Ferrari were overwhelming favourites for victory in front of their loyal fans, the Tifosi, at Monza as they locked out the front row. But Lewis Hamilton had other ideas, taking advantage of a spin from Sebastian Vettel after a brilliant pass on his title rival, before hunting down Kimi Raikkonen to take a shock victory in a thrilling Italian Grand Prix.
On Saturday, Vettel said Raikkonen would be allowed to win the Italian Grand Prix from pole position and for much of the race, it looked like that would be the case. The Finn’s chances were boosted when Vettel defended too hard from Hamilton into the second chicane on Lap 1.
Hamilton was on the outside and Vettel opted to try and hang on alongside. The result was contact, with Vettel’s Ferrari spun round to drop him to the back of the field. Hamilton, meanwhile, was unscathed and set about chasing down Raikkonen.
Raikkonen pitted first, with Hamilton going eight laps longer. With fresher tyres, and the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who had yet to stop, backing Raikkonen up at the front, Hamilton closed onto the Ferrari’s gearbox. Bottas then pitted, giving Raikkonen clear air, but his tyres were in trouble.
Hamilton bided his time and then pounced to snatch the lead with eight laps to go, before pulling away to take a brilliant victory against the run of form. It was Mercedes’ fifth successive win at Monza with Hamilton the first driver to win from below the front row since Rubens Barrichello from fifth in 2009.
Raikkonen nursed his car home to second, clinching his 100th podium, with Verstappen crossing the line third before a five-second time penalty dropped him behind Bottas and Vettel in the final classification.
Vettel leaves Monza 30 points adrift of championship leader Hamilton on a weekend where he would have expected to slice the deficit to at least 10. However, there are still seven races and a maximum of175 points left on the table.
From the high-speed expanses of Monza, we head to the tight confines of the Singapore streets in two weeks’ time. This is prime Red Bull territory, but will their agility be enough to overhaul the Mercedes and Ferrari powerhouses? Find out on September 16.
The stats that matter
- Hamilton is the first man to win the Italian Grand Prix from below the front row since Rubens Barrichello took victory from 5th on the grid in 2009.
- Raikkonen led a lap at Monza for the first time in this decade, and led more laps today than he had in the rest of the 2018 season combined (17 before today).
- The Finn’s second place today was his 100th podium finish in his F1 career – he is the 5th driver to reach that number after Prost, Schumacher, Hamilton and Vettel.
- Ferrari were on the podium at Monza for the 7th time in the last 8 years, but they haven’t won here since 2010.
- Thanks to Ocon and Perez, Force India scored points with both cars at Monza for the 4th consecutive year.
- Sirotkin’s 11th place for Williams was the best result of the Russian’s F1 career to date.
- Alonso’s early retirement in Italy means he has completed just 9 laps in last 2 races combined.
- His penalty may have cost him a podium, but Verstappen still achieved his 50th career points finish today.
- Grosjean’s P6 was his best-ever finish at Monza and means he has scored in 5 of the last 6 races. He now has 35 points – his best-ever total with Haas.
- A suspected engine failure meant Ricciardo retired for the 3rd time in the last 4 races (and the 6th time in 2018).