Hamilton takes F1 Championship lead with easy Italian GP win

Lewis Hamilton took an easy victory in the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday at Monza, a result that moves him to the top in the F1 2017 Drivers’ Championship, 3 points up on arch rival Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton absolutely dominated the final European race of the season, leading from lights-to-flag, and eventually finishing 4.4secs up on Mercedes team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, while Vettel was a distant third, 36.3s adrift.

It was Hamilton’s 59th career victory and his fourth at Monza.

After his triumph last weekend in Belgium, he also becomes the first back-to-back winner of the season.

“I love it here in Italy,” Hamilton said on the podium, amid boos from the tifosi, “and I love the passion of the fans – particularly the Ferrari fans. They are fantastic, and this energy we get to see is like nowhere else, apart from maybe Silverstone. I respect it and I appreciate it.

“I am happy. We did a great job and the team did an exceptional job this weekend and Valtteri also did a great job. I think we owe it all to them.

“And Mercedes power is definitely better than Ferrari power!” he joked. “It worked well this weekend. The start was a little bit difficult because the grip was low, but [overall] it was a great day and a great result for us. Today the car really was fantastic and really a dream to drive. A big thank-you to all the fans that came out today. I look forward to coming back next year.”

Meanwhile, Bottas dropped behind Kimi Raikkonen on the opening lap, but was soon back by the Ferrari, going wheel-to-wheel with his fellow countryman into Parabolica.

Bottas then quickly dispensed with Williams driver Lance Stroll and Force India’s Esteban Ocon and by lap 4 was second, a position he held unchallenged all the way to the chequered flag.

“Like Lewis said, the start was tricky, but I just needed to keep my head down and get the places step-by-step,” Bottas said. “The car was so strong today – it was amazing how quick we were and it was pure joy to drive. The pace was good and I enjoyed it. It was the perfect result for us as a team.”

Behind, Vettel had a more difficult start, before passing Raikkonen into the Lesmo on lap 3 to take fifth, and then picking off Stroll on lap 5 and Ocon on lap 8.

After that though, the Ferrari man did not have the speed to challenge the Mercs’ – much to the disappointment of the tifosi.

“It was entertaining [at the beginning] and quite good fun. My start was not quite so good. I had a lot of wheel spin and it took a while before I could really trust the car,” Vettel said.

“Then I made some progress and we got some good overtaking there. Then obviously we were a bit isolated. We didn’t have the pace of the leading two drivers today. But nevertheless going around and seeing the people gives you a lot of hope and even if this race has been difficult, I know we have a very strong car and we will have a very strong end of the season, I am sure of that.”

Further back, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo came back through the pack following his grid penalty, pulling off a beautiful late move on Raikkonen into Turn 1 near the end to get up to fourth.

Raikkonen eventually finished fifth, ahead Ocon in sixth in his Force India, a few seconds up on the squabbling Williams’, with Stroll holding onto P7, despite a final lap challenge from his veteran team-mate, Felipe Massa. Sergio Perez was ninth in his Force India and right behind, less than a second splitting P7 to P9.

Max Verstappen claimed the final point in his Red Bull, but lost time early on after picking up a puncture when he clashed with Massa into the first chicane. Massa had already made contact with Perez on the opening lap.

Of the rest, Kevin Magnussen finished just outside the points in P11 for Haas, with Toro Rosso duo Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz 12th and 14th, sandwiching the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg. Haas F1’s Romain Grosjean and Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein were the only other finishers in 15th and 16th, although McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso and the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson were classified in 17th and 18th – despite both retiring with a couple of laps remaining.

McLaren-Honda’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer also failed to get to the chequered flag. Palmer retired first on lap 30, before Vandoorne lost power and had to park his car a few laps later.

Race Result available – HERE.

Picture credit: Mercedes

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