Vettel increases championship lead

LONDON - Sebastian Vettel took another step towards his fourth straight Formula One championship with victory in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, the scene of his first win five years ago.

It was the German's sixth win of the season, his third here and the 32nd of his career as he extended his lead to 53 points over Fernando Alonso, who finished second.

Red Bull also made progress towards winning the constructors' championship when Mark Webber finished third, his first podium finish at Monza. But Lewis Hamilton's already remote chances of a second world title took a terminal knock when he finished ninth.

Felipe Massa got off to a terrific start from fourth place, though according to paddock rumours before the race it was all a little late.

Massa's representatives are apparently pushing Ferrari for a decision about next season and, under pressure, the Italian team suggested they would not be offering the Brazilian a new contract for 2014.

That would open up a seat for Nico Hulkenberg – who had a good race here – or even Kimi Raikkonen next year.

Vettel locked up on the first corner but still maintained his lead over Massa and Alonso. There was disappointment for Force India's Paul di Resta, who crashed out after making contact with the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.

Raikkonen, normally so adept at avoiding trouble at the start of a race, ran into the back of McLaren's Sergio Pérez.

This is the race, more than any other, where Ferrari must impress and Alonso did just that with a breathtaking and brave overtake on his good friend Webber, for whom this race represents his F1 farewell to Europe. Webber also sustained some front-wing damage in the move.

Hamilton, who started in 12th place on a hard tyre, encountered another problem when he lost radio contact with his team.

Vettel put in a fastest lap to increase his lead at the top but the old order at Ferrari was re-established when Alonso passed Massa on lap eight.

When Vettel came into the pits just before halfway it gave Ferrari a one-two but Massa and Alonso both followed suit shortly after that.

When Massa re-emerged, it was in fourth place, Webber's quicker stop promoting him to third. That is how it finished at the top. Nothing, it seems, can stop Vettel and Red Bull now.

The last two races, at Spa and here, were not expected to suit them but they have ridiculed all that. – Press Association

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