Lewis Hamilton passed Kimi Raikkonen’s tyre-troubled Ferrari for victory in a riveting Italian Grand Prix after the Brit spun title rival Sebastian Vettel from second place to the back of the field.
Hamilton’s Mercedes collided with Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari on the first lap, after leaving the German with no racing room at the apex of Turn 4. The contact spun Vettel to the end of the field while Brit went on to win the Italian Grand Prix by 8.705-seconds over polesitter Kimi Räikkönen. Hamilton took the lead for good after an aggressive overtake of the Finn on Lap 45 as Räikkönen struggled with severely worn tyres, enabling the Brit to once again denying Scuderia Ferrari a win in its home race.
The victory was the 68th of Hamilton’s Formula One career, his series-leading sixth this season and his fifth at Monza, equaling the record of Italian Grand Prix wins held by the immortal Michael Schumacher. It allows Hamilton to extend his lead over Vettel in the championship standings to 30 points.
While just missing the top step of the podium, Räikkönen’s drive marked his milestone 100th podium finish in Formula 1. He is one of only five drivers who has scored 100 or more podium finishes. Schumacher leads the way with 155, Hamilton has 128, Vettel has 107, and Alain Prost has 106. Räikkönen’s first podium finish was scored 16 years ago in the 2002 Australian Grand Prix.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished a battling third on the road but dropped to fifth at the finish due to his contact with Valtteri Bottas on Lap 43. The Dutch driver received a five-second penalty for colliding with Bottas in the braking zone at Turn 1. The time penalty also allowed Vettel to move up to fourth after his comeback drive.
Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid on Saturday with the two individual fastest in the history of F1. Fastest of the fastest was 38-year old Kimi Räikkönen, who was able to deliver a pure, frightening demonstration of a 2018 Ferrari’s balance, flow and power when left in the somewhat clean air, as he followed Vettel at a distance and never put a wheel wrong. He became the oldest polesitter in F1 since 41-year-old Nigel Mansell at the 1994 Australian Grand Prix. Vettel for his part was fighting a car with a tendency to gently push then late rotate, causing him to take more at turn in and slide a bit wide at the exit. The car still put him on the front row at Monza for the first time in his Ferrari career.
Hamilton claimed third, then Bottas, with a deadly serious Max Verstappen wringing all he could from his flat-rear wing, Renault-engined Red Bull for fifth. Behind was Grosjean, Sainz, Ocon, Gasly and a hustling Lance Stroll, who put Williams into Q3 for the first time this season.
The lights went out with the stage set for Ferrari’s first win on home soil since 2010, but within the first four corners, that expectation was doomed. Mercedes had led every lap of every Italian Grand Prix since the start of the current turbo hybrid era, and Hamilton wasn’t about to change that scenario without a fight or two.
Sebastian Vettel got a slight jump on Räikkönen, but the Finn moved off the starting line and immediately went to the middle of the track to protect his lead, with Vettel now tucked under his gearbox. Braking for the first turn, Vettel pulled out to challenge Räikkönen, who quickly covered the move, slowing Vettel’s exit.
Running toward the Roggia chicane, Hamilton caught Vettel’s slipstream and made a forceful move on the outside of the second chicane to get alongside the German. He had just his nose ahead and gave the Vettel no room on the inside as the Brit chose to shut the door after the apex. Had Vettel braked, he might have had most of the chasing field resting on top of his Ferrari after the smoked cleared. Thus, Vettel had nowhere to go and was spun. Hamilton took second place and went after Räikkönen for the lead, while Vettel dropped to the back of the pack.
Hamilton closed on the Finn on Lap 4 and passed him into Turn 1, but Räikkönen immediately responded taking the lead back around the outside into the Roggia chicane. Hamilton retreated but kept the Ferrari within a second or two for the remaining first stint.
Ferrari pitted Räikkönen early from the lead on lap 20 after the Mercedes crew were seen preparing for a tyre change. It was a ruse, as Hamilton finally pitted eight laps later, with the damage done. Räikkönen was now on older tyres than Hamilton and that fact would lead “near catastrophic” blisters that determined the eventual winner.
When Hamilton emerged from his pit stop on lap 29 and had lost 5.2-seconds to Räikkönen by staying out on his worn rubber as Raikkonen pushed on. Now he could attack as Räikkönen was now caught behind Hamilton’s teammate Bottas, who had no intention of letting Räikkönen past.
Ferrari pitted Räikkönen early from the lead on lap 20 after the Mercedes crew were seen preparing for a tyre change. It was a ruse, as Hamilton finally pitted eight laps later, with the damage done. Räikkönen was now on older tyres than Hamilton, and that fact would lead “near catastrophic” blisters that determined the eventual winner.
When Hamilton emerged from his pit stop on Lap 29, he had lost 5.2-seconds to Räikkönen by staying out on his worn rubber as Räikkönen pushed on. Now he could attack as Räikkönen was held up behind Hamilton’s teammate Bottas, who had no intention of letting Räikkönen past.
The three cars ran in tandem until Bottas pitted on lap 36. Raikkonen resumed in the lead, but with the Finn’s older tyres showing blisters emerging on his rears, Hamilton quickly closed until he was right on the Finn’s gearbox with 20 laps to go.
Räikkönen limped on to the finish, eventually falling 8.705-seconds behind at the chequered flag for second place. Bottas trailed a further 5.3-seconds back after attempting the pass on Verstappen, with Vettel recovering to 2.0-seconds off in fourth.
Behind Max Verstappen, Romain Grosjean secured a solid sixth-place finish for Haas, holding off the Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez in the final few laps. Carlos Sainz took ninth place for Renault ahead of Lance Stroll, who scored Williams first championship point since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April.
Later, Grosjean’s Haas was excluded for a technical violation, raising second Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin up to the final point.