MONZA (Italy) • Lewis Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix for Mercedes yesterday after a dramatic clash with his title rival, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.
The pair touched on the opening lap and Vettel spun. Although the German came back, he could manage only fourth place in a result that left a deflated crowd at Ferrari's home race.
It was, however, a huge result for Hamilton against the odds that enabled him to extend his lead in the championship to 30 points, 256 to 226. With his fifth win at Monza, his sixth victory this season, he also equalled Michael Schumacher's record at the race track.
In his post-race interview with the BBC, Hamilton revealed he had been spurred on by the hostility directed at him by Ferrari fans.
"I want to give it to Ferrari, who put up a great challenge this weekend. There was a lot of negativity here... and they inspired me so much," said the Briton who has been booed by the diehard Ferrari fans all weekend. "In future, the negative is only a positive for me because I turn it around."
Ferrari's pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen was second, with Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes third and Red Bull's Max Verstappen fifth.
Hamilton ultimately won through several decisive overtaking manoeuvres on a circuit where Ferrari had held the advantage all weekend.
SILENCING HOME CROWD
I want to give it to Ferrari, who put up a great challenge this weekend. There was a lot of negativity here... and they inspired me so much. In future, the negative is only a positive for me because I turn it around.
LEWIS HAMILTON, Mercedes' defending champion, on giving as good as he gets from the hostile fans on Ferrari's home turf.
Equally, Mercedes managed their strategy to perfection, calling their stops well to ensure Hamilton was in a position to take the lead from Raikkonen in the final third after an error by Vettel, once again, proved to be a blow to his title hopes.
On the previous three occasions Hamilton has won in Italy, he has gone on to take the title.
He had done his best in qualifying to take third on the grid, acknowledging that Ferrari had enjoyed the quicker car on Saturday.
But the 33-year-old and Mercedes were able to step up and execute perfectly to deny the Scuderia despite the team no longer having hegemony at the power circuits.
ITALIAN GRAND PRIX
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 16m 54.484sec
2 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari +8.705
3 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes +14.066
4 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari +16.151
5 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull +18.208
6 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas +56.320
7 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India +57.761
8 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India +58.678
9 Carlos Sainz (Esp) Renault 1:18.140
10 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Toro Rosso +1 lap
1 Hamilton 256 points
2 Vettel 226
3 Raikkonen 164
4 Bottas 159
5 Verstappen 130
6 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 118
1 Mercedes 375 points
2 Ferrari 360
3 Red Bull 238
4 Renault 82
5 Haas 76
6 McLaren 52
This win could prove vital, especially with the next round at Singapore, a circuit where they have traditionally struggled and where Ferrari and Red Bull have been strong.
Hamilton's 68th career win again swings the title fight in his favour, restoring the cushion he has to Vettel with seven races remaining.
Raikkonen had got away cleanly from pole and the front three held their positions through the first chicane, but drama was to follow almost immediately.
Hamilton went round the outside of Vettel through the Roggia chicane, but the German slightly understeered and the pair touched.
The 31-year-old spun and took some damage in the process and dropped to 18th, with the incident deemed by the stewards to be a racing incident, and Hamilton took full advantage.
"You are the man, you are the man. You knocked that out of the park today," Hamilton's race engineer Peter Bonnington was overheard telling him on radio as Mercedes celebrated their unexpected win.