Ruthless Hamilton takes Monza Grand prix
Mercedes driver now leads Ferrari’s Vettel after dominant display in Italy
Lewis Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix with a controlled race during which his position at the front was never under threat. He led his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in a one-two for the team, their third of the season. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel could manage only third place enabling Hamilton to take the lead of the Formula One World Championship for the first time this season, with seven races still to come. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo put in a superb, aggressive recovery drive to move from 16th on the grid to fourth.
It is the three-time world champion’s sixth win of the season and his 59th career victory. He now leads Vettel by three points, with 238 to 235. Hamilton had tied for the lead with Vettel at the second round in China but the German has been at the top of the table since then.
After victory at the last round in Spa, Hamilton is the first driver to score back-to-back wins this season and it is the fourth time he has triumphed at Monza, a circuit he counts as one of his favourites.
Hamilton had taken Michael Schumacher’s record of pole positions with his 69th on Saturday, a magnificent run at the death in treacherous wet conditions, and he backed it up by ensuring he took maximum points with an almost perfect run from pole to flag. His car was expected to be suited to the low downforce, high-speed flow of the Autodromo Nazionale and he made the most of it.
Ferrari could not hook their car up for qualifying and Vettel had started from sixth on the grid and although he fought back well to third, the gap to Hamilton was too much to bridge and the Ferrari simple could not match the Mercedes for pace. Vettel admitted he had a mechanical problem for the last 15-20 laps after going off the track.
Hamilton made a clean start and held the lead into turn one, while behind him Esteban Ocon had made the pass on Lance Stroll to take second. Kimi Raikkonen, starting from fifth, made a determined effort to pass Bottas on the opening lap but could not make it stick and the Mercedes driver pulled away and passed Stroll for third on lap three.
A lap later his pace was on show again and he easily passed Ocon at the same place to take second.
Vettel moved passed Raikkonen on lap four, the Finn appearing to give way to his team-mate and quickly passed Stroll for fourth but out front enjoying the clean air and the and low-downforce trim on his Mercedes, Hamilton had 3.3-second gap to his team-mate by lap six.
Vettel remained on a charge however and passed Ocon on the start-finish straight for third place on lap eight – putting him nine seconds back from Hamilton and six from Bottas.
It was a crucial for Vettel to pass the midfield drivers and having done so the major question was whether he would be able to make a dent in the Mercedes lead.
By lap 24 Hamilton had over 20 seconds on Vettel and looked entirely comfortable and was taking almost half a second a lap from the German.
Ricciardo had made up seven places by lap seven up to ninth from 16th and on lap 17 he pulled a superb move on Sergio Perez to take fifth and set off after Felipe Massa.
Vettel was the first of the leaders to pit on lap 32 and Hamilton followed him a lap later, both taking the soft rubber required in the one-stop race.
Ricciardo did his absolute best to catch Vettel but just ran out of time, he was within four seconds on the final lap but the German had done enough.
As had Hamilton who delivered another victory with serene confidence and leaves Monza on top of his game and the title fight.
Lewis Hamilton: 20 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel by lap 24