NASCAR & Auto Racing

Vettel makes history with Italian GP win | Slideshow, stats

MONZA, Italy - Sebastian Vettel became the youngest driver to win a Formula One race Sunday, finishing first in a wet Italian Grand Prix he started from the pole.

The 21-year-old German driver had second-place Heikki Kovalainen of McLaren covered by 12.5 seconds on the slick Monza circuit to give Torro Rosso its first win.

"For sure the best day of my life," Vettel said. "These pictures, these emotions - I will never forget."

BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica was third ahead of Fernando Alonso of Renault, while Nick Heidfeld of BMW-Sauber was fifth.

Felipe Massa finished sixth and is one point back in the overall standings behind Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, who worked his way up from 15th on the grid to finish seventh. Their are four races left in the season.

Lewis Hamilton worked his way up from 15th on the grid to finish seventh, maintaining his lead in the overall drivers' standings. Felipe Massa of Ferrari was sixth and now trails the McLaren driver by one point with four races left.

Neither Vettel nor his Toro Rosso team could contain their emotions as the young driver emerged onto the podium with fists pumping, before the champagne sprayed in all directions.

"Who would have thought about that at the beginning of the season?" Vettel said of Toro Rosso's chances. "We can be proud of ourselves, celebrating a victory. What a weekend."

Vettel never lost his nerve during the wettest race at Monza in 27 years as he broke Alonso's mark of F1's youngest winner. Alonso, a two-time world champion, was 22 when he won the 2003 Hungarian GP.

The safety car was brought out for the start with the steady drizzle failing to let up and all cars using extreme wet tires to navigate the damp track.

Vettel, who also was the youngest driver to start from the pole, held his position over Kovalainen on the flying start thanks to a clear track and none of the poor visibility that the rest of the field had to deal with from the tire spray.

"Being first (and) having no visibility problems at all I think was the key," said Vettel, who will replace David Coulthard at sister team Red Bull next season. "I could make a gap to Heikki straight away."

Kovalainen said a brake problem and his tires compromised his chance at challenging Vettel early on.

"It was not possible to win today," the Finnish driver said. "I was just trying to push and go faster. I think it was the maximum we could do today."

Vettel's teammate Sebastien Bourdais fell a lap behind at the start after his car stalled from fourth on the grid.

Hamilton eventually got past defending F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari and continued to overtake his rivals, moving up to eighth by the 17th lap.

Massa, who had started sixth, won a gripping overtaking duel with Nico Rosberg to move up into fourth before dropping back again.

Hamilton pitted later than many of his rivals and was trailing only Vettel by the time he stopped to refuel, while Raikkonen - who trails Hamilton by 21 points - was stuck behind the traffic in 10th by his first stop as the drizzle began to let up.

"It got more tricky in the middle of the race when there was no standing water anymore," Vettel said. "People went left and right looking for water to cool down the tires. It was very slippery."

Hamilton pushed Mark Webber out down the straight in the closing stages with the cars touching wheels to force the Red Bull driver off the track. Webber finished eighth for the final point.

Only Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella retired despite the slippery conditions.

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