Vettel has title in sight after crushing Monza win

2011 Italian Grand Prix review

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monza, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monza, 2011

Sebastian Vettel can win the world championship at the next race following his eighth win of the year at Monza.

Vettel fell behind Fernando Alonso at the start but passed the Ferrari early on and pulled away.

Jenson Button took second place while Alonso held on to claim the final podium place in front of Lewis Hamilton.

Liuzzi causes chaos at the start

Alonso made a flying start to the race, vaulting up from fourth on the grid to take the lead. He dived down the inside of Vettel and Hamilton, the trio heading into the first corner side-by-side.

Alonso emerged in the lead ahead of Vettel, Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, who made another good start from eighth. But behind them a multi-car crash brought out the safety car.

Vitantonio Liuzzi had lost got onto the grass on the way to the first chicane, lost control of his HRT, and hurtled backwards into the cars negotiating the Rettifilio.

He took out Nico Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov and the wrecked cars blocked the track, causing Rubens Barrichello to come to a stop. The safety car was summoned while the marshals cleared the three wrecked cars from the track.

This brought a temporary halt to Vettel’s attempts to get his lead back from Alonso. But as soon as the race resumed the Red Bull was on the prowl, searching for a way around the Ferrari, looking down the outside of the della Roggia after the safety car came in.

Vettel soon drew along the outside of Alonso at the exit of Rettifilio, and put two wheels on the grass at Curva Grande as Alonso tried to squeeze him wide.

Vettel kept his foot in, held the inside line for the della Roggia chicane, and claimed the lead of the race. It was a fabulously brave pass and all the more impressive for being accomplished without DRS.

Hamilton battles with Schumacher

Alonso now briefly came under attack – but not from Hamilton. Schumacher had taken advantage of the restart to claim third off the McLaren. Hamilton later admitted he was too busy keeping an eye on the Mercedes in his mirrors to notice Alonso scampering off as the safety car came in.

This began a long, frustrating race for Hamilton who tried every which way to prise third place off the Mercedes.

On lap 13 he got past at the Rettifilio, but failed to cover the inside of the following chicane, allowing Schumacher through again.

As Schumacher’s tyres deteriorated Hamilton’s passing attempts became more aggressive. He tried to poke his nose down the inside at the Curva Grande but had to back out of the move. This allowed Button to pounce and take fourth place off his team mate.

He then proceeded to pass Schumacher with his first attempt on the outside of Ascari – a galling sight for Hamilton.

Schumacher came into the pits at the end of the lap, followed by Button on the next lap and Hamilton the lap after that. Button stayed ahead, but Hamilton was condemned to fall behind the Mercedes once again.

Hamilton launched another series of attempts to pass, often drawing alongside Schumacher through the DRS zone between Lesmo 2 and Ascari. Eventually, Ross Brawn warned Schumacher he was not leaving Hamilton enough room when moving to protect his racing line. Halfway through the race, Hamilton finally claimed back the place he had lost following the restart.

Hamilton began to close the gap to Alonso and Button. They switched to medium tyres at their final pit stops and Button capitalised on the Ferrari’s weakness on harder tyres to out-drag Alonso at the exit of Rettifilio and claim second place.

The other McLaren closed in quickly over the last stint and began the final lap one second behind Alonso. He had his DRS open heading towards Ascari but couldn’t get close enough to pass the Ferrari, crossing the line half a second behind.

Webber and Massa tangle

Felipe Massa recovered to sixth place after an early tangle with Mark Webber. Webber had gone down the outside of Massa heading into the Rettifilio, but Massa squeezed the Red Bull driver onto the kerbs. From there, Webber could do little to avoid hitting the Ferrari.

Massa was able to continue but as Webber returned to the pits with damage the front wing folded under his front wing, sending him into the barriers at Parabolica.

This briefly promoted Pastor Maldonado to sixth place. But he was defenceless against his pursuers, led by Massa, who came past him one by one on the start/finish line using DRS.

Jaime Alguersuari claimed seventh place. Team mate Sebastien Buemi had been running behind him but slipped to tenth. The last driver to demote him was Bruno Senna, who made a bold pass from a long way back at the Rettifilio late in the race.

Maldonado and Barrichello finished out of the points. Four other cars were running at the end, including Daniel Ricciardo who was not classified having failed to get away at the start.

Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock were the only remaining finishers on a day when the retirement rate was high.

Both Saubers retired during the race, Sergio Perez dropping out after running more than half the race on medium tyres. Adrian Sutil and Jerome D’Ambrosio joined them in retirement.

After his pass on Alonso, Vettel enjoyed a straightforward race at a track where Red Bull have struggled in the past. He described the win as “very emotional”.

“This circuit means a lot to me and has been very special. Obviously my first win here. So when I crossed the line I remembered every single bit and the podium is unbelievable. You stand up there and you feel so blessed because it doesn’t happen to many people.”

His eighth win of 2011 means he can win the world championship in the next race at Singapore.

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81 comments on Vettel has title in sight after crushing Monza win

  1. Apparently Liuzzi has been given a 5 position grid penalty at Singapore, so he will be starting 29th. I can almost hear the laughter from the committee room.

  2. Once again Vettel has shown that, given the fastest car, he has the focus and speed to deliver wins more consistently than anyone else.

    Other drivers have been more flamboyant or daring; some have been less lucky. But Vettel has made fewer mistakes than anyone else while still pushing closer to the limit than his team-mate.

    Good for him – and good luck winning the title next race!

    (I just hope that next year, the Red Bull has no speed advantage. Then we can really see what he’s made of.)

  3. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 11th September 2011, 20:05

    I wonder what 5 placed down the grid penalty would mean for Liuzzi. Starting from the toilet in HRT motorhome?

  4. “Vitantonio Liuzzi had lost got onto the grass on the way to the first chicane, lost control of his HRT, and hurtled backwards into the cars negotiating the Rettifilio.”
    Something wrong here. And I saw it as if he went sideways into the cars he hit.

    • Liuzzi put two wheels on the grass (he blamed Kovalainen for pushing him over) just as everyone else funnelled into the braking zone. The other drivers started to slow down while he didn’t. He lost the car trying to avoid hitting the cars decelerating in front of him.

  5. PieLighter said on 11th September 2011, 21:36

    Liuzzi given 5-place grid drop for SNG:
    http://pitpass.com/44694-Liuzzi-handed-grid-penalty-for-Singapore
    Not like it will make any difference, he will probably qualify 21st if he’s lucky, then be dropped to the back.

  6. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 11th September 2011, 21:57

    I had the pleasure of being at the race today and it was worth every bit of the pilgrimage I made. The entire weekend has been phenomenal, from the pit-lane walk Thursday afternoon to the checkered flag today. I’m exhausted but above that I’m proud. Proud that a sport I choose to follow has countless microcosm’s of fans from all backgrounds supporting the most obscure drivers. I saw one family proudly bearing their Russian flag and my heart sank for them when Petrov went out. I’m sure they still enjoyed the race but that’s one hell of a distance to travel!

    The race itself was fantastic as far as I’m concerned. I rated it a 9 on the poll, irrespective of my viewpoint but the atmosphere alone (and the free beer I got!) made for an easy 11/10.

    Congratulations to Vettel and to the rest of the guys at Red Bull for managing to defy their critics two races in a row, races they weren’t meant to win.

  7. Just found out that Tonio Liuzzi got a five place grid drop for Singapore because of his crash at the start. I’m very confused. In Belgium, Senna made an unforced error and took out Alguersuari and caused mayhem. No penalty. In Italy, Liuzzi was forced onto the grass and careered into the others. Five places.

    Where is the consistency? Admittedly to Liuzzi, the grid drop means he will still be at the back, but it’s the sentiment. Why didn’t Senna get one too?

    For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t have penalised either of them, it’s a racing incident. Many of you will probably disagree, but I miss the days when an accident at the start was commonplace! Penalties are handed out too much and too often, but at least be consistent with them!

    Rant over!

    • I believe Senna got a drive through penalty in Spa. Since Liuzzi was out of the race, the only penalty he could have gotten was the 5 place grid drop. Considering DR may out qualify him in Singapore, and he’d be starting last as a result anyway, Senna’s penalty was far worse (not to mention he lost more time coming in to change his nose in Spa as well).

      • You are absolutely correct – i’d forgotten about the drive through. Silly of me. The point still remains that the stewards are too inconsistent and penalise too often, but, as you pointed out, my example was wide of the mark!

        • I’m not sure about the stewards being too inconsistent (lots of times certain incidents look like apples to apples but on closer inspection they are more apples to oranges), but totally agree with too many penalties being given.

          (and while they may not be “too” inconsistent, they are definitely inconsistent at times!)

  8. racelitze (@racelitze) said on 11th September 2011, 22:29

    vettel wins the championship + RB the construction title – how about putting another driver in vettels car?
    Wont happen but could be interesting^^

  9. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 12th September 2011, 2:13

    I guess all he needs to do is to finish on the podium if he need to win the WC for 2011.It was a exciting race as once again the cool customer Button did a great job where Schumi showed us that he still have what it takes for him to race in 2012.Bad luck for Nico as his strategy & race pace could have allowed him to finish in a good position today.Seems like Liuzzi was over cooking the corner,great pass from Vettel to get Alonso.

  10. TommyC said on 12th September 2011, 3:34

    And to think he dominated from here on in last year. If he puts in similar performances this year, he may well win all of the last races (minus india of course which we have no history to go on). Whilst it’s disappointing that the championship fight hasn’t been closer, I’m glad I’m witnessing one of the greatest sporting performances in history; something I didn’t fully appreciate during Schumacher’s domination.

    • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 12th September 2011, 6:55

      Great comment, I didn’t see all the years of Schumacher’s domination, so this is something special to see.

      It’s a pleasure to watch Vettel drive. Simply amazing.

      • bosyber said on 12th September 2011, 11:01

        I did see some of it, but this year the racing behind the winner is usually much better, esp. compared to 2004 where the two Ferrari’s were so much faster.

  11. JohnBt said on 12th September 2011, 4:51

    All the criticisms on Vettel this year will be buried.

    VETTEL is truly worthy as a world champion.

    Keith, now I’m waiting for the latest statistics of how many records Vettel has broken and there will be more to come in the future. IMO he’s a very nice bloke and he has earned high respects from myself and I’m sure from many others.

  12. The Limit said on 12th September 2011, 5:33

    I think anybody who still believes that Sebastien Vettel’s success this year is solely down to the Red Bull chassis needs to be sent to Specsavers. The move he put on Fernando was everybit as impressive as Alonso’s move on Schumacher at Suzuka in 2005. Pure balls and nothing less, and as Keith quite rightly pointed out, without the use of the much fabled DRS.
    Personally, I think this guy is fed up with certain people suggesting that it ‘is all down to the car’. He really proved today his raw talent and courage behind the wheel of a racing car. It was refreshingly different to see a driver with the luxary of such a lead in the championship, go out full guns blazing for the win. I must admit, when Fernando made that great move at the start of the race, I thought it would be all over with by the crying.
    As for the others, yet another frustrating day for Lewis Hamilton but a solid one for his team mate. It makes me laugh to think that in late 2009 so many were claiming that Button was making a huge mistake by joining McLaren. That Lewis would blow him away with embarrassingly levels of ease! Well, it is not looking like Jenson is being hung out to try lately that is for sure.
    Hamilton spent so long behind Michael Schumacher at Monza it seemed at times they were tighed together with a piece of string. Button breezed by and even put one on Fernando, in the same car as Lewis! Oh dear oh dear..

    • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 12th September 2011, 6:58

      Spot on assessment!

      Vettel and Button despite being champions have been some what underrated by many people, many people that are finally seeing just how wrong they were.

    • Jenson was clever, held back for many laps and let Lewis fight with Michael. Then he closed up as the pit stops approached and took the opportunity when it presented itself.

      His tyres would have been in much better condition than both Michael and Lewis, I think the only reason he pitted the lap after Michael was to cover the undercut.

  13. maxthecat said on 12th September 2011, 12:10

    It was NOT a crushing win as you put it, if it were not for Schumacher both McLarens would have been all over him, as someone who looks at the FIA stats should well know.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th September 2011, 12:19

      Alonso got in front of him at the start, but it was clear from the way Vettel passed him it was a minor setback. He sprinted away from the pack and never looked threatened. All this at a track where Red Bull have never scored a podium in the past.

      it was absolutely a crushing win for Vettel. He never looked like being beaten.

      You can say ‘if it weren’t for this and that’ as much as like. This article is about the race that actually happened.

  14. Mr draw said on 12th September 2011, 12:15

    Maybe a small error:
    “Massa was able to continue but as Webber returned to the pits with damage the front wing folded under his front wing, sending him into the barriers at Parabolica.”

    The Schumi-Hamilton battle was fun to watch, but it’s a shame Hamilton lacked top speed. Button’s higher top speed enabled him to overtake Schumi at once, which was funny too.

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