Sebastian Vettel now has an iron-like grip on his second Formula One world title following his eighth victory of an emphatic season.
Vettel took the chequered flag at the Italian Grand Prix by almost 10 seconds to McLaren’s Jenson Button, who was forced to settle for second at Monza for the third consecutive year.
With Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber crashing out, the 24-year-old has a 112-point cushion in the championship over his nearest challenger, now Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso after he claimed the final podium place half a second ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
It means in F1 history only two drivers have scored more wins in a season – Michael Schumacher, whose record of 13 may be challenged, and Nigel Mansell.
On a track where Red Bull were not supposed to be strong, this was a crushing victory, rendering the title race a battle between the also-rans.
Behind Alonso, Button and Webber are now 117 points adrift, whilst Hamilton is 126 off the pace, and there is now every chance Vettel could wrap up back-to-back crowns in Singapore in two weeks’ time.
For the main part, it was at least another captivating race, with the start one of the most enjoyable this season, primarily due to a first-corner accident that wiped out three cars.
To the roars of approval from the ‘tifosi’ in the packed grandstand along the main straight, and from fourth on the grid, Alonso made a perfect getaway.
Three abreast with Vettel and Hamilton on the long run down to the first chicane, the double world champion passed both on the inside to claim the lead.
Behind the leaders, though, chaos ensued, with the architect the unlikely figure of Hispania Racing’s Vitantonio Liuzzi.
The Italian, starting from the back of the grid, managed to put a wheel on the grass around 200 metres from the opening chicane.
Unable to control his momentum, Liuzzi ploughed into Renault’s Vitaly Petrov and the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in the middle of the pack snaking its way through the initial two turns.
The damage to all three cars forced them into immediate retirement, and with it the deployment of the safety car.
By the end of the first lap the field had been reduced to 19 cars as the second Hispania of Daniel Ricciardo and Virgin Racing’s Jerome D’Ambrosio exited with technical issues.