Lewis Hamilton turns in one of his best ever to spoil Ferrari's party
MONZA, Italy -- A look at the main talking points from the Italian Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton beat the Ferraris on home turf.
A very Lewis weekend
On the back foot: The Italian Grand Prix started with Thursday's media session and the news Lewis Hamilton's media sessions had been canceled. Mercedes refused to give an explanation other than to say it was because of a personal commitment.
On Saturday afternoon he had a close fight with the Ferraris but was beaten to the front row by Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Afterward, as was to be expected at the Italian team's home race, he was booed at the post-qualifying interviews.
Entering the snake pit: Hamilton operates at his best when he has an "us against the world" mentality. The post he sent to his followers ahead of the race was exactly that ...
A championship-calibre move: Hamilton had to get past one of the Ferraris on the opening lap to have any chance of winning, and he did exactly that in exceptional circumstances. As the front three went toward the Roggia chicane in close proximity, Vettel sized up Raikkonen on the inside, allowing Hamilton to swoop around on the outside of his main championship rival.
There was contact, with Vettel pitched around into a spin which ultimately took him out of contention, but the stewards deemed it a racing incident. The move shifted the pendulum away from the red corner of Ferrari and back toward the silver corner occupied by the reigning world champion.
Signed, sealed, delivered: After dispatching Vettel, Hamilton's opening stint was extended in a bid to do something different to the lead Ferrari. With a bit of help from Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas (see below), the reigning world champion was able to gain a significant tyre advantage which allowed him to execute another sublime -- but slightly more inevitable -- overtake on Raikkonen for the lead and the race victory.
Vintage #44: This has to immediately enter the conversation for one of Hamilton's best-ever wins. Victory in Germany earlier this year came in much luckier circumstances, although it did involve some supreme wet-weather driving, but this one was class from the moment the lights went out.
Whatever your personal opinions of Hamilton the man, it is impossible to deny that Hamilton the driver is currently operating at the absolute peak of his abilities right now.
The fight for the podium
Sensational wingman: Valtteri Bottas didn't like being called a "sensational wingman" by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff in Budapest, but he was exactly that in Monza. His stint in front of fellow Finn Raikkonen allowed Hamilton to easily make up ground after his own stop. Bottas was rewarded with a podium for his troubles.
Ferrari squanders a golden opportunity: A Ferrari driver should have been on the top step of the podium. Even with Vettel's drop down the order, it seemed like the red team held the edge. This was a great chance to end the team's drought at its home circuit, stretching back to 2010, and instead it allowed Hamilton to walk away with a decisive blow in the championship fight.
The return of Mad Max: Max Verstappen's form has been much improved of late, but his clumsy collision with Valtteri Bottas made him look a little bit too much like the man who struggled for form in early 2018. Moving to the left to block the Mercedes driver, he clobbered Bottas. Verstappen might change his tune when he sees replays, but he was furious with the penalty he received afterward -- claiming he had given Bottas enough space when he definitely hadn't.
Shocker: Renault's upgraded C-spec engine going up in smoke inside Daniel Ricciardo's car was a huge setback for the French manufacturer. Progress on the reliability side has been slow, and this will add more question marks about its potential to fight with Mercedes and Ferrari in 2019.