MONZA, Italy – Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel survived a number of minor issues to take his sixth victory of the season during Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
The world champion took the lead at the start as Ferrari’s Felipe Massa sprinted briefly up to second ahead of the second Red Bull of Mark Webber and the second Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.
As Vettel extended his lead out front, despite some concerns about a flat-spotted tire, Alonso fought past Webber with a bold move on the third lap, then caught and passed his team mate on the eighth. But there was nothing he could do about the German in the lead.
In the second half of the race Webber fought back and put Alonso under pressure until he was told to start short-shifting, but he was still less than a second behind the Ferrari at the end. Massa was a distant fourth. Nico Hulkenberg and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg had a race-long fight for fifth which went the Sauber driver’s way by six-tenths of a second even though Rosberg was the fastest man on track with three laps to go.
Daniel Ricciardo made strong use of his superfast-in-a-straight line Toro Rosso to keep Romain Grosjean at bay, but Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was closing on both and actually passed the Lotus going into the second chicane on the final lap. Unfortunately for the Briton, he’d gone over the run-off area to do it and had to hand back the place. Hamilton had his race strategy upset by a slow puncture in his Mercedes’ right front tire on the 12th lap, and thus had to make two pit stops to almost everybody else’s one.
Kimi Raikkonen was the other man who had to stop twice after sustaining accident damage running his Lotus into Sergio Perez’s McLaren at the first corner after locking up. Like Hamilton, the Finn drove a feisty race to recover, but couldn’t hold Hamilton back on the 49th lap. He did catch and pass Perez, but missed out on the final point when he couldn’t quite get the job done on Jenson Button. The Englishman thus took a solitary point in McLaren’s 50th birthday race.