Ferrari fans were left disappointed at Monza as Briton Lewis Hamilton, in a German car, won at the famous Italian circuit. Another first lap incident had the crowd in their seats, with Sebastian Vettel claiming that Hamilton didn’t leave enough racing room as he, Hamilton, and pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen headed into the Roggia chicane. Raikkonen had the lead, Hamilton got a tow from Vettel and used that momentum to go wide for an attack.
Vettel and Hamilton were side by side, with Hamilton on the outside into a left-hander but a touch-up sent Vettel spinning to the rear of the field. However some brilliant driving saw the German climb through the field and finish fourth. A safety car was called and on the restart both Hamilton and Raikkonen shared the lead within a lap
Kiwi Brendon Hartley got nowhere from the start with a tap from Stoffel Vandoorne tapping his Toro Rosso and damaging his front right wheel and suspension. Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen also tangled early, with Magnussen losing some bodywork on the right side of his Haas.
Pit stops were taken under the safety car, with Vettel and Ricciardo taking the opportunity to swap to the super-soft rubber. Seven laps in Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was in a lonely third for a good portion of the early part of the race whilst Ricciardo clawed his way to 14th by lap 8 after yet another engine swap penalty had him start from the very rear of the field. Vettel’s charge had him pass the Australian and into thirteenth on lap nine.
Veteran Fernando Alonso retired on lap ten with what appeared to be an engine failure at the same time Vettel found himself in eleventh. Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly tangled twice and there was contact between the two that somehow didn’t damage either chassis.
Raikonnen was looking good for the win and was holding Hamilton at bay albeit by just 8/10ths. Lap 20 had Ferrari call in Raikkonen and a super quick stop managed to have him back out in clear air on super-softs. Mercedes left Hamilton out for a longer stint, Valtteri Bottas snagged the lead during Raikkonen’s stop, and the choice to get super-softs on the Finn’s car would prove to be costly.
Ricciardo retired on lap 25 with a clutch failure, adding yet another furrow to the ones Ricciardo has from Red Bull component failures this season.
Raikkonen’s hard driving style was wearing the tyres and eventually they could give no more. Whilst Vettel continued his way through the field, Hamilton took advantage of the Ferrari’s chassis vibrations from the wearing rubber with just eight laps to go and would hold on for the win.
Raikkonen would finish second and Verstappen third. But a post race five second penalty on the young Red Bull driver for an alleged infringement on Bottas as the pair diced for third saw him pushed to fifth behind Bottas and Vettel, with the German just two seconds from third place.
Hamilton was gracious in his win, saying: “I want to give it up to Ferrari, who put up a great challenge and gave us a great fight. I want to thank the guys here and everyone back home; without their belief it wouldn’t have been possible. There’s been a lot of negativity, but there were a lot of British flags out there today. They know who they are. In future I only want to turn a negative to a positive. Thanks to Valtteri too. We never give up.”
There was further consternation after the race. Romain Grosjean in his Haas had finished sixth, but a post-race protest from the Renault team had Grosjean disqualified. The reason, said the stewards, was the layout of the floor of Grosjean’s car, an issue that Haas had earlier in the season asked for clarification on.
Historic Monza would also throw out some interesting facts. Hamilton became the first winner from the second row or lower since 2009. Raikkonen’s podium was his 100th, and he joins Schumacher, Prost, Hamilton, and Vettel in that club. Alonso’s retirement means he’s completed just nine laps in the last two races. And Raikkonen’s second place means 109 races since his last win.
The F1 circus heads to Singapore for the night race on the 16th of September.