Italian GP: Hamilton passes Raikkonen to win thriller; Vettel fourth
Lewis Hamilton took a thrilling and controversial victory in the Italian Grand Prix following a first-lap clash with title rival Sebastian Vettel.
The Mercedes driver fought a cat-and-mouse battle with Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen throughout the race and eventually passed him around the outside of the first corner with nine laps to go.
Hamilton and Mercedes not only dashed Ferrari’s hopes of a home win after their first front-row lock-out at Monza for 18 years but also extended the Briton’s championship lead over Vettel, who finished fourth, to 30 points.
That is more than a clear win, with seven races and a total of 175 points remaining in the season.
It could not have come at a better time for Hamilton, who is facing a fight against an apparently faster car – at least in qualifying – and with Mercedes’ bogey track, Singapore, next on the schedule.
Hamilton v Vettel
Ferrari’s race began to unravel within four corners of the start, as Vettel spun trying to defend against an overtaking move by Hamilton at the second chicane on the first lap.
Hamilton took the outside line and was slightly ahead as they turned into the corner, after the German had had a little look at a possible passing move on Raikkonen in the lead.
Vettel’s car slid into Hamilton’s in the middle of the chicane and he spun in front of the pack, his front wing broken.
The Ferrari driver complained over the radio, but the stewards judged it a racing incident not worthy of further action.
Vettel was left to recover lost ground and eventually took fourth – partly thanks to a five-second penalty for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who finished third on track but was demoted to fifth after crowding Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas off the track.
Hamilton said: “I want to give it up to Ferrari, who put up a great challenge this weekend. There was a lot of negativity here and I could see so many British flags out there, and they inspired me so much.
“In future, the negative is only a positive for me, because I turn it around.
“Big thank you for the team and also for Valtteri for helping me.” (BBC Sport)