Rosberg reduces Hamilton advantage after Italian GP triumph

by Paul Hensby

Nico Rosberg got the jump on Lewis Hamilton at the start of the Italian Grand Prix and never looked back as he clinched his seventh victory of 2016 to close the gap to his team-mate in the championship to just two points.

Hamilton made a shocking start from pole position, dropping all the way down to sixth, allowing Rosberg to assume the lead, a lead he never looked like relinquishing at any point throughout the 53-lap race.

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were Rosberg’s closest challengers in the early laps but neither of the Scuderia Ferrari drivers were able to remain close to the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS racer, even using the supposedly faster Supersoft Pirelli tyre for the first stint when Rosberg was on the Soft.

Hamilton also dropped behind the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas at the start, but was able to pick both off to run fourth, and then took advantage of being able to make one stop less than both Ferrari drivers to move back into second at the chequered flag, albeit 15.070 seconds back on team-mate Rosberg.

Vettel came out ahead in the battle of the Ferrari’s to claim his first podium finish since the European Grand Prix in June, with Raikkonen finishing 6.571 seconds adrift of his team-mate in fourth.

Ricciardo used an alternative strategy to run the Supersoft tyre again in the final stint of the race to move ahead of Bottas for fifth, while his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen finished where he started in seventh, although he was forced to fight back there after finding himself down in eleventh at the start.

Amongst those Verstappen passed was the Sahara Force India of Sergio Perez, who finished eighth ahead of Felipe Massa, who secured two points for Williams in his final Italian Grand Prix before he retires at the end of the season.

Nico Hülkenberg took the final point for tenth in the second Force India, with Romain Grosjean just holding off the charge of Jenson Button for eleventh, the Haas F1 Team driver holding of the McLaren-Honda driver by 0.551 seconds at the line.

Their respective team-mates Esteban Gutierrez and Fernando Alonso were thirteenth and fourteenth, with the Mexican in particular likely to be disappointed with the outcome after ruining his best starting position of the season by fluffing his start and running towards the back in the early stages, while the McLaren driver made a late race pit stop to enjoy himself and set the fastest lap of the race!

Carlos Sainz Jr had a quiet race to fifteenth for Scuderia Toro Rosso, who saw their other driver Daniil Kvyat retire moments after being given a time penalty for speeding in the pit lane – it was another disappointing day for a driver apparently living on borrowed time within the team.

Marcus Ericsson, Kevin Magnussen and Esteban Ocon were the final finishers, and the other representatives of the Sauber F1 Team, Renault Sport F1 and Manor Racing to see the chequered flag.

Pascal Wehrlein was forced to retire the second Manor by his engineers after a problem developed, with the German pulling over at the first chicane with smoke pouring from his car.

In an otherwise incident-free race, Jolyon Palmer and Felipe Nasr were involved in a lap two collision, with the latter being penalised with a ten-second time penalty for causing the accident. Both drivers retired in the pits with damage, but Sauber sent Nasr out briefly so he could take his penalty before retiring him completely to try and avoid a grid drop for the Singapore Grand Prix.

Autodromo Nazionale Monza Race Result

16Nico RosbergGERMercedes1:17:28.08925
244Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes+15.07018
35Sebastian VettelGERFerrari+20.99015
47Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrari+27.56112
53Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Tag Heuer+45.29510
677Valtteri BottasFINWilliams-Mercedes+51.0158
733Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull-Tag Heuer+54.2366
811Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes+1:04.9544
919Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes+1:05.6172
1027Nico HulkenbergGERForce India-Mercedes+1:18.6561
118Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas-Ferrari+1 Lap
1222Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren-Honda+1 Lap
1321Esteban GutierrezMEXHaas-Ferrari+1 Lap
1414Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-Honda+1 Lap
1555Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault+1 Lap
169Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari+1 Lap
1720Kevin MagnussenDENRenault+1 Lap
1831Esteban OconFRAManor-Mercedes+2 Laps
RET26Daniil KvyatRUSToro Rosso-RenaultRetired
RET94Pascal WehrleinGERManor-MercedesRetired
RET30Jolyon PalmerGBRRenaultRetired
RET12Felipe NasrBRZSauber-FerrariRetired

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