Champion British driver Lewis Hamilton had a dominant finish last Sunday in a race that was marred by issues on Safe Operating Procedures on correct tyre pressure. Hamilton was not declared the winner after crossing the chequered flag and had to wait for three hours before the stewards completed checks on minimum permissible tyre pressure on his car. Hamilton survived a scare in the final laps, when his team informed him to drive flat out. But they did not reveal to him what the problem was. Hamilton came to know later that Team-Mercedes were intent on getting a lead of more than 25 seconds over second-placed Sebastian Vettel to counter a penalty for lower tyre pressure. Pirelli had specified a minimum tyre-pressure of 19.5 psi on safety grounds. But one of Hamilton’s tyre had a pressure of 19.2 psi. This was 0.3 psi lower than the minimum specified value. The overwhelming victory was spoiled and celebrations were muted. In the end however, Hamilton was declared the worthy winner with former world champion Sebastian Vettel taking 25 second longer to finish second and Williams’ Felipe Massa was third. Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Rosberg suffered engine failure with two laps remaining and that enhanced the British driver’s championship lead over Rosberg to 53 points with seven races left in the 2015 season.
In an unusual finish to the Italian GP, Hamilton raced away to cross the chequered flag 25 seconds ahead of the second-placed Sebastian Vettel but he was not declared the winner. The Mercedes team was summoned by FIA for investigating a potential breach of tyre-pressure regulations. Hamilton’s left-rear tyre pressure was found to be 0.3 PSI lower than the minimum value of 19.5 PSI set by Pirelli. In case of Rosberg, the value was 18.4 PSI but since Rosberg couldn’t complete the race, it didn’t matter. It was not until three hours from finish that the FIA stewards completed their probe. Only then, Hamilton was allowed to hold his victory. Before the post-race tyre-pressure drama, the Italian Grand Prix was a dull affair. Ferrari’s hopes of causing an upset went in vain, when Kimi Raikkonen’s car kicked into anti-stall at the start, he dropped from second on the grid to the last place as early as the first corner. Sebastian Vettel soon realized that the task of keeping up with Hamilton was difficult. Williams’ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas fell behind Vettel at third and fourth places and Rosberg, who started sluggishly dropped to sixth.
In the qualifying on Saturday, Hamilton had taken season’s eleventh top pole position and seventh consecutive ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. Sebastian Vettel lost to Raikkonen by five-hundredths of a second to finish third and Nico Rosberg fell to the fourth spot. Williams’ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were fifth and sixth, Force India’s Sergio Perez seventh, Lotus driver Romain Grosjean eighth, another Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg was ninth and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson finished tenth.
There was glorious sunshine at Monza on race day as Hamilton pulled away cleanly after the lights went out. Kimi Raikkonen was stalled on the grid and fell back close to last. On Lap two, Lotus’ Grosjean dropped out as smoke bellowed from his front right-hand wheel. The other Lotus driver Maldonado also left the race early. But Hamilton kept his lead all the way with Vettel in tow. In lap 51, Rosberg swerved in trying to overtake Vettel. The race was over for Rosberg as flames and smoke started to come out of his engine to blow away his title hopes. Hamilton drove flat out and finished far ahead of Vettel as he crossed the finish line. With Rosberg out of the race, Felipe Massa finished third by holding off Bottas after a thrilling final-lap battle. The brave Raikkonen battled his way from the last place to finish fifth, Force India’s Sergio Perez finished sixth ahead of his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was eighth, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson ninth and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat ended at tenth place. With his Italian GP victory, Hamilton’s tally on championship leaderboard went up to 252 points. With the disastrous race, Rosberg has slipped behind 53 point at 199 and third placed Vettel is on 178.
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