The fight for victory between Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen at the Italian Grand Prix showed Formula 1 at its best, according to Ross Brawn, Formula 1’s Managing Director of Motorsports and technical director. Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen engaged in a tense, race-long battle for the lead at Monza after title rivals Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel collided on the opening lap, sending the German spinning to the back of the field.
The pair exchanged positions in the early stages with Kimi Raikkonen initially emerging on top but after 44 laps of shadowing the Finn by a gap that rarely exceeded one second, Hamilton made his race-winning move with a brilliant pass around the outside of the Ferrari driver at Turn 1, after Raikkonen’s progress had been slowed by Valtteri Bottas.
“Events at the Monza circuit this weekend were a great advertisement for Formula 1,” Ross Brawn said. “Sunday’s race was very exciting and closely fought with the winner only emerging once Lewis Hamilton had passed Kimi Raikkonen for a final time. The duel between Lewis and Kimi in Monza showed Formula 1 at its best, highlighting the talent of the drivers, the performance of the cars, tyre management and team-work between the drivers. During the weekend, the advantage swung back and forth between the two top teams. On Saturday, Ferrari had the upper hand, but Hamilton was there to hunt them down, forcing his way past one of them on the opening lap and the other towards the end. It was a great way to bring the curtain down on the European season and hopefully we will enjoy similarly spectacular races in the final third of the championship, as we tackle seven races on three continents in less than three months.” – he explained, as reported by crash.net.
Ross Brawn was impressed by Hamilton’s performance and praised his determination to hit back following Vettel’s convincing win at Spa the previous weekend: “Lewis Hamilton’s win was really well deserved,” he explained. “After Vettel’s Spa win, Ferrari seemed to be flying on the wings of enthusiasm in Monza, aided by the support of their home crowd, and Lewis missed out on a front row slot by a whisker. But the championship leader refused to lose heart. After the start, he attacked aggressively but correctly, managing to get past Vettel, and thereafter he remained glued to the tail of Räikkönen’s Ferrari, putting the Finn under heavy pressure, while still managing to preserve his tyres.” – he added.
Ross Brawn also hailed the strategy of his former team Mercedes, which he says was crucial to the victory: “He was aided by a perfect job from the pit wall and from team-mate Valtteri Bottas who was the perfect team player in this instance, and let’s not forget that Formula 1 is a team sport,” Brawn added. “Clever strategic thinking and a Bottas bulwark in front of Kimi allowed Lewis to muscle his way past the Ferrari driver, who was suffering with heavily worn rear tyres. The key moment was probably the pit stop, with Mercedes tricking Ferrari into thinking that Lewis was going for the undercut. When Kimi came in, the reigning world champion stayed out, extending his first stint for as long as possible to have fresher rubber for the final stages. Easy to say, not so easy to do and Lewis was simply brilliant.”
The result stretched Hamilton’s advantage over Vettel to 30 points in the championship, though Brawn reckons this year’s title fight remains “very open” with seven rounds remaining: “Vettel had the opportunity to close the gap in the championship here, but instead it has expanded with 30 points – more than a race win – now separating him from Hamilton. But I reckon it’s still very open. There are still seven races to go and it doesn’t take much to turn things around, because in performance terms, the two teams are pretty much equal.”