Vettel takes sensational maiden win

Sebastian Vettel took an astounding and historic victory for Toro Rosso in the Italian Grand Prix, after a commanding performance in wet conditions at Monza

Vettel takes sensational maiden win

The 21-year-old German not only claimed his and his team's first ever victory, but became the youngest race winner in Formula One history.

Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) and Robert Kubica (BMW) completed the podium ahead of Renault's Fernando Alonso, with title contenders Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton having to settle for sixth and seventh respectively.

Vettel simply dominated in the very wet early laps, with the event beginning with two laps behind the safety car before conditions were considered safe for racing.

The young German was nearly two seconds per lap faster than second-placed Kovalainen at first, steadily establishing a 10-second advantage in the first stint.

Although fellow two-stopper Kovalainen ran four laps further than Vettel before pitting for the first time, he could do little about the Toro Rosso's lead, matching its pace but rarely managing to close the gap.

Hamilton had made a muted start to the race, following Giancarlo Fisichella and Kimi Raikkonen in 14th at first while nursing his tyres on a heavy fuel load. But by lap nine Hamilton began to come alive, passing the Force India and Ferrari in quick succession and then commencing a spectacular charge through the field.

The Briton rapidly gained places thanks to both his own passing moves and the two stoppers rejoining behind him, and by half-distance the race looked like it would be a straight fight between the two-stopping Vettel and the one-stopping Hamilton, who ran first and second - just one second apart - on lap 26.

Track conditions were improving fast though, and despite many teams suggesting that another heavy rain shower was imminent, the forecast downpour failed to appear and the extreme wet tyres started to struggle.

The timing was ideal for those on extremely long first stint one stop plans - such as Kubica and Alonso - and for the two stoppers, who were all able to change to intermediates at their final scheduled stops.

But the change in weather ruined Hamilton's bid for a stunning victory, forcing him to make an unplanned second stop and putting him back to seventh.

That left Vettel unchallenged at the front, with Kovalainen promoted back up to second as the one stoppers had to return to the pits, albeit still 11 seconds behind the Toro Rosso, which continued to edge away and duly clinched a breathtaking and historic victory.

Kubica had a quiet first half of the race at the foot of the top ten, but his one pitstop was perfectly timed for the switch to intermediates, so he leapt up to third place, ahead of Alonso - whose strategy proved similarly ideal for the fluctuating conditions. Nick Heidfeld couldn't quite match Kubica, but took the second BMW to fifth.

Massa only managed sixth place, having spent much of the first stint stuck behind Nico Rosberg's Williams. He then rejoined in heavy traffic after his first stop, and was unable to make up the lost ground.

He did at least reduce Hamilton's world championship lead to a single point, as the McLaren driver clung on to seventh on fading intermediate tyres, resisting huge pressure from Red Bull's Mark Webber in the closing stages, the Australian having fallen back during the pit sequences and with a quick spin while dicing with Massa.

Raikkonen barely featured in the race, although he finally began gaining places and setting fastest laps as the track dried. It was too late to get into the points by then however, leaving him ninth.

The Toyotas looked set for a double points finish before losing ground when they had to make extra stops for intermediates, leaving Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli back in 11th and 13th, behind Renault's Nelson Piquet and split by Kazuki Nakajima (Williams), with Rosberg falling to 14th thanks to his extra stop for intermediates.

Remarkably, Fisichella was the only retirement, crashing at the Parabolica after breaking his front wing on the rear of David Coulthard's Red Bull and then sledging off the circuit when it folded under his car. Coulthard later damaged his own front wing in a late tangle with Nakajima.

While Vettel celebrated an astonishing victory, his Toro Rosso teammate Sebastien Bourdais had a disastrous afternoon - stalling on the grid and joining the race a lap down.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Italian Grand Prix Autodromo di Monza, Italy; 53 laps; 306.720km; Weather: Wet. Classified: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1h26:47.000 2. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 12.512 3. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) + 20.471 4. Alonso Renault (B) + 23.903 5. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) + 27.748 6. Massa Ferrari (B) + 28.816 7. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 29.012 8. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) + 32.048 9. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) + 39.468 10. Piquet Renault (B) + 54.445 11. Glock Toyota (B) + 58.888 12. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) + 1:02.015 13. Trulli Toyota (B) + 1:05.954 14. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) + 1:08.635 15. Button Honda (B) + 1:13.370 16. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault (B) + 1 lap 17. Barrichello Honda (B) + 1 lap 18. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) + 1 lap 19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari (B) + 2 laps Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:28.047 Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap Fisichella Force India-Ferrari (B) 12 World Championship standings, round 14: Drivers: Constructors:  1. Hamilton 78 1. Ferrari 134 2. Massa 77 2. McLaren-Mercedes 129 3. Kubica 64 3. BMW Sauber 117 4. Raikkonen 57 4. Renault 41 5. Heidfeld 53 5. Toyota 41 6. Kovalainen 51 6. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 27 7. Alonso 28 7. Red Bull-Renault 26 8. Trulli 26 8. Williams-Toyota 17 9. Vettel 23 9. Honda 14 10. Webber 20 11. Glock 15 12. Piquet 13 13. Barrichello 11 14. Rosberg 9 15. Nakajima 8 16. Coulthard 6 17. Bourdais 4 18. Button 3 All timing unofficial 
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Series Formula 1
Drivers Sebastian Vettel
Author Matt Beer
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