Lewis Hamilton wins the Italian Grand Prix

September 4 2018 , 5:23 pm

Lewis Hamilton won his fifth Italian Grand Prix after a first-lap clash with title rival Sebastian Vettel which spun the Ferrari driver back to 17th.

Before the Italian Grand Prix began Lewis Hamilton had described the hostile atmosphere at Monza as a “snake pit”. By its close he stood atop the podium telling the partisan and booing crowd how he had revelled in drawing energy from their negativity. His positive spin was entirely understandable from a win that had looked almost unthinkable when he took to the grid until he put in what he said was “up there” with his greatest drives.

The elation with which he leaves Monza was in stark contrast to the visible deflation of the massed tifosi but Hamilton will take away so much more having delivered an absolutely stinging blow to Sebastian Vettel.

His victory hinged on three decisive moments of overtaking and a peerless, ruthless piece of strategy from his Mercedes team. Vettel, who finished fourth and now trails Hamilton by 30 points in the title race, was involved only once and his misjudgment cost him any chance of the win and may have derailed his championship challenge. For the fourth time this season he made an error under pressure.

The Ferraris had been quickest all weekend and Hamilton had acknowledged the task. He started from third on the grid, behind Kimi Räikkönen, on pole, who was ultimately second, and Vettel. The three were clean together through the first chicane but Hamilton took a tow through the Lesmos and was able to go round the outside of Vettel into the Roggia chicane. Hamilton left him room but the German took too much kerb and chose not to back off and concede the place. They touched and Vettel spun, sending him back to 18th. Just as in Baku, France and Germany a single incident proved costly.

Shortly afterwards the second key moment could not have been more apposite. After a short safety car period Hamilton overtook Räikkönen on the start-finish straight but gloriously the Finn hit back immediately , coming back round the outside of Roggia with a great piece of late braking to retake the lead. It was exactly as Hamilton had done to Vettel but this time with both drivers exiting the chicane cleanly.

Finally, after Mercedes had kept Hamilton out for a long time so he had fresher tyres at the end and had used Valtteri Bottas, who finished third, to hold Räikkönen up on track, the battle for the lead fell to the British driver as he pulled off an inch-perfect pass on the Finn round the outside through the Retifillo chicane with eight laps to go. It was enough to secure victory, albeit once again to the disappointment of the tifosi.

It had been against the odds and against the head. Ferrari have enjoyed a pace advantage since the British Grand Prix. Asked afterwards if it was one of his greatest drives, Hamilton believed it was. “Under the sheer pressure that we are under I definitely will consider it to be quite far up there,” he said. “Especially to do it on Ferrari’s home turf as well, with such a difficult crowd and so much pressure on the team with the performance that they have, to really be able to pull a little bit more out of the bag and really make it stick.”

Vettel made an admirable comeback through the field, battling a damaged car, but insisted he had not been at fault. “I guess Lewis saw his chance but he didn’t leave me any room,” he said. “So I got spun around and couldn’t avoid what happened.”



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