Sebastian Vettel got pipped at the start of the Italian Grand Prix by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso but when Vettel eventually passed the Ferrari at the end of lap five, that was all the ‘racing’ he had to do as the Red Bull’s phenomenal pace, superior cornering speed/downforce/aerodynamics/tyre handling/whatever meant that the race win was in the bag even before the lap counter ticked into double digits!
The race for second place was won by Jenson Button who had passed Fernando Alonso after both of them fitted the harder prime tyres as Alonso had to settle for third place with his car not really as good as it was on the softer tyres. Lewis Hamilton came close to snatching the last step of the podium but had to settle for fourth place as his race didn’t go quite to plan. He was jumped at the start by Alonso who drove right around him into the lead and then lost out to Michael Schumacher for third place and was stuck behind him for the best part of the initial half of the race.
Michael Schumacher was fifth for Mercedes, which meant the top five places were held by the five World Champions on the grid! Felipe Massa was sixth for Ferrari, ahead of the Toro Rosso of Jaime Algersuari in seventh, Force India’s Paul Di Resta in eight, Renault’s Bruno Senna ninth and the second Toro Rosso of Sebastian Buemi in tenth.
The start of the race saw front row starters Vettel and Hamilton lose out to a fast starting Fernando Alonso and it was chaos at the back of the grid as Vitantonio Liuzzi spun out and careened into the Renault of Vitaly Petrov, creating a domino effect which took out Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Virgin’s Jerome D’Ambrosio as well. Both the Saubers of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi had to retire as well as the Force India of Adrian Sutil, possibly as a cause of the initial collision.
The most high-profile retiree was Mark Webber, who started the race fifth on the grid and second in the Championship table but after a kerfuffle with Massa in which he broke off his front wing, he rammed into the barriers at the end of lap six. That, and the subsequent race result means Fernando Alonso is now Vettel’s primary challenger for the Drivers’ Championship but 112 points behind with only 150 remaining to be won. Button and Webber are tied on 167 with Hamilton on 158.
Foregone conclusion or not, if Vettel and Red Bull win at the next race in Singapore in two weeks’ time, it is all but over and the fat lady can start her rehearsal for the song. Wonder what that will do to the competitiveness for the remaining five races of the season? Battle for the second place, I guess.