McLaren's Lewis Hamilton Clinches First Italian Grand Prix Win at Monza

Declan OlleyContributor ISeptember 9, 2012

Monza Joy: Hamilton followed up his qulaifying pole with a race victory
Monza Joy: Hamilton followed up his qulaifying pole with a race victoryAndrew Hone/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton won the first Italian Grand Prix of his career at Monza in a flawless drive that moved him into second place in the Driver’s Championship behind Fernando Alonso.

The 27-year-old, whose contract expires with McLaren at the end of the year, put his uncertain future to one side to turn his pole position from qualifying into a race win—his third of the season so far and McLaren’s 180th Grand Prix victory.

The Brit’s lead was rarely threatened throughout the 53 laps, although Ferrari’s Felipe Massa came the closest in the opening turn to troubling Hamilton, who had to keep a tight inside line to keep the Brazilian at bay.

It was, however, to be a different story for Hamilton’s teammate Jenson Button. The 32-year-old, who was running in second place, was forced to retire on lap 34 after a fuel problem and, as a result, ended hopes of a first McLaren one-two of the season.

Sauber’s Sergio Perez finished in a surprise second place, 4.4 seconds behind Hamilton, after executing an impressive one-stop strategy that saw him make up 11 places from his qualifying position. The Mexican was able to leapfrog Ferrari’s Massa, who finished fourth, and Fernando Alonso between laps 44 and 46 to secure his second 18 point finish of the year.

Perez’s surge meant that Alonso had to settle for third place. The Spaniard, who had been adamant all weekend that his car had the pace to win at Monza, did well to recover from his qualifying performance of 10th—which had been caused by technical problems to his car—to ensure a 37-point lead over Hamilton in the Drivers Championship.

Red Bull, however, had a day to forget after their Constructors’ Championship lead of 52 was cut down to 29 points by McLaren.

First Sebastian Vettel, who had earlier received a drive-through penalty for forcing Alonso off the track, was ordered to retire on lap 48. And then Mark Webber, just three laps later, lost tenth spot after spinning out of the Ascari chicane, eventually finishing in 20th due to the consequent pit stop.

Vettel’s woes were compounded after Kimi Raikkonen’s fifth-place finish took him one point above the German in the Drivers Championship into third. But Jerome d’Ambrosio, who was standing in for the banned Romain Grosjean, couldn't match his Lotus’ team-mate’s performance, ending 13th.

The two Mercedes drivers, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, took sixth and seventh respectively, whilst Paul Di Resta gained one place on his qualifying position of ninth.

Kaumi Kobayashi, meanwhile, finished nearly 40 seconds back from his fellow Sauber driver Perez to clinch ninth, as Williams’ Bruno Senna sneaked just ahead of team-mate Pastor Maldonado to take the final points’ position in 10th.