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F1 Driver of the Day: Italian GP

Lewis Hamilton might have won, but was his performance the best of the day at Monza? You decide....

Just as had been the case seven days earlier in Belgium, a McLaren driver rose untroubled from pole position in Italy to claim a championship-boosting victory while his rivals squabbled amongst themselves.

This time around, it was Lewis Hamilton at the front of the pack, having put in a 'half-decent' qualifying lap to claim the front of the grid and then not putting a foot wrong over 53 laps of the high-speed Monza layout - despite the potential distraction of contract talks and rumours about his future. There were few negatives, and certainly no dodgy 'tweets', from the 27-year old, who moved back into second place in the overall standings courtesy of his third win of the season.

A slightly longer race could have made things tricky for the McLaren man, however, as Sergio Perez was still on a charge when the chequered flag fell. Having started from the outside of row six on the grid, the Mexican again made the most of Sauber's ability to extract more life from its tyres to assume the lead while everyone else cycled through their pit-stops, and then used the softer Pirelli option to reel in those ahead of him wehn he resumed from his own. Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were all among his victims, before time ran out on his pursuit of a maiden F1 win.

Alonso also staged his own comeback from qualifying problems, quickly moving from tenth into the top five, and then surviving a hairy moment when an attempt to pass Sebastian Vettel left him on the grass at the flat-out Curva Grande. The Spanaird subsequently passed his rival a couple of laps later and benefited from retirements ahead of him to move into the podium places. The inevitable then happened as Ferrari team-mate Massa moved over for him to add extra points to his haul, but Alonso was ultimately relegated back to third by the flying Perez.

Massa's pursuit of a first podium finish since Korea 2010 appeared to be on course even after he followed the Ferrari line and allowed Alonso into second spot. Sadly for the Brazilian, who otherwise enjoyed his best weekend of the year, neither F2012 had the pace to resist Perez, and he had to settle for another fourth place.

With the remainder of the top ten - Raikkonen, Michael Schuamcher, Nico Rosberg, Paul di Resta, Kamui Kobayashi and Bruno Senna - more or less performing to expectation, no better and no worse, and Mark Webber suffering an unfortunate end to another ordinary performance, the race's two highest-profile DNFs are also inclouded in the reckoning for driver of the day.

Vettel's defence of fifth place may have been overly-robust - at least in the eyes of Alonso, Ferrari and the stewards - but he still had the Red Bull perhaps higher in the order than its outright pace warranted. The German appeared on course for a healthy dose of points, and retention of second place overall, when another Renault alternator problem sidelined him with six laps remaining.

Jenson Button was on course for even more than Vettel, the Belgian Grand Prix winner overcoming the early obstacle provided by a fast-starting Massa to lead the pursuit of McLaren team-mate Hamilton. He may not have been able to live with his fellow Briton on this occasion, but the likely second place would have again boosted his points tally and stemmed calls for him to back up his team-mate from Singapore on. Suspected fuel pump failure may now dictate otherwise....

To have your say on who you think was the best driver at Monza, simply CLICK HERE and select your favourite from our list. Oh, and feel free to explain your choice in the comments section below....

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
08.09.2012- Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27
09.09.2012- Race,  Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8
09.09.2012- Race, Felipe Massa (BRA) Scuderia Ferrari F2012
06.09.2012- Fernando Alonso (ESP) Scuderia Ferrari F2012
31.08.2012- Free Practice 1, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber F1 Team C31
07.09.2012- Free Practice 1, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27
25.06.2017 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, The race stopped, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32 and the Safety car
25.06.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, The Safety car and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32
25.06.2017 - Race, Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 VJM10 and Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM010 and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
25.06.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 and the Safety car
25.06.2017 - Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32 and Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C36
25.06.2017 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
25.06.2017 - Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32 and 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40

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OZFan - Unregistered

September 10, 2012 12:08 PM

Started 12th., and finished 2nd. With a four or five laps longer race, could easily have challenged Lewis for the win. Perez offered perhaps the most brilliant performance of the year.

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