Nico Rosberg has won the Italian Grand Prix to cut the gap in the drivers’ championship down to just two points, with seven races to go.
Rosberg looked totally in command of the race once again as he lead at the first corner, after another poor start from his team mate Lewis Hamilton. Once out the front Rosberg was able to control the pace, and never looked in danger of losing the race on another controlled drive to victory. His team mate Hamilton on the other hand lost out at the start, falling to sixth place by the first corner. From there the victory was out of his reach as he had to fight back to regain 2nd place, especially from the Ferrari’s.
“I don’t know what happened, l did everything as normal,” Hamilton said in the post-race press conference after finishing second to Rosberg. “I did the sequence exactly the same. I just got lots of wheelspin.”
Ferrari went for a more aggressive two stop strategy today in the hope of challenging the Mercedes. However, the strategy didn’t seem to work as well as they suspected and the team had to settle for 3rd and 4th at the team’s home Grand Prix. It was a blow for the team after Sebastian Vettel was running comfortably in 2nd for a large chunk of the race. But Hamilton was simple too quick in the Mercedes and Vettel lost the position to him on the second pit stop. At least the passionate Tifosi had something to celebrate, with Vettel returning for the podium for the first time since the European Grand Prix in June. The team should be glad they did manage to cut the gap to Red Bull in the constructors to just 11 points, on what was a weekend of damage limitation for the Austrian team.
Red Bull never looked totally comfortable round the Monza track this weekend. With its high speed nature thanks to its many straights, the Red Bull tends to have a deficit around here. Due to the high downforce nature of the car that gives it its superior cornering ability. As well as this the Renault engine is down on power here which costs them as well. Despite these facts, Red Bull managed an impressive finish with both cars in points finishes. With Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen finished 5th and 7th respectively. Ricciardo pulled out a move on 6th place Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages to steal his 5th place finish, in a move many are calling the overtake of the season. The Australian was rather far back from Bottas on the start finish straight as he closed in on the back of him. Many thought he didn’t have the time but he was late on the breaks for the first chicane. Bottas, to his credit, gave Ricciardo the room and didn’t turn in on him as he could have done.
Ricciardo was full of praise for the overtake in his post-race interviews. “I was pretty jacked up after the move, I was a long way back. I could see he saw in the mirrors I was there, Valtteri is not known to be a dirty racer and I knew he wouldn’t turn in on me. It was good fun.”
Although he was overtaken for 5th today, Bottas should be thrilled with his 6th place finish. The result is the best for the Williams team since the European Grand Prix in June, with the points accumulated today meaning they are now back in 4th in the constructor’s championship. Albeit a slender three points ahead of Force India.
Force India had, by their recent standards, a rather underwhelming afternoon. Their driver’s never really seemed able to take on the Red Bulls and Williams of Bottas ahead. And a move from Verstappen at the end of the race to steal 7th for Sergio Perez capped of their less than stellar weekend. The team at least managed a double points finish. With Perez 8th and Nico Hulkenberg 10th respectively. The two of them split by the other Williams of Felipe Massa.
Romain Grosjean did well to come back from his five place gearbox penalty to finish 11th. While Jenson Button was the best of the McLarens in 12th today, after announcing his intentions to take a sabbatical next year. Esteban failed to make the best of his top ten start after almost stalling at the start, meaning he finished 13th ahead of the other McLaren of Fernando Alonso in 14th. If Alonso takes nothing else away from this weekend he takes away the fastest lap of the race, award for the 20th time in his career. Carlos Sainz finished 15th, ahead of Marcus Ericsson, Kevin Magnussen and Esteban Ocon, who was the last of the classified finishers in 18th place.
Overall the race will not go down in the history books as a classic Monza. There were plenty of overtakes up and down the grid to keep you entertained. But it was a little on the dull side compared to something like Spa last week or some of the other races we’ve seen this season. As out Junior Formula Bethonie Waring pointed out rather sarcastically “That was a totally thrilling race that had me on the edge of my seat…In other, more exciting news, I nearly finished a whole page of my colouring book.” I’m inclined to agree with her point. It wasn’t exactly the most entertaining of races. However, what it has done is essentially reset the championship with just seven races left. With just two points in it, this championship could be Rosberg’s or Hamilton’s. And it’s a tough one to call right now. Whatever happens in the next seven races, it’s going to be good!
I’ll now leave you with my highlight of the weekend. And standing on the top step of the podium in Monza in anything but red is bound to get you a few boo’s However you can always get the Tifosi on your side with a little sing along and some Italian. As Nico Rosberg demonstrated after his win today. I might even forgive him for the butchering of White Stripes “Seven Nations Army.” Might…
— James Peace (@F1Nova) September 4, 2016
Italian GP result
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:17:28.089
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull
6. Valtteri Bottas, Williams
7. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
8. Sergio Perez, Force India
9. Felipe Massa, Williams
10. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
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, Toro Rosso, +1 lap
16. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +1 lap
17. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, +1 lap
18. Esteban Ocon, Manor, +2 laps
DNF Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso
DNF Pascal Wehrlein, Manor
DNF Jolyon Palmer, Renault
DNF Felipe Nasr, Sauber
Feature Image Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Release