonen had to come in at the end of Lap 1 and was immediately consigned to the slower two-stop strategy.
Fernando Alonso was keen to get past Mark Webber as soon as he could and on Lap 3 he managed to muscle his way past on the outside of the Red Bull going into the second chicane. It was always going to be a tight move and on the exit, the rear wheel of the Ferrari kicked out and took the endplate off Mark Webber's front wing. (Judging from the post-race reaction before the podium there was no hard feelings).
By Lap 5 Vettel had established a 2.8 second gap over Massa as Fernando Alonso set about closing the gap down to his team-mate. By Lap 8 Ferrari were able to shuffle the order and Alonso was through to P2 but over four seconds in arrears of Vettel.
Vettel's front right was a worry to the Red Bull team following his lock-up and on Lap 9 his engineer radioed through that they were monitoring it closely. It certainly didn't stop his lap time as he set the fastest lap on Lap 9 and opened up the gap to 4.8 seconds. By Lap 11 the gap was up to 5.7 seconds.
Lewis Hamilton's radio had stopped working early on and the team were having trouble communicating. On Lap 11 they had tell him the bad news that he had a slow puncture and needed to come in. It wasn't slowing him particularly as he trailed Jenson Button, but the chance of a sudden drop in PSI was too much to let him run through to the scheduled stops.
Hamilton came in at the end of Lap 13, his race immediately converted from a one-stop to a two-stop. Button in front of him had been held up by the longer-geared Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne which pulled away from him on the straights but on Lap 15 the car started coasting after the second chicane and dispensing smoke.
Hamilton's stop set him back to 16th behind Raikkonen who was 15th, they were the only drivers making progress up and down the field as more or less everyone held station.
Positions on Lap 19: 1.Vettel (6.2 seconds clear), 2.Alonso, 3.Massa, 4.Webber, 5.Hulkenberg, 6.Rosberg, 7.Ricciardo, 8.Perez, 9.Button, 10.Grosjean, 11.Sutil, 12.Gutierrez, 13.Maldonado, 14.Bottas, 15.Raikkonen, 16.Hamilton.
Grosjean started off the round of one-stoppers with a pit-stop on Lap 20, followed by Button (21), Perez and Ricciardo (22), Vettel and Webber (23), Massa, Hulkenberg, Sutil, Maldonado (24), Rosberg (26), Alonso (27).
The results of the stops put the two McLarens behind Hamilton, but with Button now in front of Perez after Checo endured a small delay on his pit-stop. By Lap 28 the early-stopping Raikkonen was up to P5 and Hamilton up to P8. Raikkonen had to disappear for more tyres on Lap 30 as Hamilton reduced the fastest lap to a 1:27.339.
The most significant outcome of the pit-stops was that Mark Webber was able to jump Felipe Massa for P3. Fernando Alonso was left out a long time on the Medium tyre mainly because Ferrari thought they would not be so competitive on the harder tyre. When he finally emerged Mark Webber was within a second of the Ferrari and had the Scuderia experienced a small glitch on the pit-stops would have fallen to P3. Sebastian Vettel's lead over Alonso was now over ten seconds.
Hamilton, on the faster Medium tyre, continued to set fastest laps and progress through the field. He overtook team-mate Rosberg on Lap 29 into Turn 1 and he used full KERS out of Turn 2 to get past Hulkenberg for P5 on Lap 32.
The gaps on Lap 33 were: Vettel 11.1 seconds to Alonso, 1.2 seconds to Webber, 1.4 seconds to Massa, 4.3 seconds to Hamilton.
Nico Rosberg looked to be catching Nico Hulkenberg in front, but on Lap 36 locked up into Turn 1 and had to navigate around the polystyrene blocks on the escape road which set his progress back.
Hamilton was just 2.8 seconds behind Felpe Massa when he was brought in by the team (on Lap 37), although it took a lap for the message to get across (Lap 38). Again he rejoined behind Raikkonen, but much closer and on much fresher tyres.
Raikkonen and Hamilton both armed with Medium tyres set about passing the mid-grid teams to get into the points. Raikkonen dived into the pitlane exit to get past Gutierrez on the start/finish straight on Lap 43 and a lap later Hamilton followed him past the Sauber driver. Sutil was next and Raikkonen provided the entertainment of the afternoon going round the outside of the German into Parabolica. Sutil lost momentum and Hamilton nailed him into Turn 1.
While this was happening on Lap 45 Grosjean overtook Button.
Positions at the end of Lap 45: 1.Vettel, 2.Alonso, 3.Webber, 4.Massa, 5.Hulkenberg, 6.Rosberg, 7.Ricciardo, 8.Grosjean, 9.Button, 10.Perez, 11.Raikkonen, 12.Hamilton, 13.Sutil.
Hamilton closed up on Raikkonen and on Lap 49 used the same technique that he'd applied to Hulkenberg taking a wide line through Turn 1, then getting early on the power and applying full KERS in the sweep round Curve Grande making the pass well before the second chicane. He then dispatched Perez (Lap 50) Button (Lap 51) as he reduced the fastest lap to a 1:25.8.
Raikkonen, despite a warning on fuel, managed to get past Perez for P11 (on Lap 52) but Jenson Button managed to hold on to P10 before the flag.
Similarly Hamilton challenged Grosjean for P8 going into the second chicane on the final lap but the Lotus driver held on as Hamilton locked up and went over the rumble strips - having to hand the place back to Grosjean after being momentarily in front.
Up front Mark Webber and subsequently Sebastian Vettel survived gearbox irregularities in the closing stages to hold on to P1 and P3. Webber was asked to short-shift as early as Lap 44 and believes without the problem he stood a real chance of overtaking Alonso and making it a Red Bull 1-2. However P3 was his first podium at Monza.
Felipe Massa was not far adrift in P4 with Nico Hulkenberg staying in front of Nico Hulkenberg for P5 and Sauber's best result of the season. Rosberg held on to P6 and Ricciardo a very distant P7 - the positions they'd both held on the opening lap. Grosjean came home P8 in front of Hamilton and Button.
Without the untimely stops for Raikkonen and Hamilton it would have been a dull and processional GP. Even though Vettel is even further ahead in the World Championship - over two wins ahead now - Ferrari have overtaken Mercedes in the Constructors championship, with Lotus's challenge trailing right off.
Alonso was as downbeat as you can be after finishing 2nd in a Ferrari at Monza in front of an adoring crowd with the biggest Ferrari banners in the world. Vettel had to endure the jeers from the tifosi on the podium - but at least the drivers had it to themselves this time, without the intervention of Greenpeace.
01 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:18:33.352
02 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +5.400
03 Mark Webber Red Bull +6.300
04 Felipe Massa Ferrari +9.300
05 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber +10.300
06 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +10.900
07 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso +32.300
08 Romain Grosjean Lotus +33.100
09 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +33.500
10 Jenson Button McLaren +38.300
11 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus +38.600
12 Sergio Perez McLaren +39.700
13 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +40.800
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams +49.000
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams +56.800
17 Charles Pic Caterham +1 lap
18 Giedo van der Garde Caterham +1 lap
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia +1 lap
20 Max Chilton Marussia +1 lap
21 Adrian Sutil Force India +1 lap
Did Not FinishMJean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso RETIRED 39 laps
Paul di Resta Force India RETIRED 53 laps
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