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F1 heads to Monza for the Italian GP

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Formula One concludes its European tour this season with Sunday's Italian Grand Prix in Monza. The remaining races on the 2012 F1 calendar include: Singapore, Japan, Korea, India, Abu Dhabi and the United States before Brazil wraps it up.

The Italian GP is also the home race for Ferrari. The team's headquarters are located in Maranello, Italy, which is roughly 125 miles southeast of Monza.

Fernando Alonso from Ferrari enters the 13th of 20 rounds this season with a 24-point lead over two-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull. Alonso lost 16 points of his lead after being caught up in a horrifying wreck during the opening lap in last Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.

The incident occurred immediately after the start when Romain Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton made tire contact. Hamilton hit the rear of Grosjean, who then sailed over Alonso. Sergio Perez was also involved the crash.

Luckily, there were no injuries, but Alonso was a bit shaken up when he climbed out of his heavily damaged car.

After the Belgian GP concluded, race stewards determined Grosjean was responsible for causing the accident since he attempted to jump ahead of Hamilton at the start. Grosjean was handed a one-race ban and fined $62,503 (50,000 Euros).

"Given the misfortune of having had an accident like this, I am lucky to be able to get back in the car in just a few days," Alonso said. "The level of safety of these cars is very high, and (last Sunday) we saw further proof of that. I am not angry with Grosjean. He definitely didn't do it on purpose. It was a case of me being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Lotus has scheduled its reserve and test driver, Jerome d'Ambrosio, to replace Grosjean in the Italian GP.

"I understand the circumstances in which the drive has come about, but for me it's a great opportunity and great challenge," D'Ambrosio said. "I first want to thank the team for having faith in me and allowing me to step in the car for this race at Monza. I will do everything I can to do the best possible job."

Since 1950, a Ferrari driver has won the Italian GP 18 times. Alonso most recently did it in his first year with the team in 2010.

"It is indeed a special race for us," Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said. "There is a special feeling for our home race, but the reality is that the number of points on offer are the same as at the other 19 rounds, all around the world. To sum it up, I would like to think we can leave Monza having scored very special points at what is a very special race for us."

Vettel won last year's Italian GP. He started on the pole but gave up the lead to Alonso on the first lap. Shortly after, Vettel came storming back and overtook Alonso for the position.

It was the second time that Vettel had won at Monza. In 2008, he became F1's youngest race winner and pole sitter at age 21. Vettel drove for Toro Rosso in '08 before moving over to Red Bull the following year.

"Monza is the home of motorsports and being there gives me goose bumps," he said. "It has the best podium in the world and a win there is an unforgettable experience. If you stand up there like I did for the first time in 2008, and again last year, you are overwhelmed by the fans. It's just amazing."

Vettel has not won a race since the April 22 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, September 9. Race: Italian Grand Prix. Site: Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Track: 3.6-mile (5.793-kilometer), 11-turn road course. Start Time: 8 a.m. (et). Laps: 53. Miles: 190.58 (306.720 km). 2011 Winner: Sebastian Vettel. Television: Speed.

09/05 23:09:27 ET

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