Italian Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton has taken a third Monza win but was left to sweat after the race due to an investigation into his Mercedes’ tyre pressures. No further action was taken though, meaning Hamilton kept his win ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Williams’ Felipe Massa.
Hamilton started as he meant to go on from pole position, for the Italian Grand Prix, leading every lap and producing a flawless race. The same cannot be said for Kimi Raikkonen, who represented one of the strongest chances for a Ferrari victory since 2010. Raikkonen appeared half asleep off the start, looking to have hit anti stall and consequently having a delayed start and lost considerable ground to everybody by the first turn.
Raikkonen’s start blunder allowed Williams Martini racing veteran Felipe Massa to capitalise and move up to third position closely followed by Bottas, Perez and Rosberg. Vettel, running in P2, confessed over team radio to struggling with rear tyre degradation, as Hamilton was still pumping in fastest laps. The gap at the time was almost ten seconds as Vettel failed to live with the Merc’s pace.
At the same time Rosberg, who was stuck behind the Williams pairing of Bottas and Massa after passing Perez, was ordered to ‘box box’ so he could undercut both drivers. He took advantage of clear track, setting a purple sector two time on his out lap. Felipe Massa dove straight into the pits for a fresh set of medium Pirellis the next lap but, by then it was too late and Mercedes had played a masterstroke in getting Rosberg ahead of their customer team.
It was on lap 21 when Hamilton began to suffer from tyre degradation, complaining his W06 was understeering. However, the double world champion stuck it out on track for a further five laps, reacting to Vettel pitting on lap 25. Hamilton would continue to lead to the end but it wasn’t without drama. In the last few laps, he was told by the team to select ‘strat three’ and push. This time it wasn’t because Vettel was closing, it was to build up a substantial gap should there be a penalty applied at the end of the race as the FIA announced both Rosberg and Hamilton were under investigation for their tyre pressures being recorded below the minimum tyre pressures recommended by Pirelli following the events of the Belgian Grand Prix.
Kimi Raikkonen proved to provide most of the race’s entertainment as he carved his way past drivers in the opening laps after his disastrous start. Running a long opening stint on the soft tyres, he fell back when he made his pitstop; having run as high as P3 at one point as others pitted. Running a shorter second stint, he recovered well and overtook Sergio Perez in the closing stages to secure P5.
The first casualty of the race was Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean who stopped out on track at Curva Grande on Lap 2, as teammate Pastor Maldonado also came into the pits to retire his Lotus; both victims of contact with other cars on Lap 1. They were joined by Fernando Alonso in the closing stages, before Nico Rosberg’s explosive retirement at the end.
Hamilton sprinted home 25 seconds clear of Sebastian Vettel, while Felipe Massa weathered a late attack from Valtteri Bottas to hold onto another podium position to the joy of the tifosi. Bottas took P4, Raikkonen P5, Perez P6, Hulkenberg P7, Ricciardo P8, Ericsson P9, Kvyat P10.
The biggest casualty of the race has to be Nico Rosberg, whose six race old engine detonated on lap 51 when the German was running in third place. Closing in on compatriot Sebastian Vettel in a bid to take second and grab another Mercedes one two, Rosberg’s engine let go heading into the second chicane.
Hamilton’s win remains in doubt at the time of publication.