Race Report: Hamilton takes win, title lead in Italian Grand Prix

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Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

The Italian Grand Prix was certainly set up in fine fashion with rain and a record-breaking pole position for Lewis Hamilton but Sunday was dry, sunny and full of red flags, shirts and hats hoping beyond hope that Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen could somehow salvage a lackluster qualifying performance.

Lewis broke the pole record but most of the focus was on an issue that I was ranting about back in January of 2017 as well as our season preview podcast. At the time, I was told to calm down and shut my pie hole but the 4-engine limit for the season was always going to be a bad idea and I argued at the time that it wasn’t just the mid-field that would be affected but possibly the title championship. After the berating I took for highlighting the obvious, I’ll take this moment to say…I told you so.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

The youngest driver to ever sit on the front row in the form of Lance Stroll was followed by another rookie, Esteban Ocon. Both produced very good races and were well into the points.

It was Lewis’s weekend with a pole position record in horrible conditions on Saturday and a punishing, title-lead-claiming win in Ferrari’s back yard on Sunday. No doubt the car was comprehensively dominant but that doesn’t take away from the performance Lewis had on Saturday and his efforts on Sunday.

Win

A win for Lewis and Mercedes for the victory at Ferrari’s home race as well as the photo-op of both Mercs running side-by-side during the cool down lap in a show of force and sheer domination. It’s not just a pole record and win but a proverbial rubbing Ferrari’s nose in it in the process.

A win for Mercedes for convincing the F1 press that they didn’t need the increased oil-burn amount—that they craftily introduced a new engine ahead of the deadline to take advantage of—and really weren’t using that much and would most likely just use the 0.91 liter limit anyway…as they hauled out an incredible 30+ second lead and pummeled all the other teams in Italy.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A big win for the Italian fans who once again show why they are some of the best Formula 1 fans in the world.

A win for Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo for a terrific drive to 4th place in a fantastic recovery drive having started back in the grid due to grid penalties.

A win for Lance Stroll to hold position, hold his much more experienced teammate off and convert his front row qualifying into a points finish on a circuit they weren’t expecting it on.

Fail

A fail for Ferrari for losing their home grand prix but to be fair, they may not have lost the pace so much as Mercedes gained the pace with an even better engine. Regardless, even though Belgium is a power circuit, the Ferrari was competitive there but at Monza, it was exposed for the lack of shove it has against Mercedes.

A fail for Max Verstappen who needed a clean start and race after suffering from mechanical DNF’s all season long. The clash with Felipe Massa cost him valuable time with a punctured tire and long pit stop. After a review, no action was taken against Massa or Verstappen.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A win for Williams and Force India for converting good qualifying into a top 10 run for most of the day and fighting each other for the constructor’s championship. In Williams F1’s case, they weren’t sure why they were fast at Monza and many thought they wouldn’t be in dry conditions but they were.

A near fail for Felipe Massa who tried to pass his teammate late in the race and almost gave the position to Sergio Perez…you know, the team they are battling against in the constructors’ championship.

WTH

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen seemed to be complaining about the rear grip of his car early on and slotted in behind the Ocon and Stroll train and noodled his way back and forth but never seemed to get on top of his issues which were suggested to be rear tire overheating. Regardless, it certainly seemed as if he had resigned himself to that fate for the afternoon.

Saturday’s qualifying certainly suggested that Ferrari struggled on the full wet tire compounds but Sunday’s race suggested that they weren’t as good on the Super Soft or Soft compounds as they would have liked to. It’s a bit of a change from the beginning of the season when Ferrari seemed sympathetic to its tires and capable of running a strategy around its ability to stay on top of the tire grip levels. On Sunday, it seemed to be Mercedes who have found the magic heat window with the tires.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

Not quite sure how you re-pave the front stretch of an iconic circuit and didn’t bring a level to make sure the cars don’t porpoise down the straight due to ripple in asphalt.

Race Results

PosDriverCarLapsGap
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes531h15m32.312s
2Valtteri BottasMercedes534.471s
3Sebastian VettelFerrari5336.317s
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault5340.335s
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari531m00.082s
6Esteban OconForce India/Mercedes531m11.528s
7Lance StrollWilliams/Mercedes531m14.156s
8Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes531m14.834s
9Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes531m15.276s
10Max VerstappenRed Bull/Renault521 Lap
11Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari521 Lap
12Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Renault521 Lap
13Nico HulkenbergRenault521 Lap
14Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Renault521 Lap
15Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari521 Lap
16Pascal WehrleinSauber/Ferrari512 Laps
17Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Honda503 Laps
18Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari494 Laps
Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren/Honda33Retirement
Jolyon PalmerRenault29Retirement

Drivers’ Championship

PosDriverPoints
1Lewis Hamilton238
2Sebastian Vettel235
3Valtteri Bottas197
4Daniel Ricciardo144
5Kimi Raikkonen138
6Max Verstappen68
7Sergio Perez58
8Esteban Ocon55
9Carlos Sainz36
10Nico Hulkenberg34
11Felipe Massa31
12Lance Stroll24
13Romain Grosjean24
14Kevin Magnussen11
15Fernando Alonso10
16Pascal Wehrlein5
17Daniil Kvyat4
18Stoffel Vandoorne1
19Jolyon Palmer0
20Marcus Ericsson0
21Antonio Giovinazzi0

Constructors’ Championship

PosConstructorPoints
1Mercedes435
2Ferrari373
3Red Bull/Renault212
4Force India/Mercedes113
5Williams/Mercedes55
6Toro Rosso/Renault40
7Haas/Ferrari35
8Renault34
9McLaren/Honda11
10Sauber/Ferrari5
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race

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Mark Leel
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Dominant victory for Hamilton. Excellent recovery by Ricardo. Good performance from Stroll & Ocon. I’ve said this before but Honda is a F1 disaster. Vandroone & Alonso took grid penalties for new engines and a double DNF again.

jakobusvdl
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Just curious Todd, where do these discussions happen where people berate you so strongly for your views? I don’t think its in the comments to the posts, we’re normally very decorous and civil in our comments, to you and each other. I can’t recall their being much disagreement that the falling lid on p.u allocation is going to increasingly effect the grid positions. Certainly this season it has reached a point where the impact is too big, and if the drop to three p.u’s for the year goes ahead next year, they might as well give the trophy to Mercedes… Read more »

Negative Camber
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emails and from the mobocracy via social media and messaging through those platforms. I made a strong point about it last winter and I understand that some fans don’t like dumping on the sport before the season even begins but this was clearly not going to end well (as I said in our season preview podcast). That’s why I am perfectly fine with it, I’ve had months to get my head around the silliness. There’s always that chunk of fans that it won’t register with until it impacts Lewis or the title in some way then they cry foul and… Read more »

jakobusvdl
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Fair enough, just delete the emails, and stick to the F1B site, its a much more civilised place to hang out. Yes the SKY comentary team are really hyping the whole thing up, they really do want to dumb F1 down to a level that requires no knowledge or insight from the fans. I though Jean Todt handled Martin Brundle’s Grid walk ambush very well. On the fantastically efficient and innovative but allegedly ‘uber-expensive’ power units, I have some very interesting information from a Pat Symonds article in F1 magazine that I’m wait to download on you as soon as… Read more »

MIE
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MIE
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It is one reason why I hope Mercedes don’t impose team orders on Bottas. If Ferrari have to take grid penalties this could still come down to a fight between the Mercedes drivers. I would much rather the eventual champion won the title against all the other drivers, rather than just competing against those that already have a car/engine disadvantage.

photogcw
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Another power circuit and another example where Mercedes-Benz/AMG team exposes the performance gap over Scuderia Ferrari and they did it in front of their fans, on their 70th anniversary celebration weekend. I think you missed WTH for Pirelli: giant question marks over the capability and usefulness over their wet and intermediate tires. Granted, we have not seen their use much this season but many seem to believe they are not very good overall.

jakobusvdl
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That certainly was a drubbing by Mercedes, of the whole field. 30 to 60 sec ahead of 3rd and 4th, with their p.u’s turned down.
Its clear that is not just the power unit that makes the Mercedes so fast, as the Ferrari and Red Bull were able to finish well ahead of the other Mercedes powered cars.

johnblair7
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Daniel had a great race, as always. Lewis had an easier time than I thought. I wasn’t confident he’d pull it off. really pleased that he won. In the championship lead for the first time and the first back to back winner this season. Still think it could be either Seb or Lewis to take the title, plenty of races left.

Andrea_Rae
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I’m afraid Mercedes is going to start walking away with it. Hopefully Ferrari can come thru with some competitive upgrades. I woukd love to see the championship come down to the wire.

Best case scenario is that McLaren switches to Renault engines which become competitive by 2018. Fernando stays at McLaren and next year Renault, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes are all winning races with top drivers. Most likely wishful thinking, I guess I should be happy there are two competitive teams this year.

adaptable1
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I think the best part of the weekend was the qualifying session. Rain is the great equalizer and puts the skill of the driver front and center…and for that, Lewis truly earned this win at Monza. I think that not only has Mercedes won both championships, they have walked away with this whole hybrid era of F1 racing, perhaps even before it even started (thanks Ross!). The only times when other teams have a chance for victory is when Mercedes or their drivers make mistakes. One could argue that the true competitiveness has left the sport at the top. I… Read more »