The 88th Italian Grand Prix started with so much promise for Ferrari and the Tifosi as they locked out the front row in Qualifying for the first time at Monza since 2000. But those hopes were mostly dashed twice throughout the race. Sebastian Vettel spun on the first lap, and Kimi Raikkonen was overtaken with 9 laps to go by Lewis Hamilton, who went on to win his fifth Italian Grand Prix.
Raikkonen ran strong race in which he led a majority of, but he could not hold off the Four-time champion Hamilton and had to settle for second. Valtteri Bottas completed the podium after Max Verstappen was given a five-second time penalty for an illegal defensive driving maneuver, dropping the young Dutch driver 2 positions in fifth behind Vettel in fourth, who had to run a recovery race following the spin on lap one.
UPDATE: Romain Grosjean finished where he started in sixth in the Haas, however after the race a protest was filed by the Renault team to investigate the floor on Grosjean’s car. The FIA later deemed the Haas floor to be illegal, thus disqualifying Romain Grosjean from the race. With the disqualification Esteban Ocon moves up to sixth. Sergio Perez ran a strong recovery drive from 14th and will leave the weekend with seventh place points, Carlos Sainz will be eighth, Lance Stroll gets another point added to his season with the move up to ninth, and Sergey Sirotkin was awarded his first Formula One point due to the penalty and will be scored in tenth.
The start was pretty intense as Hamilton was all over the back of Vettel going into the first chicane after Seb couldn’t get by Kimi on the off the line. Brendan Hartley was squeezed by Stoffel Vandoorne and Marcus Ericsson and was out before the first chicane. In the second chicane, Hamilton had strong momentum and pulled to the outside of Vettel, and as they twisted through the middle of the chicane Vettel had some understeer and made contact with the side pod of Hamilton, sending Vettel spinning with damage to his front wing. A safety car came out for all of the calamity for Hartley and the debris from Vettel’s car.
Vettel changed to the soft tires and changed his strategy to the long run recovery drive, which meant that Raikkonen became the main Ferrari in the lead over Hamilton. Hamilton stayed within arms reach of Kimi through the first stint but Lewis was biding his time and not trying to over run his tires.
Raikkonen made his first pit stop on lap 21 before Hamilton, allowing Hamilton to put his foot down and push for the over-cut, but the engine power of Ferrari was too much for Mercedes as Hamilton came out after his pitstop 3 seconds behind Raikkonen.
Bottas stayed out longer than the top two in order to slow Raikkonen down and allow Hamilton to gain on Kimi for the final push, and that strategy worked to perfection as Hamilton was all over the back of Raikkonen when Bottas made his pit stop.
The battle was on from there as Hamilton stayed all over the back of Kimi’s Ferrari, the Tifosi was on pins and needles as Kimi held a small advantage as the end of the race approached. But with 9 laps to go Hamilton was close enough with DRS on the main straight and pulled off the pass for the lead in the first chicane and pulled away from there to an easy win in the Italian Grand Prix.
There was a tight battle for third between Verstappen and Bottas, but in the first chicane, Bottas made a move to the outside and Verstappen moved slightly to the right under braking, forcing Bottas to lock up and miss the chicane. The move by Max was illegal and he was handed a five second time penalty. After a swear-filled tirade on the radio, Verstappen worked hard to keep Bottas behind him despite the fact that doing so allowed Vettel to catch up and eventually take fourth from Max with the time penalty.
Daniel Ricciardo was on a strong recovery drive from the rear for changing engine, well that new engine was not very reliable as his engine went up in smoke on lap 24 ending his final Italian Grand Prix with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.
Hamilton extends his points advantage to 30 points over Vettel as Formula One goes street racing in Singapore on September 16th.