Rampant Hamilton leads Bottas to a Mercedes one-two victory at Monza
Lewis Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix to move top of the world championship standings for the first time this season.
The British driver had an uneventful afternoon, starting from pole and holding the lead throughout. Most of the time he had his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who came home second, acting as his rear-gunner to hold off any possible threat from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The truth is that the Ferraris were no match for the Mercedes. So Hamilton now holds a three-point lead over Vettel, who finished third, going into the next race, in Singapore, in a fortnight’s time. It is the first time Hamilton has led the drivers’ table since after last year’s Italian Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s victory, his sixth of the season, was richly deserved, primarily for his blistering pole lap on Saturday, when he was 1.1sec quicker than the rest of the field in the wet. That ranks among one of his most extraordinary performances, and justly lifted him ahead of Michael Schumacher as the driver with the greatest number of poles ever – 69.
Hamilton’s mastery in the rain made it easy in the sun on Sunday at a Monza track that rocked with its typical exuberance. The stands were full of Tifosi in red t-shirts and banners expressing undying love for the scarlet tradition of Ferrari in their 70th year of existence.
But they had next to no chance of getting to see what they craved, because the Ferraris were strangely slow in qualifying and started fifth and sixth behind not only the two Mercedes but also the Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and, even more surprisingly, the Williams of 18-year-old Canadian Lance Stroll. Ocon finished sixth and Stroll seventh.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo drove a superb race to finish fourth, carving his way up the field. But for grid penalties incurred for an engine change, the Red Bulls would have started second and third. Instead Max Verstappen began from 13th place and Ricciardo 16th.