Afternoon Stroll For Victorious Hamilton As Alonso Stretches Title Lead

Monza was never the happiest of locations for Lewis Hamilton as in his previous five Italian Grand Prix, he had only finished on the podium once. The 2012 event brought a different result as he drove his McLaren to a win which was never in doubt. Leading from the start, he kept first place for most of the race, only briefly falling behind when pitting.

It is the 20th victory of his career, which brings the Englishman level with former two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen in the career wins tally. He has been letting everyone know that his main reason for choosing the team he drives for next year is a winning car, and McLaren’s run of current form which has seen them net three consecutive wins for the first time since Hamilton’s title-winning year in 2008 must aid McLaren’s cause for keeping their star driver.

Towards the end, there was a late charge from Saber’s Sergio Perez, but Hamilton said he was never really under high pressure, as he basked in the glory of winning on Ferrari ground for the first time in his career.

“I can’t say there was huge pressure. I think if he was a lot closer to start with then it would have been quite tough, but the last few laps I had to accelerate a little bit more to reduce the amount that he was catching me.”

“You never know what is going to happen when you come into a race weekend. But I have been so happy that it has just run quite smoothly throughout the weekend and the guys have done a great job with the package.

“I knew that from the previous weekend with Jenson [Button]’s pace, I thought straightaway that means I have got to do the same here and the guys did a great job.

“And this is Monza, this is one of the very historic circuits and one that I have not won at before so it’s great to take another stepping stone in my career.

“It’s not as special as Silverstone or Monaco, but it is one of those special grands prix, as this is a very historic circuit,” he added. “I wish we had a better reception here but I know, and I could hear, the great British fans we had here this weekend, standing in amongst the crowd of Italian Ferrari fans.”

Perez has emphasized his credentials after chasing down the leaders

Sergio Perez drove a remarkable race in tyre conservation as he recorded his third podium finish of the season, after Malaysia and Canada. The Mexican passed the two Ferraris in the closing stages, as well as Raikkonen and put his result down to strategy rather than speed alone.

“It was really enjoyable,” said Perez. “One of those races where you have the pace and are the one attacking.

“There were very crucial moments during the race, especially with my first stint – going long and keeping pace was not easy at all.

“I did quite a lot of laps on those tyres and then in the second stint we managed to go on maximum attack and were able to have good fight with some drivers.”

I don’t think we had pace to be close to the front row or close to the top five,” he said. “We were not quick at all, lacking too much speed on the straights.

“I didn’t get a good lap yesterday and that is why we qualified outside the top 10. Maybe the top 10 was reachable.

“It helps us in a way to change strategy. I think we were one of only a few to go for primes and it worked quite well. I was worried about warm up at the beginning but it worked quite well.”

Despite not winning, Alonso was still the star attraction on the podium to the Ferrari-loving home crowd

Fernando Alonso made up for his DNF (Did Not Finish) at the previous race by standing on the podium in third place after a great display in which he started from tenth. He remarked that it had been an excellent help to his championship ambitions, with both Red Bulls failing to finish along with Jenson Button retiring from what could have been a comfortable second place for the Englishman. Alonso now sees his title lead increase to 37 points over new second-placed driver Lewis Hamilton.

It was a perfect Sunday for us,” said Alonso. “After the problem yesterday it was not easy to think about victory.

“So if you are not going to win, the podium is the next target.

“All the simulations and predictions said we would never finish on the podium, so it was much better than expected, and Jenson [Button] was out of the race and so were the two Red Bulls, so the perfect Sunday.”

Massa helped his cause in his battle to keep his seat, despite having to let Alonso pass

Felipe Massa enjoyed a strong race and finished fourth, equalling his best finish of the season which he achieved at Silverstone. The Brazilian was running in second until the first round of pitstops, and had to allow team-mate Alonso to pass him to help the Spaniard’s championship challenge. Unable to prevent Sergio Perez was passing him in the closing stages, Massa was still happy to finish fourth as he battles to keep his Ferrari drive for 2013.

The degradation was really massive on our cars.

“I expected better degradation so that was the biggest thing that happened today. Anyway it was a good result for us, third and fourth for the team was a good result.”

For sure my own personal race was very important, but also helping Fernando as well to be in the condition to fight for the championship, which we know is very important for the team. I think both came together during the race.”

Button’s failure may have left his championship well run dry

Jenson Button looked good to follow his team-mate home in second place only for a fuel system issue forcing him to pull over to the side of the circuit and retire. His failure to score while Hamilton and Alonso picked up high points leave the Briton far from the lead of the championship. Affter the race, he conceded it was an uphill task to win the title now.

“It is going to be very very difficult [to win the title] but it just shows you that if you can be consistent you have such a good chance of winning the championship,” he said.

“At the moment it is one race off and one race on and if you get 25 points one race then don’t finish it mixes it up.”

Vettel scrapped with Alonso in a tussle reminiscent of their 2011 battle at the same area

Vettel and Alonso were involved in a controversial incident which saw the German force Alonso off the track edge as the two men fought for position. Vettel was given a drive-through penalty for his actions. Alonso said after the race that the actions were dangerous.

“It was dangerous for the nature of the circuit. It’s 300km/h and we were jumping on gravel. Not nice.”

“The race director makes the decision and they made one, but it didn’t change anything because [Vettel] was forced to retire.

Vettel’s team boss Christian Horner defended his driver, saying the penalty handed out was harsh.

“It is irrelevant effectively after the DNF, but judge it for yourself – it seemed a bit harsh. It didn’t seem to warrant a penalty but that is my opinion.”

Vettel’s afternoon was compounded as he suffered an alternator failure for the second time this season. Valencia’s issue left Vettel out a European Grand Prix which he looked likely to win, and at Monza it robbed him of points. Webber also failed to finish the race as Red Bull had their first non-scoring race since the 2010 Korean Grand Prix. Christian Horner underlined the fact that such issues hurt championship bids and that the team could not afford one again

“We have had two race-stopping failures: one that cost us a certain victory and today one that cost us a sensible amount of points. It is extremely costly and something that needs to be rectified for the remaining eight races.

“I think there was another issue on another car with the same component during the weekend, so it is very disappointing. But we need to work with Renault to understand it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

D’Ambrosio struggled with a KERS problem in the race

Standing in for the banned Romain Grosjean, Jerome D’Ambrosio had a quiet afternoon, finishing outside of the points in 13th. The Belgian was pleased to get the chance to race and achieved his target of finishing the race.

“After losing my Kers on lap six it was always going to be tough as that’s worth about half a second per lap around here,” he said.

“My main aim was to finish the race and I’ve achieved that so it’s not so bad overall. It was great to be back in the car and I’ve learnt a lot this weekend.”

Italian GP Result

Pos Driver Team Time
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1h19:41.221
2. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 4.356
3. Alonso Ferrari + 20.594
4. Massa Ferrari + 29.667
5. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 30.881
6. Schumacher Mercedes + 31.259
7. Rosberg Mercedes + 33.550
8. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 41.057
9. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 43.898
10. Senna Williams-Renault + 48.144
11. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 48.682
12. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 50.316
13. d’Ambrosio Lotus-Renault + 1:15.861
14. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault + 1 lap
15. Petrov Caterham-Renault + 1 lap
16. Pic Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap
17. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap
18. De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth + 1 lap
19. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth + 1 lap
20. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 2 laps
21. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 3 laps
22. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 6 laps

Not classified/retirements:

Driver Team On lap
Button McLaren-Mercedes 32
Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 8

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