Hamilton gets more gremlins, ignores his team’s advice and Rosberg cracks as Lewis recovers to a storming win at Monza.
Hamilton’s start couldn’t have been worse given the situation. He knew that if every remaining round was a Merc 1-2 he’d have to win each to nick the title. Glitchy software put the Brit back into fourth off the start as his launch modes failed and ERS data got itself ‘in a muddle’, with Nico jumping into a two second lead. Hamilton had a quarter-second over Rosberg all weekend and his pressure in the first half of the race forced the uncharacteristically flustered-looking German into two trips through the polystyrene in the run-off at turn one.
Magnussen and Massa were easy prey for the recovering Mercedes as Hamilton produced a cool dive round the latter on the outside of T1. Nico’s second excursion, on lap 29, allowed Lewis to run clear and hold onto a four second advantage as Rosberg’s engineer calling ‘Hoagy’ with his fuel consumption running a kilo higher than his team-mates’.
A lap before, Merc had told Hamilton to save tyres and fuel, keeping a gap just outside of the dirty air. Lewis followed his instinct though, and struck while the iron was hot. It seems he knew best as he immediately purpled his lap, purpled the following first sector, closed over half a second on Rosberg who then made that unforced error. Toto Wolff almost smiled as the conflict had diffused itself this time, without controversy.
Valtteri Bottas dropped like a stone off the grid to 11th from 3rd with clutch calibration problems but scythed through thirteen cars to recover to an eventual fourth. Each pass was clean and easy, using DRS, slipstream and the Mercedes power plant on the home straight. He’d made up eight places brilliantly and with typically Finnish lack-of-fuss from lap two to lap 22.
Ron Dennis’ new protégé, Magnussen was the only one to offer resistance as he squeezed the Finn into the second part of the first chicane. The stewards saw this as too much, adding a five second penalty to his elapsed time. Big Ron will rightly feel aggrieved. So much for letting them go racing.
Team-mate Massa took his first podium of 2014 with a clean run through in third and in-front of fans that know him well after eight seasons with the Scuderia. A former Ferrari man is all the Tifosi had to cling onto – Alonso retired with an ERS shutdown and Raikkonen dragged himself to a poor ninth.
The two Red Bulls provided the last of the real action, coming home in fifth and sixth. With fresher tyres, admittedly, Ricciardo made Vettel look an easy target – reeling him in at eight-tenths a lap. Into the second chicane he again dummied brilliantly outside to inside and steamed past Vettel and off into the Lesmos. The former champion had nothing in reply and nothing in defence.
Hamilton had enough in the car, with better fuel efficiency than his team-mate, to weave over the line; his joy clear to see. Rosberg apologised for his errors but he’ll need to deal with Hamilton’s late season determination on the track if he’s to hold onto his championship lead.