Formula 1

Italian Grand Prix 2010: Race Report

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Fernando Alonso converted his pole position into the race win at Monza, enhancing his title chances on a mediocre day for Red Bull and a disastrous one for Lewis Hamilton.

Jenson Button finished second and Felipe Massa took the final step on the Italian Grand Prix podium, whilst Sebastian Vettel could only manage fourth place, and Mark Webber, who regains the lead of the championship, finished sixth.

Lewis Hamilton crashed out on the first lap of the race, but remains second in the championship standings, just five points behind Webber.

Nico Rosberg drove an untroubled race to claim fifth place, Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, and Robert Kubica, Michael Schumacher, and Rubens Barrichello made up the top ten.

Button got the jump on Alonso off the line and the two Ferraris went round the first chicane side-by-side. Alonso kept his teammate at bay, and gave Button a shunt from behind, but the world champion still took the race lead.

Lewis Hamilton initially had a good start from fifth, getting up behind the Ferrari of Felipe Massa, but had his steering arm broken when attempting to overtake him. Hamilton, the leader of the championship before this grand prix, limped across a gravel track, and out of the race. He was a little over-eager in his attempt to get third place, and was forced to watch the race from the side-lines, unable to defend his tiny three point lead in the title standings.

Watching the cars go past his stricken McLaren, Hamilton may have had some comfort from the fact that Mark Webber had had a shocking start, dropping from fourth to ninth. Michael Schumacher, who started twelfth, was up to eighth by the end of the first lap.

Webber made a move on Schumacher at the beginning of Lap 6, as he began to repair the damage done by his poor start. Next up on the road was teammate Sebastian Vettel.

At the front of the race, Button and Alonso were evenly matched, despite having different downforce levels. Alonso got close to Button along the straights, but Button had better traction in the corners. The gap between the two was staying constant at around half a second, and Felipe Massa was not far the leading duo. Nico Rosberg in fourth place was slipping back from the leading pack.

From Lap 11 onwards, it seemed that Button's increased downforce was starting to pay dividends. The Brit began to pull out a series of fastest sectors, and the gap to Alonso increased to 1.5 seconds. However, the Spaniard responded, possibly by turning his engine up, and pegged the gap to the leader, and slowly began to rein him back in.

On Lap 21, Vettel made a panicked radio call to his race engineer, saying that he had an engine problem. Webber took Vettel's place without too much trouble, and the German started to fall back into the clutches of Schumacher. After a couple of slow laps, Vettel then set a personal best lap time, suggesting that the problem was only temporary. Ever the conspiracy theorist, Eddie Jordan suggested it was an orchestrated move on Red Bull's part to get Webber ahead of his teammate.

The leaders were beginning to reach back markers for the first time, and Alonso had got the gap to Button down to less than a second. The lapped drivers were quick to get out of the way of the leaders, and Alonso was not presented with a clear opportunity to pass.

At half distance Button led Alonso by 0.7 seconds. Massa was 2.5 seconds behind his teammate, and Rosberg in fourth was nearly fifteen seconds behind the leading trio. Mark Webber was seventh, and Sebastian Vettel was eighth. None of the championship contenders, or indeed any of the frontrunners, had yet made a pit stop.

Button got the pre-pit stop hurry-up from his team on Lap 35 of 53. Rosberg and Webber pitted at the end of that lap from fourth and seventh respectively. Webber came out behind Robert Kubica, having failed to jump the Renault in the pit stop. However, the Aussie wasn't behind the Renault for long, overtaking him on the next lap.

Button came in on the next lap, releasing the two Ferraris into the lead of the race. Alonso set a personal best lap time as Button came in, and Massa set the fastest lap of the race.

Alonso took the race lead after he came in on the following lap and got out ahead of Button. Massa waited one more lap to make his mandatory stop, but came out of the pits behind Button.

After the frontrunners had made their stops, Sebastian Vettel, who was leaving his tyre change late, was sitting in fourth place behind Massa. He was building a decent lead over those directly behind him – Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg, teammate Webber and Robert Kubica – enough to make an entire pit stop and come out ahead.

Webber got past Hulkenberg on Lap 51 to claim sixth place, and a better chance of getting ahead of his teammate who, with three laps to go, had still not made his pit stop.

Vettel finally made his pit stop at the end of the penultimate lap, having completed virtually the entire race distance on soft tyres. He came out in fourth place, comfortably ahead of Nico Rosberg and teammate Webber.

Alonso led untroubled after his pit stop, coming home to claim Ferrari's first home win since 2006.

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David is an occasional contributer to the site on matters related to Formula 1. You can follow him on twitter at @Dr_Bean.
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