By Neil Leverett
- Round 13 of the F1 season moves on to Italy
- Lewis Hamilton led from pole position at Spa last weekend
- Sebastian Vettel finished behind Brit with lead cut to seven points in Drivers’ Championship
MONZA, ITALY – After Lewis Hamilton‘s defiant win at Spa in Belgium last weekend, can Sebastian Vettel bounce back as Formula 1 rolls into Italy?
Lewis Hamilton roars back in Belgium
Lewis Hamilton’s fifth win of the Formula 1 campaign last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, could yet go down as his most pivotal and hard-fought to date.
After surrendering a podium place to team-mate Valtteri Bottas in Hungary before the mid-season break, the 32 year-old Brit roared back for what he hopes to be a statement of intent for the remainder of the season.
Despite leading from the front, the battle between Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton was intense during the 44 laps, with just 2.358 seconds separating the pair at the chequered flag. In only the past few days to add further spice to the matter, Hamilton’s ‘dream’ of driving for Ferrari look to have been dashed, with news of the German’s contract extension.
It adds further to narrative between the two rivals this year and whilst there is little love lost between the two, respect remains on the track. As Hamilton stated to The Guardian:
“They have put in a fantastic fight,” said Hamilton. “The speed and pace they had was very strong. There was no point at which I was comfortable. Both of us were pushing for every single lap. It was like a sprint race, no room for error or the smallest mistake. There were strengths and weaknesses on both sides, we were constantly exchanging times.”
Can Vettel respond at Monza?
After Hamilton’s dogged victory, the onus now switches to the shoulders of Vettel as his team still harbour hopes of an unlikely constructors’ title come November. That task is a steep one heading into the final eight races of the calendar, with the Brit’s customary late-season surge set to shift into top gear.
Vettel however, does have history with the 5.793km of the Italian venue near Brescia. The 30 year-old German has three wins under his belt at Monza in 2008 for Toro Rosso and in 2011 and 2013 respectively, for their sister team Red Bull.
Hamilton and Vettel together have won five of the last six races at Monza. Coming into the weekend with the Brit on three wins in Italy also, should either notch their fourth at the former venue of the European Grand Prix, the victor will be in the box seat to lift the World Championship crown in Abu Dhabi on November 26.
Spaniard up against it from back row
Whilst the battle for the championship heats up, at the opposite end of the grid Fernando Alonso faces an up-hill task this weekend with the Spaniard set to start from the back of the grid.
The McLaren driver’s engine is set to be upgraded to Honda at Monza and as a result of already having used his permitted number of engine parts, an automatic penalty is now set be enforced.
Alonso, in his 17th year in F1 has endured a tough season, yet to record a top-three finish and with a points tally only just into double figures, with 10.
With the Singapore GP on the horizon in a fortnight’s time – where McLaren have a better race record – the changes have been implemented to give the Veteran a better chance of a podium finish at the Marina Bay Street Circuit next month.
The Italian Grand Prix takes place this weekend at Monza, Italy with the race proper at 1pm on Sunday.
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