Belfast Telegraph

Lewis Hamilton keeps up the pressure with Italian Grand Prix win

By Ian Parkes

Lewis Hamilton was relieved he was able to keep his cool on a day when he watched Nico Rosberg hand him a lifeline in this year's Formula One world title fight.

A fortnight after his collision with Hamilton in Belgium, incurring the wrath and a fine from Mercedes, Rosberg blundered midway through the Italian Grand Prix when leading at Monza.

Hamilton needed no second invitation to take full advantage, bringing his car home ahead of Rosberg by three seconds to close the gap to 22 points in the drivers' standings with six races to go.

For a moment, though, as the five red lights disappeared, the gremlins that have occasionally reared their ugly head this season and given the 29-year-old a nasty bite, threatened to do so again.

Off the line, Hamilton was bogged down by a race-start mode issue and from his first pole for eight races dropped to fourth by the opening chicane whilst Rosberg powered away into the lead.

The obstacles of McLaren's Kevin Magnussen and Felipe Massa in his Williams were soon cleared, and following the only pit stop – Rosberg on lap 24, Hamilton 25 – the latter then began to reel in the former.

And having made one mistake on lap nine – without penalty on that occasion – Rosberg did the same on lap 29, but this time it cost him the lead and the race.

Hamilton said: "I came here with a positive attitude, just hoping for no issues.

"I guess the cool thing is I had another serious one and I managed to pull through it.

"I'm quite grateful I didn't lose it, I didn't end up crashing in the first corner, touching anyone, locking up or anything like that.

"I managed to keep my composure, not lose too many places and recover from that.

"Naturally, I'm really pleased with the win, it feels like I have some momentum back as we go into the final races."

In a world that thrives on rumour and conspiracy, a number of experienced paddock commentators suggested Rosberg's brake issues were deliberate.

The theory was in making such a move, ordered by the team, it was part of his retribution for crashing into Hamilton in Belgium that cost the Briton heavily in the title race.

Put to Rosberg, he was already aware of the gossip as he said: "They (the incidents) might look a bit strange, but it happened in practice too.

"I could have made the corner, no problem, but there was an extremely high probability my tyre would have been square afterwards, and so I would have needed to have made two pit stops and lost a lot of time. At that point I just decided to go straight on. With Lewis I should have tried to see how it went. I don't know, I just messed up.

"And I've heard about the theory, but what would be the reason for me to do something like that deliberately? There is no possible reason. If you're ordered by the team to do it then you would do it, but there is no reason why the team would ask me to change position, or something like that.

"The only thing in people's minds could be Spa, but Spa was a mistake which I've apologised for. There were the necessary talks and everything, but that's it, it's forgotten. It's not something where I have to give back something. Mistakes, errors happen, and that's the way it is, (I make) an apology and on we go.

"It's not like we now start shuffling and things like that, so there is no reason why I would do something like that on purpose."

The result certainly keeps the championship scenario bubbling along, with the next event in Singapore in a fortnight.

Felipe Massa drove superbly to take third, his first podium since last year's Spanish Grand Prix, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas fourth ahead of Red Bull duo Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel in fifth and sixth.

Belfast Telegraph


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