Fernando Alonso made it the second time in ten years, at the start of the Formula One Italian Grand Prix, for the polesitter to lose the lead, but his luck changed by the end when he passed the chequered flag, as the winner on Ferrari's home ...
Fernando Alonso made it the second time in ten years, at the start of the Formula One Italian Grand Prix, for the polesitter to lose the lead, but his luck changed by the end when he passed the chequered flag, as the winner on Ferrari's home turf.
Alonso was very pleased to get his third win of the season under his belt, and was very appreciative of the work done by the team, "Most of the thanks for the win is to the mechanics."
"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," Alonso said. "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 characterises all Ferrari fans."
The Spaniard finished ahead of McLaren driver, Jenson Button, with Felipe Massa taking the last spot on the podium in the other Ferrari.
When the lights went out to mark round fourteen of the season, it was polesitter, Alonso, who didn't have quite the start he planned from first position. As the front-runners approached the first corner, it was second place man, Button, who made the most of his opportunity, as he snatched the lead from Alonso, leaving the Ferrari driver side by side, and fighting for position with team mate Massa.
However, Button and his McLaren team mate, Lewis Hamilton, both suffered damage after contact with the Ferrari duo. Jenson got a knock to the rear of his car from Alonso, which caused a piece of his diffuser to break off. Massa was clipped by Hamilton.
Hamilton took the blame, saying, "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 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."
Throughout the race, Button did occasionally drop his lap times, as a result of this minor damage. It was a game of cat and mouse between Button and Alonso, when the pair did get close at times. On lap thirty-three, Alonso locked up but managed to keep it together, then suddenly clipped the kerb. At that point he was on Button's tail, but failed to catch him due to the mishap.
It was the timing of the pit stops that worked in Ferrari's favour as Massa took the lead from Alonso. When Massa had to pit around lap thirty-eight, the positions reversed temporarily, and Button took the chance to grab second place, and kept his title hopes alive.
"When I saw Fernando emerge just ahead of me, I was very disappointed," said the Briton. "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."
His team mate, Hamilton, though, was not able to pick up any points, and his race ended before it had even begun. His chances of remaining as the leader in the Drivers' Championship were soon dashed, when he had slight contact with Massa. This resulted in a broken steering arm for Hamilton, and saw him make an early exit from the race.
Other preliminary retirements accompanying Hamilton, included Kamui Kobayashi for Sauber, who was already forced to start his race from the pit lane, then had gearbox problems just a few laps later, which led him to stop out on the track. Just three laps before the end of the race, Jarno Trulli also had a disappointing end. It was exactly twelve months ago, that the Italian was confirmed to be in Lotus, as they made their come back into the sport. Bruno Senna was the fourth driver to retire from the race in his Hispania car.
Normally the back markers fade into the background, when most of the attention is on the front-runners fighting for the win and the championship points. On lap twenty-four, the drivers at the back of the pack were shown the blue flag, to alert them that they had to allow the front of the field to pass them. Two of the outsiders caused controversy today, as Sakon Yamamoto for Hispania Racing, was in the pits and knocked over one of the mechanics, who was mending his radio connection in the cockpit. Yamamoto did not see him in time, as he made a swift exit from his pit box. The mechanic was taken to the medical centre, as he had suffered some bruising after the incident.
Jaime Alguersuari was also in trouble, but it was his manoeuvre on the track, which the race stewards were interested in. On lap twenty he missed the chicane, and although he did not gain or miss a place, he still went against the rulebook. The race stewards issued the Toro Rosso driver with a drive through penalty, which he later served on lap twenty-five. After facing the consequences of his actions, the Spaniard finished in fifteenth place, with his team mate Sebastian Buemi finishing in eleventh position.
The new teams in Formula One this season, are still competing to achieve higher grid slots than each other. With Jarno Trulli already out of the race for Lotus, his team mate Heikki Kovalainen finished in eighteenth, just behind Virgin Racing's Timo Glock, who got blocked by Renault driver Vitaly Petrov in qualifying, and then suffered a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. After his mishap in the pits injuring one of the mechanics, Sakon Yamamoto completed the race in nineteenth place, just ahead of Lucas Di Grassi in the other Virgin.
For the majority of the midfield runners and those further back, they had quite a bad day on the track. Although Adrian Sutil had a reasonable grid slot in eleventh place, he temporarily came off the circuit at Turn 14 on lap two. The German driver had a bit of a coming together with his Force India team mate, Vitantonio Liuzzi. Despite their small collision, both drivers remained in the race, and at times Liuzzi had battles for twelfth position, with Pedro De La Rosa in his Sauber. Nevertheless, the Italian and his team mate, finished sixteenth and twelfth respectively.
With all of the talk about team orders, surrounding Ferrari after the incident between Alonso and Massa, there were no such instructions between Mark Webber and his Red Bull team mate, Sebastian Vettel. Earlier in the season at the Turkish Grand Prix, the drivers came to blows, when Vettel attempted to pass the Australian, and ended up knocking into him. This led Webber to a third place finish then, instead of ruining the party for the McLaren boys, achieving their one-two finish.
In today's race round the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, it seemed to just be pure in team racing between the Red Bull drivers. Leading up to race day, Webber had not made a very good start, after having problems with his car in practice, and qualified down in sixth place. When the race got underway this afternoon, Webber did drop down the grid to ninth place, as Robert Kubica passed by in his Renault to grab eighth from him. Later on, Webber made a lovely move on Mercedes driver, Michael Schumacher, to get back into eighth position again. Nico Rosberg outperformed his Mercedes team mate in the race, and finished well in fifth position.
After Webber had been in the pits on lap thirty-six, he rejoined the race but failed to gain a place, and remained in seventh position. Just one lap later and Webber was very unimpressed, with the actions of Williams driver, Nico Hulkenberg. The German maintained his position on lap thirty-seven, but proceeded to cut the chicane in doing so. As a result of this, Mark Webber got held up, and he blames Hulkenberg for preventing him from getting fourth place. The incident was reported to the race stewards on lap forty-one by Webber, but they did not issue Hulkenberg with a punishment. Nevertheless, Webber went on to get his own justice as he overtook Hulkenberg, on lap 50 to finish in sixth place.
Meanwhile his team mate, Vettel came across the finish line to take fourth. The German didn't have the best race either, as he complained to his race mechanics about engine problems. They found that it was something to do with the electrics, but after changing the settings, Vettel was able to pick up speed again.
The other drivers who made it into the top ten spots, included Nico Hulkenberg for Williams in seventh, Kubica for Renault was eighth, Schumacher followed in ninth, and Rubens Barrichello picked up the last point in tenth place.
After the last European race on the calendar today, the drivers now begin the fly away races, with only five left until the end of the season. As the title fight is getting even closer between the drivers and teams, Webber will be hoping to build on his current lead in the Drivers' Championship, as they head to the Singapore Grand Prix in two weeks time. The Red Bull driver currently leads Hamilton by just five points, with Alonso a little behind in third, and only one point separates him from Button in fourth.
The Constructors' Championship is also heating up, and is looking very competitive between the top teams. Red Bull lead McLaren by a small margin of three points, and Ferrari are third, with quite a bit of catching up to do. However, the Italian team have managed to redeem themselves with today's race result, after all of the negative press that has surrounded them in the last week.