Hamilton works hard to take Monza win over Raikkonen

© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton overcame a first lap collision with Sebastian Vettel to sensationally deny Ferrari its expected home victory in the 2018 Italian Grand Prix at Monza on Sunday.

Mercedes employed race strategy to help Hamilton overhaul Kimi Raikkonen in a close-fought battle. Valtteri Bottas played a key role in the process and was rewarded with third place over Vettel and Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Italian Grand Prix - Race result

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes53 laps - 1:16:54.484s1
2Kimi RäikkönenFerrari+ 8.705s1
3Valtteri BottasMercedes+ 14.066s1
4Sebastian VettelFerrari+ 16.151s2
5Max VerstappenRed Bull+ 18.208s *1
6Esteban OconForce India+ 57.761s1
7Sergio PérezForce India+ 58.678s1
8Carlos SainzRenault+ 78.140s1
9Lance StrollWilliams+ 1 lap1
10Sergey SirotkinWilliams+ 1 lap1
11Charles LeclercSauber+ 1 lap1
12Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren+ 1 lap1
13Nico HülkenbergRenault+ 1 lap2
14Pierre GaslyToro Rosso+ 1 lap1
15Marcus EricssonSauber+ 1 lap2
16Kevin MagnussenHaas+ 1 lap1
17Daniel RicciardoRed BullDNF1
18Fernando AlonsoMcLarenDNF1
19Brendon HartleyToro RossoDNF0
-Romain GrosjeanHaasEXC **1
* includes 5 second time penalty for causing a collision
** Excluded for technical infringement

As the two Ferraris lined up on the front row of the grid at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the atmosphere and sense of expectation from the massed ranks of Tifosi in the grandstands could hardly have been more electric.

When the lights went out, a huge roar from the crowd dispatched Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel on the short run to the first chicane. The top three all got through cleanly, but behind Lewis Hamilton his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas lost out to Red Bull's Max Verstappen in the battle over fourth.

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari SF71H leads at the start of the Italian Grand Prix

Raikkonen pulled away at the front while Hamilton got a strong run around the outside of the Curva Grande to put him alongside Vettel heading into della Roggia. Two into one won't go in that part of the track and contact was inevitable, with Vettel coming off by far the worst as he spun with a broken front wing. Hamilton was concerned about damage to the Mercedes, but his race engineer assured him that all was well.

Fortunately for Vettel there was a safety car for a separate incident involving Brendon Hartley on the main straight, the Toro Rosso suffering broken suspension after being squeezed by Stoffel Vandoorne's McLaren and Marcus Ericsson's Sauber. The caution enabled Vettel to get back to pit lane for a new wing and a fresh set of soft tyres. Also stopping for fresh rubber were Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo, who had both started from the back of the grid due to engine penalties and needed all the help their strategists could offer.

When the race resumed on lap 4, Hamilton got into Raikkonen's slipstream through Parabolica and took the lead into turn 1, but the Finn wasn't giving up and he counterattacked into the second chicane to regain the top spot. Hamilton didn't get another chance and had to settle for second ahead of Verstappen, Bottas, Romain Grosjean, Carlos Sainz, Esteban Ocon and Willians pair Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, with Sergio Perez rounding out the top ten.

Having restarted from the back, Vettel was already marching his way back through the order and on lap 9 he pulled off a determined move on Ricciardo for 14th place, which he soon followed with a pass on Charles Leclerc. A couple of laps later he had also got the better of Pierre Gasly in the sole surviving Toro Rosso; with Fernando Alonso retiring from the race with engine issues on lap 11, it meant Vettel was soon on the cusp of returning to the top ten.

Perez had already pushed past the two Williams, and Vettel was similarly able to dispatch Sirotkin and Stroll with equal aplomb. That put him into ninth place on lap 16 despite continuing to worry about damage to his Ferrari from his first lap collision with Hamilton. The Force India proved a little more of a challenge to overcome and took a couple of bites, but on lap 18 Vettel duly completed that task too.

The leaders were still on their original sets of supersofts, and on lap 20 Raikkonen surrendered the lead to make the first of the scheduled stops for a fresh set of soft tyres, coming back out in fourth. Hamilton still seemed to have pace in his existing tyres and stayed out in the hope of making the overcut. The calculations were made more complicated by double waved yellows for marshalls working to clear Ricciardo's car, which had gone up in smoke forcing the Aussie to pull over and retire on lap 25.

Hamilton finally pitted on lap 28, coming out quite some way behind Raikkonen who had been using his newer tyres to set a succession of fastest lap times. Mercedes kept Bottas out, meaning that he was now in the lead with orders to keep his fellow Finn behind him for as long as possible.

Vettel had made moves on Sainz and Ocon to reach fourth place when he was forced to make his own second pit stop of the day on lap 30, which dropped him back to tenth place albeit in a fresh set of the faster supersoft compound. It didn't take long for him to start working his way around the Williams pair once again.

Italian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W09.

At the front, Mercedes' plan to trap Raikkonen between Bottas and Hamilton was paying off with the three running close together on track. Bottas was finally allowed to pit on lap 37, but his loyal service meant that he came back out in fourth behind Verstappen, with Ocon and Perez between him and the fast approaching Vettel who was now back up to seventh ahead of Sainz, Grosjean and Hulkenberg.

Now the question was whether Raikkonen could run to the finish on his current set of tyres which had appeared to be blistering: "Kimi, we see some vibration from your rear tyre. Try to keep them alive," instructed the Ferrari pit wall. Hamilton had also suffered a number of lock-ups as he made feint after feint on Raikkonen with the added advantage of DRS.

Bottas was doing his best to recover third place, and on lap 44 he had a run on the Red Bull into the first chicane. Using DRS, the Mercedes tapped the back of his rival and was forced to take to the escape road. Race stewards set to work analysing whether the Dutch driver had moved under braking; they decided he had and duly gave him a five second time penalty, effectively handing the podium place to Bottas after all. When he was told, Verstappen's response over the team radio was festooned with bleeps and concluded with the comment: "They are doing a great job of killing racing, honestly."

Next time by, it was Hamilton's turn to attack at the first chicane. He was able to complete the pass on Raikkonen without any drama, and soon he was pulling away from the Ferrari and was safely out of DRS range, thereby ensuring he had clinched back-to-back Monza wins and once again open up his lead in the drivers championship to 30 points.

Italian Grand Prix: Fans in the grandstand. 02.09.2018.

Behind Raikkonen, Verstappen refused on principle to yield track position to Bottas despite the time penalty, even though it allowed Vettel to make up ground on both of them. Once the penalty was applied, it meant that Verstappen lost two places in the final classification with Vettel picking up fourth place as a consequence.

Grosjean continued a strong run of performances in the second half of the season only to be excluded for a technical infringement following a protest from Renault. That promoted Force India pair Ocon and Perez to sixth and seventh, with Renault's Carlos Sainz the last man on the lead lap. Rounding out the top ten were Williams drivers Stroll and Sirotkin, the Russian finally picking up his maiden championship point for Williams.

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