Fernando Alonso lost the lead at the start of the Italian Grand Prix but recovered to win from Jenson Button.
Button finished second ahead of Felipe Massa. But team mate Lewis Hamilton’s title hopes suffered a blow when he crashed out on the first lap.
Button made the best start and even though Fernando Alonso squeezed him the McLaren driver emerged from the first turn in the lead.
As Alonso tucked in behind he clipped the left-rear end plate of Button’s car. But there was more significant contact between a Ferrari and McLaren when Hamilton stuck his nose alongside Massa at the Roggia.
Hamilton nudged Massa’s left-rear wheel, breaking his front-right and skidding out in the gravel at Lesmo to a costly DNF.
As lap one finished Button was already under crushing pressure from Alonso, with Massa in close attendance and Nico Rosberg, up from seventh, dropping back in fourth.
Behind him were Robert Kubica and Nico Hülkenberg. Only then came the first of the Red Bulls, Sebastian Vettel, followed by Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber.
Webber made amends for his poor start by passing Schumacher at the Roggia and then catching Vettel.
Vettel’s race briefly seemed to be over on lap 19 when he told his team he had an engine problem, lost two seconds and fell behind Webber. But the problem seemed to clear up and Vettel continued on his way.
Up front Button rarely had any respite from the attention of the two Ferraris. His higher downforce set-up allowed him to pull away in the corners but Alonso was 14kph faster down the straights and kept hauling in the McLaren.
With the field spreading out slowly behind them there was little opportunity for them to make their pit stops. Button finally came in on lap 36, the first opportunity after the cars behind had pitted.
Ferrari kept Alonso out for another lap and got him back out narrowly ahead of the McLaren. The car was stationary for slightly less time for Button, he emerged from the pits side-by-side with the McLaren and took the lead back at the Rettifilio.
Massa set the fastest lap and came in the next time by. But having slipped back from Alonso before the pit stops he couldn’t improve on third.
Pitting first didn’t work out for Robert Kubica either, who fell behind Hülkenberg and Webber.
Vettel delayed his pit stop until the last possible moment – finally making his compulsory stop as the last lap was beginning.
That worked out well as his team mate was having a hard time getting past Hülkenberg. The Williams driver cut chicanes on several occasions, leading to several frustrated comments from Webber on the radio.
The Red Bull driver finally squeezed past but didn’t have time to haul in Rosberg. That worked out perfectly for Vettel. His ultra-late stop allowed him to hold on to a fourth place which has looked unlikely halfway through the race when he was down in eighth.
Vitaly Petrov also left his sole pit stop until very late – though, unlike Vettel, he did his long stint on hard rather than soft tyres. He pitted from tenth, promoting Rubens Barrichello to the final point behind Schumacher.
Sebastien Buemi came home 11th ahead of Vitantonio Liuzzi. Adrian Sutil in the other Force India was delayed on the first lap and made an early switch to hard tyres that left him 16th behind Petrov, Pedro de la Rosa and Jaime Alguersuari.
Timo Glock was the highest-placed driver for the new teams in 17th, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen.
The HRT of Sakon Yamamoto was 19th despite hitting a member of his pit crew during his pit stop. The mechanic was taken to the medical centre.
Lucas di Grassi finished 20th and Jarno Trulli was classified 21st despite retiring in a cloud of smoke with two laps to go.
Alonso survived a late scare when he clattered across the Rettifilio kerbs to claim a popular victory for Ferrari on home ground. It propels him back into the thick of the title battle as the championship moves beyond Europe for its final five races.
2010 Italian Grand Prix
- Technical review: Italian Grand Prix
- Jamey Price watches the Italian Grand Prix at Monza
- Hamilton: “I could have done some passing”
- Sutil: “I was in the wrong place everywhere”
- Hülkenberg’s drive “his best to date”
- 2010 Italian Grand Prix – the complete F1 Fanatic race weekend review
- Who was the best driver of the Italian Grand Prix weekend? (Poll)
- Late scare with de la Rosa can’t keep Alonso from victory (Ferrari race review)
- Set-up gamble pays off for Button as Hamilton crashes (McLaren race review)
- Vettel recovers to surprise fourth after mid-race drama (Red Bull race review)
Image © Ferrari spa