FOR Ferrari, the wait continues. For Lewis Hamilton, it was a dream of a race as he won the Italian Grand Prix yesterday after starting third on the grid to extend his championship lead over Sebastian Vettel following an opening-lap collision with the German driver that effectively ended his chances of victory on Sunday.
Ferrari was hopeful of ending an eight-year wait for a win at its home track after taking the front two places on the grid at the Italian GP for the first time since 2000 but pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen was overtaken by Hamilton eight laps from the end and the Mercedes driver held on, much to the disappointment of the passionate Italian tifosi.
“Today was so difficult. Whilst the negativity is never great, that’s what powered me along. I actually accept it,” Hamilton said after getting roundly booed on the podium.
Hamilton tied Michael Schumacher’s record of five Italian GP victories and extended his overall lead to 30 points over Vettel, who had cut the British driver’s advantage to 17 points following last weekend’s victory in Belgium.
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was third, ahead of Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who received a five-second penalty.
Hamilton put Vettel under pressure from the start but Vettel pulled clear and was alongside Raikkonen into the first corner.
Hamilton had another go on the outside heading into the second chicane, inching ahead of Vettel when they made contact, causing Vettel to spin and lose part of his front wing.
The safety car was deployed and Vettel was forced into the pits for a new wing, coming out 18th.
Both drivers complained on team radio but an investigation decided that no further action was necessary.
Hamilton waited until the end of lap 28 to come in for fresh tyres, handing the lead to Bottas, who was ahead of a charging Raikkonen.
Hamilton emerged third and with his teammate holding up Raikkonen, the British driver was able to close the gap.
When Bottas eventually pitted at the end of lap 36, the fight was on, with Raikkonen holding a one-second advantage over Hamilton.
A few laps later Hamilton struck, coming around the outside of Raikkonen on turn one at the end of the straight to overtake the Finn and never looked back.
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