Italian GP | Rosberg claims controlled victory after Hamilton’s poor start

Nico Rosberg wins the 2016 Italian Grand Prix.

Monza, the Temple of Speed, but speed was not entirely needed for Rosberg as he walked off into the sunset to claim victory at the Italian Grand Prix. Hamilton had begun the day sitting on pole, but would be forced to settle for second as Nico further reduced the Brit’s championship lead.

Hamilton had mastered Monza on Saturday afternoon to command qualifying and secure his third straight pole at the Italian Grand Prix. But unfortunately for Lewis, his seventh pole of the year would not return the lead of the race by the first corner as a poor start plummeted the championship leader back to sixth place.

In contrast to the pole sitter, the man behind him on the grid gave the devoted Tifosi something to cheer about as Vettel blew by, and took the opening chicane side-by-side with Rosberg.

Nico would hold onto the lead by the Curva Grande. But Hamilton’s race had a whole new challenge while Rosberg soared off into the distance with the Ferrari’s in tow.

The man separating Hamilton from the Ferrari’s knew his challenge was not with the Silver Arrow, nor the Prancing Horse. But Ricciardo still put up a stern defence to Hamilton, as Lewis looked to take fifth away from the ‘Bull.

With better straight line speed, Hamilton sought his chance into turn one via the outside line. But Ricciardo, with the inside, dictated the corner and retained the position, at the expense of exit speed. Allowing Hamilton to brave it around the outside of Curva Granda and move into fifth.

Fourth place soon followed for Hamilton as he slipstreamed his way ahead of Bottas after a strong Parabolica. While for his fellow Briton, Button saw his potential last Italian Grand Prix get off to a shaky start. After announcing he would step aside for Vandoorne to race in 2017, although an option remains to race again for McLaren in 2018.

Off the line, Button’s get away was fine. But for Guttierez ahead bogging down, Jenson was forced to go wide before nearly being forced into the pit wall, dipping a wheel into the gravel, by the charging Ericsson. Falling down to 19th.

Before Button could regain some lost places by picking off Ericsson, Gutierrez and Magnussen through the Curva Grande, two cars would collide and see their races end in the infant stages.

The incident out of the first corner between Nasr and Palmer would go on to leave a sour taste in the Renault driver’s mouth. As upon exit, Nasr edged across to take the racing line but interlocked wheels with the Renault – spinning his Sauber off with damage, while leaving Palmer without a front wing.

After coming into the pits for a new front wing, Palmer would need to retire with damage too severe to continue like Nasr. But the race stewards still handed the retired Nasr a 10-second penalty for causing a collision.

With the threat of that penalty carrying over to the Singapore Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time, Sauber sent their Brazilian back out to serve the penalty. Before then retiring the car once more.

Meanwhile, in the battle at the front that was not a battle, Lewis began to lose a second per lap to Rosberg as Hamilton began to feel his rear tyres were “pretty wasted already”.

Potentially in reply to that radio message, Ferrari drew both their cars into the pits for a fresh set of supersoft tyres. While by pitting first, Raikkonen narrowly missed out on undercutting his team-mate who emerged alongside the Finn.

As for the other Finn in Formula One, Bottas had already made the first standard pit stop at the end of lap 13 as he switched from supers to softs while Ricciardo closed. Bottas was joined in the pit lane by Verstappen and Alonso, with Verstappen having overtaken the McLaren early in the race following a poor start of his own.

But for Alonso, his stop would cost him another place as Hulkenberg completed the undercut on the Spaniard. For Fernando, he lost time in the pits as the traffic light failed to change from red to green to mark the pit lane clear – allowing the Force India an easy gain.

Then as the man who claims to want a break from Formula One pitted, the McLaren traffic light failed again. Costing Button time.

But the time lost by Button would soon come back to him as the team radioed in: “cars on your pit window are about to be lapped. They will lose time. Your pace is good.” And his pace was certainly good after coming in for another set of supersoft tyres, flying after his stop to close in on Alonso for 12th.

While Button hunted down his team-mate, the Mercedes team-mates were coming into the pits themselves. With Hamilton gaining on Rosberg as he began to push.

Hamilton, though, still emerged from the pits four seconds back of the Ferrari’s and 11 seconds off Rosberg – despite the German stopping far off his marks. Although Hamilton would secure second place when the Ferraris stopped once more.

While Hamilton set about reducing the deficit to his team-mate, he locked up into the first chicane. Forcing him to dive across the kerbs and cut the corner. But the opening corner remained clear when Hamilton arrived, despite Wehrlein forced to park his Manor there earlier in the race.

Wehrlein received an urgent radio message from his team to stop the car where safe and chose to stop at first chicane where there is an exit road. Then as he calmly levered himself out the cockpit, smoke poured from the side pods.

As for the battle between the McLaren’s, the soon to be departing (from racing) Button made his move on Alonso for 12th into the first chicane. Taking the place from Fernando, who was unable to reply by the second chicane, Button the set about hunting down Grosjean for 11th. But the Haas proved one challenge too far, crossing the line half a second back.

Out in front, Rosberg took victory by 15 seconds to Hamilton. Reducing Lewis’ championship advantage down to just two points as Formula One prepares to fly away again.

Ferrari joined the Mercedes duo on the Italian Grand Prix podium with Sebastian Vettel. With the German crossing the line 20-seconds off the race winner and seven seconds ahead of his team-mate.

Pos Driver Team Gap Points
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:17’28.089 25
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 15.07 18
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 20.99 15
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 27.561 12
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 45.295 10
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 51.015 8
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull 54.236 6
8 Sergio Perez Force India 1’04.954 4
9 Felipe Massa Williams 1’05.617 2
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1’18.656 1
11 Romain Grosjean Haas 1 Lap
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1 Lap
13 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1 Lap
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1 Lap
15 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 1 Lap
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1 Lap
17 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1 Lap
18 Esteban Ocon Manor 2 Laps
 19 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso  DNF
 20 Pascal Wehrlein Manor  DNF
21 Jolyon Palmer Renault DNF
 22 Felipe Nasr Sauber  DNF