Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hamilton Scares Italian Grand Prix Win Away from Rosberg

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone Photographer/Pirelli

The 2014 Formula 1 season is slowly drawing to a close. The 13th race on the 2014 calendar, the Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo di Monza would be 53 fast laps on a circuit where race cars are trimmed of downforce and engine power reigns supreme. In qualifying, Mercedes-Benz powerplants had the performance edge led by the Mercedes AMG team. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on the front row allowed the 2014 Formula 1 drivers' title rivals to battle wheel-to-wheel again. Last race in Belgium resulted in a teammate feud in Mercedes AMG met by their team management sternly reminding both racers that their place is united with the organization. However, with Rosberg 29 points in the lead with Hamilton in striking distance, it would take a lot of will power and authority to keep the teammates cooperative.

The start of the Italian Grand Prix was a shocker. When the lights went out, the Mercedes AMG race car of Lewis Hamilton started slower than teammate Nico Rosberg. By the first corner, Hamilton ran in fourth place. The poor start for the Mercedes AMG was attributed to a problem with the energy recovery system. Felipe Massa's Williams-Mercedes moved up to third place on lap one while Kevin Magnussen was running in the second place. Equally as noteworthy as Hamilton's woes early in the race was the rookie McLaren-Mercedes' driver storming up three positions at the start at Monza.

It could be said that lap 29 made the 2014 Italian Grand Prix. Specifically, it was Monza's turn one on lap 29 that provided two pivotal developments to the race. The first story worth mentioning is a rare the occurrence of a rare event in recent Formula 1 competition. Qualifying seventh, Fernando Alonso's Ferrari was the top hope for Sunday's main event. While the Ferrari team has been struggling this season against the Mercedes-Benz powered operations and Red Bull Racing, the Spanish two-time Formula 1 champion has been turning lemons into lemonade with his #14 car. Scoring two podiums this season against challenging odds, Fernando Alonso has most importantly finished in the points in every Formula 1 race heading into the Italian Grand Prix (the only driver who could boast that accomplishment at this point in the Formula 1 season). Alonso's biggest success in Formula 1 is a high average for finishing grand prix races. While Ferrari's steady reliability has helped in the maintenance of a strong finishing percentage, the Monza circuit result in a first for the Spaniard in five seasons with Ferrari.

Running in 11th place, Alonso's Ferrari stopped running along the Italian track's front stretch. Stopping in the run-off area of turn one, Fernando Alonso would exit this Ferrari in front of an Italian fan crowd having suffered a mechanical problem. The first time Alonso retired from a race due to a mechanical issue since his time as a Ferrari Formula 1 driver, it is also the Spanish driver's first mechanical retirement from a Formula 1 race the 2009 season when he drove for Renault. Alonso was only one of two drivers not classified as running at the end of the Italian Grand Prix. Max Chilton went out earlier in the race after he pounded his Marussia into a track barrier on lap six. Similar to Fernando Alonso, Chilton's retirement from a grand prix is an unaccustomed sight. This was only the second time Chilton was classified out of a race during what is his second season with Marussia.

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone Photographer/Pirelli

Before the Alonso retirement, a race-deciding motion took place at the 2014 Italian Grand Prix on lap 29 in turn one. Having capitalized on the poor Lewis Hamilton start, Nico Rosberg was holding the lead. Recovering ground through the first half of the grand prix, Hamilton had closed to within a second of Rosberg after his only pit stop of the race on lap 26. By the 28th lap, Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes AMG race car was filling up his teammate's mirrors just 0.7 seconds back. Within DRS range, the predicament resulted in leader Rosberg into making a mistake. Heading into turn one, Nico Rosberg missed the corner and ran through a run-off area drawing out to the exit of turn two. Having to slow down to navigate a slalom of track signs, the error cost Rosberg the lead as Hamilton came out of turn two the leader of the Italian Grand Prix. The mistake was actually the second time in the race that Rosberg missed turn one. The German driver straight-lined the portion of the Monza track named Variante del Rettifilo on lap nine while leading but was able to maintain his position on that occasion.

Taking the lead, the pole-sitting Mercedes AMG car and driver drove a strong second-half of the Formula 1 race on Monza. Giving some time back to his teammate in the closing laps, Lewis Hamilton kept a sizable 3.1-second gap on Nico Rosberg to win the 2014 Italian Grand Prix. Hamilton's second win at Monza in Formula 1 competition, the victory comes with buzz of contention between him and Rosberg. With the last grand prix being a vivid show of a team breakdown, at least Hamilton and Rosberg celebrated in unity with their Mercedes AMG organization following the Italian Grand Prix.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

Collecting his first podium of the season and first as a Williams driver, Felipe Massa leapfrogged his teammate Valtteri Bottas for the position early. For the 33-year-old Brazilian driver, the result was his first podium since the Spanish Grand Prix. With Bottas claiming fourth place, the strong finish by the Martini Williams Racing driver has the team appearing on the right track when it comes to 2015 plans. During same weekend, Williams confirmed Massa and Bottas will be returning to their cars next season.

Though the top-six cars in qualifying were Mercedes-Benz powered, the race resulted in the Red Bull-Renaults making a climb up the grid. Three-time grand prix winner this season Daniel Ricciardo finished just over 50 seconds back of Lewis Hamilton at Monza in fifth place. Sebastian Vettel placed in sixth on a track that made his Formula 1 career in 2008 when he won driving for Toro Rosso.

The Formula 1 tour shifts back to the Asian continent where teams prepare for the Singapore Grand Prix set for September 21st.

2014 Formula 1
Italian Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
6 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
9 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
10 22 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes-Benz
11 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
13 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
14 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault
15 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari
16 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
17 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Renault
18 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari
19 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault
20 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
21 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
22 4 Max Chilton Marussia Ferrari

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