Race: Flawless Fernando wins head-on duel with Button in Monza
Fernando Alonso took a sensational victory for Ferrari in their home Grand Prix at Monza this afternoon following a thrilling strategic battle between Ferrari and McLaren on the legendary autodromo. With championship leader Lewis Hamilton and runner-up Mark Webber failing to score strongly the championship is all set for an explosive five-race finale, with Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, Button and Vettel all within a race victory of each other.
A poor start saw Alonso immediately lose the lead from pole as fellow front row starter Jenson Button bolted into the lead, but Fernando refused to be beaten and kept the gap to Jenson at 1 second for the entire first stint. Button's hopes for reduced tyre wear from his high downforce package didn't come to pass and when he pitted on lap 36 for his switch to the harder compound tyre, Alonso took his chance and within one lap closed the 0.9-second margin to emerge from his pitstop side-by-side with the Briton. The Spaniard had the inside line however and slithered into the lead, much to the delight of the packed grandstands.
Alonso then had the pace to pull away from Button, and grew it to over four seconds at one stage, before easing off to take the flag with a 2.9-second advantage. Button, frustrated by having pitted before Alonso which ultimately cost him the lead, had to settle for second, but is nevertheless right back in championship contention after team-mate Lewis Hamilton retired on the opening lap. Hamilton, championship leader coming into the race, emerged fourth from the first chicane and was pushing Felipe Massa for third but contact between the pair meant the McLaren's right-front wheel went askew before he came to a halt in the gravel trap at the first Lesmo turn.
Pressurising Button right to the finish was Massa who produced an error-free performance to add to Ferrari's celebrations with third. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel provided some late-race excitement by pitting on the final lap for his mandatory tyre change, in doing so jumping Nico Rosberg and team-mate Mark Webber to close the gap in the championship to 24 points. The German started strongly, but spent half of the race in slower traffic and went for a 52-laps stint on Bridgestone's soft tyre before pitting. The strategy worked a dream and he finished a competitive fourth.
Nico Rosberg held on to fifth place despite being pressurised by Webber in the closing stages, while Webber himself had a poor first lap to blame for finishing just sixth. Nevertheless, the first-lap retirement of Hamilton means he returns to the championship lead with a five-point advantage.
Rounding out the points finishers were Nico Hulkenberg, Robert Kubica, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.
F1: 2010 Drivers & Constructors Standings