Double podium for the Silver Arrows in Italy
Lewis Hamilton took his sixth win of the 2018 Formula 1™ season at the Italian Grand Prix with a strategic masterclass from Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, as Valtteri Bottas overcame a race-long battle with Max Verstappen to join his teammate on the podium in third place.
Following a close qualifying session which saw the top four cars separated by just 0.5 seconds, the Silver Arrows lined up on the second row behind the two Ferraris, and this order remained unchanged into the run down to the first chicane as all frontrunners got away cleanly.
Slipstreaming the second-placed Vettel through Curva Grande, Lewis braked late on the racing line for Turn 4 as the defending Ferrari swept to the left, with leader Raikkonen just ahead on the right. As Lewis completed the move for second place, the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel collided with the side of his car, pitching the Ferrari into a spin with minor damage. Meanwhile in the melee behind, the quick-starting Red Bull of Verstappen had overtaken Valtteri for third place as the field powered toward the first of the two Lesmo corners.
In response to these events and Brendon Hartley’s stranded Toro Rosso, the race was neutralised as the Mercedes-AMG GT-R Safety Car took to the track for 3 laps – too early in the race for any strategic pit activity.
The race restart on Lap 5 proved to be as action-packed as the start proper, with Lewis taking advantage of the powerful Monza slipstream to take the lead from Raikkonen under braking into Turn 1. Unfortunately, this pass compromised Lewis’ exit out of Turn 2, allowing the chasing Ferrari to challenge as Lewis did on Lap 1 into the Roggia Chicane. Lewis fought hard, but the Ferrari swept around the outside to retake the lead.
Over the next 15 laps, Lewis kept Raikkonen with sight as Valtteri mirrored this with Verstappen in P4, never more than 2.5 seconds behind the Dutchman in pursuit of the final podium place.
The pitstop phase began with Ferrari blinking first on Lap 20, and in response, the team opted to stretch the stints of both Lewis (to Lap 29) and Valtteri (Lap 36) to gain track position versus their immediate rivals. After Lewis’ stop, Valtteri led the race from Raikkonen and his teammate – now controlling the pace of the frontrunners as the Ferrari was unable to complete a move past the fellow Finn. Although this strategy did ultimately assist in Lewis’ challenge for the race win, Valtteri continuing to Lap 36 would soon prove crucial in securing his own podium finish.
It was now ‘advantage Mercedes’ as the Silver Arrows chased down their targets on much fresher Pirelli Softs. Valtteri struck first on Lap 43, with a daring move down into Turn 1 cut short by contact with third-placed Verstappen. Although he was squeezed onto the grass, luckily no damage was incurred. Verstappen was soon awarded a 5 second penalty, ensuring Valtteri could secure third place with no further risk.
Two laps later, it was Lewis’ turn to make a pass into Turn 1, completing a textbook move around the outside of Raikkonen. Unlike the Safety Car restart, Lewis’ fresher rubber meant could maintain track position – and build an impressive 9 second gap – until the chequered flag fell 8 laps later.
Pure Pit Wall recorded a total of 68 overtakes in the 2018 Italian Grand Prix, with 23 of these being DRS-assisted and 3 for the lead of the race itself.
Lewis Hamilton extends his lead (256 points) of the Drivers’ Championship, 30 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel (226 points) with Valtteri Bottas P4 (159 points). Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (415 points) lead the Constructors’ Championship by 25 points to Ferrari (390 points)
Discover how Pure Storage gives Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport an #UnfairAdvantage at PurePitWall.com as we look forward to the highly-anticipated Singapore Grand Prix night race.