Lewis Hamilton desribed winning at Monza as “one of the greatest experiences of my Formula 1 career”. The Britain took victory in a dominant fashion in the Italian Grand Prix to record his 20th F1 victory and the 180th of his McLaren team.
It was not all smiles at McLaren today though – Jenson Button retired from second place with a fuel-system problem, denying the team a 1-2 finish.
“Winning at Monza is one of the greatest experiences of my Formula 1 career,” said Hamilton, speaking after his victory today. “I absolutely love this place: I’ve been coming to Italy to race since I was 13 years old and I just love the culture, the food and the people.
“Since I started in Formula 1, Monza has been one of the races I always wanted to win at – it’s such an incredible, historic circuit and all the great racing drivers have won here. To finally put my name on that list makes me feel extremely proud, but also very humble.
“Our car has been fantastic all weekend, and it was nice to have a relaxed grand prix with no troubles. I was out on my own for most of the race and just tried to manage the gap behind me. I was cruising at the end, but, once I heard that Sergio [Perez] had got past Fernando [Alonso], I had to push a little to keep the cushion over second place.
“The race was very unfortunate for Jenson – we were running first and second at the time and it would have been great for the team if we could have finished like that.
“This championship is proving to be so unpredictable – and I’m so grateful that we’ve got a good car and that we’re in the fight. We’ve got seven more races on the calendar. We should enjoy today, but this victory is just one step. Tomorrow, we’ll start all over again, for Singapore.”
Button congratulated Hamilton and his team on victory today, and admitted that it would have been difficult to chase down his team-mate, although he should have taken second place comfortably.
“I had too much wheelspin at the start, and that dropped me to third and caused me to lose a lot of time behind Felipe [Massa],” explained Button. “But it was nice to get past him, put some clear air between us, and then start chasing down Lewis.
“I was never going to challenge him for the win, but it would have been great for the team if we could have finished first and second. But it wasn’t to be.
“I don’t entirely know what caused my car to stop – I’m told it was a fuel system problem that we’re still investigating. The engine cut out and I had to coast to a stop. These things happen.
“But, looking for the positives, I want to offer my congratulations to the whole team. We’ve proven over the past few races that we’re very strong in both qualifying trim and race trim. That consistency is really key, and we haven’t seen that form from any team all season, so that’s very encouraging indeed.”
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh knows that the team missed out on big points today with the retirement for Button, but predicts that there is plenty still to play for over the remaining seven races.
“We should have scored a one-two finish, but Jenson was deprived of an easy second place by a fuel system problem,” he said. “That’s frustrating for him and frustrating for us, but the important thing is that our car is a winner. We’ve now won three grands prix in a row, and both our drivers are on top form.
“Lewis has now closed up to second place in the drivers’ world championship, with seven grands prix still to run. It was his third victory of the season, and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ fifth. The momentum is with us, and the drivers’ world championship crown is well within Lewis’s grasp. In the constructors’ championship, too, we’re in good shape.
“Winning is what Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is all about. In Singapore in two weeks’ time, we’re planning to do some more of it.”