The Scotsman

Hamilton’s stunning win a major step towards title

● British driver stuns Vettel and Tifosi with masterclas­s in Ferrari heartland

- By PHILIP DUNCAN At Monza 53 LAPS 1 Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton celebrated one of the finest victories of his career after he went behind enemy lines to stun Ferrari and take a major step towards securing a fifth world championsh­ip.

The fanatical Tifosi supporters arrived in Monza for the Italian Grand Prix expecting to see Sebastian Vettel convert a Ferrari lockout of the front row into a crushing win.

Instead, they saw their number one championsh­ip contender fall out of the reckoning after just four corners following a clumsy openinglap collision with his rival.

Then they witnessed Hamilton deliver a sensationa­l performanc­e which climaxed in the Brit passing Kimi Raikkonen for his 68th career win. Vettel recovered from last to fourth.

Ferrari had been quicker than Mercedes all weekend yet it is Hamilton who departs the Italian team’s homeland having extended his championsh­ip lead over Vettel from 17 to 30 points with seven races to run.

“Given the pressure that we are under, I will definitely consider this win to be right up there in my career,” Hamilton, who was subjected to loud boos on the podium, said. “There are a lot of Ferrari fans out there and you hear a lot of negative sounds, but that only energises me.

“When I spot the British flags amongst the Ferrari red, that is my fuel. They are the miracle today.”

Vettel was at his best seven days ago to win in Belgium but his defeat here is a major setback in his championsh­ip quest. On a frantic opening lap, he covered the inside at the second chicane, but Hamilton moved to the racing line and was ahead going into the corner. Vettel did not want to concede the place, and in doing so, thudded into Hamilton’s Mercedes before spiralling into a spin.

Vettel, who limped back to the pits for repairs, blamed Hamilton for failing to leave him enough room as they tangled. “Silly”, was the German’s verdict.

The stewards took no action, but Nico Rosberg, the 2016 world champion, had made up his mind.

“I think it was 100 per cent Sebastian’s fault,” Rosberg said on Sky Sports commentary.

“Hamilton gave him all the room. He’s not going to become world champion if he keeps doing these things.”

Indeed, it marked Vettel’s fifth big error of the season, while Hamilton has largely failed to put a foot wrong. It is proving the difference.

With Vettel out of contention, Hamilton could have been forgiven for settling for

0 Britain’s Lewis Hamilton sprays champagne from the podium after his victory at Monza.

second, but that is not in the Briton’s psyche.

On lap four, he briefly took the lead after sailing past Raikkonen on the main straight only for the 38-yearold Finn to bite back two corners later.

The gap between Raikkonen and Hamilton remained, in and around one second, before the Ferrari driver pulled in for new tyres on lap 20. Hamilton went on for a further eight laps before stopping for new rubber.

He emerged six seconds down on the Ferrari car, and that looked to be that. But a combinatio­n of his blistering pace, and Valtteri Bottas in the sister Mercedes, who, having yet to stop was backing Raikkonen into Hamilton’s path, saw that lead evaporate. Then, with only eight laps remaining, Hamilton made his move. At 220mph, he drew alongside Raikkonen on the

main straight before diving to the left and masterfull­y making his pass stick round the outside of the Ferrari car at the opening chicane.

Bottas completed the podium positions. Romain Grosjean













was disqualifi­ed after finishing sixth after the floor of his Haas car was declared illegal by the FIA technical delegate. Max Verstappen was demoted to fifth after pushing Bottas off the track.

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