Lewis Hamilton moves ahead in title race after winning Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton completed a flawless weekend by storming to victory at the Italian Grand Prix and moving into the lead of the Formula One championship.

Hamilton, who turned in a wet-weather masterclass to surpass Michael Schumacher’s all-time pole position record on Saturday, led from start-to-finish here in a ruthless display at Monza.

Valtteri Bottas crossed the line in second place as Mercedes completed a dominant one-two, while Hamilton’s chief title rival Sebastian Vettel made up three spots to complete the podium places on a weekend to forget for Ferrari in front of their home fans.

Hamilton, now three points clear of Vettel, leads the title race for the first time this season, and indeed, for the first time since the conclusion of this very race last year.

Hamilton, 32, has been in mesmerising form since the sport’s summer break, following up his pole position and victory in Belgium last weekend with a repeat performance at a sun-drenched Monza.

Lewis Hamilton career statistics graphic
(PA Graphics/PA)

The Englishman was forced to fight hard for his victory at Spa-Francorchamps after a safety car was deployed in the closing stages.

But there were no such dramas for Hamilton at the Temple of Speed, as he made the perfect start to hold off the chasing pack on the long run down to turn one to retain the lead, and from there he never looked back.

For Vettel, Sunday’s race at the home of his Ferrari team was about damage limitation after his poor performance in qualifying.

Vettel made light work of his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to move up to fifth on lap three before he set about chasing Canadian teenager Lance Stroll and Force India’s Esteban Ocon.

Stroll, 18, and Ocon, 20, both excelled in the wet on Saturday, but they had no answer for Vettel in the dry as the German sailed past Stroll on lap five, and then Ocon three laps later.

Bottas was running in second, but the high-speed nature of the Monza circuit has suited the Mercedes car this weekend and Vettel would finish an eye-watering 36 seconds behind Hamilton.

Indeed the four-time champion spent the final knockings of the race with one eye on his mirrors with a fast-charging Daniel Ricciardo closing in.

Ricciardo qualified third, but started 16th following penalties for engine and gearbox changes. However, the Australian had progressed to an impressive fourth with a dozen laps remaining after passing Ferrari’s Raikkonen at turn one. He ended the race four seconds adrift of Vettel.

Ricciardo’s Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen, second-fastest in the wet on Saturday, was demoted to 13th following an engine change, and he was up to eighth by the end of lap one.

But his progress was thwarted following a collision with Felipe Massa at turn one in which he suffered a broken front wing and front-right puncture.

“What the f*** was he doing?” Verstappen asked as he limped back to the pits for repairs. The stewards assessed the incident, but neither driver was punished. The Dutch teenager emerged in last, but fought his way up to 10th to earn a single point.

McLaren’s troubles continued as both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne retired. Alonso has now failed to finish eight races this season.

Britain’s Jolyon Palmer also failed to make it to the chequered flag following technical gremlins.

Raikkonen finished fifth ahead of Ocon and Stroll with Massa eighth and Sergio Perez ninth.

Hamilton was booed by some sections of the Ferrari fans as he collected his trophy for first place.

“You know what, I love it here in Italy and I love the passion of the fans,” Hamilton said.

“The Ferrari fans are fantastic and this energy is like nowhere else we get to see apart from maybe Silverstone. I respect it, appreciate it and I am happy. We did a great job this weekend, and we owe it to the team. Mercedes power is definitely better than Ferrari power, so it worked.”

Vettel added: “We did not have the pace of the leading two drivers today, but seeing the people gives me a lot of hope.”

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