Hamilton cruises to dominant Monza victory

ยฉ XPB 

Lewis Hamilton took a big step towards defending his drivers' championship after cruising to a dominant victory in the Italian Grand Prix.

Starting from pole, Hamilton only had to hold off Sebastian Vettel in to Turn 1 as Kimi Raikkonen - starting from second on the grid - had an appalling start to drop to the back of the field by the first corner. Having retained his lead, Hamilton was 1.5s clear by the end of the first lap and duly pulled away in to the distance in an ominous display.

Vettel was a comfortable second before Nico Rosberg closed in, but Rosberg - using an old Mercedes power unit - then suffered a failure with less than three laps remaining and retired, allowing Hamilton to extend his championship lead to 53 points.

However, Hamilton was told to push in the closing laps as Mercedes wasย investigated for having tyre pressures below the specified minimum on the grid before the race. The FIA eventually decided to take no further action, saying there was a lack of clarity over the measurement protocols.

Rosberg dropped to sixth place at the start having had to avoid Raikkonen's Ferrari off the line, but passed Sergio Perez on track and then both Williams cars in the pits before hunting down Vettel in the closing laps.

Felipe Massa finished fourth as Williams failed to have the pace to challenge Ferrari in race trim, with its strategy also seeing Rosberg able to comfortably jump both cars by stopping just one lap before Massa. Valtteri Bottas was second on the road throughout and didn't appear to have the pace to challenge Massa until the closing laps, with Bottas attacking but unable to pass.

Raikkonen delivered a good recovery drive after his terrible start, climbing through the field to fifth place with a number of clean overtakes on track. However, the Finn will be frustrated having thrown away his best qualifying position since 2013. Raikkonen made use of DRS to gain the majority of positions in to Turn 1, but pulled an impressive move on Marcus Ericsson in to Ascari as he limited the damage.

Another strong race from Force India saw Perez finish sixth after being passed by Raikkonen late on, but the Mexican had the measure of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg who was complaining of a lack of rear grip and traction. Hulkenberg still finished seventh ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who overtook Ericsson in the final two laps.

Daniil Kvyatย rounded out the top ten, passing Carlos Sainz late on. Sainz received a five second time penalty for going off track and gaining an advantage early in the race, but at leastย the Toro Rosso driver finished a race for the first time since Canada in June.

Force India's strong result was even more timely as both Lotus cars retired on the opening lap after contact. Romain Grosjean stopped on track while Pastor Maldonado limped to the pits and didn't rejoin. Along with Rosberg, Fernando Alonso was the other retirement as he brought his car in to the pits with four laps remaining.

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Pos Driver Team Time Stops
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 53 laps - 1h18m00.688s 1
02 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari + 25.042 1
03 Felipe Massa Williams + 47.635 1
04 Valtteri Bottas Williams + 47.996 1
05 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari + 68.860 1
06 Sergio Perez Force India + 72.783 1
07 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +1ย lap 1
08 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +1 lap 1
09 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +1 lap 1
10 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull +1 lap 1
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso +1 lap 2
12 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso +1 lap 3
13 Felipe Nasr Sauber +1 lap 2
14 Jenson Button McLaren +1 lap 1
15 Will Stevens Manor +2 laps 1
16 Roberto Merhi Manor +2 laps 1
17 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +3 laps 1
18 Fernando Alonso McLaren +6 laps 3
19 Romain Grosjean Lotus DNF 0
20 Pastor Maldonado Lotus DNF 1