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Race Check-Up: Monza mayhem

Ticker tape at the podium. Italian Grand Prix, Sunday 6th September 2015. Monza Italy.

At the temple of speed in Monza, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took the 40th win and 81st podium of his career, with a 24 second lead. He was followed by Ferrari racer Sebastian Vettel and Williams’ own Felipe Massa. On a circuit where cars are running on full throttle 70 percent of the time, the race had a dramatic start and unfolded several incidents over the course of 53 laps.

Starting with 168 penalties shared by five drivers, the final starting grid was as follows: 15 – Jenson Button (5 place grid penalty), 16 – Fernando Alonso (10 places), 17 – Carlos Sainz (35 places), 18 – Daniil Kyvatt (35 places), 19 – Daniel Ricciardo (35 places), 20 – Max Verstappen (did not set time in qualifying). The mentioned penalties resulted in the Manor Marussia cars to start in 13th and 14th, their best grid start so far in the season.

Ferrari: It was a front row lockout for the first time since Monaco in 2009. Kimi Raikkonen started second and was +0.234 s off Hamilton in the qualifying, showing promising pace on Saturday. However a bad start sent him to the back of the grid, from where he fought back to ninth after six laps. Nico Rosberg’s car retirement promoted Kimi to a fifth place finish.

Kimi explained his problem saying the car went into anti-stall mode after releasing the first clutch. He added that there was a problem with the second clutch too. Faulty starts were predicted prior to the summer break – the drivers now can’t get instructions via pit radio anymore.

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton won the race, but his win came under investigation by the stewards for a potential breach of the minimum starting tyre pressure regulation for both drivers. Nico Rosberg missed his podium due to an engine failure that caused a retirement during the penultimate laps of the race. Rosberg’s car was fitted with an old specification engine from the Spa race after his new one started giving problems in FP3. The engine failed with two laps to go, when he was asked by his team to push it while closing in on Vettel. Prime cause of the failure was a cooling system leak that lead to a power failure.

Towards the penultimate laps of the race Hamilton was also instructed by his team on pit radio to increase his pace without further questioning, which was quite bizarre given that he had a comfortable lead over the pack and was overlapping almost half the grid.

Red Bull Racing:  This was the first time both bulls did not make it to Q3 or start in the top 10. It has been their worst qualifying since the days of David Coulthard and Mark Webber in 2006 when the team had just started out.

The team is probably going to need a new engine supplier for the next season, else their future looks bleak. This season they have had numerous Renault engine failures. Daniel Ricciardo finished eighth and Daniil Kvyat finished tenth, barely scraping through the chaotic afternoon.

Williams: Felipe Massa and Valterri Bottas had an intense battle towards the closing laps of the race. Bottas lost his chance at a podium less than a metre before the finish line. Massa, who was on the podium for the second time in the season, admitted that he was getting too old for such hardcore late-race battles. The current win has elevated the Brazilian to fourth place in the championship, 5 points ahead of Raikkonen and six points ahead of his teammate Bottas.

Force India: The Silverstone based team recovered from its disappointment at Spa last month with a double points finish. Sergio Perez finished sixth followed by teammate Nico Hulkenberg in seventh place. Nico had complained of no power towards the end of the qualifying session on Saturday. However, during the race he had trouble with the front of his car after he made contact with one of the cars at the mayhem during the start.

Lotus: Both the cars of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean retired in lap one after they made contact with other cars. After their hopes being raised with the podium in Spa, this double retirement comes as a huge setback for the team. After the current result they trail 13 points behind Force India with a total of 50 points.

Toro Rosso: Max Verstappen, the teenager who was racing for the first time in his racing career at the Monza circuit, finished 12th. Carlos Sainz, on the other hand, was handed a 5 second penalty for leaving the track and gaining advantage at the start of the race, where he had almost moved up seven places. Sainz managed remaining in the points for most of the race, but finished 11th at the end of the race ahead of his teammate.

Stats after the Italian GP:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team 252
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team 199
3 Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari 178
4 Felipe Massa Williams Martini Racing-Mercedes 97
5 Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari 92
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams Martini Racing-Mercedes 91
7 Daniil Kvyat Infiniti Red Bull-Renault 58
8 Daniel Riccardo Infiniti Red Bull-Renault 55
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Mercedes 38
10 Sergio Perez Sahara Force India-Mercedes 33
11 Nico Hulkenberg Sahara Force India-Mercedes 30
12 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso-Renault 26
13 Felipe Nasr Sauber 16
14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Mercedes 12
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 11
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 9
17 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso-Renault 9
18 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 6
19 Will Stevens Manor Marussia-Ferrari 0
20 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia-Ferrari 0

Check out some amazing shots from Monza by our very own James Moy here

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