Hamilton Ignores The Boos As He Wins At Monza
Graham Read, Formula 1 Correspondent
The Formula 1 circus moved on this weekend from Belgium’s legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit just a few days before to another venue steeped in racing history - the iconic Monza track near Milan, which is F1’s fastest race and Ferrari’s home event.
As such the massed ranks of red clad fanatical Ferrari fans, long known as the tifosi, were hoping for further success for their drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen. In the end though it was Lewis Hamilton who claimed the victory for Mercedes after opening lap contact with Vettel, earning him vociferous boos after the race from the partisan crowd.
Friday’s opening free practice session had been badly affected by heavy rain, but for the record Force India’s Mexican driver Sergio Perez posted the fastest time ahead of Räikkönen’s Ferrari, the other Force India of Esteban Ocon and Toro Rosso’s New Zealander Brendon Hartley.
Later the same day in the second practice period Vettel and Räikkönen thrilled the Ferrari followers by topping the timesheets, whilst behind them it was a case of two by two as next best were the Mercedes duo ahead of the two Red Bulls and the pair of Force Indias.
However, the main talking point was the huge accident which Marcus Ericsson suffered when his Sauber veered at high speed into the barriers approaching the first chicane and then barrel-rolled several times before coming to a rest. The dramatic incident was caused by his car’s Drag Reduction System (DRS) malfunctioning when he hit the brakes, but fortunately the Swedish driver was uninjured, although the same could not be said of his car.
In Saturday’s final practice session Vettel was again quickest, although Hamilton edged out Räikkönen as the best of the rest, but come the all important qualifying hour the veteran Finn claimed his first pole position of the season, aided by a slipstream tow from his team-mate Vettel. It was the fastest lap ever in Formula 1 history, averaging a mighty 163.785mph.
The tifosi were delighted with the all red front row for the following day’s Grand Prix as Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas had to settle for third and fourth on the grid in their silver Mercedes cars, but all was to change the following afternoon.
When the red lights went out Räikkönen led Vettel, Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen through the first chicane, but at the second one Vettel and Hamilton made contact, with the British driver gaining second place whereas the German spun round and suffered damage to his car, dropping him to dead last. The stewards subsequently decided it was just a racing indecent.
The safety car was scrambled on the opening lap too to assist recovery of Hartley’s, damaged Toro Rosso and Vettel limped back to the pits for a new front wing and a change of tyres.
When racing resumed Räikkönen battled for the lead with Hamilton, the Finn gaining the upper hand as his team-mate fought his way through the field and was up to seventh position by lap 20. One tour later Räikkönen pitted to change to Soft specification tyres, whereas the now leading Hamilton stayed out for a further seven laps before making the same change and rejoining the Grand Prix back in second place again.
As Vettel then pitted again to replace his worn Soft tyres with Super Softs, Mercedes kept the leading Bottas out on track, delaying his stop to help back second placed Räikkönen into the path of the following Hamilton, and soon the leading trio were covered by just 1.1 seconds.
Mercedes called Bottas into the pits on lap 36, leaving Räikkönen and Hamilton to slug it out for the lead. With the recovering Vettel out of contention for the victory back in fifth position Hamilton harried the leading Ferrari and ultimately Räikkönen, struggling with badly worn tyres, was powerless to stop the four time champion sweep past him into the lead at the first chicane with eight laps remaining.
So it was to remain to the chequered flag. Verstappen finished third on track, but a five second penalty he had picked up for an over robust defence against Bottas dropped him to fifth position behind the young Finn and Vettel. After qualifying sixth Romain Grosjean completed a strong weekend by finishing in the same position, adding to his Haas team’s points tally.
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Hamilton’s victory increased his drivers’ championship lead over Vettel to 30 points and Mercedes edged further clear of Ferrari on the constructors front.
The Italian Grand Prix signalled the end of the European events on this year’s F1 calendar and next up we have the eye-catching night race around the streets of hot and humid downtown Singapore. A totally different type of circuit to Monza, but equally challenging in its own way.
2018 Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1hr16m54.484s
2 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) +8.705s
3 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +14.066s
4 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +16.151s
5 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +18.208s
6 Esteban Ocon (Force India) +57.761s
7 Sergio Perez (Force India) +58.678s
8 Carlos Sainz (Renault) +1m18.140s
9 Lance Stroll (Williams) Lapped
10 Sergey Sirotkin (Williams) Lapped
11 Charles Leclerc (Sauber) Lapped
12 Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) Lapped
13 Nico Hülkenberg (Renault) Lapped
14 Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) Lapped
15 Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) Lapped
16 Kevin Magnussen (Haas) Lapped
17 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) Retired
18 Fernando Alonso (McLaren) Retired
19 Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso) Retired
20 Romain Grosjean (Haas) Excluded
2018 Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship (after 14 of 21 Grand Prix)
1 Lewis Hamilton 256
2 Sebastian Vettel 226
3 Kimi Räikkönen 164
2018 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship (after 14 of 21 Grand Prix)
1 Mercedes 415
2 Ferrari 390
3 Red Bull 248
Hamilton Ignores The Boos As He Wins At Monza, 2nd September 2018, 22:26 PM