Lewis Hamilton produced two sensational overtaking manoeuvres to win the Italian Grand Prix and grab back the momentum in the battle for the Formula One title from Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton picked up a valuable 25 points in the season standings, while title rival Vettel had to settle for fourth after an opening lap mistake involving the Mercedes man.
Vettel allowed Hamilton enough room to attempt a thrilling overtake, and then collided with the defending champion trying to correct his error.
That left the four-time champion needing a trip to the pits, while allowing Hamilton to battle with Kimi Raikkonen for top spot on the podium.
When Vettel returned he found himself in 18th and, although he carved his way back into the points, he was unable to stop Hamilton extending his championship advantage to 30 points.
Hamilton’s day could have been a frustrating one as Raikkonen drove with aplomb but with eight laps remaining he seized his chance, the Briton sliding down the outside and making the move stick at the next corner.
That was the end of Raikkonen’s challenge and Hamilton cruised home to claim a record-equalling fifth victory at Monza, joining the great Michael Schumacher.
Max Verstappen almost claimed his sixth podium of the season but a five-second penalty for a coming together with Valtteri Bottas meant he ceded third place to the Finn to complete a good day for Mercedes.
YES!!!!!!!!!! What. A. Race!@LewisHamilton wins the #ItalianGP! @ValtteriBottas comes home a well-earned P3! INCREDIBLE! #F1 pic.twitter.com/aWWhdyJfgv
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) September 2, 2018
Fernando Alonso’s farewell tour goes from bad to worse as he suffered a sixth retirement of the season as more engine problems hit his McLaren.
Having started from 13th on the grid the Spaniard – a two-time winner at Monza – struggled to make any progress and by lap 11 he was out. “Same problem,” he said on the radio. “What a shame.”
Unfortunately, Fernando is forced to retire his car from the #ItalianGP. He returns to the garage where the team will investigate the issue. pic.twitter.com/YIFiPqfmgN
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) September 2, 2018
VETTEL BERATES “SILLY” HAMILTON
They are never going to get along given they are fighting for the world championship, but the relationship between Vettel and Hamilton may be even more strained after this race.
Having nearly touched at the first corner, the pair did collide heading into a chicane, Hamilton having got down the outside of his rival. It left Vettel facing the wrong way and needing a new front wing, costing him valuable places while Hamilton was free to battle Raikkonen.
In the immediate aftermath Vettel expressed his frustrations over team radio, saying: “That was silly, where did he want to go?”
“THEY’RE KILLING RACING”
Verstappen produced an excellent piece of overtaking at the start to jump Bottas but the pair’s scrap ultimately cost the Dutchman, much to his frustration.
As Bottas looked to find a way past the Red Bull he was shunted off the track at the first corner, leaving him swerving through the bollards before returning.
The stewards investigation found Verstappen at fault and issued a penalty, which meant despite finishing third on the track he had to settle for fifth.
“We have been given a five-second penalty,” the team said over radio. “For what?!” Verstappen replied. “It’s [expletives]. I gave him space. They’re doing a great job of killing racing.”
5 sec penalty for Max confirmed for Turn 1 incident with Bottas. Now to push to build the gap! :facepunch: #ItalianGP :it: #F1 pic.twitter.com/m1IQgUimtb
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) September 2, 2018
IN THE POINTS
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:16.54.484
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +8.705s
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +14.066s
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +16.151s
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +18.208s
6. Romain Grosjean (Haas) +56.320s
7. Esteban Ocon (Racing Point Force India) +57.761s
8. Sergio Perez (Racing Point Force India) +58.678s
9. Carlos Sainz (Renault) +78.140s
10. Lance Stroll (Williams) +1 lap
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 256
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 226 (-30)
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 164 (-92)
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 159 (-97)
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 130 (-126)
1. Mercedes 415
2. Ferrari 390 (-25)
3. Red Bull 248 (-167)
4. Haas 84 (-331)
5. Renault 84 (-331)
The iconic night race in Singapore awaits in two weeks’ time as Formula One moves away from Europe. Vettel has won four times at the Marina Bay Street Circuit since its introduction in 2008, a record that Hamilton could equal if he repeats his 2017 success.