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LIVE COMMENTARY: 2008 ITALIAN GRAND PRIX - RACEDAY AT MONZA
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: Raceday at Monza
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
08:00 Hello and welcome to autosport.com Live for raceday at Monza, as we approach the 2008 Santander Italian Grand Prix.

Today we will be bringing you updates and news from the circuit in the build-up to the race and a look back at the qualifying hour, along with live text commentary of the race itself, later this afternoon.

08:02 You can join in the fun by chatting live with other autosport.com forum members.

Click the SHOW LIVE FORUM link in the red bar at the bottom of your browser window if you'd like to join the debate.

08:05 A couple of overnight showers have passed over the circuit, but with no rain for several hours this morning the racetrack is now almost dry, with the last of the damp patches slowly disappearing.

It is overcast this morning, with the forecast calling for possible showers later.

Throughout the day we will be regularly updating you with the latest radar information as the chances of a wet or dry Grand Prix this afternoon continue to change as the weather develops.

The temperature today is also set to become a major factor regardless of whether it is a wet or dry race, with the maximum temperature only reaching 17 degrees Celsius later in the afternoon.

Sebastian Vettel08:10 Sebastian Vettel produced the shock of the 2008 season in qualifying yesterday as he claimed his maiden pole position in an enthralling qualifying session at Monza.

Wet weather dominated the day, with rain in both the final hour of practice in the morning and further showers during the qualifying session itself.

The surprises came thick and fast as track conditions changed on every lap, but in the first phase the eliminated driver list looked somewhat familiar, with both Hondas, Kazuki Nakajima and Adrian Sutil all failing to make the cut. Nelson Piquet joined them, having not been able to find the necessary pace.

The second part of qualifying was astounding. Lewis Hamilton started the chaos by deciding to go out on intermediate tyres, at a time when the rain was beginning to fall heavily again. The championship leader had precious little grip and pitted straight away for extreme wet tyres. On entering the pitlane, he was called into the weighbridge, delaying him further. A few minutes later he did manage to complete his first timed lap, but by then conditions were at their worst. It quickly became clear that the Briton wasn't going to make it, but there was more to come.

Kimi Raikkonen was also lacking pace in a Ferrari that can prove tricky to drive in anything other than dry conditions. On one banzai effort, in a bid to make the cut, the Finn endured a twitchy moment at the exit of the Ascari chicane. Raikkonen expertly held things together and continued, but he too didn't make the top ten. Raikkonen and Hamilton will start 14th and 15th this afternoon.

Robert Kubica made it three of the four championship contenders outside the top ten. The BMW driver was in the process of moving up the order when the heavy rain struck the second period. The Pole starts from 11th position on the grid.

Up front, the Toro Rossos did battle with the rest of the world - and won!

Sebastian Vettel was sublime all day, and set a 1:37.555 in Q3 that no one else was able to match in the final five minutes. Heikki Kovalainen came closest, just missing the pole by under one tenth of a second.

Mark Webber starts third following a great performance in the Red Bull RB4 that is completely opposite to the Ferrari here - struggling for pace in the dry and yet extremely quick in the wet. Sebastien Bourdais capped an amazing day for the Red Bull company by qualifying fourth in the other Toro Rosso. The scenes of unbridled joy and exultation were great to see as the Frenchman was cheered warmly by his team when he arrived back there after the session.

Nico Rosberg qualified an excellent fifth in the Williams, a pleasing performance in what has been a challenging and tough season for the talented German. Felipe Massa is the first of the championship contenders down in sixth, with Jarno Trulli seventh, Fernando Alonso eighth, Timo Glock ninth and Nick Heidfeld the quickest BMW in tenth place.

Yesterday's wet conditions were very welcomed by Toyota especially. Their TF108 had been nowhere in the only dry session of practice on Friday afternoon, and both drivers are hoping that the changeable conditions are repeated today, as it is their only chance of scoring points.

But, up front, the day belong to one Sebastian Vettel, and he has arrived at the circuit this morning knowing that he will be the man at the head of the field when the five red lights go out later today.

Robert Kubica08:15 Yesterday's second period of qualifying was remarkable for the shock elimination of three out of the top four in the drivers' championship. The rain intensified, a few minutes after the session got underway, and all three men failed to get a good lap in when the track was at its best.

A chaotic scrum of reporters caught up with the drivers to hear the story of their dramatic early demise.

Robert Kubica - 11th: "For sure I was expecting more. Unfortunately we choose a bit different way of approaching quali two, so in our mind was to put a new set of tyres and run for all quali as the track, we have seen in quali one, was getting quicker and quicker, so we didn’t want to lose too much time by pitting and stuff like this. At that point we have to put new set (of extreme wet tyres on) because they other one was quite used. So we did put new set which unfortunately deliver quite poor grip in first two laps where the conditions were the best. Once the tyre were okay, in their working range, the rain came quite strongly so it was quite tricky qualifying, and quite unlucky, but I think was not the only one who was unlucky today."

Kimi Raikkonen - 14th: "In the second lap I was on a good lap, but at the exit of Ascari there was quite a bit of water so I just got out of the shape and the lap was destroyed and I knew that it started to rain more heavy so it was important to get the lap in but unfortunately I couldn’t finish it.

"We went straight away when we could but unfortunately we couldn’t get the lap so there was only a few laps to do it and I ran wide so I don’t think that is a mistake on anybody it just happens so unfortunately we couldn’t get the lap."

Lewis Hamilton - 15th: "It was getting dryer. It wasn’t as wet as it was in Q1. It was looking like perhaps the intermediate would have been a good tyre. So we had to make the decision. I kind of pushed for it and we went out and I noticed I was getting overtaken left, right and centre and the grip level was very poor. There was a relatively dryer line compared to what we had driven in before. I came in to the pits and immediately I was put in to the weighing scales, which was kind of odd, and through that I lost a few minutes while everyone was bolting around doing their times. I got my tyres on and by the time I got out it began to rain and so I just missed the window. I think everyone did their times at the beginning so, a small mistake, a little bit costly, but I think we are not in such a bad position for tomorrow.

"I don’t think it is a big disaster to be honest. Tomorrow is going to be another day and whether it is raining or not I think we are out of the top ten so we have a good fighting chance to really try and make our way up the grid. It should be exciting."

08:19 Light spots of moisture are falling at Monza. Nothing significant, but this will keep the track surface damp as the support programme of races continues this morning.

08:23 Esteban Gutierrez is the 2008 Formula BMW Europe champion.

It has been an impressive run of form from the young Mexican and he took seven wins over the course of the new series as it supported the various European Grands Prix.

Tiago Geronimi won on Saturday afternoon while Carlos Huertas and Marco Wittmann completed the podium after an entertaining, race-long scrap with Gutierrez.

Sunday's race took place in damp conditions following overnight rain. Geronimi completed the double ahead of Wittmann and Gutierrez. The race started dramatically with a collision off the line eliminating Adrien Tambay, David Mengesdorf and Jazeman Jaafar. The greasy conditions also caught out a number of drivers as the race progressed.

08:24 The drizzle is intensifying just slightly and we have light rain over the circuit which is becoming heavier by the minute.

08:24 The GP2 teams are scrambling to fit wet tyres to their cars as the grid awaits the sprint race.

08:30 The GP2 cars are underway on their formation lap. Wet tyres are the choice of the field as light rain continues to dampen the racing surface at Monza.

08:42 Roldán Rodríguez leads from polesitter Davide Valsecchi and Romain Grosjean in an action-packed start to the GP2 sprint race.

Lucas Di Grassi has just punted Mike Conway out of fourth in an incident that also delayed Bruno Senna.

It has not been a good start for iSport, with Karun Chandhok off track at Lesmo on the first lap and Bruno Senna twice spinning wildly across the pack on the run to the second chicane.

08:45 The light rain is continuing and the racetrack is now lightly wet as the GP2 sprint race continues.

The last time we had rain at Monza before this weekend was the Sunday morning of the 2004 event. On that occasion the rain stopped during the drivers parade, and with a warm ambient temperature the track was barely damp at the start of the Grand Prix.

Today, the temperature is much cooler, and that will prolong any drying process - assuming the rain stops, which is by no means certain.

08:57 Italian Davide Valsecchi has surged through in to the lead as the GP2 drama continues.

Lucas Di Grassi has been handed a drive through penalty for the clash with Mike Conway and fell down the order as he visited the pits.

The ever-spectacular Pastor Maldonado is once again a man on the move and is up to fourth.

Romain Grosjean has put pressure on Roldán Rodríguez for second over a couple of laps and slipped by in an excellent move at the first chicane. However, he has just thrown that away with a lurid slide, handing second back to Rodríguez.

09:05 The rain has started to ease, with the racetrack now returning to a damp condition round most of the circuit.

There is now almost no spray begin thrown up from the GP2 cars as the sprint race moves into the last five laps.

Light moisture is still falling however, keeping the track damp.

09:13 The rainfall radar is showing an area of light rain - slightly heavier than we have seen so far this morning - just to the east of the circuit. This is expected to cross over from east to west in the next hour.

09:19 Davide Valsecchi has won the final GP2 race of the season at Monza. The Italian, starting from pole, lost out at the start to Roldán Rodríguez but fought back strongly to take the lead around half distance and took his first win by a sizable margin.

The dramatic race calmed down in the closing stages as the grip levels on the damp track began to improve. Rodríguez held on to second from Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado.

Champion Giorgio Pantano rounded out his season in fifth and stopped at the first chicane after the flag to celebrate his championship with the fans.

With both Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi faliing to score, Senna holds on to second place in the drivers' standings. Di Grassi finishes third in the championship, one point behind Senna and one in front of Romain Grosjean.

09:30 With the GP2 season now over, the next action for the spectators to savour is the final race in the Porsche Supercup series.

The final tin-top battle begins shortly.

09:35 BREAKING NEWS The latest from the autosport.com team in the pits is that Ferrari are to change the engine on Felipe Massa's car ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.

Massa makes 'joker' engine change

09:46 The 30 car Porsche Supercup field is away from the grid on their formation lap.

Conditions overhead remain dry, with the track surface damp and drying following the rain earlier today.

10:03 Jorg Hardt leads in the Porsche Supercup from Rene Rast after a chaotic start in tricky conditions at Monza.

Stefan Rosina runs third from Nicolas Armindo, Lance Arnold and Jeroen Bleekemolen, all forming a nose to tail battle for the lead.

Patrick Huisman was tipped into a spin at the first corner and
Damien Faulkner spun down the order at Ascari, denting his challenge for second in the championship

10:05 Light spots of rain are beginning to fall once again at Monza as the Porsche Supercup race continues.

The track was still damp with moisture in the surface all round the 3.6 miles. This latest shower will of course ensure the damp condition in the surface remains for some time.

10:07 Nicolas Armindo has surged through into the lead at the first chicane in a sensational move as the light rain shuffles the pack, with grip levels changing all the time.

10:11 The track is getting a little wetter as light rain continues putting moisture on the track surface.

10:26 Nicolas Armindo has won an incredible Porsche Supercup race at Monza. Light rain throughout the race sparked drama all the way and as the rain intensified in the last couple of laps, there was total chaos as the drivers skillfully battled to stay on the circuit.

Jorg Hardt cut through the drama to take second from champion Jeroen Bleekemolen. Pedro Petiz surged through in the late laps to snatch fourth from Sean Edwards, Lance Arnold and Alessandro Zampedri.

The race featured a spate of incidents in the closing stages with a 13 car scramble for the lead eliminating a number of cars in a first corner tangle.

What a way to round out the season for the Porsche Supercup.

10:27 Spots of rain continue to fall at Monza as the Porsche Supercup drivers celebrate on the podium.

10:30 The traditional drivers' parade is the next item on the programme, with the support races now complete.

10:32 Weatherwise, the chance of showers continuing between now and the start of the race remains high.

Looking at the satellite images, you can see the cloud base is thinning out gradually over time. Later, towards the end of the afternoon, it is likely to thin out totally.

But, in the meantime, Monza sits under the band of clouds with occasional showers.

Moving a little closer to home, the rainfall radar shows another green (light) shower band approaching the circuit. Earlier indications were that this line would miss Monza to the south, but as the shower moves across the region it is intensifying slightly and expanding, bringing Monza into range.

If the radar map holds true, then we can expect a further shower following these current light spots of rain in the 60-minute window before the formation lap for the Grand Prix.

10:35 The drivers' parade is underway and the truck makes its way to the Roggia chicane. The drivers themselves are decked out in their team jackets.

Rubens Barrichello even has his hood up as he checks his messages on his mobile phone.

10:39 The drivers are shivering as the parade rounds the Lesmo corners and begins the blast down to the Ascari chicane.

Barrichello is now wrapped up like it's the middle of winter, and Jarno Trulli remarks to Formula One track announcer Bob Constanduros that it is 'cold!'

10:43 As the parade heads towards Parabolica, the Finnish duo Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen compare notes.

The spots of rain are continuing to fall and with the low temperatures that we have been talking about all morning, the chances of the race starting at least in damp conditions are beginning to increase.

10:46 The truck arrives back at the start-finish line as the rain begins to come down a little harder.

The drivers leave the area in single file, and will now go back to their team motorhomes to prepare for an exciting race ahead.

10:51 The rainfall level is becoming moderate for a time now, this is now the heaviest we have seen the rain faling at anytime today.

The track surface now moves into a lightly wet condition as this shower continues.

10:57 The rain is becoming much lighter now as the worst of this recent shower passes over the circuit.

The track condition remains lightly wet, and in the paddock some puddles are evident.

Sebastian Vettel11:00 Sebastian Vettel pulled off the incredible yesterday in the wet conditions at Monza to become the youngest driver ever to claim a pole position for a Formula One World Championship event.

Having been fast throughout the wet morning practice session, the Toro Rosso driver carried that pace through to qualifying and looked like a threat throughout the hour.

An ecstatic Vettel spoke freely for a long time with the media in the paddock after the session.

"I don't really know what to say now," said the 21-year-old. "All the good words you can. So it's great, I mean, satisfaction is very big as you can imagine. Obviously when I was a child I was dreaming one day to drive one of these fast cars, not even thinking of being part of them really, and now for tomorrow I'm starting on pole position, so it's fantastic.

"I mean I was joking with my engineers earlier on this morning and I said when it rains we have to go for pole position because after free practice three, so after this morning's practice, I felt very, very confident with the car under these conditions and I said we have to push, we have to go for pole position and it was a dream and now it is a dream coming true. It's unbelievable.

"It was a great day for us. Obviously the conditions were very difficult today. It was extremely slippery, a lot of water, a lot of aquaplaning, so I think the key was that I had a lot of confidence in the car, in myself, under these conditions. On top of that it is our home race so it all fits together."

Finally taking a breath, the jubilant German turned his thoughts to today's 53-lap race around Monza's Royal Park, hinting that his fuel strategy isn't as wild as some would believe.

"I think we did a great job today. We don't have a fancy or stupid strategy for tomorrow. I think we have a good chance to do a good result but we have to keep the feet on the ground. I think in the session the top guys had some difficulties but you may never underestimate, they sit in the best cars and I think they still have a chance. It's a long race tomorrow, you don't know how is the weather going to be. Anything can happen really. Obviously if we can finish in the points that would be fantastic like the last races. On the podium, I mean, I would go for it! Or I will go for it if I have the chance so we will see tomorrow."

Vettel takes part in his 22nd Grand Prix this afternoon, his highest finish being that memorable fourth place in the wet in China last year. Today, he aims to go one better.

11:01 The rain has now stopped all round the circuit, with just the odd spot of occasional moisture now falling, as we reach the final hour before the start of the Italian Grand Prix.

Heikki Kovalainen11:10 Heikki Kovalainen is almost the forgotten man among a myriad of major talking points from yesterday's qualifying session.

While the focus of the world's attention was understandably on Sebastian Vettel's record-breaking pole position, and also the surprising performances down the order of the championship contenders, Kovalainen quietly went about his business, driving well and almost snatching the pole in the wettest of conditions. He is certainly well-placed to score a good result today.

Afterwards, he spoke to a scrum of media reporters in the paddock and explained his strategy during that all-important third qualifying period.

"I feel very confident," said Kovalainen. "Even looking afterwards now, I think in the last part of the qualifying I just missed the first lap. I didn't get everything out of it. I wasn't expecting it to rain more so my first lap was relatively easy, just trying to find a nice gap ... there was a BMW in front of me and trying to just find a good rhythm and see where the water is and then really go for it on the second and third lap – but it started to rain, so it was a little bit wrong strategy but okay, still on the last lap I managed to improve my time and it was already very wet by then. It nearly was enough for pole so we can look forward to a strong race."

Driving in the wet is one of the most important arts any race driver has to face. Kovalainen made no secret that he enjoys the slippery conditions, and spoke a little about the driver’s feelings inside the cockpit.

"I really enjoy driving in the wet. I like the feeling when the car is sliding a little bit and you're just trying to carry the speed into the corner and just wait to see if it's going to snap or not, and putting the power down, feeling if it's going to spin the wheels or do I need to correct – I like that and when you get it right it's good. If you don’t get too much wheelspin and manage to accelerate out of the corners better then it's good.

"It was quite difficult – a lot of spray and it stays still on the straights so it was very difficult to see and even a long gap (between cars) it is still more of a struggle than normal.

"Conditions were acceptable – if it had been too much I don't think they would have run the qualifying, so no problem."

The McLaren driver has qualified on the front row for the fourth time this season, and is clearly aiming at a very strong result this afternoon.

The race today has a strange ingredient, in that no matter how big a lead any driver manages to establish at the front, they will still need to continue pushing as the faster cars behind attempt to move up the order.

The top five on the starting grid will all need to charge hard on each and every lap. Kovalainen is all too aware that Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton will surge towards the front, but is expecting a very good result himself.

"I think the guys behind, they can do a strong race, but I am sure I'm in a good position now. I think in any kind of condition we should be strong. The car has felt very good, everyone has done a really good job to improve the car again. For me I'm easy with any conditions – if it rains it's fine, if it's dry I think we should be strong."

11:14 Light spots of precipitation are continuing to fall over Monza with 45 minutes to go until the start of the formation lap.

In the pits, the teams are busy preparing for the pitstops during the race, performing unintertesting yet extremely important tasks, such as sweeping water away from the pit box where the cars will stop when they come in for service.

11:25 The pits will open in five minutes for the cars to make their way around to the grid. This will give the drivers a chance to check out the slippery track conditions all the way around the lap.

11:29 The odd spots of moisture have now developed into yet another of these light showers that have been crossing the circuit.

The laps out to the grid will generate interest when the pitlane opens in the next minute.

11:31 The pits are now open. Sebastien Bourdais is the first man out and is flicking the spray into the air as he laps on the extreme wet tyre.

11:32 The rain is falling much heavier now as the drivers come out for their reconaissance laps to the grid.

11:33 The drivers qualifying outside the top ten have the advantage of being able to put plenty of fuel in their cars, allowing them to take multiple laps to the grid if they want to feel out the wet conditions on different tyres.

Crucially, these runners today include Robert Kubica, Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton.

The fuel for a one stop strategy may prove extremely useful this afternoon, giving the flexibility to run to a suitable window for a tyre stop.

11:34 Sebastien Bourdais arrives on the grid and is pushed into his fourth position starting slot by the Toro Rosso mechanics.

11:35 The full wet 'extreme' tyre is being favoured for these laps to the grid so far as rain continues to fall over the circuit.

11:36 Virgin supremo Richard Branson is on the grid to witness a scramble as the teams react to this rain shower.

11:38 Felipe Massa has the rear brakes lock on him as he enters the Roggia chicane. The back end of the Ferrari instantly snaps sideways and Massa just manages to catch it, as he continues round on extreme wet tyres.

Massa takes to the escape road but continues without any damage to the F2008.

11:38 Giancarlo Fisichella confirms to his race engineer on the radio that it is extreme wet tyre conditions at the moment.

11:41 The track temperature is a chilly 14c as Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone make their way on to the grid.

11:42 With the rain continuing to fall and the circuit now only suitable for the extreme wet tyre, Race Director Charlie Whiting and his team will be seriously considering the use of the Safety Car to start this race.

Glock not convinced about wet SC start

11:43 Rain continues to fall on the grid for what promises to be a spectacular Italian Grand Prix.

11:44 The drivers are obviously all concerned about the track condition with the latest heavy shower having soaked the circuit.

Giancarlo Fisichella is standing under an umbrella talking to his manager Enrico Zanarini. Both look serious and anxious as the start gets closer.

11:45 The pits are now closed with 15 minutes to go before the formation lap.

11:46 The Italian national anthem rings out over the Autodromo Natzionale Monza.

11:47 Mark Slade, Heikki Kovalainen's race engineer, tells British broadcaster ITV that the extreme wet tyres are likely to be the choice at the start.

11:49 The supply of extreme wet tyres is very limited - only three sets per driver, most of which were used in qualifying yesterday. This is another factor in an incredible set of circumstances that have come together for this race.

11:50 The race will start behind the safety car.

11:50 Jenson Button and his Honda team have decided that he will start the Italian Grand Prix from the pitlane. Button is sitting in position at the traffic lights and will start the race once the train of cars have left behind the safety car.

11:52 The FIA team have taken the decision to get the race underway with a rolling start.

This forces the drivers to start on extreme wet tyres, a rule that was introduced after Fuji last year when the Ferrari team started the race behind the safety car on intermediate rubber.

11:52 There is no time for smiles and laughing now as the ever-pleasant Sebastian Vettel looks serious, and anxious, as he puts his helmet on and prepares for the biggest race of his young life.

The Toro Rosso star will lead the pack from the pole position this afternoon.

11:55 There are now just five minutes remaining before the field peels away behind the safety car at a wet Monza circuit in northern Italy.

11:57 The rain is continuing to fall over the circuit as the world waits for the start of the race.

Kazuki Nakajima will also start the race from the pitlane in the Williams.

11:57 The safety car start has done little to ease the tension on the grid.

A truly memorable race lies ahead and the big Mercedes stands ready to lead the cars away in three minutes.

Lap 1: Bernd Maylander leads the field away from the grid, signalling the start of the race.

Safety car start.

Lap 1: Sebastien Bourdais has failed to get away from the grid in the Toro Rosso!

The Frenchman was in fourth on the grid.

Lap 1: The pack roll around the first lap in heavy spray.

Lap 1: The marshals are now pushing Bourdais' STR3 away from the grid, towards the pitlane.

Lap 1: Bourdais is now at the end of the pitlane and the Toro Rosso mechanics are quickly trying to fire up the engine.

Lap 2: The safety car train completes the first lap and Bourdais has yet to leave the pits.

Lap 2: The drivers continue to feel out the grip levels as they tour slowly behind the safety car.

Lap 2: The mechanics fire up the STR and Bourdais is now on the racetrack, trying to catch the rest of the pack. However, the Frenchman is one lap down.

Lap 2: Safety car in this lap.

Lap 3: Vettel hits the gas pedal and he leads the pack over the line as we start racing at Monza.

Vettel holds the lead in turn one and the German is away out in front.

Lap 3: Racing through the Lesmo corners it is Vettel from Kovalainen, Webber, Rosberg, Massa, Trulli and Alonso.

Lap 3: It's a very clean start and the drivers are going through the first racing lap without incident.

Lap 3: The spray is immense as they scream round on a racing lap for the first time.

Lap 4: Vettel has a two second lead as he storms away with clear visibility at the front.

Lap 4: Fernando Alonso has overtaken Timo Glock going into the first chicane.

Glock has a go back at the Spaniard as the pair barrel down to the Roggia but Alonso holds eighth place.

Lap 5: Vettel leads by 3.7 seconds as he screams off into the distance without the hindrance of the huge spray being experienced by the rest of the field.

Lap 5: Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton are still running in tandem in 12th and 13th positions.

Hamilton tries to pass the Ferrari at the Roggia chicane, but overshoots the corner and takes to the escape road. The Briton emerges ahead of the Ferrari, but immediately gives position back to the Finn with no cause for concern over that move.

Lap 6: It is static in the top ten as the gaps build between the cars so they can find some visibility.

Lap 6: Kimi Raiikkonen is shaping up for a pass on Giancarlo Fisichella, with Lewis Hamilton right behind both of them. This is the battle for 11th, 12th and 13th.

Lap 7: Vettel continues to impress up front as he opens the lead from Kovalainen to almost six seconds.

Lap 7: Timo Glock has spun under braking at the first chicane and was narrowly avoided by the oncoming traffic.

Lap 7: Exiting the Parabolica and Raikkonen gets a good run on the Force India driver, but up ahead Timo Glock has spun at the first chicane and dented the Finn's attempt on Fisichella.

Lap 8: Vettel has had a moment out front as he gets it sideways at the Roggia chicane. He has a big advantage in the lead and needs to be careful in the tricky conditions.

Lap 8: The field spread is enormous in the early stages of the race.

Raikkonen and Hamilton are already 30 seconds behind Vettel's leading Toro Rosso, as they continue a three-car scrap with Fisichella's Force India entry.

Lap 9: Kimi Raikkonen passes Giancarlo Fisichella for 11th place, up the inside in the braking zone for the first chicane.

Lap 9: It is a new fastest lap of 1:34.972 for Vettel as he stretches his lead to 6.3 seconds over Heikki Kovalainen.

Mark Webber continues in third from Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa.

Lap 10: Lewis Hamilton now is on the back of Giancarlo Fisichella, and the Briton is up to 12th position, passing the Italian on the start-finish straight.

Lap 11: The water is beginning to clear from the racing line as the cars continue to lap on extreme wet rubber.

Unless further rain arrives, these heavily-treaded tyres will begin to overheat and intermediate rubber will be needed.

Lap 11: Jarno Trulli struggles to slow his Toyota for turn one as he chases Felipe Massa. He keeps it on the road and runs sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso.

Lap 11: Having passed Fisichella, Lewis Hamilton then goes and sets a new personal best lap. He catches Raikkonen again instantly. Lewis dives down the inside of the Ferrari entering the first Lesmo, and he is through, up into 11th place with Kimi Raikkonen 12th.

Lap 12: A battle is shaping up between Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa. The Brazilian is now on the tail of the Williams and is hunting for the points available from Rosberg's fourth place.

Lap 13: The unfortunate Sebastien Bourdais, who lost a lap when he failed to start when the safety car led the field away, may be in 20th position, but he is flying in the Toro Rosso.

He is 89 seconds behind 19th placed Adrian Sutil, and will now start a race-long battle to catch the German.

Lap 13: Massa is all over Rosberg as they cross the line. They go wheel to wheel in the first corner but Rosberg just comes out on top as they scream towards the second chicane.

Massa tries again and sends the move, bouncing over the kerbs and through into fourth.

Sensational racing from Massa and Rosberg.

Lap 14: The track is drying rapidly and the drivers will soon be complaining that they are on the wrong tyres for the conditions.

Vettel is however told that more rain is expected in 20 minutes!

Lap 14: Giancarlo Fisichella has been passed by David Coulthard for 13th position at the first chicane. In the middle of the chicane Fisichella closes back up and hits the back of Coulthard's car. The front wing is damaged.

Later in the lap the front wing disintegrates and the Italian is sent straight on, into the Parabolica gravel trap.

Fisichella is out of the race.

Lap 15: Lewis Hamilton closes up on Nick Heidfeld, and the McLaren driver takes the position away. Hamilton is now 10th and charging up through the field.

Lap 15: Rosberg and Massa are at it again!

Massa had fallen behind the Williams but demotes him to fifth once again with a move at the first corner.

Massa is fourth, Rosberg fifth.

Lap 15: Hamilton zooms up to the back of Timo Glock in the Toyota. This is the battle for ninth, with Robert Kubica directly ahead of them in eighth place.

Lap 16: Felipe Massa set the fastest lap as the Brazilian picks up the pace.

Lap 16: Lewis Hamilton takes to the outside and sends a move past Glock into turn one and he is up into ninth position.

Lap 16: Vettel leads by an amazing 10.6 seconds from Heikki Kovalainen and Mark Webber.

Lap 18: Rubens Barrichello pits from 16th position in the Honda. He rejoins the track after a total pitlane time of 31 seconds.

Lap 18: Fernando Alonso in seventh place is told over the radio by his race engineer that more rain is expected in five minutes, and it will last for a long time.

Lap 18: Lewis Hamilton surges past Robert Kubica and is up to eighth as the McLaren is on the move.

There is likely to be some debate about a robust defence after the move on Timo Glock, which saw the Toyota edged out on to the grass.

Lap 19: Hamilton's next target is Fernando Alonso in seventh, just over two seconds ahead.

Lap 19: Vettel pits the Toro Rosso from the lead and takes more extreme wet rubber with the teams expecting further rain.

Lap 20: Hamilton makes easy work of Alonso's Renault and he flys off in pursuit of Trulli's Toyota.

Lap 20: Kimi Raikkonen is struggling down in 12th position. He has no pace in these wet conditions and the gap between Raikkonen and Hamilton (eighth) is over six seconds.

Lap 21: Timo Glock tries a move up the inside of Robert Kubica at the Roggia chicane as they battle for ninth. Glock takes the line and Kubica takes to the extra tarmac in avoidance. The Toyota is clear and now up to eighth.

Lap 22: An incredible race in Monza has many twists and turns yet to play out with 33 laps remaining.

Heikki Kovlainen leads for McLaren and is yet to stop. Mark Webber continues in second from a charging Felipe Massa.

Sebastian Vettel has dropped to fourth after his first stop.

Lewis Hamilton is seventh and is chasing Trulli for sixth and then Nico Rosberg in the Williams.

Lap 23: Kimi Raikkonen has a wild moment exiting the Ascari chicane. The Ferrari driver is tucked up behind the BMWs of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld, as a battle develops for 10th, 11th and 12th.

Lap 23: Hamliton is in the slipstream of Trulli and cuts around the outside of the Toyota. He can't fully take the first chicane so backs off to let Trulli by again, playing it carefully after the controversy last week.

Lap 23: Heikki Kovalainen, Mark Webber and Felipe Massa all pit together.

Lap 24: Hamilton is through on Trulli for sixth as he sends a clean inside move at the first chicane.

Lap 24: Sebastien Bourdais pits from 19th, as does Jenson Button from a poor 17th.

Meanwhile it's all happening at the front of the race.

Lap 25: The pit stops have shuffled the order to leave Vettel in the lead from a surging Lewis Hamilton, who demotes Rosberg to third.

Lap 25: Further down the field Kimi Raikkonen is now seriously challenging the BMW of Nick Heidfeld for what is now 10th place.

Lap 26: Vettel leads by 3.7 seconds from the cars that have yet to pit - Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock.

Heikki Kovalainen leads the rest of the cars that have stopped in sixth.

Lap 26: Raikkonen passes Heidfeld exiting the Roggia chicane and the Finn is now up to tenth place, 17.2 seconds behind the leader, but not having stopped yet.

Lap 26: The Toro Rosso team think Lewis Hamilton will pit in three laps. He is closing down rapidly on the leader and was over two seconds quicker on that lap.

Lap 26: It is beginning to rain once again at Monza.

Lap 26: Timo Glock has made his first stop, taking more extreme wet rubber.

Lap 27: Jarno Trulli and Kimi Raikkonen pit at the same time. Both also take extreme wet tyres with the teams gambling on further rain.

Lap 27: Hamilton is on the tail of Vettel for the lead but he pits the McLaren.

Lap 27: Kimi Raikkonen pits for the first time, almost exactly halfway through the race. A two-stopper is likely for the Finn. His pitstop was 5.9 seconds - a very short fill for the Ferrari and he rejoins the race.

Lap 27: Hamilton takes extreme wet tyres and is away. He really needs more rain to avoid needing to pit again.

Lap 28: Kimi Raikkonen has rejoined in 15th place, following his first pitstop. His next target ahead is the Toyota of Timo Glock, who is 14th after his first stop of the afternoon.

Lap 29: Nico Rosberg pits the Williams from third after a lengthy stint. He had a vast amount of fuel in that car for what was an impressive qualifying run.

After a close-run release of the fuel hose and subsequent delay, Rosberg resumes behind Raikkonen.

Lap 30: Raikkonen is in 15th and catching Timo Glock hand over fist - setting his personal best lap of the race in the progress.

The gap between the pair is now 1.4 seconds.

Lap 30: Sebastian Vettel leads by 12.6 seconds from Heikki Kovalainen.

Fernando Alonso is third and is yet to stop, as is Robert Kubica in fourth.

Lap 31: The track continues to dry and the cars on extreme wet tyres are hunting for wet track.

Lap 31: David Coulthard pits for intermediate tyres in the Red Bull. This information will be critical to Toro Rosso, who have Sebastian Vettel in the lead in the Red Bull B team car.

Coulthard exits the pits and runs straight on at the first chicane, suggesting that intermediate tyres is not the way to go.

Lap 31: Fernando Alonso punts for intermediate rubber on the Renault. If he keeps that on track, he could be in play for a strong result, providing it doesn't rain again.

Lap 31: The light rain seen on the far side of the circuit earlier has now eased off.

Lap 32: Kazuki Nakajima pits for the first time from 10th position. The Williams rejoins after a total pitlane time of 31 seconds.

Lap 32: It is head scratching time for the teams of strategists as they work out what to do for the final portion of this race.

Lap 33: Robert Kubica runs a strong third and is still to make a stop. With the track drying rapidly, he could pit for intermediate rubber and be well placed at the finish.

Lap 33: Fernando Alonso has dropped right down the field to 13th place following that recent pitstop when he changed to the intermediate tyres.

Lap 34: Odd spots of moisture are clearly falling over the circuit.

Lap 34: Felipe Massa pits the Ferrari to take intermediate tyres and fuel to the finish.

Lap 35: Timo Glock and Nico Rosberg both pit for the second time in the race. They were 12th and 13th at the time.

Rosberg takes on intermediate tyres and rejoins the race.

Lap 35: Intermediates are clearly the tyre of choice as Heikki Kovalainen pits his McLaren from second. Robert Kubica follows him in from third, as does Mark Webber.

Lewis Hamilton vaults all of them on the road but it will be a struggle for Lewis to hold on with his extreme wets to the end.

Lap 36: Nelson Piquet has yet to stop in the Renault and is running in sixth place. His pace is good compared with the runners on intermediates.

With further pitstops up front, Piquet now runs in an incredible third.

Lap 36: Felipe Massa has passed the Red Bull of Webber on the approach to Ascari in a critical move for the championship points.

Webber then spins at the exit but continues.

Lap 37: Sebastian Vettel pits from the lead, taking intermediate tyres.

He resumes in the lead and is incredibly all set up to win the Italian Grand Prix!

Lap 37: Kimi Raikkonen pits from fifth place. The Ferrari driver had climbed up the order as others pitted. It's a 6.3 second pitstop and the mechanics fit intermediate tyres.

Raikkonen rejoins and now runs down in 14th.

Lap 37: Lewis Hamilton pits for intermediate tyres.

He resumes just behind Mark Webber ... but sends a fantastic move around the outside of the Red Bull at the Roggia chicane.

Lap 38: As the conditions are dryng slowly, the Toyota drivers are sinking almost without trace down the field.

Glock runs 15th, with Trulli just behind him in 16th place.

Lap 38: Sebastian Vettel leads by 9.5 seconds from Heikki Kovalainen.

Robert Kubica and Fernando Alonso have made excellent use of long first stints to run third and fourth after a single stop for intermediates. Nick Heidfeld is fifth after a similar strategy.

Lap 39: Felipe Massa is sixth, just behind the battle between Alonso and Heidfeld.

Lewis Hamilton is seventh and closing rapidly on the battle over fourth.

Lap 39: Nelson Piquet pits from third place in the Renault for what he hopes is his only stop this afternoon - depending on the weather.

The Brazilian goes on to intermediate tyres and rejoins the fray.

Entering the first chicane he is desparate to protect his position from the advancing Jenson Button. The pair go head to head and Jenson Button has subsequently taken the place. Button is now 11th, with Piquet 12th.

Lap 40: Fernando Alonso is holding back Heidfeld and Massa and a wheel to wheel battle between Hamilton and Massa is imminent as Hamilton storms up the back of this group.

Lap 40: Some occasional spots of moisture continue to fall as the race continues. No further significant rain as yet.

Lap 40: Massa tries a move on Heidfeld but he couldn't stop the Ferrari and cut the chicane. The clarified etiquette plays its part once again and Massa backs off to let Heidfeld have the place again.

Lap 41: Kimi Raikkonen remains mired down the field in an unimpressive 14th place. He is behind Kazuki Nakajima in 13th and Jenson Button, 12th.

Lap 41: Lewis Hamilton continues to lap at speed and is the fastest man on track.

He is right on the tail of Massa after the Brazilian fumbles the Roggia chicane.

Lap 42: This is a sensational battle on the road between Hamilton and Massa, the championship contenders. They are disputing sixth.

Lap 42: Nico Rosberg is another who has sunk down the field since the opening stages of the race. The German lies in 17th place with only Adrian Sutil and Sebastien Bourdais behind him.

Lap 43: Sebastian Vettel has a 11.3 second lead in the Italian Grand Prix from Heikki Kovalainen and Robert Kubica.

With big gaps between the podium men, all the focus is on this amazing scrap for fourth between Alonso, Heidfeld, Massa and Hamilton.

Lap 44: Leader Vettel is told on the radio that the team expect only light drops of rain as he takes a 13 second lead into the last ten laps.

Lap 44: Kimi Raikkonen has now caught Kazuki Nakajima and the battle is shaping up for 13th position.

Raikkonen passes the Japanese driver on the main straight and is up a position. Nakajima now has to fend off the attentions of Timo Glock, but he loses that place as well.

Raikkonen 13th, Glock 14th, Nakajima 15th.

Lap 44: The fourth-place battle has gone off the boil slightly in the last couple of laps with Alonso, Heidfeld, Massa and Hamilton all running in close formation.

Lap 45: David Coulthard has taken a trip across the gravel trap but rejoins without damage to the Red Bull. He is now in 10th place with Jenson Button now climbing all over him.

Lap 45: Rubens Barrichello pits and takes on extreme wet tyres - a bizarre move given the lack of rain and the continual drying up of the circuit.

Lap 46: Times are improving across the board as the grip levels increase.

Kimi Raikkonen sets the fastest lap in 1:32.595.

Lap 47: Kimi Raikkonen is now tenth and on the move rapidly. The Finn sets the fastest lap of the race on two consecutive laps - his latest lap being a 1:32.595.

His next target is Nelson Piquet in ninth. The gap between them is 2.7 seconds.

Lap 47: Lewis Hamilton's charge has been halted by a number of slow laps, perhaps having used the best of his tyres.

Mark Webber is on the move, closing down Hamilton, and he briefly holds the fastest lap before Kimi Raikkonen takes it back.

Lap 47: Raikkonen takes two seconds out of Piquet on the next lap and is set to move further up the order.

Just behind that battle, Timo Glock is closing up on David Coulthard as the pair fight for 11th.

Lap 48: Mark Webber is on the tail of Lewis Hamilton in a battle over seventh.

Lap 48: Kimi Raikkonen gets in the slipstream of Piquet's Renault and he takes ninth under braking for the first chicane.

Lap 49: Hamilton robustly fends off Webber at turn one, who is forced down the escape road.

Lap 49: Raikkonen, having passed Piquet, is now back to setting the fastest lap of the race - a 1:30.130.

He is 15 seconds behind the Hamilton-Webber battle for seventh.

Lap 50: Meanwhile, up front, Sebastian Vettel has a comfortable lead of 14 seconds and remains on course for an incredible win.

Lap 50: Timo Glock passes David Coulthard for 11th place round the outside entering Parabolica.

Lap 51: Raikkonen goes faster again with a 1:29.639. He is now 11 seconds behind the battle for seventh.

Lap 51: Massa, Hamilton and Webber is still the best battle on the road in the top ten, although none of them are trying any moves at the moment.

Lap 52: Kazuki Nakajima dives to the outside of David Coulthard and tries to take 12th place entering the Parabolica.The pair make contact and Coulthard takes to the gravel. He rejoins but pits the Red Bull with front end damage.

Meanwhile Nakajima, running wide himself, doesn't make it as far as the gravel and appears to be running without a problem in 12th.

Lap 52: Felipe Massa clipped the debris in the Parabolica from the recent Couthard/Nakajima tangle. He holds a crucial margin over Lewis Hamilton into the final lap.

Lap 53: Sebastian Vettel is a sensational winner of the Italian Grand prix!

What a drive from the German to become the youngest winner ever.

This is a phenomenal story as he wins on his 22nd attempt.

13:27 Heikki Kovalainen crosses the line just over 12 seconds behind the amazing Sebastian Vettel to finish second on the day when the little team won.

13:27 Robert Kubica rounds out the podium for BMW with Fernando Alonso fourth and Heidfeld fifth.

13:28 Felipe Massa finishes sixth and takes another point out of Hamilton in the championship. Lewis is seventh with Mark Webber taking the final point in eighth place.

13:29 Kimi Raikkonen sets the fastest lap on his final tour - a 1:28.047 - but is out of the points in ninth.

13:29 Vettel tours back to the pits, punching the air and waving to the crowd.

13:31 An incredible race does little to the drivers' championship standings with Hamilton's fight through the field to take seventh limiting the damage as Massa came home sixth.

The gap is one point, pending appeal of the Spa result.

13:32 Nelson Piquet finishes tenth with Glock 11th, Nakajima 12th, Trulli 13th, Rosberg 14th, Button 15th - the last driver to finish on the lead lap, Coulthard 16th one lap down, Barrichello 17th, Bourdais 18th and Adrian Sutil the last classified finisher in 19th place.

Bourdais was 82 seconds behind Sutil on lap seven, and made up that gap, passed the Force India and pulled away to the tune of 19 seconds.

Giancarlo Fisichella was the only retirement of the race, spearing out of the race early following contact with David Coulthard.

13:32 Vettel is absolutely delighted as he gets out of the car in parc ferme. He is embraced by Robert Kubica, another man to take his first win this year.

13:34 The German national anthem rings out for winner Vettel.

13:37 Sebastian Vettel recieves the trophy for an outstanding victory in Monza this afternoon.

13:37 Former Monza winner Gerhard Berger takes the trophy for Toro Rosso - a proud moment.

This is an incredible result for the entire Red Bull operation with the Adrian Newey-led, Red Bull Technology-designed car winning in the hands of the former Minardi team.

13:38 Heikki Kovalainen receives the trophy for second place this afternoon. The Finn was quick, but on the same strategy he couldn't match the pace of the stunning Vettel.

13:39 Robert Kubica takes his prize for finishing third this afternoon, as the champagne sprays on the best podium of the season.

13:42 The winning Toro Rosso is wheeled into the FIA garage as the crowds reflect on an amazing race at Monza.

13:45 Here is the round-up on a remarkable Italian Grand Prix:

Vettel takes sensational maiden win

"It was a difficult race. We went to lap 22 and then when we came out we got stuck behind the one stoppers and of course, if we'd had another two or three seconds we would have got in front of that group and it would have been a completely different race. We could have finished certainly a lot higher.

"Then we knew it would be very difficult with Lewis and thankfully we made the right call on the intermediate tyre, to bring him in, knowing that Lewis would also have to stop before the end of the race, so we made the right call and got out in front of Lewis and that's basically got us the point on Lewis today."
Rob Smedley, Massa's race engineer, talking to German broadcaster Premiere

14:00 The race was a fantastic blend of strategies. While Vettel and Kovalainen stopped twice, taking intermediates on the second stop, Kubica, Alonso and Heidfeld all ran very long stints and were able to fit the intermediate tyre just as conditions were ideal for them.

While Alonso and Heidfeld carried their fuel load in Q3, Kubica was able to run to lap 35 after starting 11th with a tank of fuel. It was an excellent drive from the Pole, managing the heavy fuel load in the early stages, and he consolidates third in the drivers' standings.

"I took it easy at the beginning then started to close and hunt everyone down and pulled off some good moves when I needed to. I was coming through the field and I think I was up to second at some stage and if it had rained we would have won, but it didn't happen.

"Congratulations to Sebastian, obviously he done a great race and at least it was damage control, we came away with some points and we are still in the lead of the championship."
Lewis Hamilton talking to British broadcaster ITV

14:05 A historic day at Monza began with Bernd Maylander at the front of the field as a sensible decision was taken to start the race behind the safety car.

Once the pack were unleashed after a couple of laps, Sebastian Vettel dropped the hammer, led easily on the first racing lap and looked very comfortable, pulling away gradually from Heikki Kovalainen and the chasing pack.

His driving wasn't just good, it was that of a wet weather master who was in complete control. On a two stop strategy he pitted with Kovalainen and resumed, holding his lead. As the stops shook themselves out, Vettel's position looked better with each passing lap as the lead increased past the ten second mark.

Behind him, everything was happening. Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen both endured tough afternoons. Hamilton was racing through the field when the water level came down a bit, and was set to challenge Vettel for victory, but his one-stop race for the podium was finished when it didn't rain anymore and he had to pit again for intermediate tyres.

Meanwhile, Raikkonen had almost no pace in the wetter early stages of the race when he was bottled up in traffic. By the time the world champion had clear space, it was all too late. Felipe Massa also had a difficult race, finishing in sixth, but at least he can come away from Monza in the knowledge that his deficit to championship leader Hamilton is down to a single point.

But, up front, it was Sebastian Vettel's day. He had control of the race all the way and won by over 12 seconds. An unbelievable performance.

This was a very wet Italian Grand Prix weekend on autosport.com Live. Thank you for joining us throughout the weekend. The next stop on the Formula One trail is the first-ever night race in Singapore. Join us then.

  OVERVIEW ITALIAN GRAND PRIX  
Race Length: 53 laps
 View official live timing
  CURRENT WEATHER
Overcast High Temp: 17°C / 63°F
Track: Damp
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Monday 08 Sep Start GMT
 Weather Forecasts and Reports 15:00
Friday 12 Sep
 Friday Practice 07:30
Saturday 13 Sep
 Final Practice and Qualifying 08:30
Sunday 14 Sep
 Raceday at Monza 08:00
  ABOUT
Emlyn Hughes and Geoff Creighton are autosport.com's live commentary team. The dynamic duo have developed an inimitable style and a reputation for fast, accurate and insightful commentary. With unrivaled access to events unfolding at the circuit, they bring you the very latest, as it happens.

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