Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor James Parker
Sebastian Vettel went on to claim the 32nd win of his career at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza and surely put to bed any realistic hope of his championship contenders wrestling away a predicted 4th consecutive drivers title. A fighting drive from Fernando Alonso saw him claim 2nd after a bold move around the outside of Mark Webber early on, which meant the Australian was forced to bring home the second Red Bull in 3rd place and complete the podium.
Both Webber and Vettel had good starts, with the Australian pushing Vettel hard going into turns 1 and 2. However due to the pair squabbling hard, Massa seized an opportunity to push past Webber into second coming out of the first chicane – with Alonso having to settle for 4th.
Further back, Button had a nightmare start dropping several positions, whilst Raikkonen was squeezed by Perez in the run down to turn 1. This saw the Finn distracted and he misjudged his braking, nudging the back of the McLaren driver and damaging his front wing forcing him into the pits on lap 1. This meant the Lotus man dropped to 21st and last.
Other drama occurred into turns 4 and 5, as Paul Di Resta topped off a miserable weekend. Locking up during the braking phase, he collided with the rear wheel of Grosjean and broke the front left suspension of his Force India car – forcing him into retirement on lap 1.
After the first laps settled down Alonso was starting to look quite punchy, and on lap 3 he made his move on 3rd place man Webber. Getting the tow around Curva Grande, he moved to the Red Bull’s right hand side, braked incredibly late and proceeded to hang it all out around the outside of Webber. For turn 4 he regained the initiative with the inside line and the move was completed, leaving him to chase down his team-mate for 2nd.
By lap 8, Alonso had cruised up to the back of Massa, and it didn’t take long for the call to be made. With the aid of DRS the Spaniard dived straight up the inside into turn 1, Massa putting up zero fight in what was a very easy move and then set about trying to chase Vettel upfront.
Further down, Button was looking at recovering from a poor start. Pressurising 9th place man Hamilton for several laps, he finally made his way past into Ascari – the hard tyres seemingly not working for Hamilton early on.
By lap 12 Vettel had a commanding lead of over 5 seconds from 2nd place man Alonso. There was only slight concern as the team warned him of excessive wear on the front right due to a big lock up on lap 1 off the start but by lap 20 those concerns had cleared.
Hamilton’s struggling afternoon was set to get even worse as on lap 12 he was notified over the radio by the team that he had a slow puncture. For 2 laps however the Mercedes man stayed out – suffering from radio problems within the car. It was not until lap 14 that he finally got the message and came in for the medium compounds.
The first scheduled stops started on lap 21 as Grosjean came in to pit for the harder compound tyres. Button and Perez made consecutive stops on lap 22 and 23, but due to a slow stop, Perez rejoined behind his team-mate promoting Button to 8th behind Ricciardo.
Up front, the race for 3rd got very interesting as Webber through an incredibly fast pitstop and also the undercut on fresh tyres managed to jump Massa when the Ferrari man rejoined after his first pitstop on lap 25.
His team-mate Alonso was also completing a very long first stint, however his pace was really suffering, losing 1 second per lap to Vettel and Webber who had already pitted on lap 24. Running right up to lap 28, the Spaniard rejoined just in front of Webber in what was a very close call.
After making an unscheduled pit stop earlier on in the race, Hamilton was going very nicely on the medium compound tyres setting consecutive fastest laps and comfortably achieving 1.27’s consistently. He was up to 5th; before on lap 38 Mercedes took the decision to pit him for the final time – rejoining in 14th behind Kimi and bolting on a fresh set of medium compound tyres, the race was on to recover into the top 10 on with a clear tyre life advantage.
As the race neared its closing stages, Vettel was imperious upfront with neither Alonso nor Webber able to make an impression on his 8 second lead. A potential curve ball was thrown on lap 44 though, as Vettel was signalled over the radio that he had to short shift gears from 5th to 6th, whilst 3rd place man Webber was also given a warning to short shift from 2nd to 3rd – deflating his chances of chasing the Ferrari of Alonso down.
In the closing laps, it was the mid pack battle where the race was hotting up. With both Kimi and Hamilton on fresher tyres they sought about chasing down the final points paying positions. Raikkonen’s chances were slightly deterred however when the team notified him of a KERS problem coming off the exit of the Parabolica.
This therefore meant Hamilton could seize the opportunity on the pit straight with Raikkonen not able to utilise KERS until he had passed the start finish line, and on lap 49 the deed was done coming out of the first chicane.
By lap 51 Hamilton had passed both Perez and Button into the first chicane in consecutive laps and was now sitting in 9th place. It set up a thrilling final lap as the Mercedes man cruised right up to the back of 8th place man Grosjean. Pressuring the Lotus into the second chicane, Hamilton was forced wide and therefore had to concede the place – and that is where he stayed right up to the chequered flag.
But the day belonged to Sebastian Vettel who from the first corner of the first lap, never looked to be troubled by anyone else on what was a very dominant afternoon to claim a 32nd win of his career. As the season now goes into its Asian leg, the odds are hugely now stacked in the German’s favour.
Alonso’s second place was valiant, however results like this will still not be enough to bring him a much craved 3rd world championship title – can anyone stop the might of Red Bull and Vettel?
Driver of the day – Nico Hulkenberg for a magnificent 5th place finish in the Sauber – He is now fully on Ferrari’s radar for 2014.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “With some light rain 30 minutes before the race, some of the cars went onto the grid with the Green intermediates but as the rain subsided we saw the majority of drivers start the race on the mediums. This was a straight-forward one-stop race with no degradation and many cars set their fastest laps towards the end of the race. Any strategy would have been dependant – as always – on a number of factors, but as the rain held off, Vettel’s decision to start on the mediums with one stop to change to the hards proved a winning combination.
Monza is a big test for the tyres with the surface temperature of the tyres heating up to 130 degrees Celsius as the cars exit La Roggia but the tyres coped well with the demands for the whole weekend. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the fans here this weekend – as always the atmosphere is electric at this circuit and we are truly proud to call this our home race.”
|Fastest times of the day by compound|
|First||HAM – 1.25.849||ROS – 1.26.500|
|Second||RAI – 1.26.948||WEB – 1.26.690|
|Third||GUT – 1.27.092||HUL – 1.26.716|
|Longest stint of the race:|
|Medium||29 laps||Raikkonen (Lotus)|
|Hard||33 laps||Grosjean (Lotus)|
|18||VAN DER GARDE||CATERHAM||19||+1 LAP|
|RET||DI RESTA||FORCE INDIA||15|
Drivers World Championship
Constructor World Championship