Italian Grand Prix 2015 – Race Report

At Monza, on the 6th September 2015, British driver Lewis Hamilton came home with another win for Mercedes, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel coming in at second and Felipe Massa for Williams snatching the final place on the podium.

This is Hamilton’s seventh victory this season, putting him 53 points ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg in the driver standings. The Brit dominated the track to win by 25 seconds, however it is not all good news for Mercedes.

Hamilton is thrilled with another win.
Hamilton is thrilled with another win.

Rosberg started the the race in a respective fourth place on the grid, but immediately fell back to sixth as the lights went out. However, it was set to go downhill from there, as Rosberg had to abandon his charge to the finish with only 3 laps to go, as the rear of his car caught fire. The down-beat German commented that his weekend had gone ‘pear-shaped’ , after his had fought his way up the grid to third when the incident took place. To most, it appears that Rosberg’s hopes of stealing the Championship from Hamilton are in tatters, but Rosberg states that he won’t give up.

It was a disappointing day for Mercedes' Nico Rosberg.
It was a disappointing day for Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was seemingly over the moon with his well-earned second place on the podium, stating:

It’s the best second place I’ve ever had. The emotions here are incredible. You stand on the grid and people left and right are happy to be part of it. It makes our day. Thank you for this emotion.

Vettel was spurred on with all the supporters at Monza to grab second place.
Vettel was spurred on with all the supporters at Monza to grab second place.

Williams driver Felipe Massa admitted that he had rarely had to fight so hard for a final place on the podium as he did at Monza. Massa ran in the top three in the early stages of the race, but lost out to Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg after he got the undercut at his one and only pit stop in the race. Coming from his own pit stop ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, the Brazilian gained third place after Rosberg’s car caught on fire and he was forced to retire. However, Massa found that he had to fend off Bottas in the latter stages of the race.

It was very tough – I’m getting too old for that!” Massa commented, “The last three laps of the race, I was fighting with my team-mate and it was very difficult, but we managed to be here and I am so happy. Woohoo!”

Massa chose to take his pit-stop ahead of schedule to try and prevent Rosberg from taking advantage of his early stop, whereas Bottas took his tyres to the edge, as far as he dared, ultimately giving him a better performance at the end of the race.

The start was okay, not the fantastic start I [wanted], but it was really good to overtake cars and manage to be in position compared to the guys behind,” the veteran reflected, “Trying to open the gap against Valtteri, I went to the pit-stop a little bit earlier, and then he stayed on track for a few more laps, which helped his tyres a lot for the end of the race.

“I opened the gap anyway, and had the lap times to maintain the gap, but then, at the end, I lost performance on the rear tyres and he was catching me with better tyres. The last three laps were pretty difficult – he was catching me a lot and he was quicker than me. The problem was that he had better traction, but I managed to fight and get to the podium, so I am so happy for the position and for the team, which scored great and fantastic points today.

Massa came home with a pleasing third place on the podium.
Massa came home with a pleasing third place on the podium.

However, after Vettel’s charge to the finish, it was not all good news for Ferrari that day. After grabbing a rather surprising front-row seat on the grid for the first time in two years on Friday, Kimi Raikkonen was said to be the one to challenge Hamilton at Monza. Nonetheless, when the lights went out, the was a huge sigh of disappointment among the crowd as Raikkonen’s car remained stationary, with the other cars whizzing around him. When Raikkonen’s car did get going, he was in a dismal last place, but did not give up and fought hard to earn his final fifth place, overtaking almost constantly to the end. After the race, the Finn stated that he put the bad start down to a faulty clutch, and did not believe he was at fault.

Explaining what took place, Raikkonen said: “It went into anti-stall when I let the first clutch go. As far I understand I did the correct thing, but we can see there’s a problem with the second clutch. It was not in the correct place. I’m pretty sure I put it correct as always. I don’t know.

“Whatever it was it triggered the anti-stall and after a few seconds I was in last place. I’ve not had anything like this before. Whatever the reason is we have to make sure we understand it correctly 100 per cent, and if we need to make changes we do the right things. After that we did the best we could. I’m obviously quite disappointed. When you start in second place and end up last by the first corner it is not ideal. But the race was OK to finish fifth. The weekend was good apart from that issue.”

Although he was in last place at the first corner, Raikkonen drove well to come in at fifth place.
Although he was in last place at the first corner, Raikkonen drove well to come in at fifth place.

However bad it seemed for the other teams, Lotus had it worse. After a thrilling third place at Spa, Lotus was set to repeat the day at Monza, however they were forced into double retirement. Both cars began the race in the top ten on the grid, but damage to both cars in separate incidents saw Pastor Maldonado park his car in the pits at the end of the first lap, whilst team-mate Romain Grosjean stopped his car by the side of the track early in the second lap. Grosjean started eighth place on the grid, but contact with Felipe Nasr’s Sauber caused damage to the rear of Grosjean’s car, forcing a retirement in lap 2.

We had the potential of a good race ahead of us. I made a strong start but got hit by a car from behind in turn one which broke my rear suspension so that was it for us. It was a too optimistic move from Nasr who hit me which meant my race was over.” commented Grosjean,

” It’s been a tough weekend but everyone has made the most of the opportunities we have and the spirit of the team and the support from the F1 world has been amazing. The E23 still feels good so we head to the next races optimistic of more good results to come.

Maldonado started tenth place on the grid, but contact with Nico Hulkenburg’s car meant damage to Maldonado’s suspension, forcing him into retirement on the first lap. Maldonado stated :

It’s been a tough weekend and this is racing sometimes. We keep united and keep pushing as there are still seven Grands Prix to go so time to recover and keep fighting. I had contact in turn one where the Force India came into the side of me and took out my front-right suspension and that was the end of my race. We were looking for a strong finish and we had potential for that. Everyone knows that turn one at Monza can be tough and that’s what we saw today.”

Frederico Gastaldi, deputy team principal, also commented on the rather disappointing race for the team:

“What can you say? Everyone at Enstone, at the track, our sponsors, partners and suppliers would have liked to see a favourable result for us today but the cruel mistress that is motor sport gave us a resounding slap in the face. Both drivers had their race undone at the first corner and this was a real blow to all of us. We now focus on the next Grands Prix where we’re determined as ever to score more points and keep fighting. Thank you all for your support.

It was not a pleasing race for Lotus, with two DNF's
It was not a pleasing race for Lotus, with two DNF’s

So, although the race was not exciting as others, with Hamilton rather predictably coming home with another win, there were some exciting elements, with everyone looking forward to the next race, the Singapore Grand Prix, on September 18th-20th.

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Opinions on the race? Comment below.

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