Italian GP 2017


Race Analysis - Monza Master and Commander: How Hamilton won

Lewis Hamilton, Italian GP 2017
© Martin Trenkler


By Dan Knutson in Monza

Lewis Hamilton was the master at Monza as he led Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to a commanding one/two finish in the Italian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel trailed in to third place in Ferrari's home race.

Here how Hamilton won.


Monza requires horsepower, and the Mercedes has more than Ferrari, Renault and Honda. Half of the top 10 qualifiers were in Merc-powered cars, and after the Red Bulls were penalized out of the picture, the top four cars on the grid were all Mercedes.

"It's an engine track, a power circuit, that's their strength the last couple of years," Vettel said of Mercedes.


Hamilton's pole in Monza was his 69th, a new record that puts him one ahead of Michael Schumacher's 68.


Hamilton made a clean chop across the front of Lance Stroll, who started second in his Williams, and made it cleanly through the first chicane to take the lead.


Hamilton would lead all but two of the 53 laps. Bottas led laps 32 and 33 during the pit stops.


Once again Max Verstappen had troubles during the race. He tangled with Felipe Massa (Williams) on lap 3 and got a flat front tire. Verstappen had gone from 13th to eighth but was now last. At least he was able to finish the race, bringing his Red Bull home tenth.


Bottas worked his way from fourth past Stroll and Esteban Ocon (Force India) to take over second place on lap 4. He could not quite match Hamilton's pace but stayed pretty close. Anyone going after a victory would have to get through Bottas first.

"Running the all race in second, not so far from Lewis you never know what can happen, so you never give up on the dream of a possible win during the race," Bottas said. "But I wasn't thinking about it too much, just focusing on executing our plan, being on it in every single corner."


Hamilton was able to keep his super soft Pirellis alive until lap 32 and then pitted for the soft tires. Bottas did the same one lap later. Vettel pitted at the end of lap 31 but had no opportunity to jump the Mercedes drivers on their stops.

"Today the car felt fantastic, particularly on that first stint," Hamilton said. "I guess because we had a bit of breathing space behind us initially, it was easier to extend the life of the tire. In the past if we hadn't had a Ferrari behind, we would have been pushed more to the limit."


Not that he had much of a hope anyway, but Vettel would get no last chance gasp to try and catch the Mercedes duo.

"The last 15, 20 laps after I went off, something was wrong," he said. "That's why I went up and down on engine."


Even without that engine problem it was clear from lap 1 that Ferrari was no match for Mercedes on this day.


Starting 16th in his Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo opted for a different tire strategy than most of the rest of the drivers, going with the soft Pirelli compound first and then switching to the super soft slicks near the end of the race. He managed to take fourth from Kimi Raikkonen, and was closing in on Vettel at a furious race, but Ricciardo would have no last chance at snatching a podium finish.

"I could see Seb and the thought of a podium was tempting me, so I was obviously trying to catch him right up to the end," Ricciardo said. "The boys did the quickest pit stop and I also got the fastest lap so that's very cool. You can almost call it a perfect day. We couldn't have done much more from where we started."


Adding to his victory in Belgium, Hamilton became the first driver to win back-to-back races this year.


Hamilton now has a three-point lead over Vettel in the drivers' championship.

"I know it's not easy for the Italian fans to accept but ultimately we did the better job this weekend collectively as a team," Hamilton said. "But it's still close, and still a long, long way to go. We go to another track next that the Ferraris should be quite quick with the general downforce they are able to add on. The fight will continue. But it is amazing to come and have the back-to-back wins. It's been a long, long time that Sebastian's been leading the championship. With all the ups and downs to now be slightly ahead is a great feeling."