Sebastian Vettel was in a class of one today, as he strode to victory in the Italian Grand Prix.
Behind the Red Bull Racing driver came Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and the sister Red Bull Racing car of Mark Webber, with the Australian recording his best-ever finish at Monza on his final Formula One outing at the circuit.
Vettel has fond memories of Monza, having scored his first ever Formula One victory here when he was driving for Toro Rosso back in 2008, and had taken a resounding pole position in qualifying on Saturday ahead of team-mate Mark Webber.
As Sunday’s race got underway, Vettel was in the lead heading into the first chicane, the Variante del Rettifilo, when he locked up his right front tyre heavily.
He managed to hustle the Red Bull Racing machine through the tight right-left ahead of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, however, who had gotten past Webber and Saturday’s surprise third-placed qualifier Nico Hulkenberg in the charge to the first corner.
From then on Vettel wasn’t to look back, as he quickly opened up a comfortable lead reminiscent of the type his compatriot Michael Schumacher used to establish in his early-2000s Ferrari pomp.
The main racing, then, was happening behind the German, with Fernando Alonso managing to work his way up to second after passing team-mate Massa, a position he too held comfortably throughout the race, while Webber and Massa fought a tough battle for third position, with the Australian eventually coming out on top after 53 laps.
Behind the front four finishers, Hulkenberg impressed to hold onto fifth place despite being pressurised in the latter stages of the race by the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, while Daniel Ricciardo vindicated Red Bull Racing’s selection of him to partner Vettel in 2014 by finishing seventh in his Toro Rosso.
Romain Grosjean managed to improve on his starting position of 13th to finish eighth, ahead the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, who admitted after the race that his championship hopes were now over. The McLaren of Hamilton’s former team-mate Jenson Button claimed the final points-scoring position.