Sep 9 2012
Lewis Hamilton set aside speculation over his future to take victory in the Italian Grand Prix and refresh his hopes of Formula One world title glory.
After crashing out at the first corner of last Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix along with championship leader Fernando Alonso, and amid the saga of his contract negotiations with McLaren, Hamilton conjured a superb drive at Monza to claim his third win of the season and 20th of his career.
The Briton finished 4.3 seconds ahead of Sauber's Sergio Perez in second place, with Alonso giving the Ferrari fans plenty to cheer with third to establish a 37-point gap in the standings ahead of new second-placed man Hamilton.
The start was routine enough for Hamilton, a straightforward getaway, with no drama alongside team-mate Jenson Button after McLaren on Saturday celebrated the 62nd front-row lockout, and a new F1 record.
Alonso made up three places on lap one, had moved past Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen on lap two, and soon after was running fifth when he cut his was past Michael Schumacher in his Mercedes. That left him with reigning champion Sebastian Vettel in his sights, and it was not long before the duo were going head to head.
A failed pass into Rettifilo was soon followed by a brave move through the Curva Grande, one which Vettel defended with too much aggression as he forced Alonso on to the grass. The stewards took a dim view as they handed the 24-year-old German a drive-through penalty, with his woes compounded later on when he retired along the pit straight.
Vettel was the second big-name retirement as hopes of a dream one-two for McLaren were scuppered when Button pulled off track on lap 33 complaining of a lack of drive. Button's exit elevated Alonso to third, which unsurprisingly became second soon after when he eased past Felipe Massa for a Ferrari second and third - before Perez suddenly put in a number of lightning laps.
If Vettel's retirement was bad enough for Red Bull, worse followed in the closing stages when team-mate Mark Webber dropped three places from seventh to 10th with a spin on to the grass, only to retire in the pits a lap from home.
The upshot leaves Hamilton as Alonso's nearest challenger, with Raikkonen a further point down in third after the Finn finished fifth, whilst Vettel is a further point adrift. Webber is now 47 points down overall.
The Mercedes duo of Schumacher and Nico Rosberg were sixth and seventh, followed by Paul Di Resta in his Force India, the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi and Williams of Bruno Senna.