Lewis Hamilton admitted that his calamitous decision to try to overtake Felipe Massa on the first lap at Monza may well end up costing him the world title.
"It's not over," Hamilton said. "But it is mistakes like I made today that lose world championships. I made a good start, gained a position, got up to fourth, and, at that moment, perhaps I should have just stayed there for a while."
But you can't stop a racer. "I put my car up the inside of Felipe [Massa] into Turn Four, trying to get third, and that was probably a little bit too much. I was trying to position the car in a certain way but I was too close to him, and his left rear clipped my right front. The car was damaged after that, and there was nothing I could do; you try your best, but some things just don't go your way.
"Today was a shame, and I want to say sorry to the team. But the championship certainly isn't over. The good thing is that Jenson [Button] scored a nice lot of points for us."
Massa said of the incident: "I made a very good start, then saw Jenson and Fernando [Alonso] brake very late for the first corner. I locked my wheels as well, saw Fernando going wide and went to the outside on the exit to the corner and got alongside him. But he had a little bit better traction so he was able go out slightly in front of me.
"Then as we came to the second chicane I saw Fernando go in on the inside line and I was slightly on the outside. As I turned in I felt something on my back and it was Lewis. That's all. I just felt something on my back."
Fourth place was a decent result for Sebastian Vettel on a circuit that did not suit the Red Bull, and after an engine problem gave him some grief. "Around lap 20 something happened to the car," he revealed. "I don't know what it was, maybe some friction, but the problem eventually solved itself. In the meantime, though, I lost the connection to the group ahead, and the tow, so it was a tough fight. The cars ahead pitted, so I stayed out as we tried to overshoot them. Our strategy was a risk today. If it works then you're the king and if it doesn't you can be the idiot. Fortunately it worked and the team did a great job."
Where Mark Webber leads on 187 points to Hamilton's 182 in the championship title race, Vettel is back in play with 163, behind Alonso on 166 and Button on 165.
Despite regaining his lead Webber did not draw much satisfaction from a race that started badly when his Red Bull bogged down again, and ended with sixth place.
"We underperformed as a team today," he said. "We could have capitalised and got more points, but we sniffed around just getting a few. It's a bit disappointing, but at least we got some. You've still got to make the most of opportunities, so it wasn't the best day."
He was also unimpressed with the tactics of rookie Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg, who missed chicanes and eventually went off the track on the 49th lap before immediately blocking him sharply. Webber squeezed ahead of him next time around.
"Obviously I lost a lot of time behind Hulkenberg," he said. "He spent every second lap going through the chicanes. The stewards did a hard job on him... they left him alone, so that was interesting."