MONZA, Italy -- Lewis Hamilton beat Kimi Raikkonen to victory at an enthralling Italian Grand Prix despite making contact with title rival Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap of the race.
The win, which included a bold overtake on Raikkonen for the lead on lap 45, sees Hamilton take a 32-point lead over Vettel in the standings with seven races remaining. Raikkonen had to settle for second -- a disappointing result for the local Tifosi after the strength of Ferrari's performance over the weekend -- after taking his first pole position of 2018 on Saturday.
Max Verstappen finished third on the road but was demoted to fifth at the finish for an over-zealous defence against Valtteri Bottas on lap 43. The Red Bull driver was given a five-second penalty for colliding with Bottas in the braking zone at Turn 1 as the Mercedes looked to go around the outside and Verstappen cut him off. Not only did the penalty drop Verstappen behind Bottas, it also saw him slip behind Vettel, who recovered from his first corner collision with Hamilton to take fourth.
How the race unfolded
After Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid on Saturday, the stage appeared to be set for the Italian team's first win on home soil since 2010. But within the opening four corners, it soon became clear that the afternoon was not going to run to script as Raikkonen was forced to defend from Vettel into the first chicane, leaving his teammate vulnerable to attack from Hamilton at the second chicane.
Hamilton made a decisive move on the outside of the second chicane to get alongside Vettel and was then hit by the Ferrari as Vettel tried to battle back at the second apex. The Mercedes driver took the position regardless and continued in second place while Vettel dropped to the back of the pack and was forced to embark on a recovery drive to fourth.
Hamilton then went in hunt of Raikkonen for the lead, keeping the Finn within a second or two for the entirety of the first stint. Ferrari blinked first at the mandatory pit stops after the Mercedes crew sold them a dummy by emerging in the pit lane but not calling Hamilton in. It meant Raikkonen pitted relatively early from the lead on lap 20, a decision he would have to live with for the rest of the race as Hamilton was eventually pitted eight laps later and had fresher tyres at the end of the race.
In the belief Hamilton would pit on lap 21, Raikkonen damaged his tyres at the start of his second stint by pushing too hard and overheating the rears. Hamilton emergred from his pit stop on lap 29 and had lost 5.5s to Raikkonen when he did so by staying out longer on worn rubber as Raikkonen pushed on. But that gap was easily recovered by Mercedes, who brought Bottas into play by leaving the Finn out on track before his first pit stop to back Raikkonen into Hamilton.
The three cars were soon running in tandem, and when Bottas pitted on lap 36 it left Raikkonen with no car to gain a slipstream from and Hamilon right on his tail. A visible blister had emerged on the surface of the left rear tyre of the Ferrari and Hamilton started to use the DRS to get right on Raikkonen's tail into Turn 1. After signalling a move on lap 44, Hamilton made an overtake stick one lap later as he went to the outside of Raikkonen in Turn 1 and held the inside at the apex at Turn 2.
Raikkonen, with his damaged tyres, was left with no response and eventually fell eight seconds off the back of Hamilton by the chequered flag. Bottas was a further 5.3s back after attempting to pass Verstappen in the closing stages, with Vettel just 2.0s off in fourth following an impressive recovery drive.
Behind Max Verstappen, Romain Grosjean secured a solid sixth place finish for Haas, holding off the Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez in the final few laps. Carlos Sainz took ninth place for Renault ahead of Lance Stroll, who scored Williams first championship point since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April.
Daniel Ricciardo retired from 11th place on lap 25 with a suspected engine failure, despite his team fitting a new power unit ahead of the race weekend. Fernando Alonso also retired with an engine related issue, while Brendon Hartley's race ended before the first corner when he was hit by a Sauber at the start and sustained damage to his front right suspension.
The championship continues in two weeks' time in Singapore, which has historically been a difficult circuit for Mercedes.