Lewis Hamilton wins Italian GP, Extends his Lead over Rosberg
Lewis Hamilton led the Italian GP from start to finish - but was made to wait for three hours before his win was finally confirmed at Monza on Sunday.
Pirelli had raised their minimum recommended pressures at the start of the weekend in response to the failures suffered by Vettel and Rosberg at the Belgian GP two weeks ago. But with the minimum recommended pressures on rear tyres raised to 19.5PSI, it was announced immediately after the chequered flag had fallen at Monza that the pressure in the left-rear tyre on Hamilton's car at the start of the race was 0.3PSI too low while Rosberg's was 1.1PSI below the limit.
However, after a lengthy investigation the FIA concluded "the pressures in the tyres concerned were at the minimum start pressure recommended by Pirelli when they were fitted to the car".
Doubtless a sigh of relief for Hamilton, then - if not his team-mate, whose uphill struggle to deny his rival Silver Arrow a second straight title is now so much steeper. As tends to happen in F1, events surrounding the race turned out to be far more interesting than the race itself.
That part seemed easy for Hamilton, who lapped at a consistently impressive pace throughout to build a commanding lead.
But his pulse quickened during the closing laps when his engineer came on the radio, pointing out a mystery problem he said he'd only reveal afterwards, and also asking Hamilton to up his pace.
Mercedes were apparently preparing themselves for some sort of time penalty, while Hamilton immediately sounded concerned and remained so after taking the chequered flag. "I have to say those last few laps were not cool, man," he said on his victory lap.
Even so, speaking to Sky Sports F1 afterwards, Hamilton insisted that such a small difference in tyre pressure would have made no difference.
"Pirelli will be able to prove that it doesn't make any difference, particularly on one tyre. If it's all the tyres maybe you can argue it," he said. "It would be very much a shame. But ultimately that's not the reason why we won today. We won because we were the quickest."
Vettel admitted as much himself. "Lewis was quick today, he was the quickest out there, especially in the second parts of the stints," he said. "He just seemed to be in control of the race".
After building up the hopes of the Tifosi with their strong qualifying performance, Ferrari wholly failed to translate that pace into the race. To make matters worse, Kimi Raikkonen, who lined up alongside Hamilton on the front row of the grid, almost stalled as the lights went out and was last of all into the first corner.
Force India pair Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth and seventh, with the top 10 completed by Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull, who passed Marcus Ericsson's Sauber exiting the final Parabolica corner, and Daniil Kvyat's Red Bull.
Further back, Jenson Button finished 14th having climbed into the points during the opening laps after cars at the back of the pack spilled all over the Rettifilo chicane on lap one.
Probably as a consequence of cars with engine penalties starting at the back of the grid - not to mention Raikkonen's tardy getaway - the concertina effect was particularly pronounced.
Carlos Sainz gained seven places - although the Toro Rosso driver was later penalised after being found to have left the track and gained an advantage - while the Lotuses of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean both picked up damage and were forced into retirement.
Button was involved too, but emerged in ninth place. However, McLaren-Honda's lack of performance soon revealed itself and he drifted out of the points again, back to team-mate Fernando Alonso.
The pair were fighting among themselves during the closing laps when Alonso's car entered the pits trailing smoke - another retirement for the Spaniard.
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
3. Felipe Massa, Williams
4. Valtteri Bottas, Williams
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
6. Sergio Perez, Force India
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
8. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull
9. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber
10. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull
11. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso
12. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso
13. Felipe Nasr, Sauber
14. Jenson Button, McLaren
15. Will Stevens, Marussia
16. Roberto Merhi, Marussia
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Romain Grosjean, Lotus
Pastor Maldonado, Lotus