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After Spain
Championship Standings:

Drivers' Standings
1 Lewis Hamilton 95
2 Sebastian Vettel 78
3 Valtteri Bottas 58
4 Kimi Raikkonen 48
5 Daniel Ricciardo 47
6 Max Verstappen 33
7 Fernando Alonso 32
8 Nico Hulkenberg 22
9 Kevin Magnussen 19
10 Carlos Sainz 19
11 Sergio Perez 17
12 Pierre Gasly 12
13 Charles Leclerc 9
14 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
15 Lance Stroll 4
16 Marcus Ericsson 2
17 Esteban Ocon 1
18 Brendon Hartley 1
19 Romain Grosjean 0
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructors' Standings
1 Mercedes 153
2 Ferrari 126
3 Red Bull 80
4 Renault 41
5 McLaren 40
6 Haas 19
7 Force India 18
8 Toro Rosso 13
9 Sauber 11
10 Williams 4

Monza: Sebastian Vettel and Toro Rosso slay F1 giants

by Mark J. Cipolloni
Sunday, September 14, 2008


A happy Sebastian Vettel on the Monza podium
Sebastian Vettel and his tiny Toro Rosso Ferrari team defeated the giants of F1 Sunday in Monza, Italy by dominating the Italian Grand Prix on a soaked race track from start to finish.  It was an historic first win for 21-year old Vettel (the youngest winner in F1 history) and for his Toro Rosso (formerly Minardi) team.  Two other first time winners this year Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) was second, some 12.4 seconds back, and Robert Kubica (BMW) was third.

Vettel's drive is being called the greatest wet weather drive in F1 history since Ayrton Senna's historic drive in the wet at Monza for the Toleman team where he should have beat Alain Prost but race officials threw the red flag early to ensure Prost won before Senna could catch him.

Sebastian Vettel takes dominating first win in the wet at Monza
The win overshadows Lewis Hamilton's dominating win at Silverstone earlier in the year, also in the wet because Vettel did it with a low-downforce dry weather setup and he did it with the smallest team in F1 whereas Hamilton had the 1,000 employee McLaren giant behind him (Hamilton also is alleged to have had traction control, but that is besides the point).

Fernando Alonso in the Renault was fourth, followed by Nick Heidfeld in the second BMW Sauber was fifth, Felipe Massa in the Ferrari in sixth, Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren-Mercedes in seventh and Mark Webber in the final points paying position.

Lewis Hamilton has bemoaned the changing weather conditions during the Italian GP that he believes cost him victory at Monza.

The McLaren driver was as high as second at one stage from his 15th place starting position.  But was forced to make an emergency pit-stop for intermediate tires that saw him finish behind Felipe Massa.

"I wasn't lucky today," Hamilton bemoaned. "If it had rained I would have won.

"I drove really well. I took it easy at the start and then decided to close in and hunt them down. I pulled off some good moves."

"Once I got behind Felipe I overcooked the tires and after that I struggled to stay with him. But I'm happy with that result. At least it was damage limitation."

A happy Vettel said afterward, "A fantastic race, a fantastic weekend with pole as well and a fantastic strategy this afternoon. As for the podium ceremony it was unbelievable and this is the best day of my life. I will never forget these feelings.

"It is so unbelievable. It is better than I had ever expected. A big thank you to everyone in the team for their great work. After a poor start to the season, we got better and better. Maybe in today's conditions, we could close the gap with a bit more effort or by staying on the throttle a bit longer. I'm speechless.

"As for the race, we were very fast in a straight line because we didn't go for high downforce as we thought it might be dry, so we stayed on the dry level. Being out in front with no visibility problems was the key and I could build up a solid gap to Heikki straightaway. Then I was pushing very hard, maybe going over the limit sometimes and I nearly lost the car. In the last stint I was in a very good position on the intermediate tire.

"I couldn't believe it when it kept saying "P1" on my board. But I kept my focus and kept pushing so as not to lose concentration. A perfect weekend."

Race Recap

The promise of dry weather proved false and as the cars lined up on the grid, with Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen in an unfamiliar sixth and fourteenth on the grid, the rain continued to fall. Nakajima and Button started from the pit lane and the race was started behind the Safety Car, with the use of extreme weather tires declared compulsory. Fourth placed Bourdais's Toro Rosso did not get off the grid and joined last, already one lap down.

As the Safety Car pulled in after one lap, pole man Vettel lead from Kovalainen, Webber, Rosberg and Massa. Raikkonen was thirteenth. On lap 4, Alonso passed Glock to go seventh behind Trulli and Raikkonen moved up one more place to twelfth, sitting right behind Fisichella. As the only man with clear visibility, Vettel was lapping quicker than anyone, leading Kovalainen by 5.8s. Massa, still fifth, was 13.4 behind the leader.

Raikkonen was fighting to get past Fisichella, but this had allowed Hamilton to close right up to the Ferrari man, so that the battle for eleventh was providing all the excitement in the early stages. Lap 9 saw the Finn finally win that particular battle to go eleventh. In fifth spot, Massa was 0.6 behind Rosberg.

On lap 11 of 53, Hamilton managed to get past Raikkonen so the order was now Vettel, Kovalainen, Webber, Rosberg, Massa, Trulli, Alonso, Kubica, Glock, Heidfeld, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Fisichella, Coulthard, Barrichello, Piquet, Nakajima, Button, Sutil and Bourdais. Massa was closing on Rosberg and was now just 0.3 behind. The Ferrari and the Williams had a fantastic duel for several corners, with Massa getting the advantage to move up to fourth. However, in case he had been deemed to cut the chicane in passing Rosberg, Massa dropped back and passed him again. Fisichella tapped the back of Coulthard, the front nose of the Force India went under the car and he went straight on into the barriers to retire.

Hamilton was moving up the order, passing Glock and chasing eighth placed Kubica, passing the BMW driver on lap 17. Leading Kovalainen by 11 seconds, race leader Vettel pitted on lap 18 for 8.4 seconds, fitting more extreme rain tires, coming out of the pits just behind Massa, who was now third. Raikkonen was still in twelfth, seemingly unable to move further up the order. Kovalainen pitted from the lead on lap 22, followed by second placed Webber and Massa, so that Vettel was now back in the lead. Behind him and yet to stop were Rosberg, Hamilton Trulli and Glock. Raikkonen was having a wheel to wheel dice with Heidfeld for tenth place, while Massa was 1.4 behind his team-mate in twelfth after his stop. Raikkonen pitted on lap 26 for a 5.9 stop and Hamilton came in from second on lap 27. With the half distance completed, the race would now pan out between those running a two stop strategy and the later refuellers who were now going all the way to the flag.

On lap 31, Raikkonen passed Trulli to make it into the top ten and two laps later, Massa made his second stop, fitting intermediate tires as the track condition had improved. On lap 34, Kovalainen also fitted intermediates as he made his final stop, followed by Raikkonen, one lap later. Race leader Vettel made his final stop on lap 36 as did second placed Hamilton. Massa was now sixth, right behind the slower Alonso and Heidfeld, but finding a way past was proving difficult. The Brazilian did get ahead of Heidfeld but then let him past as he had cut the chicane. Once again Massa had to contend with having Hamilton right up his gearbox.

The track was drying out in the final stages and Raikkonen set a fastest race lap on lap 47, now running ninth. Webber and Hamilton, racing for seventh collided on lap 48, but both men managed to continue. Out in front, Vettel led Kovalainen by 14 seconds, with Kubica trailing in third by a further 8.4. Massa, still sixth had dropped off the back of Heidfeld and had Hamilton 1.2 behind him. From then on positions remained unchanged to the flag. 

Team-by-team summary

At soggy Monza, 21-year-old rookie Sebastian Vettel followed up his pole position by becoming the youngest winner in F1 history, more than 12 seconds ahead of a McLaren.  "This is the best day of my life.  I will never forget these feelings.  It is so unbelievable," said the German, whose achievement was also the first win for chassis supplier Red Bull Technology.  It was not a day to remember for Sebastien Bourdais, whose good grid position fizzled with a stall on the grid that cost him a full racing lap.


Lewis Hamilton salvaged two points from his less than stirring Monza weekend, albeit allowing Ferrari's Felipe Massa to almost equalize the drivers' standings with four races to now run.  "If it had kept on raining, I feel pretty confident I probably could have even won, but my tires overcooked," the Briton said.  Heikki Kovalainen looked very disappointed after trailing Vettel home for second place.  "In today's conditions he was just too fast for me," the Finn admitted.


After failing to make Q3 on Saturday, Robert Kubica rose to a podium finish, meaning he is still within shouting distance of the Hamilton-Massa title contest.  Nick Heidfeld started tenth and finished fifth, and Kubica explained that his passing move on the German was executed accidentally.  "I overtook Nick before the first chicane without even seeing him.  It was really dangerous," the Pole said, recalling the opening laps in the spray.


Fernando Alonso, whose early switch to intermediate tires was the right move, finished just over 3 seconds away from Kubica's final podium step.  "We made up the five points that we needed in our championship fight," said the Spaniard, referring to the team's close battle for fourth in the championship with Toyota.  Nelson Piquet finished tenth.


Felipe Massa started sixth and finished in the same position.  "In certain conditions, our car is not quick enough," team boss Stefano Domenicali admitted.  By holding off Hamilton, though, Massa's points deficit to Hamilton reduces to just one point.  The Brazilian said he decided against trying to attack Heidfeld for fifth: "I thought it wasn't worth taking too many risks."  Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour to the checkered flag, but the burst of performance came too late for a point.


As a footnote to Vettel's triumph in a near identical car, Mark Webber headed the charge of the senior team, with his third grid slot becoming just eighth at the flag as he struggled with tire performance.  David Coulthard was the first lapped car, after a spin, tire troubles and finally contact with Kazuki Nakajima's Williams at the Parabolica.


About a minute behind the sensational Vettel, Toyota's Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli finished 11th and 13th respectively.  "We were expecting this to be a difficult race but the next few races might be better for us," said Trulli.


Nico Rosberg's strategy, and a backfiring tire choice at a pitstop, simply did not marry with the track conditions, ruining his promising fifth grid position.  Kazuki Nakajima started from the pitlane after some pre-race aerodynamic modifications, and he finished ahead of Rosberg in 12th.


On the bright side, Jenson Button - who like Nakajima started from pitlane in the hope of benefitting from overnight car tweaks - was the last driver in the field who avoided being lapped, but in a lowly 15th place.  Rubens Barrichello was 17th, his gamble of trying dry tires not paying off.  "We had nothing to lose.  I tried my best but it was definitely too wet," said the veteran.


Giancarlo Fisichella's midfield run after a strong qualifying ended shortly after Coulthard overtook him, when he tagged the back of the Scot's car and soon sped into a gravel trap without a front wing.  Adrian Sutil finished two laps down and last, when like Barrichello his gamble to switch to dry tires also did not pay off.



1. Sebastian Vettel Germany Toro Rosso-Ferrari 53 1h26m47.494
2. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 53 12.512
3. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 53 20.471
4. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault 53 23.903
5. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 53 27.748
6. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari 53 28.816
7. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 53 29.912
8. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 53 32.048
9. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari 53 39.468
10. Nelson Piquet Brazil Renault 53 54.445
11. Timo Glock Germany Toyota 53 58.888
12. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 53 1m02.015
13. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota 53 1m05.954
14. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 53 1m08.635
15. Jenson Button Britain Honda 53 1m13.370
16. David Coulthard Britain Red Bull-Renault 52 1 Lap
17. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda 52 1 Lap
18. Sebastien Bourdais France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 52 1 Lap
19. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Ferrari 51 2 Laps
R Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Ferrari 11 Accident
Fast Lap Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari 53 1:28.047

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