Lewis Hamilton returns to top step in Italy

Lewis Hamilton has won the Italian Grand Prix, finishing ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg and Williams driver Felipe Massa.

Massa started the day with the announcement that he was being retained by Williams for another season (along with Valtteri Bottas) and he compounded it with his first podium for the team. The Williams pairing demonstrated their dominant straight line speed and advantage on the straights, with Bottas in particular taking advantage of it to pass a number of drivers after missing out at the start of the race. He wasn’t the only driver to miss out at the start as Hamilton had problems with his Race Start mode and Daniel Ricciardo also went backwards. It looked like there could be problems for the eventual race winner Hamilton before the race even started as the team had to change his nose on the grid due to damage on the end-plate. 

At the race start McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen moved up from fifth to second, slotting in ahead of Massa. Bottas dropped down behind Kimi Raikkonen into 11th. Magnussen defended for the opening stint of the race, managing to keep the Williams behind him. He eventually lost out and got involved in a gaggle of cars fighting for fourth position. The group included his team-mate Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez. Magnussen demonstrated his defensive fettle in Belgium, holding Alonso behind him for a number of laps, and he once again found himself having to drive defensively today. His battle with a recovering Bottas resulted in the Finn taking to the run off across the chicane to avoid contact at Turn 1 and Magnussen was handed a five second stop/go penalty which was added to his post race time, dropping him to tenth. Max Chilton was the first retirement from the race after he locked up and ran over the kerb which launched him into the barrier. He admitted in an interview that he had been pushing his braking points as he fought to overtake Romain Grosjean and catch his team-mate Jules Bianchi. The only other retirement was Alonso in a disappointing result for Ferrari at their home race. Ferrari reported an ERS failure and it was Alonso’s first retirement since the Malaysian Grand Prix last season. Alonso’s team-mate Raikkonen finished in a quiet ninth place (being promoted after Magnussen dropped to tenth) after a better finish of fourth in Belgium.

On the track, Vettel was the first driver to pit for new tyres and he did so on Lap 19. Most drivers went for a one-stop (Esteban Gutierrez stopped three times, including once due to a puncture picked up after contact with Grosjean) but some started to struggle with their tyres in the closing laps, particularly those who had stopped earlier. Vettel had spent most of the race in front of his team-mate but in the closing stages he was caught and passed by Ricciardo, with the pair of them finishing in fifth and sixth. Rosberg found himself coming to grief not once but twice at the tricky first chicane. He out-braked himself but did not lose out on the first instance but the second time he did it was enough to give Hamilton the lead. At the end of the race it was a case of two-by-two in the top ten as the Mercedes duo finished ahead of the two Williams drivers and the two Red Bulls. Perez finished ahead of former team-mate Button who in turn was ahead of Raikkonen. Magnussen was dropped to tenth after his penalty. 

After a summer spent in Europe the flyaway races start again with the Singapore Grand Prix in two weeks time. Hamilton now lies 22 points behind Rosberg and still has a lot to do to get ahead in the standings, barring any reliability issues. 


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