Ferrari press release
After 53 of the most thrilling Formula 1 laps witnessed in many years, the loyal Ferrari “tifosi” were able to charge onto the track in their thousands to cheer a Prancing Horse driver on the magnificent podium which hangs over the Monza pit lane. For the second year in succession, Fernando Alonso was able to savour the special moment. In 2010 he was there as the winner and this year, the Spaniard was third, which was absolutely the best result available to Ferrari in its home race.
On the top step was Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull driver now only needs one podium finish at the next race to clinch his second consecutive title. In second place was McLaren’s Jenson Button. The result sees Fernando go second in the classification on 172 points, a slim 5 points in front of Button and Mark Webber, who crashed out of today’s race. Felipe Massa finished in his grid position, sixth, but he too would have been fighting at the front, but for a spin in the very early stages when the blameless Brazilian was nudged by Webber.
Monza looked at its best with the sun shining and a packed crowd, in mainly red grandstands, many of them flying giant Prancing Horse banners and with these flags waving him on as the lights went out, Fernando made a fantastic start, heading off three abreast along with pole man Vettel and Hamilton, with the Ferrari diving into the lead going into the first corner. Behind the McLaren came Schumacher who had made a great start from eighth to fourth, one place ahead of Felipe who moved up one position. However, a collision towards the back of the field which knocked out D'Ambrosio, Petrov, Rosberg and Liuzzi meant the Safety Car came out immediately.
The Safety Car came in at the end of lap 3, and Button passed Webber to go sixth, while at the front Fernando had Vettel glued to his rear wing. Lap 4 saw Schumacher move ahead of Hamilton and thus started a fantastic duel. On lap 5, Vettel went into the lead and further back, Webber drove into the back of Felipe, knocking the front wing off the Red Bull and sending the Brazilian into a spin which dropped him to tenth. A bit further on, the Australian crashed off the track.
By lap 6, Vettel led Fernando by 2.8 seconds, with Schumacher and Hamilton locked in battle for third, a second down and one lap later, Felipe was recovering from his spin and was seventh and by lap 10 he was sixth, but a long way behind Button. Vettel was gradually pulling away from Fernando but all eyes were on the thrilling battle between Schumacher and Hamilton for third, with the Englishman finally getting past on the way into the first chicane on lap 13, but Schumacher got past again, as Button now closed right up to his team-mate. Button then made the most of the train to nip past Hamilton and pull away, as the German Mercedes driver pitted for fresh rubber at the end of lap 16 with Button coming in on 17 and Hamilton on 18. At the front, Vettel led Fernando by over ten seconds, until the Ferrari man changed tyres at the end of 19.
Vettel relinquished the lead on lap 20 as he changed tyres and out on track, Schumacher and Hamilton were still locked together, now battling for fifth. Yet to pit, Felipe changed rubber on lap 21.
With all the front runners having changed tyres, the order on lap 22 was Vettel, 11.7 ahead of Fernando, with Button third followed by the Schumacher – Hamilton duo who appeared to be tied together, so close were they for lap after lap. Perez had not yet pitted the Sauber and was sixth ahead of Felipe, but on lap 24 the Brazilian passed the Mexican for sixth. Button was now closing on Alonso’s 150º Italia and on lap 27, Hamilton finally took fourth place off Schumacher. Round lap 30, Button’s challenge appeared to fade as he was over a second behind Fernando, but that would change. Felipe meanwhile was now having a solitary race in sixth, 13 seconds behind Schumacher and 12 ahead of Perez.
On lap 33, Button was the first of the leaders to make a second tyre change, as Perez retired the Sauber at the side of the track. Alonso and Hamilton both pitted on lap 34. The leader in the Red Bull came in next time round. Lap 36 and now it was Button and Fernando racing wheel to wheel, with the McLaren coming out on top and the Englishman then pulled out an instant lead as the Spaniard was slightly delayed behind a Lotus backmarker. Schumacher pitted from second on lap 37. The top four order was Vettel, 15.7 ahead of Button, with Fernando 0.7 behind the McLaren, with Felipe yet to stop in fourth. Felipe changed tyres on lap 41 dropping to sixth behind Schumacher. From then on the positions remained unchanged at the front, except that with a few laps to go, Hamilton started to close on Fernando, even pulling alongside the Ferrari at one point. But the Ferrari man kept cool as the crowd had its collective heart in its mouth on the last lap.
The race, which will go down in history as a classic, saw Michael Schumacher come home fifth ahead of Felipe, with Alguersuari seventh for Toro Rosso, then came Di Resta in the Force India, Bruno Senna in the Renault, with the final point going to Sebastien Buemi in the second Toro Rosso. The F1 circus now says farewell to Europe and heads off for the first round of the final sextet of races, the night time Grand Prix around the streets of Singapore, in a fortnight’s time.