Toro Rosso's German driver Sebastien Vettel celebrates on the podium of the Monza racetrack on Sunday near Milan, after winning the Italian Formula One Grand Prix. [AFP]
German Sebastian Vettel on Sunday won the Italian Grand Prix in treacherous wet conditions to become the youngest race winner in Formula One history.
The 21-year-old led all the way from the lights to the checkered flag to give his Toro Rosso team the greatest day in their history.
"I don't know what to say but this is just unbelievable. I feel so happy for me, for my family and the team," Vettel said.
"When I stood on the podium and saw the crowd it was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life.
"We had a difficult start to the season and so who would have believed this - a pole and a win."
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was seventh in his McLaren, after starting from 15th, but his advantage was cut to just one point with four races left.
"At least it was damage control. We came away with some points and we're still in the lead in the championship," said Hamilton whose title rival Felipe Massa was sixth in a Ferrari.
"It's definitely a relief knowing that we came out of here with some points and we didn't lose too many to anyone else."
Vettel, who also made history on Saturday by becoming the youngest driver to win pole, drove superbly to finish almost 13 seconds ahead of Heikki Kovalainen, in a McLaren, with Poland's Robert Kubica finishing third for BMW Sauber.
Kovalainen was happy with his performance, and took the time to praise the German boy wonder.
"Sebastian and Toro Rosso were strong all weekend and I had problems early on with the extreme wet tyres and my brakes.
"I think this was the best we can do today - good points and (we must) just look ahead now. I'm disappointed not to win."
Two-time world champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso was fourth for Renault, German Nick Heidfeld fifth in the second BMW and Massa sixth for Ferrari, scoring his first ever points in an Italian Grand Prix.
Australian Mark Webber came home eighth for Red Bull after a wheel-bashing incident with Hamilton in a contest that threw up as much incident as the previous week's controversial Belgian Grand Prix.
The race was only the fifth truly wet contest held at Monza in more than 50 years of world championship events, and the first run in such difficult conditions since the heyday of former champion Frenchman Alain Prost in 1981.
The previous youngest race winner was Spaniard Alonso, who was 22 years and 26 days old when he won the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix for Renault. Vettel will not be 22 until July 3, next year. Vettel is 21 years and 73 days old.
Vettel romped into a strong lead after the safety car left the track, and soon established a comfortable margin in his Toro Rosso.
In the midfield, where Hamilton and Raikkonen started 15th and 14th, it took time before they could work their way forward and gain positions.
But Hamilton soon surged into a points-scoring eighth place, passing Kubica in his BMW Sauber.
Vettel, having established a lead of more than 11 seconds, came into the pits after 18 of the 53 laps and took on a fresh set of full-wet tyres.
Hamilton, clearly relishing the performance of his McLaren car, then ate into former team-mate Alonso's advantage and passed him for seventh place.
The Brit then pitted after 27 laps from second place, rejoining 10th, as several other drivers began to come in for fresh tyres and fuel.
By lap 32, Vettel was still out in front, 12.3 seconds clear of Kovalainen, with Kubica up to third, without a stop ahead of Mark Webber, and Massa was fifth.
Vettel and Hamilton soon pitted again as the rain held off and the Briton was left to work his way back up the field from 10th. Soon, he was up to seventh and clocking the fastest lap again.
But the history-making German stayed clear with a lead of 12.5 seconds ahead of Kovalainen as Kubica, Alonso and Nick Heidfeld finished ahead of Massa, fighting to defend his sixth place against Hamilton.
(AFP via China Daily September 16, 2008)