F1 Italian GP: Hamilton takes victory and steals championship points lead

Lewis Hamilton has taken a lights-to-flag victory and the championship lead in the Italian Grand Prix with an impeccable performance.

Hamilton executed a clean race, with his Mercedes team covering off any strategy attacks or undercut attempts from behind to take the points lead as well.

A near perfect start from Hamilton meant he lead as the field bottle necked under braking for turn one. Behind, Esteban Ocon seized second place from Lance Stroll as the Williams driver played it safe on his maiden front row F1 start.

Valtteri Bottas made it evident that he was on an early charge, getting through Kimi Raikkonen, Stroll and eventually Ocon to move up into second place and presenting a Mercedes one-two.

Max Verstappen was once again ruled out of a podium finish in the first few laps when he made vigorous contact with Felipe Massa’s Williams at turn one. Verstappen left the scene of the crime and entered the pits with front wing damage and a front right puncture to his Red Bull, rejoining in 19th place.

Sebastian Vettel also moved up the pack with force, pushing his way into third place as the pair of Mercedes streaked off ahead.

Daniel Ricciardo was another one of the big movers and shakers, the Australian fighting his way all the way up to fourth position after starting 16th.

Ferrari were the first of the front runners to pull the trigger on Vettel, bringing the German into the pits on lap 32. Mercedes reacted immediately though, covering Vettel off with Hamilton who pitted the next lap round and Bottas the lap after that as well.

Red Bull played the long game, leaving Ricciardo out for as long as possible on the Soft compound tyre, bringing him in on lap 38.

The team delivered with a quick pitstop on their part meaning that he rejoined in fifth, behind the two Ferrari’s but more importantly, in front of a squabble between Ocon, Stroll and Massa.

With Ricciardo on SuperSoft tyres, and everyone surrounding him on softs, the man from down-under was on a charge, clearing Raikkonen with a brilliant move up the inside at turn one.

Ricciardo then set his sights on Vettel, closing down on him very quickly, but that wasn’t enough for the Australian.

Hamilton crossed the line with a 4.4 second gap to his team-mate Bottas, while Vettel rounded out the podium for Ferrari, fending off Ricciardo on the last lap.

Ricciardo assumed fourth, Raikkonen took out fifth in the second of the prancing horses, and Ocon fell back to sixth along with Stroll who ended up in seventh.

Massa was kept at bay in the closing stages by his team-mate as Sergio Perez and Verstappen rounded out the top ten, with a fantastic come back drive from the latter.

Kevin Magnussen finished in eleventh for Haas ahead of Daniil Kvyat, Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz and the second Haas of Romain Grosjean who struggled throughout the race with a whole range of issues.

Pascal Wehrlien was the last of the finishers in his Sauber after tussling hard with his team-mate across the 52-lap race ending up in 16th.

Fernando Alonso suffered from another retirement after being very vocal over the team radio about Joylon Palmer, the McLaren Honda driver pulling into the garage on the penultimate lap along with the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.

Stoffel Vandoorne completed a double retirement for McLaren Honda after his car limped into the pit lane with an expected turbo problem, while Palmer wrapped up an awful weekend in 20th after his own early demise in the race.

 

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