The Heroes and Zeroes of the Italian Grand Prix weekend



Heroes

Fernando Alonso: Although his start didn't go to plan by losing the lead to Button, Alonso drove faultlessly from there to the end. Once Button pitted on lap 36 Fernando put the hammer down to pick up half a second on his in-lap, before making a lightening quick pit- entry, stop and exit to beat Button to the first corner by mere metres. The result was key to put him back in championship contention, and with leader Lewis Hamilton failing to finish, the Spaniard is now just 21 points adrift of new leader Webber, in third place.

Jenson Button: Just like Alonso, Button drove a faultless race from start to finish, never once putting a wheel wrong. He was under intense pressure from Alonso throughout the first stint, knowing that one single error would allow the Ferrari past, but he comfortably kept the lead until pitting on lap 36. His only hope for winning the race would have been for Alonso to pit on the same lap, but instead he had to settle for second place, closing to within 22 points of the championship leader.
Sakon Yamamoto: He may have inadvertently injured his radio technician during a mid-race pitstop, but up until then Sakon's race was going swimmingly well. Despite running with the same wing package the team ran at Monaco, corresponding to a time loss of about half a second, Sakon lost only five seconds to Virgin's Lucas Di Grassi in his first stint, an average of just a quarter of a second per lap. He was also pulling away from team-mate Bruno Senna before the Brazilian retired, and although he was unable to keep pace with Di Grassi afterwards having been less comfortable on the hard tyre and having been compromised by lapping traffic, he nevertheless shone a light on his ever-improving performance.

Zeroes

Lewis Hamilton: Running fourth coming into the second chicane, Hamilton made a rookie error by putting his McLaren into a gap that was always going to disappear between Felipe Massa's Ferrari and the inside kerb, immediately putting the Briton out of the race and hugely compromising his championship challenge. With many future tracks due to suit the Red Bull, Hamilton was under pressure to get a result in Monza, but now faces an even steeper challenge to take his second title at the end of the year.

Mark Webber: For the second race in a row, Webber suffered a horrible start, dropping from fourth to ninth at the end of the first lap. Looking back, that put Webber out of contention for a potential podium finish, and adding further to his woes was his failure to get by Nico Hulkenberg early in his second stint, meaning he was unable to close in on Nico Rosberg in time to challenge for fourth. Team-mate Sebastian Vettel finishing in front rubbed more salt into the wound, but he nevertheless returns to the championship lead, with a five-point lead over Hamilton.

Pedro de la Rosa: Although the weekend itself wasn't all that bad, having qualified 16th and finished 14th, it was its immediate aftermath that hit Pedro hard. Rumours emerged in the Monza paddock on Sunday that he was going to be replaced by Germany's Nick Heidfeld ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, and sure enough on Tuesday morning confirmation came from the team, bringing a premature end to the Spaniard's season, and probably his career also.
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