The Italian Grand Prix won’t go down as one of the best races of the 2015 season, but that should take away from some masterful – and dreadful! – performances at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
Lewis Hamilton proved to be the dominant player once again, but this time the only challenge to his victory was a post-race hearing with the Stewards over his tyre pressures. It spoiled the celebrations somewhat, but in the end he was allowed to keep his victory.
So who were the winners and losers at Monza?
Lewis Hamilton proved to be untouchable winning the Italian Grand Prix by over 25 seconds. A quick start into the lead from pole position mixed with great pace, a new-spec engine and precise driving gave the Engishman the edge over all his competitors. The last few laps, however, were nail-biting as the then-unpublished fear of a post-race penalty reared its head, but he still managed to put in some of the best laps of his weekend to win and extend his championship lead.
Both Force India cars took a a helpful haul of points as Sergio Pérez finished in sixth, one spot ahead of teammate Nico Hülkenberg. The result returned the team to fifth in the Constructors’ Championship standings, 13 points clear of Lotus.
Sebastian Vettel took an emotional second place in his first race on Ferrari’s home soil, fully grasping the reality of what it means to be a Ferrari driver racing at Monza. He didn’t have the pace to ever mount a challenge to Hamilton, but it was another tidy display from the German who now sits just 21 points off second place in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Credit too to Marcus Ericsson who claimed his third points’ finish on the trot and showed good pace in the unfancied Sauber. While he did cop some criticism after blatantly failing to use his mirrors in qualifying – where he rightly earned a three-place grid penalty for blocking – he kept his nose clean in the race and pushed hard to give the Sauber team two more points to close to within 10 points of Toro Rosso in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
Poor Nico Rosberg couldn’t take a trick this weekend. After being forced to switch to his Belgium-spec engine ahead of qualifying, he lost further places at the start trying to avoid Kimi Räikkönen’s stationary Ferrari. A smart strategy call and a rapid out-lap vaulted him into third place ahead of the Williams’, but his efforts were not to be rewarded when his long-in-the-tooth Mercedes engine blew with three laps to go. It was a major hit for his championship ambitions, as he now drops from 28 points to 53 points adrift of teammate Lewis Hamilton.
After delivering his best qualifying performance in his second stint as a Ferrari driver, Kimi Räikkönen’s hopes of challenging Lewis Hamilton evaporated within seconds of the starting lights going out as he bogged down off the line. That he fell to last and tigered his way back into fifth place should be credited, but he will leave Italy wondering what might have been…
It was a weekend to forget for the Lotus F1 Team. In the first lap both of their cars retired from collision damage. Romain Grosjean suffered damage after being hit at Turn 1; Maldonado took to the run-off in avoidance, damaging his floor and deranging his front suspension. A double-DNF is not what the team needs right now.
McLaren-Honda continued to earn itself the wrong kind of media attention, with Honda copping the brunt of media criticism for the clear shortcomings of its V6 power units. The MP4-30s were again getting blown away down Monza’s many straights and stood no chance against anyone except the Manor-Marussias. The final sign-off was Fernando Alonso coming to a smoky halt in the final laps, as one of the team’s new Honda engines blew.
Images via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team and Sutton Motorsport Images