Alonso reignites title challenge with Monza victory

Fernando Alonso overcame a sharp challenge from Jenson Button to claim victory in the Italian Grand Prix.

Although the Spaniard lost out to the McLaren driver at the start, he was able to make full use of the speed of his F10 and some superb pit work from his Ferrari mechanics to emerge in front on the run to the flag.

Ferrari’s day was made extra special by Felipe Massa, who came home in third.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel survived an early reliability scare to finish fourth, with Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg in fifth and Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber in sixth.

However the race would prove to be a major blow to Lewis Hamilton’s title ambitions, after the series leader retired on lap one due to contact with Felipe Massa.

Robert Kubica collected more points for Renault on his way to eighth, as Williams enjoyed a double points finish with Nico Hulkenberg seventh and Rubens Barrichello tenth.

Button makes full use of extra wing to lead, as Hamilton retires

The expectant Tifosi watched on as Fernando Alonso led the field round for its formation lap.

However, it would be Jenson Button who would spoil Ferrari’s party with a blinding start to out drag Fernando Alonso into the Rettifilo. Although the Spaniard moved across to thwart his rival’s progress, the reigning world champion held his own and led out of the first chicane.

Meanwhile, the race would come to a premature end for championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who was fell off the circuit after a collision with Felipe Massa at the Roggia led to a broken right-front steering arm.

As Hamilton exited into the gravel trap at the first Lesmo, elsewhere Mark Webber suffered a poor getaway from the line and fell down the order after losing out to Rosberg, and Kubica. The Australian would lose further places later on in the lap as Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher; team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Williams’ Nico Hulkenberg relegated him down to ninth.

Realising that Hamilton’s exit presented him with the perfect situation to reclaim the championship lead, Webber began to make his move scything up the inside of Michael Schumacher into the first chicane on lap six.

Although Button had gambled on extra wing it was soon clear that the McLaren would be in for a long afternoon, with both Ferrari’s hounding his rear wing out of the Parabolica and down the pits straight.

The gap between Button and Alonso at the front would continue to level at around half a second, with the former being able to pull out an advantage into the two Lesmo corners, only to lose out on the run up to Ascari and down at the Parabolica.

Right behind lay the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa, resulting in the top three being covered by little over than seven tenths of a second.

The Race settles down as Vettel suffers engine worries

By lap thirteen the race had suffered three retirements, with Hamilton, Kamui Kobayashi (who had started from the pit lane after an earlier mechanical problem) and Bruno Senna all stopping out on track.

Meanwhile Adrian Sutil was beginning to make up for lost time after a poor start. The Force india driver was fully engrossed in a battle with the sport’s new teams, passing Di Grassi (Virgin) and then Kovalainen (Lotus), as he looked to haul himself back into contention for the final points positions.

The German’s recovery drive would be aided in part by the news on lap nineteenth, which stated that Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari would be forced to serve a drive through penalty for gaining at advantage at turn two.

Back at the front and Button had been able to increase the gap at over Alonso to around a second, as both drivers continued to trade fastest laps.

Although by lap 21 he had found himself slip further behind, Massa kept himself in the hunt albeit around four seconds behind.

However, the drama behind would continue to intensify and have great significance on the 2010 World Championship.

On lap 21 Webber would find himself in front of his team-mate, as Vettel radioed frantically to his pit wall with engine problems.

Despite the scurry which erupted in the Red Bull garage, Vettel’s car appeared to get around the problem and continued unabated.

Alonso fails to capitalise on traffic, but cashes in on pit stop

By lap 25 the leaders had begun to encounter traffic, with Fernando Alonso getting closer and closer to the back of Button’s MP4-25.

One lap later and as the McLaren driver was delayed by the backmarkers Alonso sensed his opportunity. However, the Spaniard failed to get close enough on the run to the first chicane and subsequently saw his chances dashes as Button responded with a series of fastest laps.

Following an incident involving Hispania’s Sakon Yamamoto, the front runners would wait until well beyond lap thirty to pit with Renault’s Robert Kubica, in fifth, the first to blink on lap 33.

His on track rival, Nico Rosberg would pit two laps later, followed by Mark Webber who looked set to reclaim the championship lead.

The Australian was involved in yet another dice moments later, passing Robert Kubica as Nico Hulkenberg, who emerged ahead of both drivers after his pit stop, blatantly cut across the first chicane.

But it was at the front where it mattered, with Jenson Button pitting at the end of lap 36, while Alonso and Massa opted to stay out for at least one more lap.

Alonso would be next to blink, and after a quick in-lap and some slick work by the Ferrari crew the Spaniard would emerge wheel-to-wheel with Button down in to turn one holding the inside line to snatch the lead and send the Italian fans into raptures.

Following his earlier engine problems, Sebastian Vettel gambled on his strategy by opting to stay out for as long as he could on the same set of tyres. By Lap 48 the German had climbed as high as fourth place and was lapping on the pace of the leaders as he bid to leapfrog his team-mate and William’s Nico Hulkenberg.

Following the stewards’ decision not to investigate the Williams driver’s kerb hopping, Webber was forced to make his move on track, with Robert Kubica sitting comfortable behind to pick up the pieces. However, the Australian would not be deterred, passing the German around the outside in to Roggia.

Vettel would finally pit with only one lap remaining, locking his wheels as he entered the pit lane. However, the German did enough to hold on to his position collecting important points for his championship bid.

But the day would belong to Fernando Alonso who took a special victory on his first appearance for Ferrari at Monza. As the 29-year-old received the plaudits of the partisan crowd he was closely followed by McLaren’s Jenson Button who was sandwich by the sister Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

So with Lewis Hamilton retiring, Mark Webber retakes the championship lead as Formula One leaves Europe for the last time.

However with Fernando Alonso now only 21 points behind, and less than a victory covering the top five, the season remains as unpredictable as ever.

2010 Italian Grand Prix
Circuit :Autodromo di Monza
Laps: 53
Weather: Sunny

Provisional Results:

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time
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
Ret. Trulli        Lotus-Cosworth               On Lap 47
Ret. Senna         HRT-Cosworth                 On Lap 12
Ret. Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes             On Lap  1
Ret. Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari               On Lap  1

Fastest lap: Alonso, 1:24.139

World Championship standings after 14 of 19 rounds:                

Drivers:
1.  Webber       187
2.  Hamilton     182
3.  Alonso       166
4.  Button       165
5.  Vettel       163
6.  Massa        124
7.  Rosberg      112
8.  Kubica       108
9.  Schumacher    46
10. Sutil         45
11. Barrichello   31
12. Kobayashi     21
13. Petrov        19
14. Hulkenberg    16
15. Liuzzi        13
16. Buemi          7
17. De la Rosa     6
18. Alguersuari    3       

Constructors:
1.  Red Bull-Renault      350
2.  McLaren-Mercedes      347
3.  Ferrari               290
4.  Mercedes              158
5.  Renault               127
6.  Force India-Mercedes   58
7.  Williams-Cosworth      47
8.  Sauber-Ferrari         27
9.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari     10