Sebastian Vettel took race victory number 8 of the season with a relatively stress-free afternoon in the Italian Grand Prix. The victory extends his lead at the top of the World Championship to an almost unassailable 112 points, meaning with a good finish at Singapore in two weeks time, he will be able to seal the title in early October at Suzuka, Japan. McLaren’s Jenson Button had another fine drive as he took 2nd place, with Fernando Alonso pleasing the home crowd placing 3rd on the podium, finishing only half a second ahead of Lewis Hamilton in 4th.
Pre-race all the talk was of whether the McLaren’s could burst off the starting grid and take Vettel into the first corner, thus thwarting his short-shifting gear ratios strategy. However, as the five red lights went out, it was the scarlet Ferrari of Alonso, that burst past, via the grass, both Hamilton and Vettel and took a surprising lead. The first corner was also marred by a crash caused by the HRT of Liuzzi, who was forced to retire along with Nico Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov, the first three of 8 retirements.
As a result, the safety car was deployed, and the first mistake of the day from Lewis Hamilton was made. Unaware of the restart, the McLaren was under pressure from 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher, who had superior straight-line speed. He was passed and spent further laps stuck behind the Mercedes of Schumacher, himself at times was close to breaking the rules, with weaving being the problem. From the restart Vettel was all over Alonso, and by lap 5 had retaken his lead with a stunning overtake on the outside of Curva Grande.
From then on it was all Vettel until the end of the race as he pulled out a magnificent lead over the following pack. The overtake on Alonso, showed his ability that he has got, but hasn’t really had an oppurtunity to show, such has been the dominance of the Red Bulls this season. His teammate Mark Webber, however, lost his front-wing in a collision with Felipe Massa, and on the way back to the pits, slid off the track due to no front downforce, retiring in the process. This gave Jenson Button the impetus to to push on and attack, after a poor start saw him move down from 3rd to 7th place.
Schumacher and Hamilton, were still at it, losing time against the might of Vettel. The combination of DRS and KERS just wasn’t enough for Hamilton, although the pressure was ruining the tyres of Schumacher’s Mercedes. Eventually, Button caught up and passed the two of them, as did Hamilton. The subsequent pit-stops, however, stuck Hamilton back behind the sliver Mercedes!
However, Lewis persevered and finally got past Schumacher, after he was caught double-weaving. Infact it was almost an anti-climax, as Schumi almost handed the place to him, with 15 laps to go. The whole episode had cost Hamilton a lot of time, but, regardless he pushed onto the back of Alonso, who by this time had been long passed by the rampaging Button.
Button breezed past the squabbling duo of his teammate and a seven-tme world champion and hunted down another world champion Fernando Alonso. He caught him relatively fast, and passed him following the second round of pit-stops on lap 36, a reward for getting the slower ‘prime’ tyres up-to-speed faster than his opponent. Alonso hung on though, as Button struggled to match the blistering pace of leader Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton provided the entertainment for the latter part of the race as he chased Alonso, but the no avail as he finished just half a second off the Ferarri man. Other sidenotes in the race were first points for Bruno Senna in the Renault, nephew of F1 legend Ayrton Senna as he finished 9th, just below Brit Paul Di Resta of Force India in 8th. Also, Lotus finished a respectable 13th and 14th, to celebrate the news that drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen look set to compete for a 3rd straight season in 2012 for the team.
So, Vettel will be pleased once again, as should Jenson Button, another storming drive means he is really threatening Hamilton’s number 1 slot in the team, as Lewis continues his poor run of form. Singapore awaits!