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Sebastian Vettel: Car damage masked true pace

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Hamilton takes Championship lead in Italy (1:31)

Jennie Gow discusses Lewis Hamilton's dominant performance at Monza but questions whether he can hold on to the top spot in the driver's championship. (1:31)

Sebastian Vettel believes he could have been much faster in the Italian Grand Prix had he not encountered damage on his Ferrari during the closing stages of the race.

Having picked off teammate Kimi Raikkonen, Lance Stroll, and Esteban Ocon with relative ease to move into third place early on, Vettel was unable to keep up with the faster Mercedes duo ahead and ultimately finished 36 seconds behind race-winner Lewis Hamilton.

The German says an off at the first chicane caused damage which meant he was no longer able to trust his car under braking.

"I went off at Turn 1 and I think something broke," Vettel explained. "The left side of the steering was a bit down and I couldn't trust the car on braking. It is a braking track, so the last laps didn't show the pace I could have done.

"We probably lacked half a second per lap today but there are not all the parts you can judge. I am not worried by the gap, Monza is specific place and if you have that bit of confidence it makes a difference."

The result means Vettel lost his championship lead for the first time in 2017 after Hamilton registered his sixth win of the campaign to become the first back-to-back victor this year.

Despite the poor result for Ferrari at its home race, Vettel remains confident the Scuderia can continue to challenge Mercedes heading into the final seven races of the season.

"We knew it would be a difficult race, perhaps we expected to be closer. It's not nice to see them winning but with third we gave everything we had. I am very positive right now. You could say it was a bad day, but I know the team is on the right way and there is a lot of stuff that is going to improve.

"Overall, it has been amazing to see where we are, but I know we will get strong so I am in a positive mood. I'm not worried. I know that there is still a long way to go and we have the people behind us, so it is a great feeling."