The 2017 Italian Grand Prix was won by Lewis Hamilton with Valterri Bottas following him home for a Mercedes one-two on the prancing horses’ home turf. Vettel completed the podium in a distant and solitary third. Elsewhere there were strong showings from the Force India and Williams pairings, as well as the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
A clean(ish) start
Hamilton got a superb start and was out front by at least two seconds by the end of the first lap. The other front row starter, Lance Stroll made a clean getaway only to be overtaken by the faster Force India and Ferrari in subsequent laps. The early stages also played host to a Finnish fight, Kimi showing he still has some fight in him by going round the outside of turn three on Bottas. The younger Finn retook the position using the stronger Mercedes engine the following lap. The Saubers also lost their strong grid positions of 11th and 12th to sit at 16th and 18th by the end of lap six.
Verstappen’s woes continue
Max Verstappen made a fantastic getaway on the first lap, rising from 13th to 8th. However as he eyed up a move on Massa for seventh, Verstappen picked up a puncture placing him plum last. At least it wasn’t a DNF…No further action was the decision from the race stewards. For a man who most think the title question about him is when, not if, he’ll top the end of season standings, he’ll no doubt be wondering if the team he’s with will fulfill his lofty ambitions.
It wasn’t just Max making contact though as his teammate Ricciardo got physical with Grosjean into turn 2 on the opening lap, causing damage to the Haas’s front wing and causing him to pit. This didn’t appear to hinder the other Red Bull though, as Ricciardo made superb moves on the likes of the Force India of Sergio Perez during his long first stint.
Stopping late and having good final stint pace earned the lone Red Bull a net fifth after his stop, before pulling off the move of the day on lap 41 overtaking Kimi Raikkonen into the first turn. He set off after Vettel in the closing stages, but unfortunately, he ran out of laps to claim the final podium spot.
Ferrari struggle at home
Vettel made the most of his first 10 laps making up positions on his teammate on lap three, Stroll on lap six and Ocon on lap 8. Once into open air, however, the Ferrari struggled to keep up with the Mercedes drivers. The same however cannot be said for his teammate, who pitted on lap 16 for a set of the soft tyres. He eventually passed Stroll via an undercut and Ocon on track a few laps later.
The Force India’s made up for a weekend to forget in Belgium with Perez finishing ninth and Ocon in sixth. Meanwhile, the McLaren pair of Alonso and Vandoorne both had to retire their cars. Alonso continued his battle with Jolyon Palmer with the Renault driver receiving a five-second penalty for failing to yield a place after cutting the second chicane. Palmer was later told to retire his car due to mechanical issues.
Before the race McLaren boss, Zak Brown had said that the McLaren engine saga will finally draw to a close next week, with a decision finally being made on which engine they will race next year. Many believe McLaren will try Renault engines for next year in an effort to keep star driver Fernando Alonso.
Hamilton cruises to the line
Up front, Lewis Hamilton was largely untroubled throughout the race, only losing the lead briefly to his team mate when he made his one and only pit stop. In the end though, he cruised over the line a good 35 seconds ahead of Vettel, and with Bottas finishing second, Hamilton will take a 3 point championship lead into the flyaway races.
|10||Max Verstappen||+1 LAP|
|11||Kevin Magnussen||+1 LAP|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||+1 LAP|
|13||Nico Hulkenburg||+1 LAP|
|14||Carlos Sainz||+1 LAP|
|15||Romain Grosjean||+1 LAP|
|16||Pascal Wehrlein||+2 LAPS|
|RET||Fernando Alonso||+54 LAPS|
|RET||Marcus Ericsson||+54 LAPS|
|RET||Stoffel Vandoorne||+54 LAPS|
|RET||Jolyon Palmer||+54 LAPS|
Grid penalties galore
Even before the lights went out there were quite a few changes of position. A total of nine drivers took penalties before the lights went out, surely prompting critics of the sport to challenge once again how the rules are applied. Carlos Sainz actually starts one place higher despite a ten place grid penalty. The Red Bull boys may also be rueing engine penalties for Max Verstappen (20 place grid penalty) and Daniel Ricciardo (25 place grid penalty). Lewis Hamilton was the only driver to start where they qualified, from pole position.
Singapore up next
We rejoin the greatest circus on earth in two weeks for the start of a trio of Asian grands prix, beginning with the Singapore GP (September 15th-17th). A track that has been widely regarded as a must win for Ferrari as it may well favour the aerodynamically poised prancing horse.
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