• Italian Grand Prix

Vettel takes shock victory

ESPNF1 Staff
September 14, 2008
Vettel was in a class of his own in the wet © Sutton Images
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Sebastian Vettel had long been bored of being dubbed 'The Next Michael Schumacher'. At Monza, he proved that he was the first Sebastian Vettel - becoming the youngest grand prix winner.

The German made the most of a wet qualifying session to take the first F1 pole position of his career and made the most of the wet conditions in the race to leave everyone else trailing in his wake. It was also the first win for Scuderia Toro Rosso (STR), the team that was once the underdog Minardi squad and many of the original employees were still at the team. To win at Monza was beyond their wildest dreams.

It could have been an STR one-two had Sebastian Bourdais' STR not had a gear selection issue. The start was to be behind a safety car but as it pulled away, Bourdais went nowhere. He found first gear, eventually, clicked it into place and stalled. By the time the problem was rectified in the pit lane, he was a lap behind.

When the safety car peeled off, Vettel pulled clear, the only driver with proper visibility in the spray. Behind him, Heikki Kovalainen's McLaren ran second ahead of Mark Webber (Red Bull) and Nico Rosberg's Williams.

Vettel's last pit stop put him onto intermediate tyres and an assured win, the first time an Italian-based team other than Ferrari had won a grand prix since 1957.

"We didn't think it would rain today," said Vettel, "so we left the dry-weather downforce on. It made us bloody fast down the straights and we had no problems at all. I think this is the best day of my life."

Behind Kovalainen in second came Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber) and then Fernando Alonso, suggesting that Renault were finally finding some of their missing pace. Massa was sixth and Hamilton seventh having qualified 15th, a result of being on the wrong tyres at the wrong time. It meant he led Massa by just one point.