Italian Grand Prix: Walk in the park for Vettel, but Alonso keeps it alive

Sebastian Vettel led the Italian Grand Prix from start to finish

Sebastian Vettel led the Italian Grand Prix from start to finish

It was second successive victory for Sebastian Vettel as he bagged another easy 25 points at the Italian Grand Prix, while extending his lead at the summit of the world championship table. Fernando Alonso managed to salvage some pride for Ferrari with second place in their home race and keep his title bid alive.

As in Spa, two weeks earlier, Vettel started from pole at Monza and apart from a front wheel lock up into Turn 1 on the opening lap, it was yet another faultless and dominant performance from Red Bull’s triple world champion. His sixth win thus far in a campaign that is slowly but surely edging him towards his fourth title.

As Vettel celebrated, on his slow down lap, he whooped and exclaimed over the radio, “Very good boys, very good race. Sorry for the lock up into the first corner, made the first stint a bit tricky.”

He added on the podium,  “It was a fantastic race but you can hear the difference when you don’t win here in a red suit but it means you have done well and beaten the red men but it was a great team effort today. The race was terrific for both of us, we had problems with the gearboxes at the end, but I was OK because I had a good cushion and it was a fantastic win.”

There was even more joy for the fizzy drinks backed squad as Mark Webber overcame some gearbox issues in the race, which forced him to short shift out of second and third gear corners, and with third place claimed his first ever podium at Monza at his final Formula 1 race on European soil.

Sebastian Vettel celebrates win number six after the Italian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel celebrates win number six after the Italian Grand Prix

Webber summed up his afternoon,  “I felt a bit better on the tyres at the end of the race. I got better speed out of them. It was a good battle with Alonso but a great team result and thanks to Monza on my final time here in F1.”

In the middle of the Red Bull sandwich in the final standings was Alonso, embroiled in Ferrari politics, the Spaniard set these aside and from fifth on the grid took second place to the delight of the tifosi. The result keeps the Spaniard in the title hunt for now, and with Vettel on a streak damage limitation on the points front was vital. In that sense it was mission accomplished for the Maranello squad.

Alonso said afterwards,  “Second place is good, to have this podium ceremony which is the most spectacular podium of the year. Hopefully we’ll come back next year and have first place.  I’m extremely happy, it’s a good weekend. We had top five for both Ferraris in qualifying, many races we didn’t achieve that. In the race, to be on the podium again is always a unique experience. We did a nearly perfect weekend, but Sebastian won. When someone dominates Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we just need to congratulate him. This is sport, we need to do better soon.”

It was a messy start to the race, as the field hurtled into Turn 1 with Vettel big onto the breaks and behind him cars forced to cut across the chicane after Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus tagged the back of Sergio Perez’s McLaren. When the smoke had settled Webber’s Red Bull was missing a front wing end-plate too, and Raikkonen’s wing was bent.

Paul di Resta was a first lap casualty

Paul di Resta was a first lap casualty

Things got worse when they pummeled into Roggia and Paul di Resta got on the brakes too late and climbed over Romain Grosjean’s Lotus. The latter survived but the Force India was bent out of shape and it was race over for the Scot of Italian heritage.

Raikkonen was forced to stop to and change the front wing of the car. Beyond that there were no other major incidents despite some very close racing – and high speed contests – throughout the field.

Felipe Massa did his bit for Ferrari teammate Alonso, allowing him through into second place unchallenged on lap eight into Turn 1. Thereafter he tried to fend off Webber, but  soon succumbed and settled for fourth place where he remained (apart from a brief period in the pitstop window) pretty much untroubled until the flag dropped on the 53rd lap.

“The race was very good, the start was very good, I overtook two cars straight away. The pace was OK but then the pit stop was the worst problem of race, I lost a position to Mark. That was the only negative point of race. In terms of driving, I did everything in a great way,” said Massa at the end of the afternoon.

Sebastian Vettel's biggest 'moment' was a lock up into Turn 1 at the start

Sebastian Vettel’s biggest ‘moment’ was a lock up into Turn 1 at the start

The star of the weekend was without doubt Nico Hulkenberg who qualified the under performing Sauber in third place on the grid, then proceeded to punch well above his weight to take fifth place and thus providing a much needed boost to his beleaguered team, while doing his shares no harm on an important stage.

The performance promped journalists to ask if he was out to impress Ferrari on their home turf amid uncertainty over their drivers for 2013, Hulkenberg replied,  “It’s definitely something I wouldn’t deny which I’m definitely interested in, it’s a no-brainer. I don’t know if it will happen, time will tell.”

“This is a 100% weekend for [Sauber], after yesterday we had another great day. To finish fifth was probably the right result for us because we only finished behind Red Bull and Ferrari which was great. It was a tough race, keeping Nico [Rosberg] behind me, because he didn’t leave me alone but it was great to get some more points and hopefully that will give us some momentum,” predicted the German.

Sixth place went to Nico Rosberg who started sixth, but the Mercedes driver was never quite at the sharp end of proceedings during the course of the weekend as he has been at some previous races. He pursued fellow Nico to the very end, but was half a second short when they crossed the line.

Italian Grand Prix podium at Monza

Italian Grand Prix podium at Monza

Daniel Ricciardo had a hassle free race in the Toro Rosso, keeping out of trouble the Australian finished seventh after starting from the same position on the grid. His team mate Jean Eric Vergne was luckless again, his day ending early with an engine failure.

Big mover on the day was Romain Grosjean who turned 13th on the grid to eighth with Lotus enduring another below par race weekend, as they did at Spa a fortnight earlier. Raikkonen tried hard to make up for time lost in the first corner incident, but 11th was his reward on the day. The team’s third place target in the constructors’ championship and Raikkonen’s title ambitions took another huge dent.

If Hulkenberg scooped the prize for driver of the weekend, we will give Lewis Hamilton prize for drive of the day. After a woeful qualifying performance, where the Mercedes driver declared “I drove like an idiot” he more than made up for it for a gutsy show stealing display on the day.

He spent the afternoon in battles throughout the field, having started with the (harder) Medium tyre he avoided the first corner melee to emerge tenth where he held station for several laps, while at the same time he lost radio contact with his team. Then it got worse for him as a slow puncture forced him to pit early, dropping him to the back of the field and nullifying his one stop strategy.

The first chicane on the opening lap was messy as it tends to be

The first chicane on the opening lap was messy as it tends to be

What transpired thereafter was pure Hamilton, a racer at his very best as he carved his way through to fifth and making easy work of some of the top names in the game. But he needed another stop while the others, bar Raikkonen, did not. With the softer (white band) tyres bolted on he did it all over again.

From fourteenth he again set about clawing his way back to ninth, muscling his way past both McLarens and Raikkonen in the process.

Hamilton reflected on the radio silence, “It’s almost like driving blind, you don’t know when to pit, when to push and what is going on. It’s awful when you are just empty of energy and have given everything for just two places and that’s it for the championship now.”

“It was a difficult weekend. I am ninth, we should have been much further ahead I am very disappointed with myself. I blew it in qualifying and it was impossible to make up the places. Overall it was a disaster of a weekend,” added the 2008 world champion.

It was a big result for Red Bull which prompted Adrian Newey to be sent up to the podium to celebrate with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel

It was a big result for Red Bull which prompted Adrian Newey to be sent up to the podium to celebrate with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel

McLaren dominated the very same race last year but, despite showing signs of a revival on the first two days, they were simply well below par when it mattered in the race. A solitary point was their only reward at the end of the grand prix marking their 50th year in Formula 1.

Final word to Red Bull boss Christian Horner, whose team celebrated their 40th grand prix victory, “Sebastian has been amazing here this weekend. His only mistake has made was on the rundown to Turn One, when he locked up. That was a great team performance today. It’s a great victory for us, but there’s still 175 points left. Anything can happen but we’re in a healthy position.” (GP247)

Subbed by AJN.

Italian Grand Prix, Race Result from Monza – Sunday, 8 September 2013

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time Grid Pts
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 53 Winner 1 25
2 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 53 +5.4 secs 5 18
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 53 +6.3 secs 2 15
4 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 53 +9.3 secs 4 12
5 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 53 +10.3 secs 3 10
6 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 53 +10.9 secs 6 8
7 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 53 +32.3 secs 7 6
8 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 53 +33.1 secs 13 4
9 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 53 +33.5 secs 12 2
10 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 53 +38.3 secs 9 1
11 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 53 +38.6 secs 11
12 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 53 +39.7 secs 8
13 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 53 +40.8 secs 16
14 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 53 +49.0 secs 14
15 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 53 +56.8 secs 18
16 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 52 +1 Lap 17
17 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 52 +1 Lap 20
18 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 52 +1 Lap 19
19 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 52 +1 Lap 21
20 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 52 +1 Lap 22
Ret 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 14 +39 Laps 10
Ret 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 0 Accident 15

Note – Sutil qualified 14th but was penalised three grid spots for impeding Lewis Hamilton during Q2.

  • johans

    Another flawless result for Vettel. The booing after the race for the “Winner” is disgraceful. I saw it firsthand at Montreal also.It does nothing for the sport Shame on you “fans”??

  • the fan

    its been the 2nd time ive seen vettel being booed, both with alonso as the runner up. so what makes people hate vettel everytime alonso is around?

  • Ukwhite

    Best team work in F1: Red Bull!

    Best driver, best engineer, best manager, best work environment!

    Unstoppable, just fenomenal, well done Seb!

  • Alonso_is_Slow

    I think Butterfly was booing as well home in front of the screen. Alonso has hypnotized him.

  • Ukwhite

    What makes people booing!

    Simply put, lack of education, primary instincts and the loser instinct of being besten up past, present and mostly future.

    Hope exists though, they are just a bunch of sore losers.

    But does it really matter? Nope for lad with steely character as Vettel’s.

  • Laokannan

    Great win, and in Monza…that has to hurt! No wonder why the booings.

  • the fan

    actually vettel is only booed everytime alonso is with him on the podium and its actually not red bull that they’re booing, mark got an applause. its just vettel. up to this day, vettel doesnt get the credit of a 3x world champion from a LOT of people.

  • Ukwhite

    The more booing Vettel gets, the better he performs, that is a fact. There is no one with his sheer determination and ambition in F1..

    Remember his focus winning 2010 title in Abu Dhabi, then again Abu Dhaby when he came on 3rd from last, then Brasil saga when he almost lost the title due to his a$$ partner. Not to mention surviving a vitriolic relation with Mark, or getting media pressure from Malayzia drama fired up by the same troublemaker, Webber.

    Seb is a one of the best performers in F1, he is getting better and more mature from one race to the other.

  • the fan

    ukwhite… i agree with everything you said except for one, webber causing the trouble that happened in malaysia? are you sure about this one?

  • Spartacus

    Very bad sports those who were booing. Fair enough having your favourite but not to appreciate others is such narrow mindedness.

    Thankfully Mark got a better response; probably because he let Alonso pass!

  • KC

    The Director Of Performance shows how it’s done. Four WDC’s in a row – what a truly incredible performance. And in the most competitive era in the history of F1 as well!

  • Butterfly

    Oh, my, look at the trolls having basking in the sunshine!

    Are you guys having a good time? Alright.

  • KC

    Look at the troll, calling other people trolls.

  • Uh

    I don’t care for Vettel however people who boo or support booing are sore losers, unsporting and frankly need to grow up.

    The Tifosi every year embarrass themselves booing anyone that isn;t a Ferrari driver. Makes them look unintelligent.

  • lawl

    Alonslow crying on saturday, Sebastian winning today. Nicely done. Keep it up with the booing you spaintards, seems to be working pretty well for Seb.

  • Abhinav

    Unfortunately F1 has again come in an era where races are becoming boring and too predictable. A win is a win but surely it is sweeter and entertaining when fought for, rather than a spoiled brat with his tomahawk missile getting poles and wins easily pulling away from field, that’s the reason he is being booed today and this will continue untill vettel does show his racing skills rather pulling skills.

  • Tamburello_1994

    Sebastian Vettel assault on the record books continues.

    Head and shoulders above the rest. It’s as simple as that.

  • Ukwhite

    @The fan: I agree, it is with mixed emotions indeed. I gave credit to Seb due to past events with Mark. The only thing I reproached to Seb was his wishy washy post event attitude which was kind of normal. He should have stated boldly, right away after the race the real reason he took the fight with Mark. Clearly that was a payoff for Brasil and other similar issues. The guys do not love each other, all of us have disliked people, so what is the big deal with that. Good their ways will separate. Daniel is different, the environment will be better controlled, but I do believe the competition will be more aggresive from Daniel than Mark, so Seb, watch out!

  • Tamburello_1994

    No points are awarded for style.

    A win is a win when you cross the finish line first.

    I thought racing is all about crossing the finish line first. Maybe some folks would be better off watching synchronized swimming since they are looking for entertainment.

  • abhinav

    @tamburello I believe all of us watch sports for entertainment only, u seem to be obsessed with seeing vettel win and that’s entertainment for u, not the real sole of sports which is competition. Hats off mate, no wonder why vettel shows his bloody shitty finger, people lyk u have given him enough holes to dig into. Well done mate. I guess u r right swimming is a better sports than current f1 status.

  • Tinto

    Men of the day: Roseberg and Webber.

    Roseberg for simulating a fight with an omnipotent Hulk, luring Ferrari in buying Hulk in their team. Saxons, what you can say :) With the same car Lewis beat the field.

    Mark for nicely screwing his wing in a fight with Alonso, justifying his impossible work to pass later Alonso, but in fact helping his brother to keep his championship hopes. In fact it is more against Vettel than pro Alonso.

    Can that be true? Not necessarily, but just a bit of it may be true :).

  • KC

    “untill vettel does show his racing skills rather pulling skills”

    It’s quite bizarre that some people imagine that driving faster than others drivers is not the single most important racing skill of them all. Senna did not become a legend due to starting in the midfield and passing people for the win. He became a legend for starting on the front row and leaving everyone else in the dust, just as Vettel is doing.

  • Tamburello_1994

    Equally bizarre that some are so insecure that they have to change the meaning on what a win is because someone is doing it so easily.

    Fact is, I give a rats ass who wins. But the fact Vettel does it with such ease sets him among the greats.

    That has to be acknowledged. It’s a simple as that.

  • Empee

    @Tamburello

    I agree. Sebastian does what he’s supposed to do on a regular basis, and what every other driver in that field wishes they could; dominate from start to finish. It’s the quintessential goal of racing, and while I’m among those who’d like to see more adversity, I don’t dislike him because it isn’t his fault that no other car and/or driver is up to providing it on a consistent basis.

  • Tamburello_1994

    Good words, Empee.

    I would love the both championship classifications to go down to the last lap, in the last race, Winners winning by a point. I’m not allergic to excitement.

    Conversely, I’m not gonna hate on a driver, or a team because they dominate week to week. Diminish someone – or their accomplishments because he’s not winning “hard enough” – Whatever the hell that means. Formula one has never been about equal, Or what’s fair, or degree of difficulty. This is how it’s always been. That’s why they call it FORMULA 1.

    Go watch GP2 if that offends your sensibilities.

  • Ukwhite

    That’s not gonna happen in 2013, the championship looks done and dusted. The Bulls are too far ahead, nobady is on par with them, Swiss clock work. Many ridicule Christian, but the guy has a huge contribution handling the people, that is art to harmonize high caliber personalities.

    And I still think 2014 is gonna take advantage of 2013 cars’ aerodinamics Bulls are best at. With Adrian’s mind and Seb’s potential, are the Bulls that may kill 2014 as usual. Let’s see….

  • the fan

    ukwhite… i agree on what you said about 2014. the only thing that will be different with the teams is the body work and as long as adrian newey is in RB, he will always find a way for that car to work. all that sebastian has to do is drive it fast.

  • fools

    ALONSOOOOOOOOOO! :)

    Well as expected Alonso doing the most he can coming from 5th to 2nd and down 5 seconds from Vettel. To bad that tranny didnt blow. Alonso was desperately trying to get to Vettel but he lost way to much time BATTLING 3 others just catch Vettel and yet again on a blown strategy by Ferrari.

    NO question was it a nice race to watch and Alonso doing what he does best. The booing is simply towards Vettel. As you can see a cheerful Tifosi applauding Webber yet from the same team as RB. lol.

    I dont encourage “booing” yet we all know why Vettel is being booed! Dont act like F1 doesnt know why. F1 will not point it out because it would damage F1′s Press.

    Alonso for the 2013 WDC!

  • Tamburello_1994

    All that happy talk aside, the Tfosi are pining away for the return of the Iceman.

    #returnoftheking.

    LMFAO!