Flawless Hamilton powers to his first Monza victory
9 September, 2012
Sep.9 (Apex) From the moment the red lights went out Lewis Hamilton looked most likely to win the Italian Grand Prix as he powered into a lead which he only briefly relinquished during the pitstop period, to claim his first win at the legendary Monza circuit.
The McLaren driver crossed the finish line 4.3 seconds ahead of Sergio Perez who drove a sensational race to take second place, for Sauber, after carving his way through the field from 11th on the grid, overtaking both Ferrari’s within sight of the finish line.
The foundation for Hamilton’s third win of the season – his 20th grand prix win and McLaren’s 180th – was laid with his strong showing in qualifying a day earlier; thereafter he made a quick getaway and always seemed well in control of proceedings, increasing his pace or holding station when required. The win catapults him from fifth in the championship standings to second.
Savouring the unique atmosphere of Monza, Hamilton declared to Niki Lauda during the podium interviews: “It’s been fantastic to win here. I’m just so happy for my team, it’s been a fantastic day. Fernando is a two-time world champion so I’m very happy for him too.”
Perez made an inspired, brave decision to start the race on the hard Pirelli tyre, and he made them last until lap 28 of the 53 laps race, way more than his rivals who started on the softer (medium) option tyres. At the end he was easily the fastest man on track and closing in on Hamilton at over a second a lap. Alas, once again (rewind to Malaysia) time ran out for the young Mexican.
“It was a great race for me and my team. It’s unbelievable to have a podium for my team at Monza. It’s very special. I went for prime tyres at the start and I decided to stop late. That gave me very fresh tyres at the end. It’s unbelievable,” said Perez.
For the tifosi, maybe their drivers did not win, but good team work and a storming drive from tenth on the grid by Fernando Alonso ensured that he remained with a handy lead in the championship points standings, while his main title rivals, before the race, succumbed to mechanical problems. Alonso took third, with Felipe Massa fourth.
Alonso summed up the afternoon from his perspective, “It was a difficult race starting from 10th but we knew we had possibly the quickest car this weekend. We had the pace to recover the position so it was a good result for us.”
The racing gods have a sense of justice, it seems, because they rewarded the three drivers who were eliminated by Romain Grosjean’s wayward Lotus at Spa, with a podium at Monza!
It was a day of frustration for Jenson Button and the Red Bull pair. The trio, who were the main challengers to Alonso before Monza, did not finish.
Button was sluggish off the line, having to settle for third behind Massa, but shortly after the pitstops was comfortably in second. But on lap 33 the McLaren coasted to the side of the track, just before Parabolica, and parked with an apparent fuel pick-up problem. His race was run.
The moves prompted Ferrari to tweet mid-race: “Clearly Vettel forgot last year, when Fernando behaved very differently…”
On lap 26 Vettel went a step to far, squeezing Alonso onto the sand exiting the first Lesmo. The Spaniard was furious, shouting over the radio: “OK, that’s enough.”
The stewards agreed and slapped Vettel with a drive through penalty. The world champion fell down to ninth and while making his way up the field, his engineer came over the radio: “Stop the car, we must save the engine.” The world champion duly did so. Game Over.
A few laps later Mark Webber drove his Red Bull into the pits and into retirement with absolutely no grip, after catching a big moment exiting Ascari. It was Red Bull’s first double DNF since Korea 2010.
Meanwhile Kimi Raikkonen benefited from the misfortunes of Vettel and Button, although the Lotus simply did not look like the powerhouse it has been at circuits demanding less top speed. This forced The Iceman to dig deep and go wheel to wheel with just about everyone.
Raikkonen finished fifth and in doing so is now third in the championship standings, a mere point behind Hamilton – with the Iceman yet to win a race this season…
Another world champion ‘in the wars’ was Michael Schumacher, who again made the best of the Mercedes, to take sixth place and once again had the better of teammate Nico Rosberg, who was seventh across the finish line.
Paul Di Resta could not extract the performance he had found in the Force India during qualifying. Although he did get as high as fourth during the pitstop window he was destined to slog it out for a consolation eighth place at the end.
Ninth place for Kamui Kobayashi made it a great day for Sauber at Monza, in contrast to their expensive and heart breaking race day a week earlier at Spa. The result entrenches them firmly in sixth place in the constructors championship behind Mercedes and well ahead of Force India.
The final point went to Bruno Senna in the Williams. The Brazilian, embroiled in a number of fist waving scraps, beat his teammate Pastor Maldonado who had a relatively sedate afternoon on his way to eleventh place.
Jerome D’Ambrosio, standing in for one race banned Grosjean, brought the Lotus home in 13th place. Although not a stellar return to grand prix racing, his was a solid performance for a driver who has had hardly any seat time in an F1 car since last year, when he drove for Marussia. His case is perhaps proof that there is something seriously wrong with the system of developing fringe drivers into F1.
Monza has in the past been notorious for pile-ups, especially in the opening lap in the turn 1-2-3 complex. This year the race was virtually accident free apart from Jean Eric Vergne losing his Toro Rosso under braking into Turn 1, when something appeared to snap at the rear of his car, which then jolted violently and launched into the air before coming to a stop, the French rookie’s race ending on the spot.
Thus ended the European leg of the 2012 season, as the F1 circus now moves to Asia for five races, then to North America before the finale in South America – and along the way the world championship title will be decided.
Subbed by AJN.
Italian Grand Prix, Monza – Sunday, 9 September 2012
|2||15||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||53||+4.3 secs||12||18|
|3||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||53||+20.5 secs||10||15|
|4||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||53||+29.6 secs||3||12|
|5||9||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||53||+30.8 secs||7||10|
|6||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||53||+31.2 secs||4||8|
|7||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||53||+33.5 secs||6||6|
|8||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||53||+41.0 secs||9||4|
|9||14||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||53||+43.8 secs||8||2|
|10||19||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||53||+48.1 secs||13||1|
|11||18||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||53||+48.6 secs||22|
|12||16||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||53||+50.3 secs||14|
|13||10||Jerome D’Ambrosio||Lotus-Renault||53||+75.8 secs||15|
|14||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault||52||+1 Lap||17|
|15||21||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham-Renault||52||+1 Lap||18|
|16||25||Charles Pic||Marussia-Cosworth||52||+1 Lap||20|
|17||24||Timo Glock||Marussia-Cosworth||52||+1 Lap||19|
|18||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||52||+1 Lap||23|
|19||23||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT-Cosworth||52||+1 Lap||21|
|20||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||51||+2 Laps||11|
|21||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||50||+3 Laps||24|
|22||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||47||+6 Laps||5|
|Ret||3||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||32||+21 Laps||2|
|Ret||17||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||8||+45 Laps||16|
- Monza Qualifying: Hamilton leads McLaren 1-2 as Ferrari’s plan backfires
- Monza Practice 3: Hamilton tops by 0.001 seconds from Alonso
- Monza Practice 2: Hamilton tops as McLaren dominates and Ferrari chases
- Monza Practice 1: Schumacher fastest early on
- Alonso powers to his greatest triumph as Perez shines in Malaysia