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Vettel wins Italian Grand Prix

September 14, 2008 19:22 IST
Last Updated: September 14, 2008 21:03 IST


Germany's [Images] Sebastian Vettel stunned Formula One as the sport's youngest race winner at the age of 21 on Sunday with victory for tiny Toro Rosso at their home Italian Grand Prix.

Vettel, also the youngest driver to start a grand prix from pole position, gave his Ferrari-powered team their first win with a remarkably assured drive through the spray and slippery conditions.

It was a stunning result for Formula One's smallest team, formerly tail-enders Minardi, who are co-owned at least until the end of next year by Red Bull energy drink billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz and Austrian Gerhard Berger.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton [Images], who started 15th after losing a gamble with the weather in qualifying, retained his championship lead by a single point after overtaking a string of rivals to finish seventh.

Ferrari's [Images] Brazilian Felipe Massa [Images], Hamilton's closest rival, failed to make the most of starting nine places ahead of the Briton and finished sixth in a wet race that began behind the safety car.

With four races remaining, Hamilton has 78 points to Massa's 77 and Robert Kubica's [Images] 64 for BMW-Sauber, pending an appeal into the result of the Belgian Grand Prix where the championship leader was demoted from first to third for cutting a chicane.

"It's amazing, I can't believe it. I'm lost for words," said Vettel over the radio after taking the chequered flag 12.5 seconds clear of McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen [Images].

"It is the best day of my life. These pictures and emotions I will never forget," he added later.

Kubica, himself only 23, took third place at the circuit where he took his first podium in 2006.

At 21 years and 74 days old, Vettel became Germany's first race winner since Ferrari's seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher [Images] retired in 2006.

Renault's double world champion Fernando Alonso [Images], who held the previous record for the youngest race winner after chalking up his first victory in Hungary in 2003 at 22 years and 26 days, finished fourth.

Germany's Nick Heidfeld [Images] was fifth for BMW-Sauber while Australian Mark Webber [Images] collected the final point in eighth place for Red Bull.

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