It may not have been the most scintillating of grands prix, but the Italian Grand Prix still contained some individual stand-out performances.
Of course, perhaps the easiest candidate for any 'driver of the day' list is the race winner and, once again, Sebastian Vettel hardly put a wheel wrong en route
to a sixth win of the year. The German did lock up into the first corner of the race, but overcame the resulting flat-spot and late-race gearbox concerns to stretch his championship lead to 53 points.
Fernando Alonso gave the tifosi
something to cheer by coming from fifth to second, ensuring that his championship challenge, while distant, remains alive. The Spaniard was in fesity mood too, forcing his way past Mark Webber at the Roggis chicane on lap three before setting off after Vettel.
Webber completed the podium, but not before having to find a way back past Felipe Massa after the Brazilian out-muscled him at the start. Unable to pass him on the track, the Red Bull man was helped by the decision to stack him behind Vettel during their pit-stops, allowing him to make the Monza podium for the first time, despite being warned of his own gearbox problems.
Massa remained in fourth place, helping Ferrari to reclaim second spot in the constructors' championship, and ran largely alone having been repassed by Webber.
Nico Hulkenberg surprised the paddock by qualifying third in Saturday's dry qualifying session, but was not expected to retain such high standards in the race. However, the young German picked a good weekend to produce by far his, and Sauber's, best result of the season, hanging on in fifth place under pressure from Nico Rosberg as rumours of a possible move to Ferrari continued to circulate.
With Rosberg largely anonymous in sixth, new Red Bull recruit Danial Ricciardo gave his backers reason to justify their selection with a strong run to seventh place from a simialr place on the grid as Toro Rosso again produced a strong car for the Monza layout.
On a day where passing was not exactly prevalent, Romain Grosjean showed what was possible by moving from a disappointed 13th on the grid to eighth by the chequered flag thanks to a strong run on the harder Pirelli tyre.
Behind him, Lewis Hamilton also showed what was possible, but on the other tyre compound as missing the pole position shoot-out allowed him to start on the harder rubber and then switch to the mediums. Although an early puncture scuppered his initial strategy, the Briton battled through to ninth at the flag.
While Jenson Button rounded out the points, the man chasing him down at the flag earns the final Driver of the Day nomination. Kimi Raikkonen, like Grosjean and Hamilton, has been eliminated in Q2 on Saturday afternoon and then suffered an even earlier blow to his race plan when he collected the rear of Sergio Perez at the first turn. With a new front wing, however, the Finn made progress through the field in tandem with Hamilton, only to come up one spot short in the final reckoning.
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