Lewis Hamilton has responded to a controversial outing at the Belgian Grand Prix with victory in Sunday’s hit-out in Italy, beating his World Championship leading teammate Nico Rosberg in another Mercedes 1-2.
Hamilton overcame a poor getaway from pole position and fell to fourth, but was back up to second place and took the lead when Rosberg outbraked himself at the first chicane on Lap 29. It was a clinical drive that showed he remains very much a threat to the German as the season ticks its way to Abu Dhabi. Felipe Massa made a long overdue return to the podium by finishing third in his Williams.
It was Rosberg who made the best getaway off the line, surging into an easy lead on the run to the first chicane, while Hamilton floundered off the line and fell to fourth place behind a fast-starting Kevin Magnussen and Felipe Massa. Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo also made poor starts from the left-hand side of the grid, which proved the impetus for impressive fightbacks from both of them to complete the top five.
Hamilton recovered quickly from his poor start, capitalising on a small mistake by Magnussen to follow in Massa’s wheeltracks to slot into third, and then he slipped by the Brazilian by outbraking him into the first chicane.
The Englishman set about slowly whittling away at Rosberg’s lead. He closed to within one second of the German by the time the first pit stops came, but Rosberg – who had pitted before – managed to deliver a rapid out lap to keep the position and set up the second half of the race for a titanic scrap between the Silver Arrows.
Rosberg’s joy ultimately proved short-lived. Under increasing pressure from Hamilton, he locked up at the first chicane and took to the escape road. That proved all the invitation for Hamilton to take the lead while his teammate swerved through the Styrofoam bollards in the run-off to rejoin the circuit.
Hamilton kept the lead for the remaining 25 laps and crossed the line three seconds clear of Rosberg to claw the points gap to Rosberg back to 22 points as the European leg of the championship drew to a close. It was the team’s first one-two finish since the Austrian Grand Prix.
Massa finished third, capitalising on Williams teammate Bottas’ poor getaway to have a comfortable run to the final step of the podium. He didn’t have the pace to challenge the Mercedes’, but a fierce scrap behind him also proved to be enough of a buffer to ensure his run was unchallenged.
Bottas was the overtaker of the race, scrambling his way past Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari, Sergio Pérez’s Force India and the two McLarens and Red Bulls to finish fourth. The Finn was typically gutsy and showed great wheel-to-wheel racecraft in the face of some stern defence from his rivals.
Ricciardo was once again the best of the Renault-powered runners, opting for a long first stint after his dreadful start. That gave him fresher tyres in the final laps, and he deftly moved into fifth place, boldly passing teammate Sebastian Vettel – who had shaded the Australian all weekend long – in the final laps to clinch fifth place.
Magnussen crossed the finish line in seventh, but was again issued with a post-race penalty for more forceful driving. As he was in Belgium, the Dane was ultra-aggressive in his defence, routinely swerving to the inside line as he approached the braking zone for the chicanes. His offence came when Bottas sold him a dummy and tried to slip by at the first chicane, only to find himself squeezed onto the sausage kerbs by the McLaren driver.
Magnussen’s penalty dropped him to tenth and promoted Sergio Pérez into seventh. The Force India driver again outshone teammate Nico Hülkenberg (who finished out of the points), finishing ahead of Jenson Button after a titanic scrap. The pair swapped positions numerous times as they raced just inches apart through a succession of corners.
Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen finished ninth, slipping back into the anonymous form that has been a showpiece of a disappointing return to the Scuderia. The Italian outfit had a poor weekend on home soil, with teammate Fernando Alonso suffering his first DNF since the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix when he suffered an Eneregy Recovery System failure in his F14T. The team’s paltry two-point haul ensured it would be overtaken by Williams for third place in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
Daniil Kvyat should have claimed the final point for Toro Rosso after a charging drive from 21st on the grid, but the poor Russian’s STR9 suffered a brake failure on the penultimate lap as he approached the first chicane. He was lucky to avoid clattering into the back of Räikkönen’s Ferrari, managing to limp over the line in eleventh place just ahead of Hülkenberg and the sister STR of Jean-Éric Vergne.
2014 Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Final Classification (53 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||53||1:19:10.236|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||53||+ 3.175|
|3.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||53||+ 25.026|
|4.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||53||+ 40.786|
|5.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||53||+ 50.309|
|6.||Sebastian Vettel||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||53||+ 59.974|
|7.||Sergio Pérez||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||53||+ 1:02.518|
|8.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||53||+ 1:03.063|
|9.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||53||+ 1:03.535|
|10.||Kevin Magnussen*||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||53||+ 1:06.171|
|11.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||53||+ 1:11.184|
|12.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||53||+ 1:12.606|
|13.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||53||+ 1:13.093|
|14.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||52||1 lap behind|
|15.||Adrian Sutil||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||52||1 lap behind|
|16.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||52||1 lap behind|
|17.||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||52||1 lap behind|
|18.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||52||1 lap behind|
|19.||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||51||2 laps behind|
|19.||Esteban Gutiérrez*||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||51||2 laps behind|
|DNF.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||28||ERS|
|DNF.||Max Chilton||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||5||Accident|
* Kevin Magnussen was awarded a five-second time penalty (in lieu of an unserved stop/go penalty) for forcing Valtteri Bottas off-track. Esteban Gutiérrez was issued a 20-second post-race time penalty for causing avoidable contact with Romain Grosjean.
Image via Sutton Images