Alonso outduels Button to win Italian GP for Ferrari
Although Fernando had the advantage of being on pole position and made a good start, it was not as good as Jenson Button’s, who managed to muscle past to take the lead going into the first chicane. Indeed, for a moment, even Felipe pulled alongside his teammate, before slipping behind him down the straight. At this point, Lewis Hamilton pushed his McLaren alongside the Brazilian and the two cars touched: fortunately the F10 was able to continue, but the Englishman’s race was over due to broken suspension.
The leading trio, who appeared to be tied together with an invisible thread, then gradually pulled away from the rest of the field, with Fernando right on Button’s gearbox for much of the race and Felipe close behind, with the three men trading fastest race laps. By lap 20, Felipe’s advantage over fourth placed Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes was almost eleven seconds. With the top three men all so close, the one and only pit stop to switch from the soft to the hard tire was evidently going to be the key moment of the race. It was the Englishman who came in first, and when Fernando came in on lap 37, the Scuderia pit crew pulled off the fastest wheel change of the day. It was a heart-stopping moment as Fernando rumbled down pit lane, as Button rushed down the main straight, but the Spaniard just had the edge, the two men almost side by side through the first chicane. Felipe came in next time round and maintained his third place.
For the rest of the 53 lap race, the lead trio again stayed in close contact, but not enough for the positions to change, while there were several good scraps lower down the order. Finishing just off the podium was Sebastian Vettel in fourth place for Red Bull, who instigated the unusual strategy of bringing him into the pits for his compulsory tire change on the very last lap.
Vettel was followed by Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes GP in fifth, Mark Webber in the Red Bull in sixth, Nico Hulkenberg in the Williams-Cosworth in seventh, Robert Kubica in the Renault in eighth, Michael Schumacher in the second Mercedes GP in ninth, and Rubens Barrichello in the second Williams in the final points paying position.
As a result of Lewis Hamilton crashing out on the first lap after breaking his right front suspension after contact with the left rear of Massa on the intense opening lap, Mark Webber is now back on the points lead over Hamilton with Alonso third but within striking distance.
A member of the Hispania Racing, HRT F1 Team, had an incident during Sakon Yamamoto’s pit-stop. He has remained conscious all the time and been taken immediately to the Medical Center. We are waiting for more information from the Medical Centre.
Jenson Button (2nd): "It was a very tough race mentally, and it was tricky holding off the challenge from behind. I spent the first half of the race either looking in my mirrors or at the TV screens to see where Fernando [Alonso] was. I didn't know until after the race that I'd damaged my diffuser as a result of contact with another car on lap one, and I don't know whether that affected my pace or not. But, with the downforce level I had, I expected to pull ahead more through the corners. Instead, the car was moving around quite a bit; so I had to drive as smoothly as I could and not make any mistakes. Maybe it was the wrong call to pit when we did, but the team felt the new Prime tires were faster than the Options. But I couldn't find any grip on the new tires, and lost a little bit of time on them. When I saw Fernando emerge just of me, I was very disappointed. Overall, then, we didn't quite have the pace to win today. But this weekend was definitely a good one - I scored some good points, and this second place is very useful for my world championship hopes. There's still everything to play for over the next five races."
Lewis Hamilton (DNF, Suspension Damage): "I made a good start, gained a position, got up to fourth, and, at that moment, perhaps I should have just stayed there for a while. But I put my car up the inside of Felipe [Massa] into Turn Four, trying to get third, and that was probably a little bit too much. I was trying to position the car in a certain way, I was too close to Felipe, and his left rear clipped my right front. The car was damaged after that, and there was nothing I could do; you try your best, but some things just don't go your way. Today was a shame, and I want to say sorry to the team. But the championship certainly isn't over - although I have to admit that days like today don't help. The good thing is that Jenson scored a nice lot of points for us. Now, though, I'm already fully focused on Singapore."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Today Jenson drove a truly fantastic race, coolly and consistently absorbing enormous pressure all afternoon, and holding a secure but slender lead until the pitstops. The timing of pitstops is always an inexact science - but, once we saw that Robert [Kubica] was immediately lapping quicker on Prime tires after his pitstop, we resolved to put Jenson on Primes straight away. That was a logical and therefore sensible thing to do. But, even so, Fernando [Alonso] was just able to squeeze ahead when he in turn made his pitstop. It was incredibly close, and I'm sure it made edge-of-the-seat TV viewing, but on this occasion it went our opponents' way rather than our way. But that's racing. Like Jenson, Lewis made a very strong start, and was his usual forceful self on lap one. We've often seen that trademark lap-one forcefulness herald an equally combative race drive from him, but on this occasion he got involved in what I'd describe as a racing incident. But, again, that's racing. I was asked after the race why Lewis didn't pull over to the side of the track after the impact, and my answer was: 'Lewis is a racer, and racers keep driving till the wheels fall off - literally.' And we wouldn't want him any other way. Looking forward, there are five more rounds of the 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship to go, and the points situation in both the drivers' world championship and the constructors' world championship is extremely close. So it's all to play for, and you can be well sure that we at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes will be giving it absolutely everything we've got."
Nico Rosberg (5th): "Fifth place was an ok result today except for losing the place to Sebastian at the end there. It was a tough fight and I was pushing to the maximum throughout the race, firstly with Robert at the start and then with Sebastian towards the end. We got the most out of the car this weekend and another double-points finish is good for the team plus it is nice to be ahead of Robert again in the Drivers' Championship."
Michael Schumacher (9th): "I had a quite clean race and I am pretty happy about my start. It was tight with lots of action so lots of nice fighting. Unfortunately I had to give away two positions to Sebastian and Mark as I just could not keep them behind me. From there onwards, the race was pretty lonely really. However we got the maximum out of it considering where we started from and together with Nico, we scored some important points for the team, so I would say it was a decent race."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We achieved a very respectable result today with two cars in the points which is just the kind of race that we need to have for the rest of the season. Nico and Michael made great starts, showing their experience and maturity, and then drove strong races. Whilst we were not on the pace of the front-runners, we were the strongest of the group behind and Nico did a fantastic job to try and keep Vettel behind but it just wasn't quite possible. Michael had a very good race to get up into the points and with good work in the pits by the team, this led to another double-points finish."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "We scored points with both drivers today which is good. After a great start, Nico drove a strong race which moved him up two positions to fifth place and he posted the third fastest lap of the race, quicker than three of the four guys ahead of him. Michael improved from 12th place on the grid to ninth position at the finish. Needless to say that we are not satisfied with such positions in the longer term but I am definitely satisfied that the team achieved the best possible results today. Thank you to everyone for all of their hard work here in Monza."
Sebastian Vettel (4th): "Our strategy was a risk today - if it works then you're the king and if it doesn't you can be the idiot! Fortunately it worked and the team did a great job. I had a bad start and lost a lot of ground. It was difficult to pass from there, as unfortunately we don't have extra speed on the straights, so we had to fight in the corners as well as we could. Then around lap 20 something happened to the car, I don't know what it was, maybe there was some friction in the car, but fortunately the problem solved itself. In the meantime though, I lost connection to the group ahead and the tow, so around three to four seconds. I had to come back from there and it was a tough fight. The cars ahead pitted, so I stayed out as we tried to overshoot them. We were watching the lap times throughout and in the end it worked. So, some good points and we achieved our maximum today, which was fourth place."
Mark Webber (6th): "We could have got more points today, so it's a bit disappointing, but at least we got some. We lost out on the start and the first lap. I lost a lot of time behind (Nico) Hulkenburg, he seemed to spend every second lap going through the chicane, but the stewards left him alone which was frustrating. I got him in the end, but I lost a lot of time. I've had a better day than Lewis (Hamilton) and got more points, but Fernando (Alonso) won the race. It's good to get some points, but you always want a bit more. It could have been worse for us today."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "As a team performance today it was a great effort - especially after difficult starts and first corner where positions were lost. Both drivers produced excellent races and I think that the strategy and pit stops were well optimized. The unfortunate thing today was the time that Mark lost behind Hulkenburg, who went off the circuit a few too many times in our opinion. But we got very valuable points. Our objective prior to the weekend was to try to limit the damage, so to come out of the weekend back in the lead of the Drivers' Championship with Mark, while extending the lead of the Constructors' Championship is more than we could have expected."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "What a difficult race for us. We had bad starts with both drivers, so we were far back in the field at the beginning, but we stayed focused. We were very strong during the race and little by little we went up the order. We also tried a different strategy with Sebastian that worked well, so congratulations to our strategy guys. It meant Sebastian went up to fourth place. Mark made some great moves to overtake Michael (Schumacher) and (Nico) Hulkenburg and finished sixth. We took more points from McLaren and more points than Hamilton, so it's a very good result for us today."
Fernando Alonso (1st): "Winning at Monza at the wheel of a Ferrari is something special, which can only stand comparison to when I won in front of my home crowd in Barcelona in 2006. Being on the podium was an incredible feeling: what a sea of people, so many flags! I was stunned by the emotion from the fans, right from the first moment they got here on Thursday. I wish to dedicate this victory to them and to the passion that characterizes all Ferrari fans. I got a reasonably good start, but Jenson's was definitely better and more effective. I tried to attack him at the first corner but I did not manage it and there were some very exciting moments, when I collided with him and with Felipe. I was worried there might be some damage, but fortunately everything was fine. I could always keep up with Jenson: we were working out what might be the best strategy, then he pitted and it was obvious then that I should do one more lap. The pit stop was super: we gained the tenths that made the difference. Today, it was the mechanics who won the race and they produced a real miracle. The whole team was fantastic as was the car. Now we have updates coming for Singapore, but it will not be easy to continue to improve, because we also need to start thinking about 2011. We have to stay focused and do our best. We cannot allow ourselves the slightest mistake, because we are still behind, but we have definitely taken a good step forward today."
Felipe Massa (3rd): "It was a great day for the team, with a super result in our home race. I got a good start and maybe I might have made up a place, but I did not have good traction coming out of the second corner. Then I felt a knock and it was Hamilton who had hit into the side of my car: fortunately no damage was done. All race long the car worked very well and I was always competitive. The pit stop was not perfect and maybe the time lost there cost me second place. All the same, it was really nice to be on the podium: seeing all the people underneath it was incredible, with the whole straight packed with fans. It was a special feeling, especially as I feel I am part Italian. I am happy for the team and for our home crowd. Now there is much work ahead of us to prepare for the coming races, starting with Singapore. It won't be easy, but we are up for it. Personally, I will continue to fight for the wins and for the good of the team."
Luca di Montezemolo: "This is a very special day for me, and one that involves contrasting and very strong emotions. There is the delight for such a great win, which I want to dedicate to all our fans. I am proud of what the Scuderia has done, both on the track this weekend and back in the factory: it is an extraordinary job. They delivered perfectly, proving to be the sort of people who never give up. For this, I wish to thank Stefano Domenicali and all his colleagues and the drivers - Fernando was brilliant, taking pole yesterday and now the win today while Felipe got a very nice podium finish. But there is also the pain at the loss of a friend, Pietro Calabrese, a great journalist and a fan of ours, and so this victory is also dedicated to him."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "This victory was a team effort, which came at the end of a very busy week, which culminated this afternoon. It was fantastic to be on the podium, singing the national anthem along with all our fans: it's the sort of feeling that gives you goose bumps! It was an extremely close race from the first to the last lap, fighting against a very strong opponent. The win has come at just the right time and at the right place. It is the result of all the work from the Gestione Sportiva and our technical and commercial partners, first and foremost, Philip Morris, Santander and Shell, who always provide us with vital support. This season continues to throw up surprises: after the knock back in Spa, it might have looked as though we had had it, but we were not ready to think that way. We have always said we are not the sort to throw in the towel. Now the championship situation has opened up again, even if we are still up against very strong opposition. We will enjoy this victory for one night and from tomorrow morning we will be back at work, preparing down to the smallest detail for the next of these finals, namely the one in Singapore."
Chris Dyer: "A fantastic result for the team. We had a difficult weekend, a fortnight ago in Belgium, but after that everyone put in 110% effort to make up for it and be as well prepared as possible for this race. Everyone gave their all, on the track and at home over the past three days, starting with the drivers. It was not easy, as we had to adopt choices that were far from obvious, especially in terms of aerodynamic downforce and the set-up of the car. Then yesterday, Fernando produced a masterpiece in qualifying, which put us in the best possible shape to go after the win. There was a tense moment at the start and on the opening lap, but after that, we knew we had to wait and stop after our rivals to make up ground. We did just that, thanks to a combination of a perfect lap from Fernando and the fact the mechanics did an exceptional job in the pit stop. Felipe also drove a great race and it was nice to see both our drivers on the podium here in Monza. We know that if we can manage a perfect performance in the next five races, then we have a chance of winning."
Nico Hulkenberg (7th): "It was a tough day, but a rewarding one. I lost position off the start line, but managed to recover two places in the first chicane. From then on, I seemed to be fighting one or other of the Red Bulls for the whole afternoon, and there wasn't a moment when there was any let up in the pressure. It was made all the more difficult as I was struggling with the brake pedal, but it was an exciting afternoon of attacking and defending with great work in the pitstop, so I am pleased with the outcome."
Rubens Barrichello (10th): "I had a good start off the line and was alongside Nico, but coming into the first turn, I took the outside line and we all bunched up behind Vettel who had a bad start - it is so tight there - and I lost a part of my nose. But perhaps more significantly, I dropped behind Buemi who was running long, and that pretty much dictated my race, but I am glad that I added a point to our championship position."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Nico had an excellent drive today and delivered throughout the weekend and the team is really happy with his performance. Rubens was stuck in traffic for most of the race which cost him dearly, but he did manage to score a point. We had no problems on either car today and it was good to see us running competitively with the front runners."
Robert Kubica (8th): "I got a great start and passed Hulkenberg off the line, then the two Red Bulls in the first chicane. After Hamilton went off, I was running fifth at the end of the first lap, and from that point on I was managing the gap to Rosberg in front and Hulkenberg behind. I knew that the pit stops would be crucial, and we took the decision to stop earlier than the cars around us. I think it was the right one, because from my out lap I was at least a second quicker, but unfortunately we had a slow stop and lost a couple of seconds. That meant Hulkenberg came out of the pits level with me, and we were wheel-to-wheel under braking. He took a defensive line through the chicane, which meant Webber also got a run on me through turn three, so I lost two positions. It's disappointing, but that was our pace this weekend. We're looking forward to a better performance in Singapore."
Vitaly Petrov (13th): "I knew it would be a hard race and, although I managed to pick up five positions on the first lap, it wasn't enough to get me near the points. It's very difficult to overtake here because the low downforce makes it tricky to get in the slipstream of another car. I think I did the maximum I could have hoped for this afternoon, but it was my first time here in Formula 1 and this weekend was all part of my learning curve. Hopefully, when I come here next year I won't need to learn anything; I'll just be able to show my best level of performance."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "It was an extremely tight race today where every detail counted and the smallest mistake was penalized. The team did a good job with the strategy and we made the right call with Robert, but a slow stop cost us two positions. We must focus on getting all of these details right if we are to catch Mercedes in the championship, especially because they stretched their lead over us today. As for Vitaly, he had little hope of scoring points. He drove well but just could not make up enough places."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "It was a difficult day for us. Robert made an excellent start and gained three positions, but unfortunately at the pit stop Hulkenberg got in front of us and we then lost another place to Webber in the same fight. Vitaly did a credible job to come from P20 to P13, but scoring points from that far back is always very difficult. We now look forward to going to Singapore, a track that I'm sure will be far more suited to our car, and where we hope to challenge at the front."
Remi Taffin, Head of Engine Operations: "We were missing a little bit of pace today compared to Rosberg and the top three teams, and unfortunately we lost several positions during the pit-stop. On the engine side, it was more or less a trouble-free race. We used two brand new units, both performed well and I expect we will be using them again in Singapore."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (12th): "It was definitely a nice race to drive but from 19th position it was always going to be difficult to score points, particularly as there weren't any safety cars. We had some good fights and in the end we finished in 12th position. We had a good car and I think we were quick enough to finish in the points today but when you are behind someone who is not that much slower than you it's quite difficult to get past. I was pushing hard to pass Buemi and Rubens [Barrichello] but we were more or less at the same pace. Overall though we had a strong pace and it was a shame to just miss out on the points."
Adrian Sutil (16th): "Obviously a very difficult race. The first lap was not good when I was pushed wide into the gravel in one of the early corners and lost a lot of positions. By the end of lap one I was at the end of the field so we decided to come in to change to the harder tires as a strategic move to make up positions when the others pitted. I did my own race from that point on, which worked really well but we couldn't get close to the points when I had to come in for the nosecone change. It's one of those races where you hope to do better but I'm not too disappointed as it's been a good season so far and there are still five races left."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "Although we're disappointed not to have scored points today we've got to look forward. The car was competitive enough to finish in the points today, with a good overall pace, which is what we have to focus on in the coming races. Both drivers were unlucky: Tonio's qualifying issues made it difficult to score points and then with his problems on the first lap Adrian found himself too far down the field to be able to make in roads to the top 10. It's a shame but we'll pick ourselves up and take the challenge back in Singapore."
Sebastien Buemi (11th): "It was a positive performance, but a bit frustrating to miss out on the points. I lost some time around the pit stop, maybe we did it a bit early and I came out behind Barrichello. That was partly because the Lotus and Virgin I caught before the pit stop did not move over very quickly and I lost more time there. I was much faster than him from then on with the hard tires, but it is very difficult to overtake and I could not find a way past. But all in all, I am pleased with the performance of the car over the weekend, which was a definite improvement over the last few races and I am looking forward to more developments and getting the F-duct working so that maybe we can have it on the car for Singapore. If we continue like this I hope to be able to fight fair and square with the Williams and Mercedes in the final races."
Jaime Alguersuari (15th): "I am pleased with my actual performance in terms of lap times and race pace and the fact I made no mistakes. However, at the moment, I really don't understand why I got the drive-through penalty. It's the second time in two races that I have got one of these! As far as I am concerned, although I did cut the chicane, I did not gain any advantage, catch the drivers ahead of me or pull away from those behind. The actual penalty did not make much difference to my race, but it was annoying all the same."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "We have made a step forward here and the performance was good from Friday onwards. Buemi got a fantastic start, moving up four places to tenth position. However, prior to the pit stop, he lost time behind Glock and then on his out lap, it took a while for him to get the new tires working properly, which meant he lost a place to Barrichello. But he did a really good job throughout the weekend. Alguersuari, apart from getting a drive-through penalty for cutting the chicane, also produced good lap times. I feel quite confident and optimistic for the final few races, because both the team and the drivers have made progress, while the most important aspect is that updates we introduced on our car here seem to have delivered a better performance level."
Heikki Kovalainen (18th): "I lost a few positions at the start, managed to get in front of di Grassi but then was stuck behind Timo. I didn't have the straight line speed to get past him so didn't have the chance to make a move. It's a shame because I couldn't get the true potential out of the car after a good weekend, but that's life. We haven't lost anything in terms of the Championship so all in all it's not too disappointing."
Jarno Trulli (DNF, Gearbox): "It was a very good race until the gearbox problem meant I had to stop. I lost second gear and even though I continued running without second, it gave up completely which ended the race. But I must say that the race had been very satisfying until that point. I was pulling away from Timo and the guys behind and was increasing the lead with every lap, and the car felt great right from the start. But this seems to be the story of the season - we'll go to Singapore and hope my luck improves there."
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "One has to be philosophical after today's race, and focus on the fact we had a very good weekend. It's obviously disappointing that we had yet another gearbox failure on Jarno's car as he was comfortably pulling away from his nearest rivals until he had to pull over. Heikki had an unfortunate start, and that meant his whole race was compromised as he was stuck behind Timo and couldn't pass. Despite that, it's been a good weekend for the team. We've made some important decisions about next year, and we'll build on what we've learnt here and come back fighting."
Dieter Gass, Sporting Director: "A bit of an unfortunate race today after a strong weekend. Heikki lost position at the start - he managed to pass di Grassi but couldn't get past Timo after a good fight. Jarno had a strong race until we ran into gearbox trouble. He lost second, then the whole gearbox, which brought his race to an end. Now we move on to Singapore and we'll fight back there."
Sakon Yamamoto (19th): "The first thing I would say that I was very worried about the incident in the pit-lane. I asked if he was okay and I was told that he was not badly injured. Apart from that, we had a good pace on the first stint to keep up the other competitors. I kept concentrating during the race and I tried to do the best for the team and we were able to finish another race, so this is good."
Bruno Senna (DNF, Hydraulics): "It was a bit of a shame to have a mechanical failure in the car, because I had a strong race. But now we just have to keep working as hard as always and I'm already looking forward to the next race in Singapore."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "There was an incident with a member of our team during Sakon Yamamoto's pit stop. First aid was immediately on the spot and he was taken to hospital for further check-up. He remained conscious and was talking to the doctor. We wish that he will recover quickly. In the race, Bruno Senna had to stop the car on track due to a hydraulic failure. Sakon Yamamoto instead did a good race performance and finished 19th. We could carry on as in Spa and the gap to the team ahead was quite small compared to earlier races."
Pedro de la Rosa (14th): "I had a good start and was able to overtake Jaime Alguersuari. From then on I just tried to push as hard as possible and keep contact with the guys in front. But actually I lost that contact to Rubens (Barrichello) and after that I had quite a tough race. We knew we would face a difficult weekend here, and I have struggled with the car since Saturday morning."
Kamui Kobayashi (DNF, Electronics): "I'm very disappointed. I think I would have easily scored points here because my car was good in race conditions. But already on my first installation lap I realized there was something wrong with the car, and then I had problems with shifting. I went back to the garage and the pit crew tried everything to fix it. I then started from the pit lane. We gave it a try, but it didn't come as a surprise when I had to stop fairly soon because of the problem. It is a shame, but these things happen. I'm very much looking forward to going to Asia now."
James Key, Technical Director: "It was a disappointing race. We felt we might be in a position to score points, but unfortunately there was a problem on Kamui's car, which appears to be an ECU problem. We need to look into it further to understand it, but the problem caused damage to his gearbox on his out lap. We changed the ECU, but the gearbox was too badly damaged. We decided to start him from the pit lane, but immediately he felt the gearbox was a problem, so he had to stop, which was a shame. Pedro started on used option tires, and we decided to bring him in early and change to a new set of primes, which looked good in practice, but the tires didn't come in and unfortunately he lost places. It was a difficult weekend. We are now looking forward to the tracks which are coming up."
Timo Glock (17th): "I got a very good start and was going well into turn 1. I nearly got in front of both Lotus cars but Jarno was in a better position in the chicane for turn 2 and was able to stay in front of me. The opening laps were strong and I was able to put a lot of pressure on Jarno but I suffered with the rear brakes. In general I had to over-drive the car and just try to stay on line. The boys did a great job in the pit stop and I was able to stay ahead of Heikki Kovalainen. Together with my engineer I was able to manage the blue flags very well to get through the traffic and generally this has been a very good race for us."
Lucas di Grassi (20th): "Today we had a race with a lot of problems. From the start we lost a few places and in the end I was forced to retire with a mechanical problem with just one lap to go. A race to put behind us and move on to something better in Singapore. I'm looking forward to a stronger weekend there where we have an upgrade to the car."
John Booth, Team Principal: "A very strong race for us today in which Virgin Racing once again finished as the best of the new teams. This is the sixth occasion where both cars have been classified and so we are also leading the newcomers in terms of two-car finishes. The whole team has done a great job this weekend and can feel justifiably pleased with our car and operational performance. Particular congratulations to the pit stop crew today, who performed two very slick stops which made all the difference in securing today's result. It is sad that we have to say goodbye to Europe now but we still have plenty to look forward to in the long-haul races."
Mark Herd, Head of Performance and Race Engineering: "A good day today. Timo had a strong drive to finish as the highest placed driver of the new teams, helped by good strategy and a fast pit stop . Lucas struggled with the balance on his first set of tires and then suffered an apparent suspension problem right at the end. Our thanks also to Cosworth, whose engines ran strongly all weekend at this particularly demanding circuit."
Fastest lap: Alonso, 1:24.139
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