MONZA (ITALY) • Nico Rosberg pounced on a poor start by his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to win the Italian Grand Prix yesterday, cutting the Briton's Formula One championship lead to just two points.
The 31-year-old German seized the lead at the start, when pole-sitter Hamilton got bogged down, and pulled away to control the race and finish 15 seconds ahead of the Briton.
Hamilton, who effectively lost the race in the first 20 metres when the lights went out, leads the title battle with 250 points, ahead of Rosberg on 248, with Singapore's night race the next destination on Sept 18.
"I don't know really what happened at the start... I did everything normal," said Hamilton.
"The start was the decider for this race and then I had to climb back and score points.
ITALIAN GRAND PRIX RESULTS
1 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes 1hr 17min 28.089sec
2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 15.070sec behind
3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari +20.990
4 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari +27.561
5 Daniel Riccardio (Aus) Red Bull +45.295
6 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams +51.015
7 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull +54.236
8 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India +1:04.954
9 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams +1:05.617
10 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India +1:18.656
11 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas +1 lap
12 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren +1 lap
13 Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Haas +1 lap
14 Fernando Alonso (Esp) Williams +1 lap
15 Carlos Sainz Jr (Esp) Toro Rosso +1 lap
16 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber +1 lap
17 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Renault +1 lap
18 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Manor +2 laps
DNF Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Toro Rosso +17 laps
DNF Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Manor +27 laps
DNF Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault +46 laps
DNF Felipe Nasr (Bra) Sauber +47 laps
1 Lewis Hamilton 250 points
2 Nico Rosberg 248
3 Daniel Ricciardo 161
4 Sebastian Vettel 143
5 Kimi Raikkonen 136
6 Max Verstappen 121
7 Valtteri Bottas 70
8 Sergio Perez 62
9 Nico Hulkenberg 46
10 Felipe Massa 41
11 Fernando Alonso 30
12 Carlos Sainz Jr 30
13 Romain Grosjean 28
14 Daniil Kvyat 23
15 Jenson Button 17
16 Kevin Magnussen 6
17 Pascal Wehrlein 1
18 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 1
1 Mercedes 498 points
2 Red Bull 290
3 Ferrari 279
4 Williams 111
5 Force India 108
6 McLaren 48
7 Toro Rosso 45
8 Haas 28
9 Renault 6
10 Manor 1
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"I lost a lot of time as Nico went clear 'easy-and-breezy' and he did a great job. I got up to second and that is the best I could do. It's so hard to overtake here, but we live to fight another day."
Sebastian Vettel came home third, 5.9 seconds further behind, ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to the delight of the home fans.
It was Rosberg's first Italian Grand Prix win, his seventh of the season and 21st of his career, boosting his championship challenge with seven races remaining.
"Thank you very much guys," said Rosberg. "It's great to win Italy. It was all down to the start. I had an awesome start and it was all over from there."
It was also the 50th podium finish of his career and prevented Hamilton from completing a cherished hat-trick of Italian wins which would have equalled a feat achieved only once before by Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950s.
It was the first time in seven years that the race was not won by the driver starting from pole position.
"Good job," was all Hamilton, who was also denied his 50th career win, could offer, as he shook hands with Rosberg afterwards.
As an army of Ferrari fans flooded the pit straight, Rosberg said from the podium: "I'm feeling great, the race is on with Lewis.
"It is always going to be a great battle and I look forward to what is to come."
Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff said: "Lewis had too much wheelspin at the start and this cost him the victory."
Daniel Ricciardo, fifth for Red Bull in a race with little drama on the track, provided the best move of the race, passing the Williams of Valtteri Bottas with a sensational overtake into the first chicane.
"I thought, 'Just have a go' and I was behind Valtteri and even though I was far back, I was going to have a go," said Ricciardo.
"I knew he would not turn into me and we didn't touch and it was clear. It was good fun.
"We knew Ferrari had the edge on us, so fifth was our objective and we got it."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS