MONZA (Italy) • Lewis Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix for Mercedes yesterday with an utterly dominant drive that sent the Briton clear at the top of the Formula One World Championship for the first time in a year.
The three-time champion, who started the last race of the European swing from a record 69th career pole position, led Finnish team-mate Valtteri Bottas to a runaway one-two finish at Ferrari's home track.
"I love it here in Italy and I love the passion of the fans," Hamilton declared on the podium jutting out over a sea of red-shirted Ferrari fans, with plenty of boos coming his way amid the cheers.
"We did a great job, the team did an exceptional job this weekend. Mercedes power is definitely better than Ferrari power."
Bottas also praised Mercedes' teamwork. "The car was so strong - it was amazing how quick we were and it was a pure joy to drive. A perfect result. No drama," he said.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who had led the standings since he won the Australian season opener in March, finished third, 36.3 seconds behind the Briton. Bottas was 4.4sec adrift of Hamilton.
ITALIAN GP RESULTS
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 15min 32.310sec
2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 4.471sec behind
3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari +36.317
4 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull +40.335
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari +1:00.082
6 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India +1:11.528
7 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams +1:14.156
8 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams +1:14.834
9 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India +1:15.276
10 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1 lap
1 Hamilton 238 pts, 2 Vettel 235, 3 Bottas 197, 4 Ricciardo 144, 5 Raikkonen 138, 6 Verstappen 68, 7 Perez 58, 8 Ocon 55.
1 Mercedes 435 pts, 2 Ferrari 373, 3 Red Bull 212, 4 Force India 113, 5 Williams 55, 6 Toro Rosso 40, 7 Haas 35, 8 Renault 34.
We did a great job, the team did an exceptional job this weekend. Mercedes power is definitely better than Ferrari power.
LEWIS HAMILTON, Mercedes driver, on winning the Italian Grand Prix to take the lead in the drivers' standings
"It was a difficult day, a difficult start," said Vettel. "My race was fairly isolated, we tried to keep as close as possible but we simply didn't have the pace.
"You could say it's a bad day but I know the team is on the right way... so I am in a very positive mood despite the numbers.
"It was entertaining, quite good fun. We just didn't have the pace of the leading two drivers, but going around seeing these people gives us a lot of hope. We have a strong car and will have a strong end to the season."
Hamilton is now three points clear of the German, with seven races remaining.
Mercedes are 62 points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors' standings. It was Mercedes' third one-two this year and the team's 39th overall.
The first driver to win two consecutive races this season, with Monza following on from Belgium a week earlier, Hamilton now leads Vettel 6-4 on victories this season.
He has 238 points to Vettel's 235 heading into the Singapore night race at Marina Bay on Sept 17.
The last time Hamilton led the standings on his own was at Monza a year ago, with now-retired team-mate Nico Rosberg emerging as the eventual champion.
Hamilton and four-time champion Vettel were level on points this year after China in April with one win and one second place each.
My race was fairly isolated, we tried to keep as close as possible but we simply didn't have the pace. You could say it's a bad day but I know the team is on the right way.
SEBASTIAN VETTEL (above), Ferrari driver, on ceding the lead atop the drivers' standings to Lewis Hamilton, after finishing third in the Italian Grand Prix.
If yesterday's race was a dull affair, there was at least plenty of sunshine, in contrast to the steady rain that drenched fans and delayed qualifying for hours on Saturday.
Hamilton pulled away cleanly from his historic pole - his fourth in a row at Monza - and was never challenged as he drove to the chequered flag with a minimum of fuss.
It was his third Italian Grand Prix win in four years and his 59th career victory. Only Michael Schumacher, whose pole record he beat, has more wins, with 91 - and few could have been more straightforward.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE