Despite being a one-stop race, Italian Grand Prix provides us some fascinating action with some good racing up and down the field. Lewis Hamilton clinched his sixth victory of the season after pressuring Nico Rosberg into a mistake at turn 1, a few laps after his pit stop. Felipe Massa finished 25 seconds adrift of the duo to take his first podium for Williams and help elevate the team to third in the standings ahead of Ferrari. Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo climbed their way to take fourth and fifth positions respectively after losing a number of places at the start of the race. And Sergio Perez is the final entrant in our list of five drivers who impressed us the most at Monza, for keeping his former teammate Jenson Button at bay in a fantastic duel that lasted for multiple laps.
A software glitch at the start of the race meant that pole sitter Lewis Hamilton was down in fourth place even before he had reached the first chicane. Hamilton then had to clear two Mercedes-powered cars of Felipe Massa and Kevin Magnussen before he could mount a challenge on his teammate Nico Rosberg and sought to close the mammoth 29 points between the duo in the drivers championship. It took the Brit 10 laps to move up to second place and by that time Rosberg had cleverly built a two second gap and was well out of Hamilton’s DRS zone. Hamilton continued to close the gap on Rosberg but was never within one second one the German.
After the first round of the pit stops, Hamilton was instructed to stay 2-2.5 seconds behind Rosberg to save his tyres to attack at the end of the race. But Hamilton had other ideas. Speculating that he would have little life in his orange striped Pirelli hard tyres during the latter part of the race, the 28 year old decided to attack there and then and the strategy worked brilliantly with Rosberg going straight at turn 1 and handing over the lead to the 2008 world champion. The key to the change of lead was lap 33 where Hamilton was seven tenths quicker than his previous lap while Rosberg’s lap time was identical to his previous one. Having seen his teammate close the gap so much in a span of five kilometres in his rear view mirror, Rosberg missed his braking point at turn 1 and that one mistake was enough for him to hand over the lead to his sole title rival.
Felipe Massa might be enjoying the environment at Williams, now that he has a more equitable status to his teammate, but due to varied reasons, his results are still incomparable with that of Valtteri Bottas who's already scored four podiums this season. But with no first lap problems and other issues, Felipe Massa drove brilliantly at Monza to record his first podium for the Grove based outfit. The result again underlined his talent and will massively boost his confidence level.
Williams’ Valtteri Bottas made an impressive recovery from his poor start which dropped him to 11th place and out of points. But if you give a talented driver like Bottas a fast car, he’s bound to regain lost ground. And that’s what he did - not once but twice. The Finn moved up to 3rd place having made a regular stop on lap 24 but soon found himself in ninth place after a number of runners pitted earlier than expected to counter Vettel’s stop on lap 18. The 25 year old spent the next 15 laps overtaking a trail of cars ahead of him, with most of his moves coming on the run down to turn 1. On 40th lap of the 53 lap Italian Grand Prix, Bottas passed the Red Bull of Sebastian and Vettel and settled in fourth place.
Ricciardo, like Bottas, had a poor start which inadvertently helped him receive the benefits of what turned out to be the best strategy at Monza. Having slipped well behind a trail of cars led by Kevin Magnussen, there was no way the Australian could jump a few positions by pitting earlier than his rivals. So instead of undercutting like his teammate Sebastian Vettel, Ricciardo did a long 26 lap first stint that helped him overtake a string of cars at the end of the race on fresher tyres. At first it looked like the strategy won’t pay off, given he was 10 seconds behind Vettel who was now the leader of a five car pack(excluding Alonso). But with these five drivers degrading their tyres in their own battles, Ricciardo quickly found himself behind this trail of cars and he eventually passed all of them to take fifth at the chequered flag.
Sergio Perez was the first driver to dive into the pits on lap 19 as a response to Sebastian Vettel’s early pit stop a lap earlier and by this aggressive strategy, the Mexican was able to undercut Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso for eighth place. He then defended his position from former teammate Jenson Button hard and fair - even regaining the lost position a couple of times. With Kevin Magnussen being handed a five second penalty, Perez was elevated to seventh place in the final standings - a result that also helped Force India close down the gap to McLaren to just one point.