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Formula One visited the Cathedral of Speed at Monza for what was meant to be the last time, if Imola’s bid to take the Italian Grand Prix went through. However, on Friday Monza gained an extra 3 years on its contract taking the Italian Grand Prix through to 2019 in Monza. It was also good to see that Kevin Magnussen was racing as normal after his huge Spa crash.
Hamilton came into the weekend on a high despite losing half his lead to Rosberg’s win in Spa.
A gearbox penalty lost Grosjean 5 places on the grid before Friday was over.
Ocon’s car turned itself off with what sounded like a repeat of an earlier electrical problem, bringing out yellow flags at the first chicane for a minute or so.
Ferrari’s upgraded engine, on its first outing in front of the Tifosi, was doing limited work for the works squad but made a far bigger improvement for Haas who had been struggling prior to the Italian Grand Prix, but both American cars sat in the top 10 in Q1.
Both McLaren cars managed to save themselves with their last laps, as did Wehrlein. Renault were the slowest cars in Q1, although Ocon was 22nd. Sauber were just ahead of the yellow cars, while Kvyat also slipped down, only 0.04 off Alonso in 16th.
Mercedes and Red Bull at least tried to clear Q2 on softs to ensure a longer first stint on Sunday, but Ferrari oddly jumped straight onto the super softs. Red Bull did then have to copy Ferrari’s lead.
Sainz went 16th behind Button, Wehrlein, Alonso, Grosjean and Massa, the retiring Brazilian beaten well after the chequered flag by Perez. Thanks to Gutierrez, Haas managed their second Q3 run of the year. Grosjean dropped from 12th to 17th, behind Kvyat.
Hamilton had been threatening all afternoon to take pole and Mercedes of course locked out the front row, with no surprise as the reigning champion took pole. Vettel headed a scarlet row 2. Bottas led Ricciardo and Verstappen, Perez, Hulkenberg and Gutierrez completing the top 10.
Ocon took the hardest tyre option for the race start, trying something different as he aimed to catch his teammate.
A poor start for Hamilton left him 6th, Rosberg leading the Ferrari pair. Hamilton took 5th on the second lap. Further back, Wehrlein had jumped Verstappen to take 11th, Grosjean 13th and Gutierrez down in 19th.
Nasr cut across Palmer in a late defence, damaging both cars while Button reported he was pushed off by a Sauber. A few laps into the race, Raikkonen was calling the pits about odd vibrations.
Nasr’s Sauber was retired, presumably with the damage from hitting Palmer, the Renault following suit a few laps later.
On lap 10 Hamilton finally made the move on Bottas for 4th.
Bottas, Verstappen and Alonso pitted on lap 13, starting the flurry of first stops. All three drivers took soft tyres.
2 laps later Raikkonen took more super softs, strangely. Vettel followed suit on the following lap, Ricciardo and Massa following him in, both taking softs.
Rosberg ditched his softs for mediums on lap 24, Hamilton doing the same a lap later, dropping behind the Ferrari pair who had to stop again - but crucially, Rosberg had clean air.
Wehrlein was ordered to park the car, some sort of mechanical problem ending an otherwise impressive race.
Lap 30 saw Bottas take soft tyres. Vettel made his second stop 3 laps later, also taking the soft tyres. Raikkonen followed his teammate a lap later.
Ricciardo took supers for the last 15 laps, trying to give chase to Bottas.
Kvyat retired from his 50th race, having been handed a 5 second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
Hamilton made a mistake on lap 41, locking up into the Rettifilio and crossing the runoff. His tyres also took a fair beating, both fronts locking.
An incredibly late dive from Ricciardo - and a very aware Bottas - saw the Red Bull scythe past the Williams with just 6 laps to go. Verstappen managed to clear Perez a lap later, the Force India bailing at the Variante del Roggia to cede 7th.
Alonso pitted for fresh supers, dropping to 14th.
Rosberg took an easy win from Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Bottas, Verstappen, Perez, Massa and Hulkenberg. Beyond the points were Grosjean, Button, Gutierrez, Alonso, Sainz, Ericsson, Magnussen and Ocon. Kvyat, Wehrlein, Nasr and Palmer retired.
Rosberg left Italy with only a 2 point deficit to Hamilton. Vettel was now 7 points ahead of Raikkonen, making amends for Ferrari's reliability issues earlier in the year. Red Bull were now 11 points ahead of Ferrari, Williams just 3 ahead of Force India. Toro Rosso continued to sit just 3 points off McLaren, but in that fight 3 points was a whole lot harder to earn, Haas on their own with 28 points, 17 off Toro Rosso. Renault stayed 9th with 6, Manor 10th with 1 and Sauber's woeful run of form continued with 0 points to their name.