Alonso wins Italian Grand Prix as McLaren blink first in pits
McLaren
Alonso wins Italian Grand Prix as McLaren blink first in pits
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Sep 2010   |  3:16 pm GMT  |  154 comments

Fernando Alonso took an emotional victory in today’s Italian Grand Prix, on his Monza debut with Ferrari.

It was his 24th career victory, which puts him equal with the great Juan Manuel Fangio and perhaps more importantly, puts him right back in the championship hunt with five races to go. He is now just 21 points behind Mark Webber, who regained the lead today.

Alonso won his 24th career victory (Ferrari)


“It’s a very special win, ” said Alonso. I’ve been on the Monza podium before with all those people supporting Ferrari but to imagine myself on the top of the podium with all the Ferrari flags, it feels great.

“I can only compare it to 2006, my win in Barcelona. I touched Jenson’s car in the first corner, it was very stressful. I thought maybe the car will be damaged. But everything was fine.

“Our chance to be champions or not will not depend on the others, we need to find consistency and more podiums.”

Alonso won the race thanks to pit strategy and being ready to attack when Button unexpectedly pitted before him. The McLaren mechanics were 0.8 sec slower on the stop than the Ferrari mechanics, but Button feels the race was lost on his out lap on the hard tyre.

Pre-race expectations had suggested that the soft tyre would be able to last quite a long time, Vettel got them to last until almost the end of the race. The leaders went well beyond half distance and timing when to change them was what decided the outcome.

Jenson Button got the best start and held the lead for 37 laps, but he blinked first, pitted for new tyres and Alonso nicked the win with a stunning lap on worn soft tyres, to undercut the McLaren driver when he stopped a lap later.

Button won the start, holding his line into Turn 1 to lead Alonso, meanwhile the Spaniard had a very determined attack from his team mate to fend off. Alonso’s nose tapped Button’s diffuser in the middle of the first chicane and part of the diffuser few off.

As Alonso and Massa battled on the run to the second chicane, Lewis Hamilton had a run down the inside of Massa and the Ferrari tagged his front right wheel, sending him out of the race. Hamilton was clearly not thinking of the championship when he made that move, it was optimistic to say the least. Hamilton took the full blame, he hasn’t made many mistakes this season but this was a bad one,
“I’m disappointed with myself and sorry for the team. I had a good start, up to fourth and I should have stayed there. I tried to put my car up the inside and I lost position, ” said a crestfallen Hamilton.

Both Red Bull cars again made poor starts; Mark Webber got stuck in no -man’s land, dropping from 4th to 9th, while Vettel lost places to Rosberg, Kubica and Hulkenberg. The two Mercedes made great starts, Rosberg climbing to 4th to 7th, Schumacher from 12th to 8th.

Alonso started attacking Button early on, using his straight line speed advantage, while Massa stayed with them. Rosberg held the Red Bull cars behind him, a gap opening up to the leading trio, of almost a second a lap.

Massa was able to drop out of the slipstream of Alonso’s car and then close up by three tenths in the first sector, indicating that the Ferrari was a faster car than the McLaren in the sectors which feature the straights.

Button was faster in the middle sector and it was enough to prevent a challenge from Ferrari. Button pressed home his advantage around lap 11/12 lapping half a second per lap faster than Alonso, mostly in the middle sector.

The tyres on the Ferrari didn’t like following in the wake of the McLaren and Alonso dropped to 1.5 secs behind.

But the speed was still there as demonstrated by Alonso setting the fastest lap of the race to that point on lap 16.

Alonso closed up the gap as the pit stops approached. Meanwhile Webber was able to pass Vettel for P7, Vettel complaining that his engine was dying on him. But the following lap he set a personal best lap time, having been able to sort the problem by changing settings.

Button lost time behind the Virgin car of Glock, allowing Alonso to close up, but the Spaniard couldn’t get close enough to pass.

An ambulance was in the pit lane around lap 27-30 to attend to a technician in the Hispania garage, who was working on Yamamoto’s car when the Japanese drove off.

The decisive moment came on lap 36 when Button stopped, defying predictions that he could stay out longer than Alonso. He lost the lead a lap later when Alonso made his stop. He came on the radio to ask why they had brought him in, to which they rather lamely replied that the hard tyre was faster, a number cruncher’s decision not a racing one.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh argued that the data from Kubica’s car on the hard tyres showed that they were faster, hence the decision and that whatever they had done, Alonso would have beaten Button today.

They expected the new hard tyre to be faster than the worn soft on Alonso’s car – they were wrong. Button was incredibly magnanimous after the race,

“I spent the whole race looking in my mirrors, trying to judge how far Fernando was behind,” said Button. “We pitted one lap early, which possibly was a mistake. The team thought the prime tyre was quicker than the option and they were right, but I couldn’t get the prime going on the out lap. I don’t think it was the right call, but when you have 0.5 sec lead, it’s difficult. Today we had a quick car, but these guys had the edge.”

Webber attacked and passed Hulkenberg on lap 51, putting him sixth, still two places lower than he started.

Vettel stayed out the longest of anyone on the soft tyre, pitting only at the start of the final lap. The tactic worked and he held on to fourth place.

ITALIAN GRAND PRIX, Monza, 53 laps
1. Alonso Ferrari 1h16:24.572
2. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 2.938
3. Massa Ferrari + 4.223
4. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 28.193
5. Rosberg Mercedes + 29.942
6. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 31.276
7. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth + 32.812
8. Kubica Renault + 34.028
9. Schumacher Mercedes + 44.948
10. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1:04.200
11. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:05.00
12. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes + 1:06.100
13. Petrov Renault + 1:18.900
14. De la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
15. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
16. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
17. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
18. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth + 2 laps
19. Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
20. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps

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1

Why are the Red bulls so bad at the starts compared to others especially Mercedes. I am starting to expect a poor start from Webber every race. Could there be some kind of technical advantage/disadvantage?

2

With quite a bit of talk on expanding the calender has there been any talk of extending certain races? Again Monza was quick done in hour and a quarter (bit quicker than last year I think).

What happended to the 2 hour races or at least close to that (I know there are TV contract issues). I feel sorry for those who went to the track not getting their money worth. Why don’t they increase the number of laps?

Any thoughts would be great.

3

I honestly hope that (but doubt) that some of the new tracks break away from this. Austin, for example, could lengthen their track considering all the room they have to work with. I know its not ideal for fans who want to see most of the track from a single viewpoint but all the tracks should not be similar in length. I’d love to have a track that took 2 1/2min+ (or 3min+?) to complete, that would be epic. Again, bad for the ticket holder but that would be amazing I think and incredibly challenging. Plus, if you missed out on pitting, you’d be seriously disadvantaged but hey, that makes for better, more unpredictable races.

4

I think that has to be the dumbest strategy decision by McLaren so far this season. When you have another driver that close to you over such a long period of the race, that normally means he is 0.2/0.4 seconds faster depending upon the track. Pitting first would always mean that you were going to lose that amount or more depending upon the laps stayed out. To throw away this advantage for something of a prediction on the hards, where they know the uncertainty is so high to make the whole decision ridiculous. Go back and have a look at the segment times for the important bits, factor in the pit stops and Button had a good chance of retaining track position, especially as he would be holding the inside line. Just what wishy washy thinking is actually going on in McLaren?

5

Both team principals have said either way Alonso was likely to get passed. This is due to Button’s inability to build a gap. Alonso let it get out to 1.5sec for a few laps but then got it back down. The only way for Button to have a chance to stay in front would have been to pit at the same time but how does he do that when Alonso is behind ? If Alonso pits first, hes on fresh tires and is no longer held up by Button, so he goes faster and builds that necessary gap.

Lets not forget that Ferrari pulled off an amazing pit stop that was 0.8sec faster than McLaren. That got them a few meters in front of Button. So in all honesty, McLaren were that close to getting it right.

6

I noticed Alonso giving Jenson a nice squeeze at the start – almost over the white line. Were these the lines the commentators kept saying were not to be crossed? If so how close to a penalty was Alonso here?

7

You cannot cross the line when you go out the pits but yes when you’re racing. I think.

Anyway, this has be done by many drivers and there were no penalty. Example: Vettel to Alonso at Hockenhem.

Alonso is that type of drivers as Webber or Schumacker that not being dirty they are very hard.

8

Allen,

I would like to know the following:

1. Were Monza kerbs revised from last year?

2. I noticed a complete change in Alonso’s driving style. He was a lot more gentle with the car as opposed to what he was in previous seasons when he was known to be an aggressive in turn-ins, so much so that Ron Dennis (when he signed in for Mclaren) had said that they had designed a special suspension to facilitate Alonso’s aggressive driving style. And Michael Schumacher at the start of the season had indicated that coz’ of the revised rules for 2010 (where refuelling was banned) tyre management was crucial and anyone who can manage their tyres well will stand the chance of winning. So the is change in Alonso’s driving style adopted for better tyre management? For I’ve been noticing that during his pitstops his tyres were in better shape then compared to others. If so, then why is he not adopting a strategy of stopping later than others and making up places?

Your insight would be appreciated.

Regard

Mo Kahn.

9

Alonso changed with type of driving when he arrived McLaren because of the change of tyres from michelin to bridgestone. He couldn’t be so aggresive as he was with the michelins.

This year he have to be less agressive because of the tyre maintenance.

Anyway, Alonso is not a child crash so you must compare his attitude to Button or other drivers, not to Hamilton, who is no doubt more spectacular, but sometimes it doesn’t work.

I love this madure driving.

10

1. Yes
2. You’re right, he’s evolved an almost two part turn in to the corner where he makes a small initial turn to set the car and get the tyre working, then turns in. I think it may be here that he has found his advantage over Massa

11

Quite interesting!

12

Finally, a proper win for Alonso! Congratulations Nando!!!

Loved Alonso’s overtaking maneuver right through the first chicane, which evidently was aided from his pit stop.

Forza Ferrari.

Overall the race was exciting but a notch below Spa.

If Alonso’s momentum from Monza is brought forward to the last 5 races he stands a very good chance for the WDC.

Only concern is his last engine being used. Fingers crossed for Nando.

Hamilton disappointed many of his fans with his rash move, he needs to look at the big picture like Nando and seek Button’s advise. ( James, Lewis failed to gather more points.)

Am also impressed with Vettel’s drive. A lot calmer.

Poor Kobayashi, didn’t expect his retirement.

It’s back to the 5 horse run. No more two. Fantastic for F1 fans.

Here comes SINGAPORE!

13

Well done Alonso, but isn’t it a shame that in a season where we’ve seen a return to pure racing and overtaking, that yet another F1 win was decided by a pit stop? Good that we got rid of fuel stops for this year, now if we could only get rid of mandatory tyre stops, there might have a chance of returning Grand Prix racing to how it was designed to be. We end up on all these forums talking about rules and strategy (and team orders). With all that talent on the grid at present , I am f—ing fed up with watching races decided by a guy with a computer in a garage.

14

Pit stops have been in F1 since 1950’s so not sure were you are coming from !!

15

Of course they have been Paul, but it was not enforced by ‘the rules’. It was the choice of the driver, or his team if they ‘signaled’ him to stop, or because of a wet/dry track change situation, whether to make that stop. Vettel showed yesterday that one set of tyres can last a whole race these days (shock, horror!). This is called progress, something the tyre industry should be proud of. Call me old fashioned, but I like MOTOR RACING, not chess. I just don’t think this ‘manipulating of the event’ is adding anything anymore, and as proved by the Hispania team yesterday – it’s bloody dangerous. Isn’t it time we just let those boys RACE…?

16

Button should have won, McLaren had the best car, the best engine in F1 and a track that suits them.

Alonso drove like in he did in 2006. I think he would have won more comfortably in the McLaren, with Button driving the Ferrari.

17

Very exciting and enjoyable race today like most at Monza. The battle between Alonso and Jens was unreal for the whole race. McLaren, I dont think, had to bring JB in and it cost them the race and Alonso was ruthless in taking his chance. His form today and yeaterday in quali is ominous for the other rivals and if Ferrari can perform like this in the next couple of races you’d have to fancy him as the biggest threat to RBR. On this form he’s the best driver on the grid, no doubt. Poor mistake by Hamilton today which could cost him dearly,like in 07.

18

Did anyone find the race boring? Soft type that could last almost the whole race? They should do something about that.

19

On a side note, the Santander trophies are awful. Sponsor the race, fine. Put the name on the trophy, ok. But who thought it was a good idea to let them have their logo as the trophy? If Coca Cola sponsored a race, you wouldn’t be impressed with being presented with a big Coke can. Who wants a trophy cabinet full of bank logos?

Ok, I do, but that’s not my point. I want nice looking trophies back. Get local artists, designers etc. Let’s have something nice and not just a multitude of Santander logos.

*Discalmer, other banks are available.

20

This race was more exiting with following live timing parallel. It was interesting to see how the laptimes are building up with the different performances in three sectors.

Jenson was King of the middle sector with the higher downforce which almost worked out for him.

21

I think some of this in the early part of the race was that it was the hardnest part of the track for fernando to follow him. The two lesmos are narrow tight corners and the dirty air was killing fernando through there but I agree it was buttons best sector

22

Alonso had the attitude “its not over yet, I wont give up’ when Ferrari had their troubles a few months back. I took it as standard F1 driver nonsense, fair play to the guy, he’s right and done well!

23

A first class drive by Jenson Button. Very unlucky not to win.

24

Alonso was discernibly faster, and clearly had plenty in reserve. Button and Hamilton should have finished in first and secon places – the results can be viewed as nothing other than pure disaster for McLaren.

25

A second place is great result but using your yardstick, Ferrari have had a dreadful season, sacrificing Massa’s motivation for Alonso.

Given the volatility in results this season, no race is guaranteed as you suggest but this result means that McLaren have TWO drivers in contention for the WDC.

26

Jenson Coulthard and Lewis de Cesaris were no match for Alonso – deal with it!

27

In the drivers fastest lap there’s only 1 second between the top 12, so why did they finish so far apart?

28

Also don’t forget there’s 24 drivers on the circuit. It doesn’t necessarily mean the top 12 had the 12 fastest laps. The guy in 12th may have finished 15th, held up by a slower car all race and only freed up after a pit stop, or an overtake etc.

29

A second per lap over 53 laps equates to the best part of a minute during the course of the race. Then you have to factor in the fact that not all drivers will maintain their relative pace throughout the race and the field spread from the first lap.

Also consider that the fastest cars in the race (Alonso, Button, Massa) probably backed off a bit later in the race when the fuel loads are lowest and their cars were at their fastest. Whereas other drivers were pushing hard right to the very end.

30

James, do you know what caused Vettel to slow down his pace for several laps to regain top speed again? He complained, with a pretty emotional and childish voice, on the radio to his engineer about no having engine force, yet nothing happened afterwards.

31

Red Bull have confirmed it was a brake problem – one of the brakes temporarily remained locked on coming out of Ascari. This meant the car accelerated more slowly than usual leading Vettel to assume an engine problem. The problem didn’t happen again, hence Vettel’s recovery to normal pace.

Why highlight the tone of Vettel’s voice when he told his engineer? He was driving an F1 car at the fastest circuit on the calendar, with his heart rate at levels few of us reach for any period of time, what do you expect him to sound like? Webber hardly sounded laid back when he radioed Red Bull about Hulkenberg.

After the brake problem Vettel didn’t put a foot wrong and netted an excellent fourth place. Hardly an emotional or childish performance. It was another driver who lost his championship lead with a needless shunt on the first lap.

32

The voice was childish and emotional. The driving was excellent. Just to balance those commentaries on latin drivers.

33

Some time during the Aussie commentary it was mentioned that Vettel’s problem was electrical and that the Renault technicians had found a different setting that overcame it

34

Did anyone see the pass Webber on vettel live? Seems everyone missed it except for the F1 app?

Also anyone have the F1 app or watching the live timing site and the tracker and timing froze a few times during the race but the commentary continued?

35

Webber’s passing move on Vettel was briefly shown as it happened, on the BBC here in Oz. Very straightforward – Vettel moved aside a little as he went by – I assumed their pit had told them both that there was a problem and that Mark needed to keep up his pace rather than stay behind the slowing Vettel.

36

The lack of a penalty for Hulkenberg was farcical. An absolute joke, and judging by the interview he gave after, even he seemed suprised. Williams will be keen to keep on writing those letters in support of Ferrari after todays events Im sure…

A big error from Hamilton, but it was without doubt fairly unlucky. We see far worse collisions which cars survive – Vettel on Button at Spa being a fairly good example of that…

37

Great stuff from Fernando and Massa. Superb crew in the pits.

Button drove a very good race but Ferrari were quicker. Again Jenson showed us he can make good decisions. I am very glad Ferrari is back where they belong.

38

This is my first post here, and I wanted to thank you for this excellent blog and your measured opinions. As an spaniard I am glad to see a british journalist that can remain objective towards Alonso, something that is certainly not the rule in many other british websites or newspapers.

I appreciate your excellent articles and just wanted to share my happiness for an excellent race by Alonso and Button, a driver that has been growing in my heart this year. Excellent performance by both, terrible terrible mistake by Hamilton which always seems to be wanting to make a point about him being aggressive and talented. He is VERY talented, but I am afraid he is much more error prone than Button, for instance.

Keep up the great articles! Last five races will be not for the faint of heart!

39

I am glad for Alonso today but I have to acknowledge a great driving by Jenson Button.

He did his work, was magnanimous with his team, and seemed sincere complimenting Alonso before the podium. Reminds me of a true sportsman. My appreciation of him has grown during this season. Great job Jenson, and keep it going!

40

Great result for the championship. Wasn’t exactly a classic race Alonso didn’t even get close enough to try any sort of pass. Vettel’s strategy might lead to a rethink of the rules in Indy Car you’ve to have at least two full-laps on the hard tyre. Was surprised Schumacher wasn’t more ruthless with Webber.

How Hulkenburg escaped censure I don’t know, he gained time over taking the corner normally everytime when he should of been losing time after out-braking himself.

41

Congratulations to Jenson Button for the great race (it was not his fault, if the car has got pace and the pit stop works fine almost any strategy works as we saw with Webber in Hungary but this was not the case). He made it impossible for Fernando to overtake on the track and this takes some credit also!

I have to admire his respectful and moderated words to Fernando and clean behaviour on the track. He is a true gentleman that has the respect of the fans every where.

42

I think qualifying at singapore will tell us a whole lot about the rest of the championship. Has RBRs pace been effected by the new FIA tests? Have Mclaren made any gains with their higher downforce configuration? Has Ferrari managed to keep their momentum with their developement? Once these key questions have been answered we will then have a much clearer picture who is in the best position to win the title. Its so close at such a late point in the season, cant wait!!

43

Firstly excellent race for Ferrari today. Two solid drives and good points for them.

On Jenson, another good drive from him, and to finish only three seconds behind Fernando today was an excellent result.

He didnt complain about the damage to his car, saying he hardly felt the impact and did not realise until the end of the race.

Monza is definitely on my list of F1 events I want to attend. The venue just reeks of Formula 1 and history.

James,

any update on the injured mechanic? Hope he is OK…

44

Team say he’s not badly hurt. NO more details

45

Thanks James. A very lucky escape.

Id be surprised if he hasn’t broke a couple of ribs. Fingers crossed for him. The impact was big, even over a couple of metres.

I have meant to as previously. What is your favourite race for atmosphere? Monza is always special for me, as is Monaco and silverstone.

46

Another cracker of a race! Even with a minimum of overtaking. I love this sport!

47

good point, this race was a perfect example of a thrilling race that would have been denied us if it was easy for Alonso to overtake. A masterclass in defensive driving from Button…

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