Faultless Vettel dominates at Monza
Sebastian Vettel has scored Red Bull’s first victory around the historic Monza circuit to win the Italian Grand Prix overnight.
Red Bull gambled with shorter gear ratios in Vettel’s car to give him extra acceleration out of Monza’s few corners, but at the cost of a slower top speed at the speed trap.
But the German, who won his first Grand Prix at Monza with Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2008, drove flawlessly after briefly losing the lead to Fernando Alonso off the line to seal the win.
‘Very emotional. This circuit means a lot to me and has been very special,’ said Vettel after the race. ‘A great race for us and a very special win.’
‘As I crossed the line I remembered every single bit [of my first win in 2008]. The podium is unbelievable. You stand up there and you feel so blessed.
‘It’s unbelievable. A circuit that’s been tough for us to be competitive the past two years.
‘A great race for us and a very special win… obviously very special for me to be in that place again.’
The battle for the podium was far less predictable, however, with the likes of Alonso, Massa, Hamilton, Button and even five-time winner at Monza Michael Schumacher staking their claim to a step on the podium
It would be Button, however, who spent much of his race waiting for the opportune moment to pass the waring Schumacher and Hamilton, who would follow Vettel home – albeit in excess of 12 seconds.
‘A tough start to the race, but a lot of fun,’ reflected Button.
‘It was a really fun race actually, fighting with Michael, Lewis and Fernando… the atmosphere is fantastic, it’s electric.’
The 2009 World Champion continued, pointing towards McLaren’s series of near wins in the past few rounds.
‘Another good race, we’ve just got to get everything together for race weekends. Just the little things we need to work on.’
The fight for third went down to the wire, with a frustrated Hamilton charging home to put the underperforming Ferrari piloted by Alonso under immense pressure.
The Briton would run of time in the end, giving the home fans something to cheer about as Alonso put a prancing horse on the podium’s bottom step.
‘Well we’ve been doing some good starts in the last couple of grand prix but starting fifth or sixth doesn’t give much room to overtake,’ said a relatively upbeat Alonso.
‘We maximised the potential in our start and we were leading the race for a couple of laps, [but] obviously we weren’t comeptative enough to fight for victory.’
‘A fantastic race, a fantastic feeling in the end on the podium. Being on the podium with Mark [Webber] retiring from the race and Lewis [Hamilton] behind us is a great acheivment.’
With Hamilton having to satisfy himself with P4, a wily Schumacher was more than happy to come away with P5 after showing there was still fire in him yet as he fought tooth-and-nail with the vastly superior McLarens for much of the Grand Prix.
Felipe Massa fought back after an incident with Mark Webber on lap five saw the two collide going into the first chicane. Massa was able to continue after a spin, while Webber – now without his front wing – understeered into the barrier on his way back to the pits.
It was the first time Red Bull failed to bring home both cars in the points since Korea last year, and in the top five in 2011.
Alguersuari again proved that being eliminated in Q1 isn’t as bad as it sounds, pulling off a superb drive to seventh to score a valuable six points – and a mental blow to his teammate Sebastian Buemi.
Buemi came home in tenth, split from his fellow STR driver by Senna and di Resta.
The race got off to an eventful start with Alonso rushing from fourth on the grid into the lead by the first chicane.
Chaos soon ensued, however, as Tonio Liuzzi edged his HRT onto the grass on the left hand side of the circuit.
He lost control of the car, sliding along the grass and into the chicane, taking innocent bystanders Rosberg and Petrov. Barrichello also lost time, temporarily sandwiched between the stopped Rosberg and Liuzzi until the traffic rushed away from the scene of the crash.
Vettel attacked Alonso once the safety car returned to the pits, eventually claiming his rightful place at the head of the field, but it would be Schumacher who would be the Bernd Maylander’s biggest benefactor, jumping a seemingly sleeping Lewis Hamilton on the restart.
The slip up hindered the remainder or Hamiltion’s race as he lost time battling for third position with the Monza veteran. Schumacher, to his credit, showed that the race craft that brought him seven World Championships hadn’t faded quite as much as many suggested.
Their heated battle eventually opened the door to the following Button, who jumped both of them at Ascari, leaving Hamilton to sort out Schumacher on his own. Schumacher eventually succumbed to his Mercedes’ harsh tyre treatment, and returned to the pits to change rubber.