Alonso closes title race with commanding Monza win 09 Sep 2007
Fernando Alonso dominated Sundays Italian Grand Prix to head a McLaren one-two that must have come as intense relief for the beleaguered team. Alonso won by six seconds on a day when Lewis Hamilton had no answer to the world champions relentless pace. But Kimi Raikkonen was even further back - 27.3s - in third place.
At the start the Ferraris were all over Hamiltons McLaren, Felipe Massa literally exploding off the grid to snatch second place as Alonso led, but Hamilton dealt with him in the chicane, despite a slight tap from behind from the Brazilian.
Then the race was neutralised behind the safety car as Red Bulls David Coulthard suffered a front wing failure (as the result of damage after hitting Giancarlo Fisichella in the first chicane) and speared hard into the wall at the first Lesmo.
Coulthard, unhurt, the race resumed at the end of lap six, and quickly the two McLarens drew clear. Massa made an unscheduled early pit stop on the ninth lap, and came in again for good next time around, so Ferrari were down to one car.
Hamilton was the next to stop, on lap 18, so clearly McLaren were on a two-stop strategy, which explained some of their qualifying speed. Alonso stopped two laps later, handing the lead to Ferrari for the first time. Raikkonen stopped on lap 25, for the sole time, and Alonso and Hamilton resumed first and second places. But they still had to stop again.
Hamilton did so on the 40th lap, and this time he did not stay ahead of the Ferrari. Alonso, who stopped on lap 43, did. His first victory at Monza was thus never in doubt. And he was elated by it.
Further back, Hamilton used his soft Bridgestone tyres to the full and reeled in medium-shod Raikkonen at a terrific rate. And when they arrived at the first chicane at the beginning of lap 43, he made no bones about diving inside the red car and exiting the first part of the chicane sideways. Wonderful stuff!
Behind them, Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica took fourth and fifth places for BMW Sauber, the German driving his customary impeccable race, the Pole driving a stormer to recover from a fudged first pit stop, when his car appeared to fall from its jacks. He passed another race hero, Nico Rosberg, for fifth place on the 46th lap. The young German drove superbly in an initial fight with Jenson Button, who scored the final point for Honda in the wake of Heikki Kovalainen, who flew for Renault. The Briton was also in feisty form with a halfway decent car beneath him, but could not hold the Williams at bay.
Red Bulls Mark Webber and Hondas Rubens Barrichello duelled throughout, chased to the line by Jarno Trulli who lost many places on the opening lap in his Toyota. A dismal day left Renaults Giancarlo Fisichella lapped in 12th place ahead of Williams Alex Wurz, Super Aguris Anthony Davidson and Toyotas Ralf Schumacher. Super Aguris Takuma Sato recovered from troubles on the opening lap for 16th, to head home the Toro Rossos of Tonio Liuzzi and Sebastian Vettel, and the Spykers of Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto.
In the driver title stakes, Alonso is now only three points behind Hamilton, with four races left. In the constructors championship, McLaren extended their advantage over Ferrari to 23 points.