Auto Racing

Vettel makes history with Italian Grand Prix win

The Sports Network
9/14/2008 12:06:33 PM
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Monza, Italy (Sports Network) - Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel became the youngest driver ever to win a Formula One race Sunday when he put on a dominating performance in the rain-soaked Italian Grand Prix. The 21-year-old German driver started on the pole and relinquished the lead only when he pitted twice.

Vettel recorded his first F1 victory in his 22nd Grand Prix start. He also gave his team its first win on the circuit.

"The whole race we had no problems," Vettel said. "I had a fantastic race and a very good strategy. The whole podium ceremony was just unbelievable. This is the best day of my life. These emotions I will never forget."

Fernando Alonso held the previous record of youngest Formula One winner when he captured the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2003. Alonso was 22 years old at the time.

The race got underway at the rain-soaked Monza as the first two laps were run behind the safety car with Vettel leading the way. When the safety car pulled off the track to start the third lap, Vettel quickly pulled away from the field. He built an almost six-second lead over Heikki Kovalainen after the first six laps.

"The safety car start did help me, but obviously being first and having no visibility problems at all I think was the key," Vettel said. "I could make a gap of about six or seven seconds to Heikki on the straightaways."

Conditions on the track began to improve after the first 10 laps as Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen began to move through the field. Hamilton passed Raikkonen for the 11th spot. Meanwhile, Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg battled for the fourth spot before Massa pulled ahead of Rosberg for the position on Lap 15.

Hamilton cracked the top-10 on Lap 15 when he passed Nick Heidfeld. Two laps later, Vettel made his first pit stop and took on another set of wet tires. Kovalainen inherited the lead with Mark Webber in second and Massa and third. Vettel returned in fourth.

Hamilton continued to gain ground as he moved up to third following pit stops at the head of the field by Lap 24. Hamilton, who had yet to pit, drove around Rosberg for second and was closing in on Vettel for the lead. He made his first stop and rejoined the field in 10th on Lap 27.

Vettel held a 12.5-second lead over Kovalainen by Lap 30. Robert Kubica held the third spot, but Kubica had yet to pit.

Hamilton and Vettel both pitted for the final time on Lap 38. Vettel recaptured the lead, while Hamilton fell to seventh after taking on intermediate tires during his stop.

Vettel's lead stretched to more than 11 seconds with 10 laps remaining. He was untouchable from there as he crossed the finish line 12.5 seconds ahead of Kovalainen.

Robert Kubica, Fernando Alonso and Nick Heidfeld completed the top-five.

Hamilton's seventh-place finish compared to a sixth-place finish for Massa allowed Hamilton to hold on to only a one-point lead over Massa in the World Championship standings with four races remaining in the season.

The next F1 race is set for Sunday, September 28th, in Singapore.

Sebastian Vettel (Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


(Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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