Hamilton wins at Monzaposted in F109 | 09 | 2012
McLAREN'S LEWIS HAMILTON won the Italian Grand Prix for the first time in his career, dominating the Monza race from pole position. Scotland's Paul di Resta brought his Sahara Force India home in eighth place.
McLaren had looked on course for a relatively comfortable 1-2, but with just 19 laps remaining, Jenson Button — winner seven days ago at Spa — was forced to park his car with what was initially diagnosed as a fuel pressure problem.
Hamilton though, who has moved to second in the title race, just 37 points adrift of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso — after the 20th win and 23rd pole of his grand prix career — came under late pressure from Sergio Perez.
The Sauber driver, who started the 53-lap race from 12th on the grid, had started on the hard tyres — unlike the other frontrunners — allowing him to run until lap 29 before his first pitstop.
The Mexican maximised the greater grip from his tyres over the closing laps to storm through the field from sixth. He eventually finished just 4.356secs behind Hamilton, and 16s ahead of third-placed Alonso, with the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa fourth. Hamilton though was quietly satisfied with the result.
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"The guys at McLaren are doing a fantastic job," the 27-year-old former world champ said. "To have two wins in the last three grands prix is fantastic, and I hope we can maintain that level of performance through to the end of the season.
"I had Sergio (Perez) under control. I was cruising at the front and just tried to balance my 14sec lead out over the remaining eight laps or so. I always had it under control.
"We got the set-up perfect this weekend. We started on the wrong direction on Friday, but we switched and just happened to get on the right direction for Free Practice 2. From there it was a case of just fine-tuning it, and I've been happy with the car all weekend.
"The pressure's on now in the team to close the gap to Alonso in the title race. When I heard Fernando was second, I thought 'how the hell did he get from 10th to second?'
"Then I heard Sergio had passed him, and I thought, 'ah, that's good.' I was hoping someone else would pass him, but it wasn't to be.
"The Italian Grand Prix is a race that all the greats have won and I really haven't had the chance to do so in the past. So to finally have the win at Monza is terrific."
Despite his impressive display, Perez was quick to dispel any talk of his performance improving the likelihood of him switching to Ferrari for 2013.
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"I am fighting for my team and I will always fight for the team I am in, I will always give my maximum," he said. "Will boost my hopes of a Ferrari deal? I don't know. I am sure not at all.
"I will always fight, if it is against Fernando (Alonso) or Lewis (Hamilton), to give my all. Every driver would do the same.
"It was a really enjoyable race: 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."
Alonso, meanwhile, was delighted with the result, especially having started from 10th on the grid after his car suffered a broken rear anti-rollbar during yesterday's qualifying.
"It was a perfect Sunday for us," Alonso admitted. "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.
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"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."
And while the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen finished fifth, immediately ahead of the two Mercedes of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg respectively, it was a day of disappointment for Red Bull.
First double world champ Sebastian Vettel was controversially given a drive-thru penalty for allegedly forcing Alonso off the track … at 330km/h!
Worse though was to follow for the defending champ, who was still on course for sixth, when his engineer instructed him to "stop the car immediately" with just five laps remaining.
His team-mate Mark Webber then spun out of the sixth-place he'd inherited from Vettel with just three laps remaining. The Aussie's retirement signalled the first time in 37 grands prix that neither of the Red Bulls had finished in the points.
Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy — Result (Provisional)
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.
Fastest lap: Rosberg, 1min 27.239secs
Button McLaren-Mercedes 32
Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 8
World Championship standings (After 13 of 20 grands prix):
1. Alonso 179
2. Hamilton 142
3. Raikkonen 141
4. Vettel 140
5. Webber 132
6. Button 101
7. Rosberg 83
8. Grosjean 76
9. Perez 65
10. Massa 47
11. Schumacher 43
12. Kobayashi 35
13. Di Resta 32
14. Hulkenberg 31
15. Maldonado 29
16. Senna 25
17. Vergne 8
18. Ricciardo 4
1. Red Bull-Renault 272
2. McLaren-Mercedes 243
3. Ferrari 226
4. Lotus-Renault 217
5. Mercedes 126
6. Sauber-Ferrari 100
7. Force India-Mercedes 63
8. Williams-Renault 54
9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 12
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