MONZA (AFP) - Sebastian Vettel extended his lead in the drivers' world championship to more than 50 points when he drove to a polished victory for Red Bull in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.
The 26-year-old German, series leader and defending triple world champion, survived a torrid start and gearbox problems as he dominated an intriguing 53-laps race, the last of the European part of the Formula One season Vettel came home 5.4 seconds clear of Fernando Alonso, as the Ferrari driver thrilled the tifosi with a battling chase in pursuit ahead of third-placed Australian Mark Webber in the second Red Bull and Brazilian Felipe Massa, fourth in the second Ferrari.
On a warm, if overcast, afternoon, Vettel proved both his sublime talent and his fighting spirit - as both Red Bull men were told to nurse their cars home - to reel off his sixth win of the season and the 32nd of his career. It was his third win at Monza and helped Red Bull end a run of poor results at the circuit.
His brilliance, however, was matched by that of Briton Lewis Hamilton, who started 12th, lost the use of his team radio and suffered a slow puncture, as he fought back twice to finish ninth.
German Nico Hulkenberg, who had qualified with a stunning third in his Ferrari-powered Sauber, came home an excellent fifth to endorse his claims as a possible successor to Massa next season.
Compatriot Nico Rosberg finished sixth in the leading Mercedes ahead of Red Bull-bound Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Toro Rosso and Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus.
Hamilton did his utmost to pass Grosjean on the final lap, but in the end had to settle for ninth ahead of Briton Jenson Button of McLaren, who were this weekend celebrating their 50th anniversary as an F1 team.
In the title race, with seven races outside Europe remaining, Vettel leads with 222 points ahead of Alonso on 169 and Hamilton on 141.