Lewis Hamilton wins Italian Grand Prix at Monza
Opens up 53-point gap in title race
Nico Rosberg retires with two laps to go
Result stood after stewards' investigation
Lewis Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza Sunday to open up a commanding lead in the Formula One title race, but had to survive a stewards’ investigation before the result was confirmed.
The Mercedes maestro finished over 25 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, with Felipe Massa completing the podium for Williams.
Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg, his nearest challenger in the championship battle, was forced to retire when his engine blew with two laps to go as he challenged Vettel for second place.
It has left Hamilton with a 53-point advantage with seven rounds of the 19-race championship remaining and well set to retain his title and win a third world crown.
Defending champion Hamilton had controlled the race from the start but in the closing stages was mysteriously told to speed up by his team.
After taking the checkered flag and the podium celebrations led by Star Wars film director George Lucas, it emerged that race officials were scrutinizing the tire pressures ran by the Mercedes team.
New guidelines had been put in place by tire manufacturers Pirelli after the Belgian Grand Prix where a number of punctures led to safety concerns.
Hamilton’s rear left tire was apparently 0.3 PSI under inflated, but after a lengthy wait his victory was confirmed.
“The stewards are satisfied that the team followed the currently specified procedure supervised by the tire manufacturer for the safe operation of the tires,” said a statement.
The Briton had controlled the race from the start after claiming his seventh straight pole and making a clean getaway to power clear of his rivals.
By contrast, Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen stalled from second on the grid, while Rosberg slipped back to sixth spot before fighting his way back through the field.
Hamilton, using a new and improved engine, was able to lap consistently quicker than Vettel to claim his seventh win in 12 races ahead of the 13th round of the season in Singapore in a fortnight.
It was a peerless display by Hamilton, who was quizzed about his new blonde hairstyle by Lucas.
“Do blondes have more fun?” Lucas asked Hamilton “I hope so,” he replied.
In the end, following an anxious wait, Hamilton could indeed afford to smile as he celebrated his 40th career F1 win in his 50th start for Mercedes.
Behind the podium finishers, Valtteri Bottas came home fourth in the second Williams ahead of the misfortunate Raikkonen and Sergio Perez of Force India.
Nico Hulkenberg was seventh in the second Force India ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull, Swede Marcus Ericsson of Sauber and Russian Daniil Kvyat in the second Red Bull, who rounded out the points scoring.