Italian GP: Vettel crushes opposition at Monza
Vettel took the lead on lap 4 with a sensational Senna-like outside pass of a fast-starting Alonso at Lesmo and was never headed for the rest of the afternoon. Vettel won his 18th career victory, winning his second Italian Grand Prix.
Three years he took his first win at Monza in the inferior Toro Rosso in the rain, dominating just like Ayrton Senna did when he broke into F1 with Toleman (at Monaco) and Lotus (at Portugal), winning with inferior equipment in the rain. With Webber going out early in the race, Vettel increased his point lead even further and is all but assured of a 2nd world title in a row.
Lewis Hamilton finished in fourth place in his McLaren-Mercedes, followed by Michael Schumacher in the Mercedes in fifth, Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari in sixth, Jaime Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso-Ferrari was seventh, Paul di Resta in the Force India-Mercedes was eighth, Bruno Senna scored his first points for Renault in ninth and Sebastien Buemi in the Toro Rosso-Ferrari finished in the final points position in tenth.
At the lap four restart Hamilton was passed by Schumacher, who jumped to fourth at the start and then grabbed third from the McLaren. In the best battle of the race, Schumacher and Hamilton fought nose-to-tail for many laps, at one point Hamilton got past only to have Schumacher pass him back around the outside of Lesmo just as Vettel had done to Alonso on lap 4.
Eventually Hamilton got by when the Stewards warned Schumacher not to make two moves to block Hamilton braking for the Ascari chicane.
"It was an exciting race today, both for me and I think for all of our fans, and that is why I am happy," said Schumacher afterwards. "The fighting against Lewis was big fun, and my mirrors seemed to be very small at times. We are both known for driving on the limit, and that is what we did. I had to make my car as wide as a truck, and had to stretch the possible as much as I could, but in the end, as expected, he was still faster."
Mark Webber retired from the Italian Grand Prix on Lap 5, skidding off the circuit at the Parabolica after making Turn 2 contact with Felipe Massa. While battling for fifth place, the Red Bull and Ferrari touched in the middle of the Rettifilo Chicane.
“I got a good run down the straight, tried to go around outside and Felipe started to come across,” a disappointed Webber explained to reporters in the paddock. “I thought, ‘I need to get out of here’ but I didn’t know he was going to come across.
“Into Turn 2 I started to bail out of the move but if you clip inside of the curbs it launches the car. I think I made contact with him and then tried to get back to the pits but didn’t know front wing was jammed under the front of the car. Then I lost the steering.”
The Australian added that his title battle is all but over:
“I think we’re all battling for second now; Seb (Vettel) needs to have a very, very incredibly disappointing end to the season for anybody to take the championship off him. A missed opportunity for me but I’ll come back in Singapore.”
The German pulled out another 20 points in his runaway title lead on Sunday by dominantly winning the Italian grand prix at Monza.
There are just 150 points left to win in 2011, and Vettel's lead is now 112.
"Are we watching one of the true greats?" BBC commentator David Coulthard wondered.
Asked if he will be celebrating his second title in two weeks, Red Bull's Vettel answered with a grin: "I think we have put ourselves in a very good position."
F1's other two-time world champions are Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mika Hakkinen and Fernando Alonso.
Fastest lap: Hamilton, 1:26.187
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