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
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.