• Italian Grand Prix

Vettel cruises to Monza victory to close on title

ESPNF1 Staff
September 11, 2011

Sebastian Vettel closed in on his second drivers' championship with victory at the Italian Grand Prix as team-mate Mark Webber failed to finish.

Jenson Button was second and Fernando Alonso third, while Lewis Hamilton's race was compromised by a long scrap with Michael Schumacher, who finished fifth. Felipe Massa came home sixth ahead of Jaime Alguersuari - who started 18th - with Paul di Resta, Bruno Senna and Sebastien Buemi rounding out the points-paying positions.

At the start Alonso got the jump from fourth to dive down the inside with a move reminiscent of his first corner heroics at the Spanish Grand Prix, while Hamilton had to yield to Vettel and Schumacher picked his way through to fourth.

A big crash caused by Tonio Liuzzi brought the safety car out after he lost control and slid across the grass towards turn one, sideswiping Vitaly Petrov and Nico Rosberg. Rubens Barrichello was also caught up in the incident but was able to continue.

Schumacher managed to pass Hamilton on the restart and proceeded to defend vigorously for a number of laps, allowing Button to close up. After a tit-for-tat scrap, which saw Schumacher stray close to breaching the rules by moving twice on the straights, Hamilton saw his chance heading into the Curve Grande on lap 16 but was squeezed onto the grass. He lost momentum as a result and Button eased past before going round the outside of Schumacher at Ascari later in the lap.

Hamilton eventually found a way past Schumacher as the Mercedes' tyres started to fade and from that point onwards attempted to get his race back on track. Towards the end of the race he targeted Alonso in third, and got close to the Ferrari's gearbox, but ran out of laps, crossing the line just 0.5s behind.

Schumacher settled for a comfortable fifth place ahead of Massa, whose race was ruined when Webber attempted to pass him on lap four. The Red Bull driver made a move around the outside of turn one but found himself clattering over the kerbs and then speared into the side of Massa. The Ferrari was pitched into a spin and dropped to tenth as Webber attempted to get back to the pits. But as the Red Bull entered Parabolica its front wing folded underneath the wheels and Webber lost the ability to brake, ending his race in the barrier.

Alguersuari made up the most positions of any driver on the grid, taking seven places through the first corner pandemonium and then working a two-stop strategy to perfection to finish seventh. Di Resta also had a strong race in eighth but came under pressure from Senna in the closing stages. Senna made an early pit stop after the first corner chaos but got his medium tyre stint out of the way which gave him an advantage on the soft tyres to pass Buemi towards the end.

Vettel, however, was imperious and crossed the line with a 9.5s margin to Button. The win means he now has a 112 point lead in the championship and could theoretically seal the title at Singapore in two weeks time.