Let's try to keep it classy

Updated: 2011-09-15 07:51

By Matthew Marsh (China Daily)

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Sebastian Vettel was more emotional than usual after Sunday's Italian Grand Prix. That's saying something, because the 24-year-old seems never to tire of ecstatic rejoicing - even with eight wins in 13 races this year.

The Red Bull driver's 18th career victory came at the same Monza circuit where he scored his first in 2008 for the other team owned by the drinks company: Scuderia Toro Rosso. Vettel then was the youngest to win a Grand Prix, having the previous day been the youngest pole position winner - and the year before the youngest ever to start and score points (US GP) and lead a race (Japan).

Let's try to keep it classy

This year, Monza was considered - because of its long straights and few corners - to least suit Red Bull's car. Vettel's pole position showed the progress his team continues to make and the German now joins Ayrton Senna in being fastest in qualifying in 10 races in two different seasons.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso stole the lead at the start (from fourth), but when Vettel took it back a few laps later he did so at over 300 kilometers per hour, around the outside - and with two wheels on the grass having been edged off the track by the Spaniard. No cruise-and-collect for Vettel, then - despite being 112 points ahead with 125 on offer over the final five rounds. (And no penalty for Alonso for what was a naughty move.)

So we can forgive Vettel a few tears on F1's most atmospheric podium surrounded by thousands of cheering fans who traditionally flood onto the track for the festivities.

The habit of waving his index finger is, however, wearing a little thin - but we'll probably have to get used to it. His compatriot Michael Schumacher never dropped the habit of big jumps and air punches on the top step of the podium - nor of questionable tactics on track. We saw those again on Sunday in his robust defence against Lewis Hamilton who, like Vettel with Alonso, had two wheels on the grass at one point.

It wasn't like this 40 years ago. Often the winner would be greeted with news that a competitor, perhaps a friend, had perished in the race.

Sometimes the podium ceremony was overshadowed by a pall of smoke from the smouldering wreckage.

So drivers didn't push each other onto the grass, and the chequered flag was acknowledged with a gentle wave.

When Peter Gethin crossed the line at Monza in 1971 - just 0.010 seconds ahead of Ronnie Peterson - it was the closest finish in history (until 1986).

Gethin did throw his arm into the air - but only as a ploy to convince the timekeepers of his victory.

After a successful career on the track, Matthew Marsh now works at JMI - the world's leading motor sport marketing company. He can be reached at mmarsh@justmarketing.com.