In Formula One the pole-sitter is always the favorite to win the race, statistically the pole sitter has a low pole to win conversion rate that is to say the favorite never wins.
It wasn’t the stats that Lewis Hamilton had to overcome at the Italian Grand Prix, the Mercedes driver, on pole, made a bad start as the launch-map settings (software that controls his Mercedes start sequence) went into temporary melt down. This led to Hamilton dropping down the order from 1st to 4th as the 22 car grid hurtled towards the short run up to the tricky first corner chicane.
Mercedes team mate, Nico Rosberg, made a clean get away and sailed into the lead from second place, and thus the scene was set for a classic show down between the top two drivers of the moment, only with Hamilton now stranded in 4th. But with a superior car at his disposal Hamilton began making moves, first on Magnussen and then Massa by lap 10.
A lap earlier Rosberg made a mistake going into turn one and had to use the escape road instead of navigating the Rettifilo chicane, by his own post race admission Rosberg was pushing hard, and at the time this allowed Massa and Hamilton to close the gap from 3.0s to 2.9s.
Rosberg made his one and only pitstop on lap 24 followed by Hamilton one lap later and when the two rejoined the gap was by now down to just 1.8 seconds. Hamilton had showed pace throughout the race weekend and began to post faster lap times than his team mate, the distance between the two began to decrease. Hamilton, although advised by his team to save his tyres for the last few laps before challenging for the lead, thought otherwise.
Yet a second mistake from Rosberg, again at the Rettifilo chicane, saw Rosberg carrying too much speed into the corner, his only option was to yet again rely on the escape road which meant Hamilton was gifted the lead by Rosberg’s unforced error on lap 29. From then on Hamilton had the edge over his team mate for a close but ultimately comfortable win.
Behind the dueling Mercedes team mates was Felipe Massa who was tucked away in third, untroubled he had no answer to the Mercedes duo in front of him but he was far away enough from 4th place to score his first podium of the season.
Williams team mate, Valterri Bottas, started 3rd on the grid but dropped down to 11th after getting bogged down by a slow starting Hamilton. However the pace of his Williams saw him fight his way back to 4th, cementing a strong 3rd and 4th place finish for the Williams team.
The Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel finished in 5th and 6th, Ricciardo was another one who made a poor start, the Australian put on an exciting show of bravery and daring as he made his way up the field from 12th following a poor start. Ricciardo’s eventful overtake on his team mate on lap 47 was brave and cunning but fair and surely rubbed salt into Vettel’s hurt pride.
Behind Vettel was another battle with Magnussen 6th, Sergio Perez 7th and and Jenson Button 8th. Try as he might Button didn’t have the pace to overtake Perez and when he tried Perez fought back valiantly the two were locked in a private but entertaining battle for seemingly the last half of the 53 lap race. Magnussen, however, was demoted to 10th place after receiving a 5 second penalty during the race.
Ferrari’s misery didn’t dessert them at their home Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso retired after his car suffered a gearbox fault on lap 28 and Kimi Raikkonen struggled home into 9th place.
But this was Lewis Hamilton’s day after the disappointment of the previous race at the Belgian Grand Prix where Rosberg admitted to causing a collision.
That incident showed Rosberg had lost the beginning of the psychological inter-team war and it seems again today that Rosberg didn’t have the out right speed to beat Hamilton. That is why Rosberg’s race errors gifted Hamilton the lead, victory and also the upper hand but Rosberg still has a commanding 22 point lead.