Sunday, 18 February, 2018

Hamilton claims record pole after rain delays at Monza

Sergio Perez speaks to a Force India engineer at this season's Bahrain Grand Prix  Sergio Perez speaks to a Force India engineer at this season's Bahrain Grand Prix
Vera Richards | 05 September, 2017, 03:52

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 was again in fine form and together with a speedy Bottas demonstrated that it will take something special to stop him breaking Michael Schumacher's record by reeling off a fourth consecutive Monza pole and the 69th of his career in qualifying Saturday. "We have just gone from strength to strength", said the Englishman, who leads Vettel for the first time this season by three points, with seven races remaining.

Even more interesting than that is that the penalties for the Red Bulls will see Williams Lance Stroll start in second place tomorrow with Esteban Ocon starting in third place for Force India.

Hamilton was 1.148 seconds quicker than Red Bull's Max Verstappen in second place as title rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari could manage only eighth.

Mercedes dominated Italian Grand Prix practice with Valtteri Bottas pipping teammate Lewis Hamilton for the fastest lap of the day.

As for the rest of the field, the Red Bulls did a wonderful job via Max Verstappen whose auto let him down with no drive in the early part of the race.

"For me, it looks like this weekend Ferrari has a step back, somehow".

Esteban Ocon and Perez Force India's Formula One drivers are in Italy this weekend 
Esteban Ocon and Perez Force India's Formula One drivers are in Italy this weekend

With the laps ticking down, he did set about reeling in Vettel in the last 10 laps of the race. Though Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo finished the qualifying in second and third place, they can not start the race from that position as they have been handed grid penalties.

For the first time this season, he will appear at the first place in the driver's standings jumping over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. But Vettel said that he's not concerned about that right now. "The vehicle was so strong - it was fantastic how quick we were and it was a pure joy to drive". We've just gone from strength to strength and really shown a real strength in depth.

Vettel revealed that his vehicle had suffered damage when he ran off the track on lap 40, putting him further behind the two Mercedes and at risk of being caught by Daniel Ricciardo in the charging Red Bull behind.

The German joins Hamilton on three Italian Grand Prix wins apiece.

"The impact wasn't strong - I hit the barriers at an angle but spinning on a straight shouldn't happen in Formula One", he said angrily.

"I can't speak for other people, but I think Kimi and myself were racing each other the whole year".

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