Lewis Hamilton recovered from a start-line glitch to take his sixth win of the season at the Italian Grand Prix, with title rival Nico Rosberg forced to settle for second place after an error from the German midway through the race handed the lead back to the Briton.
Felipe Massa claimed his first podium finish since the Spanish Grand Prix of 2013 with third and fourth place for Valtteri Bottas means that Williams move past Ferrari to claim third in the Constructors’ Championship on a day when Fernando Alonso recorded his first non-finish of the season and Kimi Raikkonen finished ninth.
At the start, Hamilton made a poor getway, seeming to have no power when the lights went out. He was passed immediately by Rosberg, McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, who made a superb start from fifth, and Williams’ Felipe Massa.
Hamilton quickly reported that he had a technical problem and his team immediately informed him that the race start mode of his car “was all in a muddle” and that they would try to rectify the software glitch. Behind the front four came Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez who had passed Fernando Alonso.
Valtteri Bottas was the man who lost out most, however. The Finn made a terrible getaway and promptly dropped like a stone to 11th position. Daniel Ricciardo too had a problem, running wide at the first chicane. He dropped from ninth on the grid to 12th after lap one.
After five laps Massa was past Magnussen and the Brazilian was quickly followed by Hamilton, who had been told that he now had full ERS at his disposal.
At the front, Rosberg was now three seconds clear but the gap was beginning to diminish. It dropped rapidly on lap nine when Rosberg made an unforced error, outbraking himself into the first chicane. He was forced to take the escape road and slalom his way through the polystyrene boards.
A lap later Hamilton passed Massa around the outside of the first chicane, slipping past the Williams on the inside as the pair exited the section to take second.
That left the gap between Rosberg and his team-mate at just over two seconds. Behind them the order, on lap 12, was Massa followed by Magnussen, Vettel, Button, Alonso, Perez, Bottas in P9 and Kimi Raikkonen in 10th.
At this point, Bottas was the man on the move. On lap 14 the Finn made his way past Perez and then he breezed past Alonso on the pit straight on lap 16 to claim P7.
Further ahead, Magnussen was the cork in the bottle. Eleven seconds down on third-placed Massa, the Dane was holding up Vettel and Button. That bottlenecking allowed Bottas to close and he soon passed Button on the pit straight with ease.
Vettel made a first, very early stop on lap 19, taking on hard tyres and emerging in P15. Perez was the next in, the Mexican too taking on hard tyres, followed by Raikkonen on lap 21. The Finn rejoined in P13.
At the front Bottas passed Magnussen for fourth place and that was the cue for Magnussen to pit for hard tyres, in tandem with Alonso.
Leader Rosberg visited pit lane on lap 24, with Hamilton just over a second in arrears. The Briton was told it was ‘”hammer time”, but could he mnake uop the deficit? The answer was negative. Hamilton emerged just over a second and a half adrift of the German.
Hamilton was told by his pit wall that he would need to save tyres for an attack at the end of the race. The Briton, though, was not in the mood to wait and promptly set purple lap times to close in on his team-mate.
The pressure told immediately. On lap 29 Rosberg once again went too deep into the first chicane and was forced to take the escape road for the second time, handing the lead to Hamilton. The Mercedes messaging suddenly went into reverse – with Rosberg now being told to save tyres and fuel for a late-race assault on the lead.
Behind, Alonso’s race came to an end on the same lap, the Ferrari driver losing power on the pit straight. He pulled off track and stopped at the first chicane to record his first retirement of the season.
The order, then, on lap 33, was Hamilton, 2.9s ahead of Rosberg, with Massa 13.7s further back. Vettel was now fourth, having used the undercut of his very early stop and the clear air that afforded, to get ahead of Magnussen. Bottas was sixth ahead of Perez, Button, Raikkonen and Ricciardo.
Bottas was pressuring Magnussen hard, however, and on lap 31 the pair went wheel-to-wheel into the first corner, with Magnussen on the inside. Bottas was forced to pull out of his attempted passing move and crossed the chicane.
The Finn eventually got past the Dane on lap 37 on the pit straight to claim P5. Magnussen’s afternoon got worse, as he was then hit with a five-second stop and go penalty for the earlier incident with the Williams driver.
Further up the road, Bottas made a move past Vettel to claim fourth place and just behind, Ricciardo on fresher tyres than those ahead, went past Button to claim eighth place.
The Australian was soon pressuring Perez and after setting up a move through the Curva Grande made it past the Force India into the second chicane on lap 41. That put Magnussen in the Red Bull driver’s sights and the Australian again used the first chicane to make a move, passing the Dane under braking.
Ricciardo’s race engineer Simon Rennie was soon on the radio telling his driver that he was running at eight tenths a lap quicker than early-stopping team-mate Sebastian Vettel and was told “to get him”.
Ricciardo, armed with tyres seven laps younger than his team-mate, closed quickly. He made a first attempt into the first chicane but Vettel braked late and refused to give way. The champion got a poorer exit from the corner and Ricciardo used the better grip to pull alongside on the run to the second chicane. He ducked down the inside and swept past to claim fifth.
At the front Hamilton had comfortably pulled away from Rosberg, with the gap at a steady 4.2s. Rosberg seemed to have no answer to the Britain’s pace and was eventually forced to settle for second place.
Now the bottleneck was Vettel, with the German trying to nurse his worn hard tyres to the flag. Magnussen was just behind, appearing content to make it to the flag and take his penalty after the end of the race, as allowed by the regulations when no more pit stops are scheduled.
Perez, behind Magnussen cold sniff a move on the Red Bull driver but he could find now way past the Dane.
So, Hamilton took his sixth win of the season, ahead of Rosberg. Massa, who took his first podium finish Spain in 2013, and Bottas.
Ricciardo was fifth ahead of team-mate Vettel. Perez was classified seventh ahead of Button and Raikkonen, while Magnussen dropped to 10th after his penalty time was added.
Italian Grand Prix Results
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h19m10.236s2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 3.175s3. Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 25.026s4. Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 40.786s5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 50.309s6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull/Renault 59.965s7. Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m02.518s8. Jenson Button McLaren/Mercedes 1m03.063s9. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m03.535s10 Kevin Magnussen McLaren/Mercedes 1m06.171s11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 1m11.184s12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m12.606s13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso/Renault 1m13.093s14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Renault 1 Lap15 Adrian Sutil Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap16 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Renault 1 Lap17 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham/Renault 1 Lap18 Jules Bianchi Marussia/Ferrari 1 Lap19 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber/Ferrari 2 Laps20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham/Renault 2 Laps
Fernando Alonso Ferrari Max Chilton
Drivers' Championship Points
1. Nico Rosberg 2382. Lewis Hamilton 2163. Daniel Ricciardo 1664. Valtteri Bottas 1225. Fernando Alonso 1216. Sebastian Vettel 1067. Jenson Button 728. Nico Hulkenberg 709. Felipe Massa 5510 Kimi Raikkonen 4111 Sergio Perez 3912 Kevin Magnussen 3813 Jean-Eric Vergne 1114 Romain Grosjean 815 Daniil Kvyat 816 Jules Bianchi 217 Adrian Sutil 018 Marcus Ericsson 019 Pastor Maldonado 020 Esteban Gutierrez 021 Max Chilton 022 Kamui Kobayashi 0
Constructors' Championship Points
1. Mercedes 4542. Red Bull/Renault 2723. Williams/Mercedes 1774. Ferrari 1625. McLaren/Mercedes 1106. Force India/Mercedes 1097. Toro Rosso/Renault 198. Lotus/Renault 89. Marussia/Ferrari 210 Sauber/Ferrari 011 Caterham/Renault 0