NASCAR & Auto Racing

Alonso wins Italian GP, closes on McLaren teammate Hamilton for driver's championship

MONZA, Italy – Fernando Alonso won the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday, beating Lewis Hamilton and closing to within three points of his McLaren teammate at the top of the drivers’ standings.

With four races left, Hamilton leads the standings with 92 points, while Alonso has 89. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who finished third Sunday, is third with 74 points.

Alonso, the two-time defending Formula One champion, won for the fourth time this season. He beat Hamilton by more than six seconds on the 3.6-mile Autodromo Nazionale di Monza course, completing 53 laps in 1 hour, 18 minutes, 37.806 seconds.

BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld was fourth, followed by teammate Robert Kubica in fifth. Nico Rosberg of Williams was sixth.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa had problems with his car and was forced to retire on lap 10. That allowed McLaren to extend its lead over Ferrari in the constructors’ championship to 23 points – McLaren has 166 to Ferrari’s 143.

Despite a poor start off the grid for both McLarens, Alonso never looked threatened. Hamilton, however, was involved in early tussles for position with both Ferraris.

Massa challenged Hamilton for second place on the first lap, but the British rookie held off the Brazilian by cutting the corner on turn No. 2.

Raikkonen, who passed Kubica and then Heidfeld on the opening lap, moved ahead of Hamilton on the 40th lap when the McLaren driver pitted. But Hamilton passed back three laps later, running up the inside of Raikkonen at the end of the home straight.

David Coulthard slammed into a tire wall following a brush with Giancarlo Fisichella on the second lap, and the safety car was called out. Racing resumed five laps later.