Formula 1

F1 Belgium: Hamilton and Mercedes Unstoppable at Monza; Ferrari Fall Back

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Lewis Hamilton took a dominant victory at Monza to take the championship lead - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Lewis Hamilton became the first back-to-back winner in 2017 after a Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team master class at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza on Sunday, which also took him to the top of the championship standings for the first time this season.

With Valtteri Bottas bringing his Mercedes home in second place, it was the perfect afternoon under the blue skies in Italy, a stark difference in conditions compared to qualifying, when heavy rain caused a mixed up grid.

But while there was delight in the Mercedes camp, Sebastian Vettel will be scratching his head as the Scuderia Ferrari driver ended up 36.317 seconds back in third as he relinquished his championship leadership.

Hamilton retained the lead at the start, with Esteban Ocon jumping ahead of Lance Stroll on the run down to the first turn, but Bottas soon edged his way passed both, once he had negotiated his way passed Kimi Raikkonen.

Vettel then moved himself up passed his team-mate, before working his way through into third, but the German had no answer to the pace of Mercedes, despite the German team conserving their engines early by turning them down.

A remarkable race from sixteenth on the grid by Daniel Ricciardo ended with him closing the gap on Vettel in the closing laps, but the Australian ran out of laps to get close enough to challenge, but he was still able to gain twelve positions and finish fourth.

His final move for position was on Raikkonen, who he surprised by taking the inside line heading into turn one, with the second Ferrari driver then falling back from the Red Bull Racing driver by almost twenty seconds over the final laps.

Raikkonen himself had been involved in an early battle with Ocon and Stroll, jumping ahead of the latter in the pit stops before passing the former at the first chicane, but the Finn was complaining of a problem with the rear end of his SF70H, and ended up over a minute down on race winner Hamilton.

Ocon took his Sahara Force India F1 Team car to sixth, holding off the challenge of Williams Martini Racing’s Stroll until the chequered flag, with the Canadian surviving a late race challenge from team-mate Felipe Massa to take seventh.

Sergio Perez finished on Massa’s tail in ninth for Force India and was the final un-lapped runner, with tenth placed Max Verstappen a full lap off the race lead when the chequered flag fell.

Verstappen was forced to pit early on after contact with Massa at turn one, with the Dutchman suffering a puncture that saw him drop to the back of the field, but he used the pace advantage of his Red Bull to catch up to the field and then pass a number of drivers.

Valtteri Bottas finished 4.471 seconds behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

His final move on Kevin Magnussen brought him into the points with just a couple of laps remaining, with the Haas F1 Team driver missing out on a point by more than ten seconds when the flag fell.

Daniil Kvyat finished on the Dane’s tail in twelfth for Scuderia Toro Rosso, just ahead of Nico Hülkenberg in the leading Renault Sport Formula 1 Team entry, while the second Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr ended up fourteenth.

Following his qualifying crash, Romain Grosjean could only finish down in fifteenth, more than half a minute down on Sainz ahead of him, while the final finisher was Pascal Wehrlein of the Sauber F1 Team, who lost Marcus Ericsson a few laps from the end.

Both of the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team drivers were forced into retirement due to mechanical issues, which will be disappointing for Stoffel Vandoorne in particular as the Belgian was running comfortably inside the top ten when he pulled into the pits with a loss of power.

Fernando Alonso was not in contention for points himself but also retired early, but not before he had issues with Jolyon Palmer as the two battled for position heading into the second chicane. Palmer cut the corner and gained an advantage, with Alonso criticising the Renault driver for failing to give the position back, and then criticising the decision only to hand him a five second penalty for the offence.

Palmer himself was the first retirement, with his engineers bringing him into the pits with a mechanical issue, which leaves him thirteen races into the season and yet to score a point, one of only two full time racers, along with Ericsson, not to break into the top ten in a race this season.

The result sees Hamilton assume the lead of the championship by three points from Vettel, but with the Singapore Grand Prix coming up in two weeks time, it is entirely possible that the battle could swing again to the Ferrari driver.

The podium finishers celebrate after the Italian Grand Prix – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Autodromo Nazionale Monza Race Result

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