Lewis Hamilton put in a faultless performance to regain the lead of the drivers championship in front of the notorious ‘Tifosi’ crowd.
He was met with boos as he took the top step of the podium for the last European race of the season, however he was quick to praise the passionate Italian fans, saying that “the energy is like nowhere else we ever really get to see.”
“the way things have come together in the second half of the season is exceptional” – lewis hamilton
This is the first time the Briton has lead the championship all season, edging ahead of his rival Sebastian Vettel.
“This is obviously an incredibly exciting season; the last two races have been really strong for us as a team”, said a delighted Hamilton.
“The way things have come together in the second half of the season is exceptional. Today, the car felt fantastic.”
A wet qualifying session and a large amount of drivers receiving penalties for power unit changes caused a confusing grid line-up. However, one element of qualifying was the same as usual as Hamilton claimed pole position.
Hamilton’s pole setting lap was 1.148 seconds faster than his nearest competitor. He was joined on the front row by 18-year-old Canadian, Lance Stroll. Force India’s Esteban Ocon started 3rd.
So with a jumbled up starting grid, the lights went out and the action began. Hamilton was able to fend off Stroll, who was the youngest driver to start a race from the front row of the grid, before heading off into the distance to run his own race. This race was, arguably, the most straightforward win for Hamilton this season.
Similarly, his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas had an equally simple race. After starting the race 6th, he found himself in 2nd place by lap 4. The only drama came with a first lap battle with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
After the race, Bottas couldn’t praise his team enough, stating that “the car was so strong” and “a pure joy to drive”.
“it was very clear that mercedes were quicker than us today” – sebastian vettel
Sebastian Vettel, in an attempt to limit the damage done to his title hopes, quickly made his way up to 3rd place, where he spent most of the race.
However, after the chequered flag had fallen, he informed his team that “something was wrong” with the car after he went off track. He explained that this was the cause of his slower lap times for much of the second half of the race.
“It was very clear that [Mercedes] were quicker than us today”, Vettel admitted.
“But despite that, although I’m not happy, I think we can accept the result.
“We did what we could and that’s what it’s about. The podium, I think, makes up for everything this weekend”, he added.
Max Verstappen, after only completing half of the races so far this season, faced more bad luck as contact with Felipe Massa left him with a puncture on only the 3rd lap of the race. He managed to recover this early disaster, moving his way from last place on the grid to finish the race in 10th, claiming the final point.
His team mate, Australian Daniel Ricciardo, had a far more impressive weekend. Despite qualifying third fastest, a penalty left him starting 16th. Displaying some incredible talent and wonderful overtakes, he finished the race 4th.
The grid will next be in action in Singapore on the 16th and 17th September.
–Charlotte Andrews, Correspondent (Sport)