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Vettel avoids crashes to move close to retaining title

Sebastian Vettel can now potentially wrap up his second successive F1 world title in Japan early next month..
Sebastian Vettel can now potentially wrap up his second successive F1 world title in Japan early next month..
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sebastian Vettel claims a comfortable victory in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix
  • The German finished ahead of Jenson Button with Fernando Alonso third
  • Vettel is now 112 points ahead of Alonso in the standings with six races left

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel avoided the spills and thrills of an entertaining Italian Grand Prix at Monza on Sunday to secure a victory that moves him a significant step closer to retaining his Formula One world championship title.

The 24-year-old German came home ahead of 2009 world champion Jenson Button, with Fernando Alonso third in the Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton finished fourth in the second McLaren with Michael Schumacher, a five-time winner at Monza, again showing his liking for the circuit to bring his Mercedes home in fifth position.

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However, the day's big loser was Vettel's teamate Mark Webber, who collided with the Ferrari of Felipe Massa, forcing him to retire from the race.

The podium is unbelievable here -- when you stand up there you feel blessed, as it doesn't happen to many people
--Sebastian Vettel
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Webber had come into the race with an outside chance of catching Vettel, with a gap of 92 points between the Red Bull pair.

But his retirement, added to Vettel's win, means the defending world champion now has a massive advantage of 112 points over Alonso with just six races remaining.

The huge lead means Vettel can wrap up his second successive world title in the Japanese Grand Prix early next month.

Vettel's success was his eighth of the season, from his 10th pole position, and was his 18th career victory from just 75 races.

"This circuit means such a lot to me and is very special because I had my first win here," Vettel told the official F1 web site.

"The podium is absolutely unbelievable here -- when you stand up there you feel blessed, as it doesn't happen to many people. The car was amazing in qualifying -- and in the race it was even better."

Red Bull team chief Christian Horner added: "To win in Monza is a dream come true and it was a really dominant performance by Sebastian today.

"Unfortunately Mark's race came to a premature end after contact with Felipe Massa. It prevented him from being on the podium, but I'm sure he will bounce back in the next race in Singapore."