Lewis Hamilton led from start to finish in Monza as he raced to a comfortable victory in the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday (3 September) and elevated himself above third-placed Sebastian Vettel in the driver’s standings for the first time this season.
Hamilton became the first driver to win successive races this season as he took full advantage of the 69th pole position of his career to head up a Mercedes one-two with teammate Valtteri Bottas, who did well to protect his cohort from the threat of Vettel and fourth-placed Daniel Ricciardo, who managed to surge through the crowd after starting way back in the grid.
Hamilton, who made light work of Lance Stroll after the Williams driver finished second in the grid during qualifying, now holds a three-point lead over Vettel, and his comprehensive victory combined with his elevation to the summit of the driver’s standings could prove to be a real pyschological advantage ahead of the next race in Singapore, where Ferrari are expected to reign supreme.
“You know what – I love it here in Italy,” Hamilton was quoted as saying by BBC Sport. “I love the passion of the fans especially the Ferrari fans. The energy – you never get to see it apart from Silverstone so I love it. I am happy. The team did an amazing job.
“Vallteri did a great job. Mercedes power is better than Ferrari power so that’s one thing.
“Today was all about the team pulling together and maximising the car. It was fantastic. I look forward to coming back here next year and for the rest of this season. ”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is all too aware of the importance of Hamilton edging his nose in front of Vettel, and did not seem overly optimistic about his team’s chances in a fortnight’s time: “Every bit of momentum is important. We are expecting it to be really difficult in Singapore. We will do the best we can but I will go into it sort of glass half empty.”
The Briton’s race may have been largely uneventful, but there were still a number of flashpoints in Monza. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen suffered severe damage to his car after colliding with Felipe Massa through the first chicane, and the German teenager was less than impressed by the Brazilian’s actions: “What the **** was he doing?”
Verstappen had to restart from dead last but eventually recovered well, pinching 10th place ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, who was forced on to the grass by the 19-year-old as he overtook him at the second chicane.
Bottas, Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen all managed to claw their way up the grid after failing to fully acclimatise to the treacherous conditions during qualifying. The esteemed trio did not have to work too hard to overtake Esteban Ocon and Stroll, who finished sixth and seventh respectively.
Despite going behind Hamilton in the driver’s standings with just a third of the season remaining, Vettel did not seem too concerned and even managed to enjoy himself in Monza, though he was left to rue his rocky start.
“It was entertaining – it was quite good fun!” Vettel said. “My start was not so good – I had quite a lot of wheel spin and we didn’t quite have the pace of the leading two cars but seeing the people and having that support was amazing.
“We have a very strong car and will have a very strong end of the season.”