Alonso takes dream victory at Monza

Fernando Alonso took his third Grand Prix victory of the season at Monza, a fantastic result for the Spaniard (pole position, fastest lap and win) and the Ferrari team (home victory). McLaren’s Jenson Button finished in second with Felipe Massa taking the final podium spot.

By winning in front of the passionate tifosi, the championship standings means Alonso is now up to 166 points, only twenty-one points behind new leader Mark Webber with 187.

As for Lewis Hamilton, he tried an ambitions move on Massa’s Ferrari on the first lap, which damaged his right-front suspension. That mistake might play an effect in the remaining five Grands Prix of the season.

As the five red lights went out, Button made a better start from the dirty side of the grid. Alonso tried to block him by squeezing the reigning world champion but the McLaren was through. Even a slight tap from the Ferrari at the Rettifilio – which did minor damage to both cars – didn’t affect Jenson desire to lead.

As Alonso jinked around behind the McLaren, both Massa and Hamilton tried to take advantage. Hamilton took a look down the inside of Massa into the Roggia chicane, but was only partially alongside the Ferrari, and as Massa turned in on the racing line, contact was made that broke Hamilton’s steering, sending him off into the Lesmo gravel and out.

The only consolation for Hamilton was that his main championship rival Webber had been shoved back to ninth on the opening lap, two position behind Red Bull Racing team-mate Vettel, as fast-starters Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica and Nico Hulkenberg filling the top six.

The top three easily pulled away from Rosberg’s Mercedes, with Alonso hanging on to Button’s gearbox and taking the odd look at passing. The pair took turns setting fastest laps around Monza as they tried to make a break, with the gap never getting larger than 1.5 seconds, and generally much smaller, with Massa close behind.

That all-important pitstop would decide the outcome of the race and Button was the first to change tyres at the end of lap 35. Alonso stayed out just one lap longer, but it was enough to overcome Button’s advantage, rejoining just ahead of the McLaren and taking the inside line through the Rettifilio to hold on to the lead, setting a new fastest lap to escape from Button.

Despite reporting engine problems earlier, Sebastian Vettel emerged in a surprising fourth. In the early part of the Italian Grand Prix it looked like he was set to retire, as the German was reporting the technical problem over the radio and lapped two seconds off the pace for a while, which allowed team-mate Webber past. But some system tweaks appeared to solve the issue, and by virtue of staying out until the penultimate lap before finally pitting, Vettel beat Rosberg to fourth position.

Webber had to fight hard to take sixth position, scrapping past Hulkenberg with three laps to go, having been enraged by the Williams cutting chicanes and defending firmly to stay ahead. Kubica lost out to the Williams in the pits, then to Webber as Hulkenberg came out right in front of him and cost him momentum, pushing him back to eighth.

Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello completed the top ten for Mercedes and Williams respectively. As for the 2009 race winner, Rubens Barrichello lost ground on the first lap and only gained the final point when Renault’s Vitaly Petrov – on a similar strategy to Vettel – finally pitted on lap 51.

Tonio Liuzzi recovered from his disastrous qualifying to chase Sebastien Buemi and Barrichello home in P12. But Liuzzi’s Force India Adrian Sutil could only finish P16 following a first lap incident.

Virgin Racing’s Timo Glock narrowly beat Heikki Kovalainen to new team honours in P17, as the latter’s Lotus team-mate Jarno Trulli retired in a cloud of smoke late on, having led the second division for most of the way.

Webber now leads the world championship again with 187 points to Hamilton’s 182, but Alonso’s great drive vaults him to third on 166, just ahead of Button on 165 and Vettel on 163. Red Bull have 350 points to McLaren’s 347 and Ferrari’s 290.

Race results from Monza, 53 laps:
1. Alonso        Ferrari                    1h16:24.572
2. Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +2.938
3. Massa         Ferrari                    +4.223
4. Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           +28.193
5. Rosberg       Mercedes                   +29.942
6. Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +31.276
7. Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth          +32.812
8. Kubica        Renault                    +34.028
9. Schumacher    Mercedes                   +44.948
10. Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth         +1:04.200
11. Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari        +1:05.00
12. Liuzzi        Force India-Mercedes      +1:06.100
13. Petrov        Renault                   +1:18.900
14. De la Rosa    Sauber-Ferrari            +1 lap
15. Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari        +1 lap
16. Sutil         Force India-Mercedes      +1 lap
17. Glock         Virgin-Cosworth           +2 laps
18. Kovalainen    Lotus-Cosworth            +2 laps
19. Di Grassi     Virgin-Cosworth           +2 laps
20. Yamamoto      HRT-Cosworth              +2 laps

Fastest lap: Alonso, 1:24.139

Not classified/retirements:
Trulli        Lotus-Cosworth               47 laps
Senna         HRT-Cosworth                 12 laps
Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes             1 lap
Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari               1 lap

World Championship standings, round 14:

1.  Webber       187
2.  Hamilton     182
3.  Alonso       166
4.  Button       165
5.  Vettel       163
6.  Massa        124
7.  Rosberg      112
8.  Kubica       108
9.  Schumacher    46
10. Sutil         45
11. Barrichello   31
12. Kobayashi     21
13. Petrov        19
14. Hulkenberg    16
15. Liuzzi        13
16. Buemi          7
17. De la Rosa     6
18. Alguersuari    3

1. Red Bull-Renault          350
2. McLaren-Mercedes          347
3. Ferrari                   290
4. Mercedes                  158
5. Renault                   127
6. Force India-Mercedes       58
7. Williams-Cosworth          47
8. Sauber-Ferrari             27
9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari         10

Next race: Singapore Grand Prix, September 24-26.

10 thoughts to “Alonso takes dream victory at Monza”

  1. Fernando Alonso described his Italian Grand Prix victory as a massive motivational boost for the Ferrari team coming into the championship-deciding rounds – but warned that the squad now needed to find some consistency.

    A fortnight after crashing out at Spa following a disastrous race, Alonso took pole in Italy then won after overcoming early leader Jenson Button in the pitstops.

    “I think this result gives you some extra confidence and good motivation for the whole team,” said Alonso. “We’ll keep working hard and try not to give up – one race or bad race can change the points a lot in the championship.

    “This was a good weekend, Spa was a bad weekend – we need to find consistency in the last five races. That will be the key – this result is good motivation for all of us, but in the remaining five races it is really the important races and the good points.

    “So we need to enjoy tonight, enjoy these next two days and we’ll be in Maranello Monday and Tuesday to say thanks for the whole team, and championship-wise there is time to think later on.”

    Alonso had to follow Button for the first 36 laps of the race after losing the lead at the start. He ran one lap further before pitting and snatched the lead – which he said the Ferrari pit crew deserved most of the credit for.

    “We were thinking at the time of the possibility of coming in. The possibilities were to come in one lap later or one lap earlier,” said Alonso. “We had to find the right choice at the right moment.

    “When we saw Jenson coming in, there was one lap to push and rely on the mechanics. I think the lap was more or less okay, nothing special, but the pitstop was superb.”

    He also admitted that winning Ferrari’s home race in his first year with the team was a hugely emotional experience.

    “It’s something I can only compare with winning my home grand prix at Barcelona in 2006,” Alonso said. “It was a very special moment, and this one is a very special moment as well. It’s a fantastic feeling.”


  2. Despite making a great start, Jenson Button had to settle with second after losing out to race winner Fernando Alonso in the all-important pitstop. Read the full story as taken from

    Jenson Button hailed his second place at the Italian Grand Prix as a great result despite losing out to Fernando Alonso in the race.

    Button, starting from second position, took the lead of the race at the start and led until he made his first and only pitstop.

    Alonso pitted a lap later and rejoined right in front of Button, who could do nothing to stop the Spaniard from winning the race.

    The result, however, was a good boost for Button’s championship charge, as he finished ahead of Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton retired.

    “We had a good weekend and to come away with second is a great result,” said Button, now 22 points behind Webber in the standings. “We wanted some points, for all three of us here, and we have done well for our championship hopes heading out of Europe.”

    Button, who finished less than three seconds behind Alonso, admitted his McLaren was not as quick as the Ferraris.

    “I don’t think we quite had the pace today compared to Ferrari,” he said. “But it was all going pretty well, I was pretty happy with the car. And then we decided to pit one lap earlier than Fernando.

    “When I exited the pits, I had very little grip on the prime tyre. Lots of shuddering, which means the tyre just isn’t working. So a little bit disappointing to find myself in that position and then see Fernando coming out of the pits in front.

    “But we had a great weekend and to come away with a second is a good result. Obviously you want the top step, but some good points and I think for both of us we’ve done very well for our championship hopes and it’s good heading out of Europe with a good points finish.”

    The world champion said the race had been hard with Alonso right behind right from the beginning.

    “The start was good. Obviously Fernando came over quite a bit at the start, but I had enough room to squeeze up the inside at Turn 1. And then the rest of the first lap was pretty tough, because straightline that these guys have compared to me because I’m running higher downforce, it made it very tricky to hold off the challenges.

    “So I spent most of the race looking in my mirrors, making sure Fernando wasn’t close enough. It’s so difficult around here to know whether the car is right up behind you or not. I was actually watching the TV screens to see where he was behind. A lot of pressure.”

    Button conceded that pitting ahead of Alonso and Massa was not the right decision in the end.

    “I think everything is an option. You have to keep yours eyes open to every situation. We obviously thought it was the right decision to come in a lap earlier than these two – but looking now I don’t think it was the right call.

    “I don’t feel it worked for us today. We got a good result out of it today, hopefully we will be as strong as this in Singapore.”

  3. Felipe Massa welcomed his third-place finish at the Italian Grand Prix, as the Brazilian completed a great day for Ferrari.

    “It was a good result at the end,” said Massa, who finished behind Jenson Button and race winner Fernando Alonso.

    “For sure at the start I had a chance to pass maybe Fernando as well, who was struggling on the second corner with Jenson. Then on the next corner he was inside, and also in the pits he did a very good stop.

    “He was a bit closer to Jenson and was able to pass as the track was difficult. Even if Jenson did not have good top speed he was not easy to pass.”

    Massa came close to passing team-mate Alonso at the start, as the duo run side by side at the first and second corners.

    Alonso stayed ahead, however, and Massa run in third for the remaining part of the event.

    The Brazilian said the decision to wait until Button to pit was right, even if he was unable to pass the McLaren driver.

    “It was the right choice to come in and change tyres. It was a good race and the performance of the car was good. The start was also quite difficult, also the first corner and also Turn 4. I felt Lewis hitting me, but anyway I think it was a good race.

    “It was a great race and especially when you come here with all these people on the main straight and you don’t see the asphalt. It is a great feeling being on the podium.”


  4. Even though Mark Webber retakes the drivers’ championship lead, the Red Bull Racing driver was left feeling frustrated. has the details.

    Mark Webber was frustrated after the Italian Grand Prix despite retaking the world championship lead – as he felt his Red Bull team should have made up more ground on a day when Lewis Hamilton retired.

    Having made a poor start and then been elbowed back to ninth on the first lap, Webber could only recover to sixth place. With Hamilton damaging his McLaren on the first lap, the Australian now has a five-point lead in the standings, but felt it should have been more.

    “We underperformed as a team today,” Webber told television reporters.

    “We could have capitalised and got more points, but we sniffed around just getting a few. It’s a bit disappointing, but at least we got some [points].”

    He was extremely unhappy to have been caught up behind Nico Hulkenberg in the closing stages. Although he eventually overtook the Williams, Webber had been annoyed that Hulkenberg had cut across chicanes on several occasions without being penalised.

    “Obviously lost a lot of time behind Hulkenberg,” said Webber. “He spent every second lap going through the chicanes [run-off]. The stewards did a hard job on him… they left him alone, so that was interesting. That was my race.”

    The Australian said that going back into the championship lead was not really any consolation.

    “You’ve still got to make the most of opportunities, so it wasn’t the best day,” he said.

  5. Lewis Hamilton took full responsibility for his early exit from the Italian Grand Prix – and admitted that the points lost at Monza could cost him the world championship.

    The erstwhile world championship leader sustained broken suspension when he tried to pass Felipe Massa into the Roggia chicane on the first lap, but made contact with the Ferrari.

    “It was clearly a mistake by myself, one of those things that happens when you’re racing and you’re pushing hard,” Hamilton told television crews when he returned to the pits.

    “I was trying to position the car in a certain way and I was too close to Massa and he clipped my wheel and damaged the car. Nothing I could do.”

    Hamilton’s retirement means he has now lost the points lead to Mark Webber, and the McLaren driver admitted that today’s incident could be extremely costly.

    “It’s not over, but it’s days like this, and mistakes like I made today, that lose you world championships,” said Hamilton. “I only have myself to blame.”


  6. Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel was quite pleased to finish in fourth following an aggressive strategy in the Italian Grand Prix. has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel was happy with his fourth-place finish at the Italian Grand Prix after a risky strategy paid off for the German.

    Vettel, starting from sixth position, opted to complete 52 laps with the soft tyre compound, before pitting for new tyres on the final lap.

    The Red Bull driver’s gamble paid off, as he stayed in fourth place, beating team-mate Mark Webber in the process.

    The Australian had moved in front of Vettel when the latter reported an engine problem that slowed him down but that later solved itself.

    Red Bull believes the loss of performance was caused by a loose visor tear-off or a brake problem.

    “Our strategy was a risk today – if it works then you’re the king and if it doesn’t you can be the idiot,” said Vettel. “Fortunately it worked and the team did a great job.

    “I had a bad start and lost a lot of ground. It was difficult to pass from there, as unfortunately we don’t have extra speed on the straights, so we had to fight in the corners as well as we could.

    “Then around lap 20 something happened to the car, I don’t know what it was, maybe there was some friction in the car, but fortunately the problem solved itself. In the meantime though, I lost connection to the group ahead and the tow, so around three to four seconds.

    “I had to come back from there and it was a tough fight. The cars ahead pitted, so I stayed out as we tried to overshoot them. We were watching the lap times throughout and in the end it worked. So, some good points and we achieved our maximum today, which was fourth place.”

    With today’s result, Vettel is now 24 points behind championship leader Webber with five races left.

  7. The reason why Vettel lost some significant speed during the race was a problem with the brakes and not the engine. has the story.

    Red Bull Racing has confirmed that it was a brake problem – rather than an issue with the engine – that slowed Sebastian Vettel down early in the Italian Grand Prix.

    Vettel lost seventh position to team-mate Mark Webber on lap 20 of the Monza race after slowing on the run from the Ascari Chicane to Parabolica.

    After seeing his pace drop, Vettel radioed to his team to say that he believed he had an engine problem – prompting fears that he would be forced to retire from the race.

    However, analysis of Vettel’s engine telemetry by the team indicated that there was no issue with the power unit and the German recovered to finish fourth after opting for a late tyre stop.

    Red Bull Racing was initially unsure about what caused the problem, but a post race analysis indicated that one of the brakes had remained locked on briefly after the Ascari chicane.

  8. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes that his outfit did make the right tyre strategy call in the Italian Grand Prix – even though Jenson Button reckoned it had made a mistake.

    Button lost the lead of the Monza event when he made his mandatory pitstop one lap before Fernando Alonso – and afterwards he questioned whether his outfit had made the right decision.

    Reflecting after the race, Button’s boss Whitmarsh thinks that the race had swung not on when the stop was made – but on how the stop and laps around it were executed. The stop itself was 0.8 seconds slower than Ferrari.

    “We were obviously looking for a gap,” said Whitmarsh about how his team made the decision on when to stop. “We could see that as the cars behind cascaded in and onto the prime, the prime was quicker. And, at that point, you want to get onto the quicker tyre as quickly as possible.

    “With Ferrari behind us there was only three ways it was going to go. We either were going to get in in front of them, and had they not come in that lap we would have been able to beat them.

    “It would have been nice for them to have come in at the same time as us, but that would have been a foolish thing for them to do and they didn’t unfortunately.

    “Or, if we had stayed out and they had come in first, then they would have beaten us by more. So we made the right call.

    “We were a few tenths slower in the stop and I think Fernando was quicker. So it was two or three metres the wrong side when we came out.”

    Whitmarsh believes that the difference between Button having been able to hold onto the lead, and him losing it to Alonso, was small.

    “You could see ultimately it was down to two or three metres and we would have done it,” he said. “You can excuse it anywhere – quicker on the in-lap, a quicker stop or quicker on the out-lap, plus Jenson locked up a bit coming into the pit lane. But the fact is we lost it.

    “Strategically we didn’t have another choice, we made the right strategic call, so did they – and that is why with a quicker car they beat us.”


  9. By winning in Monza, Ferrari are back in the championship battle with Red Bull Racing and McLaren. Team boss Stefano Domenicali expresses his view on Fernando Alonso’s victory to and the full story can be read below.

    Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali says the biggest positive to come out of Fernando Alonso’s Italian Grand Prix victory was not the win itself – but that his outfit was now firmly back in the title hunt.

    Alonso had come into Ferrari’s home race at Monza admitting that he needed a good result to keep his championship hopes alive – but reckoned just a podium finish was enough to fulfil that.

    However, Alonso delivered one of his best drives of the season to hound early leader Jenson Button before jumping his McLaren rival at the mandatory pitstop.

    Allied to Lewis Hamilton’s retirement from the race on the first lap, the victory meant that Alonso cut the deficit to the series leader from 41 points to just 21 to reignite his title challenge.

    Afterwards, Domenicali was full of emotion at seeing Ferrari take its first win at Monza since 2006 – but thought the title situation was the best thing to come out of the day.

    “Of course we are very happy to have done this performance here in front of our people,” he said. “It is amazing when you are on the podium to feel that live – with the people under you, with a sea of red supporters who were singing the national anthem.

    “I was saying together with Jenson on the podium that this feeling is unique and fantastic. I am very happy no doubt.

    “But, on the other hand, as I said in Belgium, the only objective that we had to reach today was to try and close the gap to the leaders – and we did it. We achieved it – it was target accomplished for today.

    “Now, for sure, the championship will be open until the end. The races this year are very peculiar. If someone that is in front loses an opportunity – makes a mistake, or goes out, or crashes, or whatever it is, then the others will jump very close. It is really important to be consistent and stable up until the end, and we will see in Abu Dhabi.”

    Although Alonso’s victory hung on the pitstop that allowed him to leap frog Button, Domenicali reckons that whatever strategy Ferrari had chosen it would have come out on top – simply because its car was better than McLaren’s on the day.

    When asked if he believed that whatever Ferrari did it would have won, Domenicali said: “To be honest today, yes. I think that today we really had a great car in terms of performance, soft or hard with no difference at all.

    “Unfortunately, with the fact that we lost the position at the start, we had to be there and try to understand what was the best scenario for us to try and jump in front of them.

    “The only thing that was possible, unless there was a mistake which you don’t consider when you think about the strategy, was to try to stay close, as much as you can, and try to consider the traffic of the backmarkers who were in front. These were the two variables that you had to consider from the strategy point of view.

    “We were very close to call Fernando in the same lap as Jenson because we were watching the backmarkers in front and we had the experience of Canada, where we lost the win of the race being held by some backmarkers.

    “That was in our mind quite fresh, and that was the reason why we considered the gaps, so we said: Okay we have to do one lap, it has to be very, very good, it has to be perfect and, as I said before, I have to thank really the team that did a perfect pit stop. And that made the difference – to be first rather than second.”

    He added: “But I would say today, our car was really strong. This is the nature of racing – there were some crucial moments, the start, and the pit stop, which clearly made the difference, and that is it. We have seen since the beginning that this is the situation.

    “We had other occasions where we saw the opposite. I give you the example of our car in Hungary where we had behind a car that was much faster than our cars but it was not possible to overtake because of the nature of the track. That is what we have to consider for the future and for the next races – this will be one of the key points for the final five races.”

  10. Lewis Hamilton should not change his aggressive approach to racing despite the heartbreak of his first lap exit from the Italian Grand Prix.

    That is the view of his boss Martin Whitmarsh, who thinks that part of what makes Hamilton such a good driver is the fact he is so willing to take things to the edge all the time.

    Whitmarsh sat down with Hamilton after the Monza race on Sunday night to talks through the events of the day – where a collision with Felipe Massa at the second chicane put him out of the race and dented his title challenge – and he urged the former champion to not dwell on what happened but switch his focus to the final events of the campaign.

    “I knew Lewis was in his room and knew he had been in there for some time,” said Whitmarsh. “I went in to see him to talk to him. He had time to reflect on it, we discussed what happened and we will learn from it.

    “The important thing is that Lewis jumps out of bed in the morning, gets in to training, focuses on Singapore and wants to do the job there. And he will.”

    Although Hamilton’s crash meant he threw away a great opportunity to extend his lead in the world championship, Whitmarsh said he would not want his driver to change his approach to the sport.

    “That is Lewis Hamilton. He is an aggressive racing driver, who when viewing the slow motion replay from the comfort of an armchair probably wishes he had not done it, and so do we.

    “But that is being a racing driver – and you have to go for it. That is Lewis Hamilton. I don’t want to change Lewis Hamilton. I think he is a great product, a great human being and a great racing driver.

    “He and we wish he had done something different in that corner but we will just now focus on Singapore, getting the car quicker and focusing on beating other people.”

    Whitmarsh remained upbeat about McLaren’s title challenge, as it faces the final flyaway events that are set to favour rival Red Bull Racing’s car more.

    “We could have been leading both championships, but we are not. We are five points behind in drivers’ championship and three in the constructors’ but that is nothing.

    “It is disappointing when you don’t get the points your potential can deliver, but overall, we have been in tough championship fights before, Lewis has been in several, and we are battle hardened. We will get over the disappointment.”

    He added: “Lewis is hard on himself. He is striving to be perfect, striving to be the best racing driver in the world, and when you don’t something like he did, you regret it. But it is millimetres and centimetres of track position at high speed and high adrenaline that are the difference between hero and zero.”


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