Lewis Hamilton has taken victory at the Italian Grand Prix, dominating from lights out to the chequered flag. After taking the record for the most pole positions in Formula 1's history on Saturday, the Brit now takes the lead of the world championship for the first time this season.
"I love it here in Italy and I love the passion of the fans," he said. "They're fantastic. I'm happy, we did a great job, the team did an exceptional job. We owe it all to them. Mercedes power is definitely better than Ferrari power. It worked well this weekend. The start was a bit difficult as the grip was quite low. It's a great day and result for us."
Hamilton's championship rival Sebastian Vettel managed to make it onto the podium after starting from sixth on the grid. The four-time world champion came under pressure from Daniel Ricciardo behind at the end of the race, who drove a sensational race after starting from sixteenth on the grid.
In between Hamilton and Vettel was the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas who recovered from a poor qualifying yesterday to take a step on the podium and complete a Mercedes 1-2. The Finn claimed his seventeenth career top three finish, his ninth for Mercedes.
Following Ricciardo in fourth was Kimi Raikkonen who couldn't match the pace of his teammate. Raikkonen was involved in a scrap for many laps with youngsters Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll, who managed to hold onto sixth and seventh respectively.
Behind Lance Stroll in eighth place was teammate Felipe Massa. The pair had a tight scrap on the final lap, with Sergio Perez getting himself involved. No overtakes were made and Perez held onto ninth. Taking the final point was Max Verstappen who had to fight from the back after incurring problems at the start.
Hamilton had a nice start and managed to keep Stroll and Ocon behind. Ocon himself got by Stroll for second place, while behind the two Finns of Raikkonen and Bottas battled for position. Raikkonen got by at Turn 4 but at the end of the lap, Bottas flew around the outside of the Parabolica and got by his compatriot at the end of the straight.
Bottas then made light work of Stroll and Ocon and moved up into second place. There was trouble behind for Verstappen who managed to obtain a puncture after colliding with Massa. The Dutchman had to drive a whole lap before changing tyres, dropping him right to the back of the field.
Just like Bottas had got by Stroll and Ocon with ease, Vettel was next to get by the pair. At the end of lap 8, Vettel had cleared both drivers and was up into a podium position, but was left on his own from that point, failing to catch the Mercedes' in front.
It was a torrid day for McLaren-Honda as both drivers retired from the race with car problems. It is expected on Monday or Tuesday that an announcement will be made over the failing partnership, with rumours swirling that the Woking team will be supplied by Renault.
Fernando Alonso was involved in a battle with Jolyon Palmer during the race and was frustrated when he felt the Brit had cut the chicane at Turn 4. Palmer was investigated and handed a five-second penalty, which Alonso felt was too light of a punishment. Palmer also eventually retired with a car issue.
There was an intriguing battle between Ocon, Stroll and Raikkonen. The trio followed each other for many laps before the pit stops broke it up. A slow stop dropped Stroll well behind Raikkonen, before the Finn was able to pass Ocon on lap 27. Stroll caught back up to Ocon and resumed a battle that would rage on until the chequered flag.
The top three of Hamilton, Bottas and Vettel went unchanged throughout the race, but Hamilton suffered a scary moment when he went a touch wide at the second chicane, dipping the left side of his Silver Arrow into the gravel.
On lap 38, Ricciardo finally made his pit stop, ditching the soft compound and attached the super softs which would allow him to attack right until the end. The Australian emerged ahead of Ocon, Stroll and Massa and he started to chase after the Ferrari's, making a sensational move on Raikkonen at Turn 1, similar to the one he pulled on Bottas 12 months ago.
However, Ricciardo couldn't quite catch Vettel for third place. Hamilton crossed the line four and a half seconds ahead of his teammate to take control of the championship for the first time in 2017. The gap is now 3 points as F1 heads to Singapore.
"The last two races have been incredibly strong. We’ve just gone from strength to strength," Hamilton added. "The car felt fantastic. It’s still close and a long way to go. Ferrari should be quick at the next circuit with the extra downforce they can put on their car so the fight continues."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing
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