Italian Grand Prix 2011: Red Bull’s Vettel coasts to victory

Defending world champion extends his lead in the standings with a flawless race at Monza

By Gareth Llewellyn
sebastian vettel
Vettel sealed his 8th win of 2011 at Monza Photo: Getty Images, courtesy of Red Bull Racing

sebastian vettel

Sebastian Vettel closed in on a second successive title as he cruised to his eighth victory of the season at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza.

The Red Bull driver extended his championship cushion to 112 points with a flawless race after retaking the lead from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso early in the race. McLaren’s Jenson Button was second ahead of Alonso.

“The circuit means a lot to me and has been very special, obviously [I had] my first win here so when I crossed the line I remembered every single bit,” Vettel said.

“And the podium is unbelievable, when you stand up there you feel so blessed because it doesn’t happen to many people; so many people underneath and coming all the way from Curva Grande is filled with people.

“It’s just unbelievable, a circuit that has been tough for us to really be competitive the last three years, and to come back this year really the car was amazing, in qualifying yesterday and in the race even better.”

Button got the better of Alonso midway through the race to take second place ahead of the Spaniard, with Lewis Hamilton fourth after spending much of the early part of the race behind Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher, who finished fifth.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa recovered from a spin to finish sixth ahead of Jaime Alguersauri, who had started 18th, and maintains the impressive run of drivers who went out in Q3 to finish in a points’ position.

Force India’s Paul di Resta, Renault’s Bruno Senna and Sébastien Buemi all survived the opening-lap carnage to round out the top 10.

Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber crashed out of the race at the Parabolica as he tried to recover to the pits after a collision with Massa.

Buoyed by the Tifosi, Alonso produced a great start off the line to take the lead from fourth on the grid as Vettel struggled to get away.

As the front runners made it through the first corner safely, HRT’s Tonio Liuzzi lost control under breaking and spun down in the inside before slamming into the unfortunate Nico Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov at the Rettifilio.

Williams’ Rubens Barrichello and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi also suffered damage and Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber was a victim of the consequent traffic jam.

Schumacher, who moved up from seventh to fourth at the start, caught Hamilton at the restart to steal third from the 2008 world champion.

Webber, who also lost ground at the start, moved past Button into sixth, but as the Australian tried to attack Massa at the first chicane a lap later, he ripped off his front wing and sent the Ferrari into a spin.

Vettel was faring better in his RB7, despite having a short seventh gear. The German managed to get past Alonso through the Roggia chicane after a brave run through Curva Grande which saw the defending world champion put two wheels on the grass to give him a better run into the chicane.

Once in the lead, Vettel was untouchable as he stormed into the distance, building up a sizeable lead over the Ferrari driver.

Alonso briefly had to contend with a threat from Schumacher and Hamilton, but the two Mercedes-powered drivers were engaged in their own battle, with Schumacher able to take advantage of the W02’s superior straight-line speed.

Some aggressive defending left Alonso to pull away, while Button also came into contention as he lapped a second quicker.

Button got past Hamilton when he had to take evasive action as Schumacher slammed the door at Curva Grande, before taking the German on the outside into Ascari.

Button was then free to hunt down the Ferrari, getting past after the second round of stops when Alonso had a slow exit from the first chicane.

Hamilton finally got the better of Schumacher on lap 27 after making good use of the DRS Zone prior to Ascari before launching his own assault on Alonso, catching him on the last lap, but without time to try a pass.

Italian Grand Prix 2011 – Race result

1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1hr 20mins 46.172secs

2 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:20:55.762

3 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:21:03.081

4 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 1:21:03.589

5 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:21:18.849

6 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:21:29.165

7 Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 Lap

8 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India at 1 Lap

9 Bruno Senna (Bra) Renault at 1 Lap

10 Sebastien Buemi (Swi) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 Lap

11 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams at 1 Lap

12 Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Williams at 1 Lap

13 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 at 2 Laps

14 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Lotus F1 at 2 Laps

15 Timo Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing at 2 Laps

Not Classified:

16 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) HRT-F1 39 Laps completed

17 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 32 Laps completed

18 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari 21 Laps completed

19 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India 9 Laps completed

20 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 4 Laps completed

21 Jerome d’Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin Racing 1 Lap completed

22 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault 0 Laps completed

23 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 0 Laps completed

24 Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) HRT-F1 0 Laps completed

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