Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton crushed the opposition on the way to his third Italian Grand Prix win at Monza, despite a post-race investigation into the tyre pressures on his Mercedes.
Post-race checks revealed the Pirelli tyres on Hamilton’s car were 0.3psi below the permitted minimum – teammate Rosberg’s tyres were 1.1psi below. But the investigation concluded that the discrepancy was a result of the tyre blankets being below the maximum temperature, so the team was cleared of any wrongdoing.
It became clear that something might be wrong in the closing stages of the race when Hamilton’s engineer, Peter Bonnington, told him to drive flat-out for the remaining laps, seemingly in an effort to build a 25-second buffer that would allow Hamilton to keep the win should a time penalty be handed down. Told “don’t ask questions, just execute,” Hamilton did exactly that and crossed the finish line 25.042 seconds ahead of second-placed Sebastian Vettel.
Kimi Raikkonen lined up second on the grid, but bogged down badly at the start and dropped to the back of the field, allowing fellow Ferrari driver Vettel to take the place. Unable to provide an answer to Hamilton’s searing pace – up to a second a lap quicker – Vettel’s attention turned to defending his position.
Rosberg came through from fifth on the grid to third after leapfrogging the two Williams’ as they made their pit stops. The German closed to within two seconds of his countryman but, with three laps to go, his car’s engine let go, belching flame out of the exhaust.
Mercedes had brought upgraded engines to Monza, but found an issue on Rosberg’s that prompted them to switch back to an old-spec motor that had already done five races. Clearly, the relentless pace at Monza proved too much.
With Rosberg out, it fell to Williams’ Felipe Massa to claim third, his second podium of the year. Teammate Valtteri Bottas followed close behind ahead of Raikkonen, who battled his way through from last after the botched start.
Force India pairing Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg were sixth and seventh, while the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat came through from the back of grid to eighth and tenth, split by Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.
Rosberg’s non-score means Hamilton now holds a 53-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship. With seven races remaining, that’s not an unassailable advantage, but Hamilton is on truly imperious form. Of the remaining races, he hasn’t previously won in Brazil or Mexico, though the latter returns to the championship for the first time since 1992. Unless Rosberg or, indeed, third-placed Vettel suddenly find their feet, it’s looking increasingly likely that Hamilton will become the first British three-time champion since Jackie Stewart in 1973.
F1 reconvenes on 20 September for the annual night race in Singapore.
Italian Grand Prix results after 53 laps
- Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes — 1:18:00.688
- Sebastian Vettel — Ferrari — +25.042
- Felipe Massa — Williams-Mercedes — +47.635
- Valtteri Bottas — Williams-Mercedes — +47.996
- Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — +1:08.860
- Sergio Perez — Force India-Mercedes — +1:12.783
- Nico Hulkenberg — Force India-Mercedes — +1 lap
- Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull-Renault — +1 lap
- Marcus Ericsson — Sauber-Ferrari — +1 lap
- Daniil Kvyat — Red Bull-Renault — +1 lap
- Carlos Sainz Jr. — Toro Rosso-Renault — +1 lap
- Max Verstappen — Toro Rosso-Renault — +1 lap
- Felipe Nasr — Sauber-Ferrari — +1 lap
- Jenson Button — McLaren-Honda — +1 lap
- Will Stevens — Marussia-Ferrari — +2 laps
- Roberto Merhi –Marussia-Ferrari — +2 laps
- Nico Rosberg — Mercedes — DNF (power unit)
- Fernando Alonso — McLaren-Honda — DNF (electrical)
- Romain Grosjean — Lotus-Mercedes — DNF (crash damage)
- Pastor Maldonado — Lotus-Mercedes — DNF (crash damage)
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By Only Motors