Ruth­less Hamil­ton takes Monza Grand prix

Mercedes driver now leads Fer­rari’s Vet­tel af­ter dom­i­nant display in Italy

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Sports -

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.

Schu­macher’s record

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.

En­tirely com­fort­able

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

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