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Monday, September 15, 2008
Italian Grand Prix - Monza 2008
Image:courtesy of Daimler AG

Sebastian Vettel Wins First F1 Race At Monza, Italy

Sebastian Vettel won his first ever F1 race, driving a Toro Rosso F1 car, at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Italy yesterday. During a race held primarily in intermittent rain, Vettel was able to hold his lead for the majority of the race from pole to finish. Over the 53 laps (306.720 km) at Monza, he finished 12.5 seconds ahead of second place finisher Heikki Kovalainen in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 car. Third place was taken by Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber. Lewis Hamilton, after starting 15th on the grid, finished seventh in Italy, which narrowed the World Championship drivers standings with Lewis Hamilton now at 78 points, just one point ahead of Felipe Massa's 77 points.

Because it was raining at the start, track officials decided to have a rolling start behind the safety car. On lap 3, the safety car came in and Sebastian Vettel in the Toro Rosso pulled away followed closely by Heikki Kovalainen in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. On lap 18, the lead was transferred to Kovalainen when Vettel came in for his first pit stop. By Lap 34, Lewis Hamilton had actually worked his way up into second place after his first pit stop, but on lap 36 he was forced to take a second pit to change his tires to intermediates due to the drying track. Hamilton rejoined the race after his pit in seventh.

By Lap 40 it was Vettel leading, followed by Kovalainen in second, folowed by a close pack of cars comprised of Kubica in third, Alonso in fourth, Heidfeld in fifth, Massa in sixth and Hamilton in seventh. By the race end on lap 53, Sebastian Vettel in his Toro Rosso took the chequered flag for his first ever Formula 1 win. Kovalainen in the Vodafone McLaren Merceded came through in second, followed by Kubica in third in the BMW Sauber.

Hekki Kovalainen had the following to say about his race "In today's tricky weather conditions, I struggled to keep temperature in the brakes, and in the the opening stages of the race I had trouble with my extreme-wet tires...Only at the end was I able to match the lap times of Sebastian Vettel in front of me. In today's conditions he was just too fast for me - congratulations to him for his very first grand prix win."

Lewis Hamilton said "If it had kept on raining, I feel pretty confident I probably could have even won from 15th grid position; but, as the circuit dried out, my tires overcooked and I had to defend my position from Mark Webber... Finally I'd like to offer my congratulations to Sebastian on winning his first grand prix - I know what a sweet feeling that is!"

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