Sebastian Vettel put four fingers of his second hand onto the F1 world championship trophy after another superior performance brought Red Bull Racing's first win - and first podium of any kind - in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Just as it had at Spa-Francorchamps two weeks ago, RBR rode roughshod over commonly-held beliefs that its RB7 was not suited to the high-speed blasts of the Milanese autodrome, although, as in Belgium, Vettel had to overcome an impudent lower order starter before asserting himself at the front of the field. Once there, however, he inexorably stretched his advantage to repeat his breakthrough 2008 success at the same venue with Scuderia Toro Rosso.
This time, the lightning getaway came from Fernando Alonso, who delighted the tifosi
by vaulting from fourth to first by the Rettifilio, having run three abreast with front row starters Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, and even survived a moment of wheelspin as the right rear wheel touched the grass. Hamilton and Vettel touched as the red machine came through, but escaped unscathed, while Michael Schumacher also took advantage of a decent start to move into fourth, ahead of both Jenson Button and Mark Webber.
While the leaders got through the chicane without incident, however, there was some typical Monza carnage in their wake and, while the cause of it came from the darkest depths of the grid, it was the points contenders who paid the price. While HRT team-mate Daniel Ricciardo struggled to get off the line, Tonio Liuzzi got a good start, to the point that he was able to pass a handful of cars ahead of him. That, however, led to him closing too quickly on the midfield and, braking heavily, he tagged the verge and got into a tankslapper that only resulted in him skating down the length of the grass and straight into Nico Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov, who were minding their own business at the tail of the top ten.
All three were out on the spot, while Rubens Barrichello, having avoided the contact, found himself corralled by the damaged machines. Adrian Sutil was forced to take to the gravel on the outside of the chicane, while Sebastien Buemi clipped the stranded Mercedes but carried on.
Unsurprisingly, the safety car was required to clear up the mess and, although it only remained on track for a couple of laps, Bernd Maylander's mount had a similar effect on the order as both Hamilton and Button were caught napping at the restart, succumbing to Schumacher and Webber respectively, as well as giving Vettel a sight of Alonso.
Sensing, perhaps incorrectly given what had gone on behind, that he needed to make a move sooner rather than later, the German took a look into the Roggia chicane, but ultimately had to wait another lap before finally get by the crowd favourite. After his 'round the outside' move on Nico Rosberg at Blanchimont, Vettel again hammered another nail into the argument that he cannot overtake by braving it out around the outside of Alonso through the Curva Grande before clinching the lead at Roggia.
Once in front, the Red Bull stretched its legs, opening out a couple of seconds almost immediately and leaving the rest to battle over the scraps. While Vettel was scampering away, however, his team-mate got a little over-eager in his urge to keep pace, attempting to go around the outside of Felipe Massa into the first chicane. Although he soon realised that the move wasn't on, Webber's attempts to get out of it were hampered by the kerbs in the middle of the obstacle, which pitched him straight into the second Ferrari.
Although Massa was delayed, he escaped largely unscathed, but the same could not be said of Webber, who lost his front wing in the contact. Worse still, part of the broken wing was lodged, unknown to the Australian, under his car and, by the time he got to the Parabolica, robbed the RB7 of steering. Webber was then a passenger as the car bounced over the gravel and into the barrier, effectively ending the only remaining challenge to Vettel's title march.