Lewis Hamilton wins Italy GP
British driver beat team rival Rosberg into second
Tensions between the two dominated build up
Felipe Massa finished third
Has Lewis Hamilton’s luck finally turned at the 13th race of the season?
The Formula One title contender beat rival Nico Rosberg to the checkered flag at the Italian Grand Prix.
The dueling Mercedes teammates came to Italy bruised and bowed after a bust-up in Belgium.
Rosberg had apologized to Hamilton for effectively putting him out of the race in Spa and the team made it clear under no circumstances would they tolerate another clash between its two cars.
But on Monza’s high-speed circuit, the German championship leader knocked himself out of contention.
On lap 29, and with Hamilton looming large in his mirrors, Rosberg misjudged his braking at the first chicane – for the second time in the race – and Hamilton sailed past to inherit the lead.
The passionate crowd roared with delight and Hamilton cruised to his sixth win of the season.
“I had the pace on everyone and on Nico and I felt that way all weekend,” Hamilton told reporters.
McLaren’s 2008 champion is now 22 points behind Rosberg, who is chasing his first world title, with six races left to run. The final race in Abu Dhabi offers double points for the first time.
Despite his misfortune during the race, Rosberg was booed on the podium just as he was in Spa.
“It’s obviously not nice but what can I say?” the 29-year-old said. “I hope that with time they forgive and forget. I have apologized, I can’t really do anything more than that.”
There was a sweet third place for Felipe Massa, who celebrated in front of Ferrari’s famous tifosi.
The Brazilian, who raced in Ferrari colors for eight years, claimed his first podium since joining Williams with a controlled race.
“I’m so happy to be on the podium here,” said Massa, who was confirmed as a Williams’ driver for 2015 on Sunday along with teammate Valtteri Bottas. “There’s a lot more to come.”
There was a feeling before race day that the Italian Grand Prix would be a battle of mental strength as well as engine might.
Whether it was brake failure, engine fires or a puncture meted out by his Mercedes teammate, fate has been a fickle friend to Hamilton.
The British racer mastered the mind games in Monza.
Hamilton fought back after a technical problem with his start procedure dropped him back from pole position to fourth on the opening lap.
When the team advised him to maintain a two-second gap to leader Rosberg and save his tyres for a fight at the end of the race, Hamilton had other ideas.
“I knew that wasn’t the way forward, so I chose another route,” he explained.
Hamilton immediately set about cutting into his teammate’s lead and his looming presence was a contributing factor in Rosberg’s error.
“Lewis was quick, coming from behind,” the German said. “I needed to up my pace and then as a result I just went into the mistake.
“That was very bad and lost me the lead.”
When asked by CNN if he had proved he had the mental toughness to win the title, he answered: “I came here to do a job and I did it.”
He added: “I came here with a positive attitude. All those experiences I’ve had have prepared me for it today.
“I’m quite grateful that I didn’t lose it, didn’t end up crashing in the first corner, I didn’t end up touching anyone.
“I managed to keep my composure. [But] I’m still looking for one of those weekends where we don’t have any troubles.”
If victory boosted Hamilton’s reserves in the mental warfare between the Mercedes rival, then Rosberg’s confidence may have been dented by his own mistakes.
Whatever the internal mental machinations, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is still expecting the fight to the title to remain a close battle between his two racers.
“You need extreme mental strength to make it until the end and win the championship,” he said.
“I’m impressed with Lewis as he’s had some dreadful weekends and he has always come back with a smile to the next race.
“I think mentally Nico is very strong and if you want to be a world champion you have to go through lows and highs.
“Lewis has had many of them and he came back and we’ve seen Nico after Silverstone came back.
“I think both of them have it in them to bounce back after bad weekends.”