Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel survived a number of minor issues to take his sixth win of the season in the Formula 1 Gran Premio d'Italia 2013 at Monza on Sunday afternoon.
The world champion took the lead at the start as Ferrari’s Felipe Massa sprinted briefly up to second ahead of the second Red Bull of Mark Webber and the second Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.
As Vettel extended his lead out front, despite some concerns about a flat-spotted tyre, Alonso fought past Webber with a bold move on the third lap, then caught and passed his team mate on the eighth. But there was nothing he could do about the German in the lead and though he finished only 5.4s adrift, the real gap was closer to double that as Vettel eased off considerably.
In the second half of the race Webber fought back and put Alonso under pressure until he was told to start short-shifting, but he was still less than a second behind the Ferrari at the end. Massa was a distant fourth.
Nico Hulkenberg and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg had a race-long fight for fifth which went the Sauber driver’s way by six-tenths of a second even though Rosberg was the fastest man on track with three laps to go. Daniel Ricciardo made strong use of his superfast-in-a-straight line Toro Rosso to keep Romain Grosjean at bay, but Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was closing on both and actually passed the Lotus going into the second chicane on the final lap.
Unfortunately for the Briton, he’d gone over the run-off area to do it and had to hand back the place. Hamilton had his race strategy upset by a slow puncture in his Mercedes’ right front tyre on the 12th lap, and thus had to make two pit stops to almost everybody else’s one.
Kimi Raikkonen was the other man who had to stop twice after sustaining accident damage running his Lotus into Sergio Perez’s McLaren at the first corner after locking up. Like Hamilton, the Finn drove a feisty race to recover, but couldn’t hold Hamilton back on the 49th lap. He did catch and pass Perez, but missed out on the final point when he couldn’t quite get the job done on Jenson Button. The Englishman thus took a solitary point in McLaren’s 50th birthday race.
Behind Perez in 12th, fellow Mexican Esteban Gutierrez brought his Sauber home ahead of the Williams duo of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas, while further back Charles Pic beat Caterham team mate Giedo van der Garde, as Jules Bianchi led home Marussia team mate Max Chilton at the rear of the field.
It was a bad race for Force India, with Paul di Resta a first-lap casualty after running into the back of Grosjean at the second chicane - an incident the stewards are investigating - and Adrian Sutil retiring on the penultimate lap when running behind the Hamilton/Raikkonen battle. Jean-Eric Vergne had kept Button and Hamilton at bay in the early stages until a transmission problem on his Toro Rosso put him out on the 15th lap.
Vettel’s sixth win of the season extended his championship lead over Alonso. The German now has 222 points to the Spaniard’s 169, while Hamilton is stuck back on 141 from Raikkonen on 134, as Webber moves up to 130.
In the constructors’ stakes, Red Bull had the biggest day and now have 352 points, while Ferrari’s strong performance puts them back into second place on 248 ahead of Mercedes on 245. Lotus remain fourth on 191 with McLaren fifth on 66 and Force India sixth on 61.