Momentous Monza - best race wins of the Italian Grand Prix

by Laura Sexton

With the FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO HEINEKEN D’ITALIA 2019 up ahead, we pick out some of our favourite race wins over the years.

Never a dull moment, the Italian Grand Prix held in Monza is one of the most popular circuits for fans to visit, in particular Ferrari fans. But whether you’re a Ferrari fan or not, the race itself never disappoints when it comes to thrills.

As the oldest circuit on the current racing calendar, dating back to 1921, Monza has seen its share of action over the years. Here are some of our top wins in Italy.

Lewis claims victory from Räikkönen in 2018

The 2018 Italian Grand Prix was an eventful one to say the least. With the local fans expecting to see Ferrari lifting the first-place trophy after a front row lock out in qualifying, what then happened as the race unfolded proved otherwise. 

Despite starting in second position, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of cutting away at Lewis Hamilton's championship lead were abolished within moments after the five red lights went out on race day.

As both Ferraris and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport car of Lewis Hamilton went through the Curva Grande, Vettel was in his teammate's slipstream. However, Hamilton was also close and in what was eventually deemed as a racing incident, Vettel and Hamilton came together, leaving Vettel spinning. Hamilton on the other hand managed to continue in his hunt for the other Ferrari. 

Nevertheless, there was still hope for Ferrari fans, with Kimi Räikkönen remaining in the lead. Whilst battles took place further down the field, Hamilton was careful to not make similar mistakes to his competitors, and despite his blatant speed, Räikkönen was able to maintain his lead for some time. Meanwhile, further back Vettel was clawing his way back up the field as best as he could.

Although Mercedes’ attempt at the overcut did not pay off, by lap 45 Hamilton was right behind Räikkönen and despite the Finn's best efforts, with his tyres rapidly wearing down, Hamilton was able to pass him cleanly and smoothly. Räikkönen was unable to retaliate and challenge him for the position back.

Lewis Hamilton took the win in Italy, his fifth win in Monza and his second consecutive win at the circuit.

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Alonso wins for Ferrari in 2010 

The 2010 Italian Grand Prix was a momentous one for Ferrari and Italian fans with Fernando Alonso seated in the Prancing Horse; it was the last victory Ferrari have taken in Italy since.

The starting grid ahead of the race saw Fernando Alonso starting from pole, with McLaren's Jenson Button alongside him on the front row. Behind sat the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa with the Red Bull of Mark Webber next to him. On the third row sat the two other championship contenders of Lewis Hamilton for McLaren and Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull Racing.

The race, however, was another matter and with Lewis Hamilton crashing out on the first lap, the challenge was certainly on for the remaining contenders. Despite beating Button to pole, Alonso's job was not yet over, and in fact Button lead half of the race with Alonso left to trying to answer to his speed.

Nevertheless, a super quick pitstop for Alonso, after Button had pitted earlier, meant that he was able to drive out of the pits just ahead of the McLaren, and once he'd gained the position, he was able to pull away on his fresher tyres. By the time the chequered flag was waved, Alonso was three seconds clear of Button who fought hard to try and challenge throughout the remainder of the race.

When all was said and done, with Alonso claiming the win, ahead of Button, Massa, Vettel, Rosberg and Webber, a mere 24 points separated the top five drivers in the Driver Standings after the Italian Grand Prix.

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Vettel's surprise win for Toro Rosso in 2008

The 2008 Italian Grand Prix was the start of something great for the young Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Vettel who managed to claim a surprise pole position the day before during Qualifying. He then followed this up with what was his first ever F1 win – making him the youngest (at the time) F1 driver to win a race.

The race began behind a safety car as the heavy rainfall meant there was a lot of water on the track making visibility poor. As the race got underway, drivers struggled to adjust to the conditions. However, as the water gradually began to dry up, the race came alive. Having started further back on the grid, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen got stuck behind David Coulthard and Giancarlo Fisichella in a four-car battle for 11th place.

With the challenges taking place further down, it allowed Vettel to pull further ahead and by this point was 30 seconds ahead of them. Nevertheless, the threat wasn't non-existent. Once Hamilton found his speed, he began to make his way through the pack, eventually passing Coulthard, Fisichella, Räikkönen, and others further up ahead. After a series of pitstops it left Sebastian defending the lead whilst Hamilton began to cut away at his lap times.

Despite this, the second round of pitstops meant that Lewis got caught behind others and failed to make up the places again. In the end it was Kovalainen who finished second ahead of Robert Kubica. But the hero of the day was Vettel, who drove a sophisticated race, likened to that of a more experienced driver. 

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Michael Schumacher takes first Italian win with Ferrari

In 1996 Michael Schumacher won his first Italian Grand Prix, driving for Ferrari, his second consecutive win after claiming victory in Belgian two weeks prior. The win was the first of five Schuamcher would go on to win, including 1998, 2000, 2003, and 2006. However, it was actually the Williams cars of Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve that locked out the front row during qualifying, with Schumacher starting from third place. 

The race was eventful after the FIA set new tyre stacks at the apexes of some of the chicanes in order to stop drivers cutting corners, but it resulted in numerous incidents during the race.

Although only starting from sixth, Jean Alesi managed to take the lead from Hill, however shortly after taking it, he hit the tyre barrier and gave the place back to Hill. Alesi's car was not damaged however the tyres he hit into ricocheted off and broke Hakkinen's front wing. Next Villeneuve hit the barriers, and then David Coulthard retired with a broke suspension.

Despite holding the lead, Hill then hit the tyre barriers on lap six and he too retired, before Irvine suffered a similar issue. All in all, a total of eight drivers hit into the new barriers. Schumacher, however, was not one of those drivers, and managed to take the lead from Alesi after pitting. Schumacher crossed the line in first place, a whole 18 seconds ahead of Jean Alesi, with Mika Hakkinen finishing in third for McLaren.

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1988 with a Berger/Alboreto Ferrari 1-2 just after Il Commendatore's death. 1971 when the top five (!) crossed the line within less than one second and Gethin beat Petersen by 1/100th of a second. Stewart over Rindt in 1969 by 8/100ths with the top four extremely close. And Stirling Moss in 1956. Those races (and racers) remain legendary.