Hamilton Wins Italian Grand Prix as Tifosi Frowns
MONZA, Italy—R.I.S.-- Just when it seemed that Ferrari had control of their home race, a Mercedes strategical plan gave Lewis Hamilton another Italian Grand Prix victory Sunday as the Briton passed Kimi Raikkonen with eight laps to go to win the race at the Monza Autodromo and lead the world driver’s championship by 30 points over Sebastian Vettel with seven races to go. Valtteri Bottas finished in third after the original podium finisher, Max Verstappen, was penalized for not giving Bottas room to pass at turn one, which made the Finn divert off the track.
“Well, firstly I want to give it up to Ferrari who put up a great challenge this weekend.” Hamilton said. “They (Ferrari) really did an amazing job and they’ve really give us such a great fight. Secondly, I just want to say a huge thank you to these guys and everyone back home, because without their support, without their continued efforts this wouldn’t be possible today, their continued belief. Also, here there was a lot of negativity, as there is when you’re against an opposing team, and I could see so many British flags out there, they know who they are. I was pointing them out and they inspired me so much for this race and that’s what I was driving for. In future, the negativity is really a positive thing for me because I harness it and turn it from negative to positive. But, as I said, a big thank you to Valtteri (Bottas) for helping us as well.
It looked good for Raikkonen early, and for Vettel. But it only took not even one lap of the race to change things, as Hamilton struck Vettel going into the second chicane, as Vettel got the worst of it and spun around to recover in 18th place. Raikkonen continued to lead the race, despite a four-lap safety car issue because of Vettel’s debris, the only one on the day for four laps. When the safety car period ended on lap four, the Finn continued to lead Hamilton until he pitted on lap 21.
Hamilton took the lead, but with a clear track, set fastest times of the race and stayed out for another four to five laps, hoping that Raikkonen and teammate Bottas, who was leading at the time, would be close to him. When Bottas pitted, he had already slowed his lead down, which was enough for Hamilton to close in, making this a three-way battle. Raikkonen held the lead from Hamilton, but with only eight laps to go and fresher tires, Hamilton passed the Finn at turn one and never looked back, realizing that Raikkonen, had just enough rubber to finish second and not challenge him.
Vettel, despite his problems, managed to finish in fourth, following his attempt to move up the grid and leap to one more spot, thanks to Verstappen’s penalty. Verstappen did end up fifth, with Romain Grosjean of the American Haas F1 Team finishing sixth. The Force India’s of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez took seventh and eighth, respectively, while Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. finished ninth. Lance Stroll gave Williams their first points of the season by taking tenth.
Many fans afterwards, most of them hometown Ferrari supporters, booed Hamilton as he ascended the podium. But Hamilton believes that he ignores this situation, which psychologically makes him more focused for racing.
“I don’t really think too much about it.” He added. “I just keep smiling. I know I’ve got those individuals who are out there who travel the world to support me. I know they’re there. Really really proud of them, because obviously when you’re in a big crowd, when you’re in a big sea of red and there’s the booing and then there’s you with the one flag which there is out there, you know you notice there’s one guy standing there with a flag or there’s a kid waving it and you can imagine being surrounded by that, feeling the heat on him, because all eyes are on him or her, maybe. I really just appreciate that and respect it so much, so I really really do try like on the podium and on the parade lap and when I was driving round, I really try to point out… it’s hard to point to a big crowd and them know that you’re pointing at them but I try to point out and know that I acknowledge them and appreciate them.”
ITALIAN GRAND PRIX
At Monza Autodromo, Monza, Italy
Final Race Results
1 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes
2 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari- 8.7 seconds behind
3Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes
4 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari
5 Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing
6 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team
7 Esteban Ocon (FRA) Force India
8 Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. (SPA) Renault
10 Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams
11 Sergey Sirotkin (RUS) Williams
12 Charles LeClerc (MON) Sauber
13 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren
14 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault
15 Pierre Gasly (FRA) Toro Rosso
16 Markus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber
17 Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team
18 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing- engine failure- lap 25
19 Fernando Alonso (SPA) McLaren- power unit failure- lap 10
20 Brendon Hartley (NZL) Toro Rosso- accident- lap 1
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.