Hamilton takes championship lead with dominant Monza display
Italian Grand Prix

Hamilton takes championship lead with dominant Monza display

Lewis Hamilton led home an easy Mercedes one-two at the Italian Grand Prix to take the lead of the championship for the first time in 2017.

Hamilton led every lap bar those immediately after his pit stop, converting his record 69th career pole into a win which takes him three points clear of Vettel in the championship. Teammate Bottas finished second having passed Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon early on, as Mercedes turned in a dominant performance more reminiscent of the first three years of the V6 turbo era. The win also made Hamilton the first driver to claim back-to-back victories in 2017.

Sebastian Vettel completed a solid recovery drive from sixth on the grid to claim the final spot on the podium, holding off a late charge from Daniel Ricciardo who started 16th on the grid to finish fourth. Ricciardo took on a set of super-soft tyres late in the race to scythe through the field, making one of the moves of the season on Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 1 in the closing laps.

After starting on the front row, Lance Stroll dropped to third behind Esteban Ocon in Turn 1 before slipping further down the order to sixth at the finish. Ocon took a solid fifth place for Force India while Felipe Massa challenged Stroll for sixth at the end but ultimately settled for seventh. Sergio Perez finished ninth ahead of Max Verstappen, who made early contact with Massa on lap three that resulted in a return to the pits to deal with a puncture and front wing damage.

Hamilton made a sluggish getaway from pole, but covered the inside line into Turn 1 to ward off Stroll and claim the apex. Ocon took advantage of the situation by going to the outside of Stroll to take second from the Williams driver while Bottas held off Kimi Raikkonen to keep fourth.

Mercedes' advantage soon became clear as Hamilton disappeared into the distance and Bottas passed Stroll and Ocon by lap four. Vettel passed Raikkonen on lap three by putting his teammate off line into the second chicane and taking advantage on the short run to the first Lesmo to seize the inside line. By lap five Vettel was past Stroll for fourth position and on lap eight he was up to third after passing Ocon.

As he started lap 10, Vettel was less than 10 seconds behind Hamilton but by the midway point of the race that gap had more than doubled to 22 seconds. Bottas kept a five-second margin to Hamilton at all times but never put his teammate under threat, despite Hamilton dipping two wheels in the gravel on the exit of the second chicane on lap 19.

Vettel pitted on lap 31, triggering Hamilton to stop on lap 32 and Bottas on lap 33, but such were the margins that only a major error would result in the race being won or lost in the pit lane.

However, Ricciardo's charge through the field hinged on strategy and a strong 37-lap stint on the soft tyres saw him emerge on super-softs in a net fifth place ahead of both Ocon and Stroll. By this point, Raikkonen had worked his way back up to fourth, but was caught sleeping on lap 41 allowing Ricciardo to throw his Red Bull up the inside with a late-braking overtaking move.

Ricciardo then started closing the gap to Vettel in third, buoyed by the Ferrari running wide at Turn 1 on lap 42 and losing several seconds to the Red Bull. Vettel said his Ferrari didn't feel the same after the mistake, but went on to set a personal best time and keep Ricciardo 4.0s at bay as they crossed the line.

But it will be the 36-second gap to Hamilton that will be of more concern to Ferrari, which has dropped 23 points to Mercedes in the last two races and seen Vettel's 14-point lead in the drivers' championship turned into a three-point deficit. Mercedes, meanwhile, can take pride in another dominant performance on Ferrari's home turf, having led every lap of the V6 turbo era at Monza. Singapore comes next -- a track that is expected to suit Ferrari -- but with 13 of the 20 rounds completed, the advantage is back with Mercedes.

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22/02/2018
08:00 | 2018 Winter Olympics
12:30 | Karolina Pliskova v Angelique Kerber - WTA Dubai
13:00 | ATP 250 - Marseille
14:00 | WTA - Dubai
16:00 | Caroline Garcia v Garbine Muguruza - WTA Dubai
17:00 | Lokomotiv Moskva - Nice
18:00 | ATP 500 - Rio Open
19:00 | Sporting - Astana
19:00 | Atletico Madrid - Copenhagen
19:00 | Dynamo Kyiv - AEK Athens
19:00 | Zenit - Celtic
19:00 | RB Leipzig - Napoli
19:00 | Villarreal - Olympique Lyon
19:00 | Viktoria Plzen - Partizan
19:00 | Lazio - FCSB
21:00 | Marin Cilic v Gael Monfils - ATP 500 - Rio Open
21:05 | Atalanta - Borussia Dortmund
21:05 | Athletic Bilbao - Spartak Moskva
21:05 | Salzburg - Real Sociedad
21:05 | Milan - Ludogorets
21:05 | Arsenal - Ostersunds FK
21:05 | Sporting Braga - Olympique Marseille
22:30 | Pablo Andujar v Dominic Thiem - ATP 500 - Rio Open
23/02/2018
02:00 | Frances Tiafoe v Juan Martin Del Potro - ATP 250 - Delray Beach
08:00 | 2018 Winter Olympics
13:00 | ATP 250 - Marseille
14:00 | WTA - Dubai
18:00 | ATP 500 - Rio Open
24/02/2018
08:00 | 2018 Winter Olympics
13:00 | ATP 250 - Marseille
13:30 | Leicester City - Stoke City
14:00 | WTA - Dubai
15:30 | Bayern Munich - Hertha BSC
16:00 | Liverpool - West Ham United
16:15 | Real Madrid - Alaves
17:00 | Toulouse - Monaco
18:00 | ATP 500 - Rio Open
18:30 | Watford - Everton
20:45 | Inter Milan - Benevento
20:45 | Barcelona - Girona
25/02/2018
08:00 | 2018 Winter Olympics
12:00 | Villarreal - Getafe
13:00 | ATP 250 - Marseille
14:00 | WTA - Dubai
15:00 | Bordeaux - Nice
15:00 | Sassuolo - Lazio
15:05 | Manchester United - Chelsea
15:30 | Bayer Leverkusen - Schalke 04
17:00 | Olympique Lyon - Saint-Etienne
17:30 | Arsenal - Manchester City - Carabao Cup Final
18:00 | Juventus - Atalanta
18:00 | ATP 500 - Rio Open
18:30 | Valencia - Real Sociedad
20:45 | Sevilla - Atletico Madrid
20:45 | Roma - Milan
21:00 | PSG - Olympique Marseille
DERBY OF THE WEEK
Manchester United - Chelsea
Derby of the week
15:05
25/02/2018
Derby of the week
W 2.00    
   W 3.80
The odds are correct at the time of publishing
02-15-2018 07:00 and are subject to change
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