Lewis Hamilton Snatches Italian GP Win In Ferrari Territory

Lewis Hamilton clinched a dramatic win at the Italian GP and extended his lead in the drivers’ championship over Sebastian Vettel to 30 points. Hamilton recorded his 68th career win and with his fifth win at Monza joined Michael Schumacher on top of the Italian GP leaderboard for most wins. Kimi Raikkonen finished second after a pulsating duel with Hamilton from the opening lap. Valtteri Bottas completed the podium places, as Mercedes delivered a decisive blow to rival Ferrari in front of a sea of disappointed Tifosi.

Sebastian Vettel finished fourth as Max Verstappen dropped to fifth after a 5-second time penalty was imposed. Romain Grosjean finished sixth for his best ever finish at Monza. Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finished seventh and eighth to script another strong finish for the Racing Points Force India outfit. Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll rounded off the top 10 positions.

Post Race Update: Romain Grosjean has been disqualified following a protest from Renault about the legality of the Haas car’s floor. Sergey Sirotkin has been promoted to tenth for his first points in F1. Haas F1 will protest the decision.

Lewis Hamilton Snatches Italian GP Win In Ferrari Territory

The race started under slightly overcast skies with air temperature at 22 degrees C and track temperatures at 32 degrees C at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza circuit. Kimi Raikkonen started from pole position after a historic fastest lap ever in F1 during qualification. Taemmate Vettel joined him on the first row.

Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were on the second row. Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean lined up on the third row. Carlos Sainz, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll lined up at the front of the grid.

Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg started on the last row after PU penalties. All the drivers in the top 10 started on the red-striped supersoft tyres.

Dramatic Start With Clash Between Hamilton and Vettel

Raikkonen made a good start with Vettel and Hamilton behind him through the first chicane. Hamilton picked up Vettel’s slipstream and pulled up alongside him through the second chicane. Vettel drifted towards Hamilton and the two cars collided. Vettel was spun around even as Hamilton streamed ahead behind Raikkonen.

Brendon Hartley was out of the race after being sandwiched between Marcus Ericsson and Stoffel Vandoorne which brought out the Safety Car (SC). The first lap clash between the two title rivals cost Vettel as he had to pit for a new front wing and a new set of soft tyres under the SC. Ricciardo and Hulkenberg also pitted for new tyres.

On lap 3, the SC period ended and Hamilton overtook Raikkonen on the next lap. Raikkonen immediately returned the favour to Hamilton and retook the lead again. The order at the end of this lap was Raikkonen, Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Grosjean, Sainz, Ocon, Stroll, Sirotkin, Alonso, and Gasly.

Vettel and Ricciardo Move Up

Vettel rejoined P16 with a new set of soft tyres and set about making his way to the front after the SC period ended. Ricciardo was in front of him and both drivers moved up through the field. By lap 9, Vettel overtook Ricciardo for P14. By lap 20, Vettel had overtaken Sainz for P7. Fernando Alonso retired on lap 10 to add to the miseries of the struggling McLaren team.

Hamilton was within DRS range of Raikkonen lap after lap, but could not overtake. At the end of lap 20, the order was Raikkonen, Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Grosjean, Ocon, Vettel, Sainz, Perez, and Stroll in the points. On lap 25, Ricciardo’s race ended with a clutch issue and the Australian had yet another disappointing race.

First Pitstops

Raikkonen was the first of the frontrunners to pit. The race leader pitted on lap 21 for the soft tyres and rejoined P4 behind Bottas. On lap 27, Verstappen pitted and fitted on the soft tyres and rejoined P6 behind Ocon and Vettel.

Mercedes then played the team game to help Hamilton gain an advantage over Raikkonen. They kept Bottas out in front even as they pitted Hamilton from the race lead on lap 29. Hamilton rejoined P3 over 5-seconds behind Raikkonen.

But Bottas defended brilliantly and stayed ahead of Raikkonen in the race lead. The two Finns battled each other and Hamilton was closing in behind both of them with blistering pace on his new tyres. On lap 33, the Bottas, Raikkonen and Hamilton train were all within DRS range of each other.

On lap 30, Vettel was forced to pit again for supersoft tyres as both Ferrari cars seemed to be hard on the soft tyres. Finally, Bottas pitted on lap 36 and rejoined P4 behind Verstappen. Bottas had done his job to perfection as he had brought Hamilton within DRS range of Raikkonen.

After the first set of pitstops, the order was Raikkonen, Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Grosjean, Ocon, Perez, Sainz, Stroll, and Vettel. Vettel, of course, had made his second pitstop after he had pitted on lap 1 after the clash with Hamilton.

Bottas and Verstappen Duel

Raikkonen has pushed hard to overtake Bottas and had damaged his rear tyres and blisters were visible. Hamilton was now within DRS range of Raikkonen with fresher tyres and was in the perfect position to overtake and take the race win. As both Ferrari and Mercedes cars seemed to have the same pace, both drivers were lapping at a fast pace within DRS range of each other.

Behind them, Verstappen and Bottas were also battling with each other in close proximity. On lap 43, Verstappen and Bottas made contact and the Finn had to take to the escape road. Verstappen was given a 5-second penalty for the incident.

Vettel had in the meantime battled his way to P5 behind the pair after his second pitstop. Bottas got himself within DRS range of Verstappen and the battle raged on track once again. Verstappen was told to let Bottas by as he was losing time and Vettel was closing within five seconds of him. With the time penalty added at the end of the race, it would drop Verstappen behind Vettel. But the Dutchman stubbornly defended against Bottas.

Hamilton Overtakes Raikkonen For Race Win

In front the Raikkonen and Hamilton battle was intense. The Finn defended gamely lap after lap. But Raikkonen with older and worn tyres was always going to be at a disadvantage. On lap 45, Hamilton finally got past him at the first chicane.

The Briton after he started third on the grid with a combative drive had taken the race lead. Raikkonen was forced to protect his damaged tyres over the next eight laps and make it to the end of the race. Hamilton had snatched a dramatic victory in front of a sea of disappointed Ferrari fans.

Bottas had played the perfect team game and finished third to complete the podium places. Vettel finished fourth as Verstappen dropped to fifth after the 5-second penalty was applied. Romain Grosjean finished sixth for his best ever result at the Italian GP.

The new Racing Points Force India team continued their surge with a double-points finish, as Ocon and Perez finished seventh and eighth respectively. Carlos Sainz was the lone point scorer for Renault with ninth position. Haas F1 has moved past Renault to fourth position in the constructors’ championship with equal points. Lance Stroll finished tenth to give the struggling Williams outfit its second points finish of the season.

Post Race Update: Romain Grosjean has been disqualified following a protest from Renault about the legality of the Haas car’s floor. Sergey Sirotkin has been promoted to tenth for his first points in F1. Haas F1 will protest the decision. Haas has been docked the eight points the Frenchman scored for sixth position and will drop behind Renault to fifth place in the constructors’ championship.

Pulsating Italian GP Brings The European-leg To A Close

Ferrari had the faster car and the edge over Mercedes this weekend. Raikkonen and Vettel locked out the front row in qualification. The expectant Tifosi were looking forward to the first win for the Italian team at their home race since 2010. But Mercedes outsmarted them for a 1-3 finish to extend their lead over Ferrari in the constructors’ championship to 25-points.

Hamilton delivered a crucial blow in his title fight against Vettel in the drivers’ championship by winning Ferrari’s home race. The championship leader extended his lead to 30-points over Vettel. With just seven races remaining, both title races are poised on a knife’s edge.

The Formula 1 circus heads to Singapore next for the start of the Asian-leg of the season after a pulsating Italian GP. The Singapore GP (Sept 14-16 2018) will see this most exciting battle resume in two weeks time.

Italian GP Race Results:

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 53 1:16:54.484 25
2 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 53 +8.705s 18
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 53 +14.066s 15
4 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 53 +16.151s 12
5 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 53 +18.208s 10
NC 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 53 +56.320s 0
6 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 53 +57.761s 8
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 53 +58.678s 6
8 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 53 +78.140s 4
9 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 52 +1 lap 2
10 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 52 +1 lap 1
11 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 52 +1 lap 0
12 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 52 +1 lap 0
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 52 +1 lap 0
14 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 52 +1 lap 0
15 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 52 +1 lap 0
16 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 52 +1 lap 0
NC 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 23 DNF 0
NC 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 9 DNF 0
NC 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 0 DNF 0

Note – Verstappen received a 5-second time penalty for causing a collision with Bottas. Grosjean disqualified for a technical rule infringement with the floor on his car.

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