From Belgium it was off to Italy for the Italian Grand Prix at the famous Monza circuit. With just eight races left this season, a win for Sebastian Vettel in Italy could possibly clinch the Drivers’ Championship Title for him. The race could also be a clincher for Red Bull for the Constructors’ Championship Title. Fans will be watching Fernando Alonso, who has the best chance of catching up to Vettel and is known for driving well under pressure. Monza is after all the home turf of Ferrari. In the end, it was Vettel that took the chequered flag, his third win at Monza. Alonso came in second place and Mark Webber in third place.
Qualifying took place with little fuss. Pirelli brought its two hardest two tyres for the race, the same allocation as last year’s Italian Grand Prix. Vettel pretty much dominated the qualifying, posting the fastest laps in all three rounds, earning him the pole position – his 50th! He is followed by Webber, Nico Hülkenberg, Felipe Massa, Alonso and Nico Rosberg – this puts Red Bull in grid positions one and two. Hamilton had the most frustrating qualifying weekend, damaging his car in the second round of qualifying, leaving him in 12th position on the grid.
The start sees Massa blast into second place, overtaking Webber! First casualty is Paul di Resta in the second chicane, who rear-ends Romain Grosjean. Grosjean escapes with little damage, but di Resta is out of the race. The race is fast and tough, Hamilton struggling up to 10th place, Vettel retains his lead, but behind him its struggles for position. By lap 10, Alonso has overtaken Massa for second place and is just under 4 seconds behind Vettel. Hamilton’s weekend doesn’t get better, his radio is out and probably can’t hear his crew cautioning him about a slow puncture. This is not going to be Hamilton’s weekend. Lap 15 sees Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne’s car blow up, engine or transmission failure? He is out.
By lap 30, Vettel is still in front, with Alonso on his tail but not being able to shorten the gap beyond 6 seconds. Hamilton is posting fastest race laps, but is still struggling in the back, in around 10th place. Now, it’s Vettel, Alonso, Webber, with commentators hinting at a possible Red Bull 1-2 win at Monza. Webber is pushing hard on Alonso for second place. Hamilton tries hard to better his position, but ends up in 9th place. The race ends up being an easy win for Vettel, who has the luxury of pretty much coasting the last three laps for the win. Alonso holds off Webber for second place, giving Red Bull and 1-3 finish at Monza. It wasn’t Raikkonen’s weekend either and he comes in 11th pace, the first race without points for him this season (except for the Belgian Grand Prix, which he retired from). The big news comes after the race when Massa announced that he will be leaving Ferrari. This does not come as big surprise, as Massa has had a disappointing season, only racking up 79 points so far. Raikkonen has signed a deal to return to Ferrari for the 2014 season.
The Drivers’ Championship standings sees Vettel charge ahead with his win at Monza. With 222 points, Vettel has a 53 point lead over second place Alonso and 81 point lead over third place Hamilton. With seven races remaining in the season, there is still plenty of room for Alonso to catch up to Vettel, but Hamilton is most likely out of contention – there is a remote chance, but Hamilton would have to win a few races, with Vettel coming in below third place to do so. Raikkonen is now in a distant fourth place with 134 point and Webber in fifth place with 130 points. The rest of the season will be the battle between Vettel and Alonso. Six drivers have yet to score a point this season.
The Constructors’ Championship standings on the other hand firmly remain in the hands of Red Bull. With Red Bull’s 1-3 finish in Monza, the team now has 352 points, a 104 point lead over second place Ferrari. But this is by no means a secure lead. Mercedes is right behind Ferrari, with 245 points, a three point deficit, so there is still opportunity for movement here. Lotus is in fourth place with 191 points. After that, not much contention for positions, with McLaren in fifth place with 66 points and Force Indian in sixth place with 61 points. Two teams have yet to win any points this season: Marussia and Caterham.
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