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Stroll happy with Monza F1 display despite fall from front row

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Lance Stroll took plenty of positives from his run to seventh in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza despite falling down the order after becoming the youngest driver in Formula 1 history to start from the front row of the grid.

Stroll, 18, starred in a wet qualifying session on Saturday to line up alongside pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton for the start, only to lose a place at Turn 1 to Esteban Ocon.

Stroll slipped down the order as the race wore on, with Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo all getting the jump to leave the Canadian running P7 late on.

Soaking up late pressure from Williams teammate Felipe Massa, Stroll held on to secure six points and record his second-best F1 finish.

“I am very happy with the race and I think it was a good one. I really enjoyed myself,” Stroll said.

“It was a bit of a shame at the start, as we lost position to Ocon, as Hamilton had a bad start and defended, so I had to back off. We were in P3 and then both Ferraris and the Mercedes of Bottas overtook.

“I then had a big flat spot at the end of the race, so started to lose time to Ocon and then was defending from Felipe.

“All in all, the race was very positive. I finished in P7, which was what we were expecting.”

With Massa coming home eighth, Williams took 10 points away from Monza, creating some breathing space to the chasing midfield teams in the race for P5 in the constructors’ championship.

Ocon ‘a little disappointed’ to miss Monza podium, settles for P6

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Esteban Ocon admitted to feeling “a little disappointed” not to have finished Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix on the podium, but felt sixth place was the maximum he could achieve for Force India against the quicker Formula 1 teams.

Ocon made a splash in a wet qualifying session at Monza by clinching third place on the grid, lining up behind Lewis Hamilton and Lance Stroll.

A good getaway saw Ocon pass Stroll into Turn 1, but he was slowly pulled back through the race as Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen all battled past.

Ocon led a close train including Stroll, Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez to the finish, clinching sixth place and matching his second-best result of the season.

“I really enjoyed the race and I’m happy with our performance. At the same time I’m a little disappointed because I really wanted to finish on the podium today,” Ocon admitted.

“But you have to be realistic and we didn’t have the pace to match Mercedes and Ferrari, so I think sixth place was the maximum we could achieve.

“At one stage we were racing against Raikkonen and I thought we could keep him behind, but he was just too quick. I also had a good battle with Stroll for most of the race and I had to work hard to keep him behind me.

“With the strong qualifying yesterday and the sixth place today, it’s been a great weekend. I have to say a big thanks to the whole team for all their hard work and for giving me such a competitive car.”

The result saw Ocon continue his impressive record of having finish every F1 race he has started, as well as moving to within three points of teammate Sergio Perez in the drivers’ standings.

Vettel ‘not too stressed’ despite poor Ferrari showing at Italian GP

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Sebastian Vettel says he is “not too stressed” despite losing the lead of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship for the first time this season after a disappointing display from Ferrari in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

Vettel arrived at Monza bidding to deliver Ferrari a first home win since 2010, only for him to struggle through both qualifying and the race, eventually finishing third, over half a minute behind race winner Lewis Hamilton.

The result saw Hamilton move into the lead of the drivers’ championship by three points with seven races remaining, having wiped away Vettel’s advantage in the past two races.

Vettel brushed off the result at Monza, putting Ferrari’s struggles down to a lack of confidence in the SF70H car which was always tipped to lose out to Mercedes given the high-speed nature of the circuit.

“I think we have some answers. It’s not always easy to turn them into solutions,” Vettel told NBCSN after the race when asked about Ferrari’s struggles.

“Equally I know that Monza is a very specific track. If you don’t have 100 per cent confidence, then you can lose quite a bit of time fairly easily.

“I’m not too stressed, and very much looking forward to the next races. I know this team has got a lot in them. We need to keep pushing, no doubt.

“Mercedes is still very strong, and a little bit ahead at the season, but it’s not the end of the season.”

Ferrari is expected to enjoy the upper hand over Mercedes in Singapore in two weeks’ time, but Vettel refused to make any predictions as to whether he would reclaim the championship lead at Marina Bay.

“I can’t make any promises, and to be honest, lead or no lead, it’s better to be in the lead,” Vettel said.

“But it’s more important to be in the lead after the last race. The rest nobody remembers.”

Hamilton calls Mercedes F1 car ‘a dream to drive’ after Monza domination

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Lewis Hamilton was quick to thank the Mercedes Formula 1 team after delivering his most dominant display of the 2017 season so far, winning Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix to move into the lead of the drivers’ championship for the first time this year.

Hamilton led all but one lap at Monza on Sunday en route to his sixth win of the season, heading up a one-two finish for Mercedes as Valtteri Bottas came home second.

Hamilton’s title rival Sebastian Vettel was a distant 36 seconds back in third place for Ferrari, with Mercedes making its engine advantage count at the high-speed Monza circuit.

“I’m happy. We did a great job, the team did an exceptional job this weekend,” Hamilton said on the podium after the race.

“Valtteri also did a great job. We owe it all to them.”

The dominant win over Ferrari at its home race led to Hamilton facing a hostile reception on the podium in front of the passionate Tifosi, with the three-time world champion not missing the opportunity to make a cheeky comment.

“Mercedes power is definitely better than Ferrari power. It worked well this weekend,” Hamilton smirked, before opening up on Mercedes’ demolition job.

“I think it’s all just to do with the team pulling together and trying to maximize everything from the car, and Valtteri and myself doing the best job we can with the car.

“But today the car was fantastic and really a dream to drive.

“A big thank you to all the fans who came out today, grazie a tutti, and I look forward to coming back here next year.”

Hamilton dominates Italian GP for fourth Monza win, leading Mercedes 1-2

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Lewis Hamilton moved into the lead of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship for the first time this season on Sunday by claiming his fourth Italian Grand Prix victory, heading up a one-two finish for Mercedes at Monza.

On Ferrari home soil, Mercedes delivered its most dominant performance of the season to date as Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas ran P1 and P2 for all but three of the 53 laps, finishing over 30 seconds clear of Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel was left to settle for P3, fending off a charging Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages to ensure Hamilton’s lead only stands at three points heading into the flyaway races.

A slick getaway from Hamilton allowed him to retain his lead off the line as Esteban Ocon jumped ahead of Lance Stroll, while Kimi Raikkonen managed to get the jump on Bottas in the second Mercedes for fourth place.

Bottas refused to back down, quickly putting the superior straight-line speed of his Mercedes to re-pass Raikkonen, before easily disposing of Stroll and Ocon on consecutive laps to put the German marque one-two early on at Monza.

With his championship lead looking precarious, Vettel struggled to make up ground in the opening laps, eventually slipping ahead of Raikkonen before also jumping Stroll. Ocon put up more of a fight, but was powerless to keep the faster Ferrari back, with Vettel completing the move on Lap 8.

Further back, Max Verstappen’s rollercoaster season took another twist when he suffered damage following a clash with Felipe Massa at Turn 1, having made up five places on the first lap to run inside the points. The Red Bull driver was forced to pit for repairs, causing him to drop to the very back of the field, almost going a lap down.

Ocon and Stroll may have been unable to hold the leading trio back, but they were able to keep Raikkonen in the second Ferrari at bay, the Finn struggling to get close enough to pass. Ferrari opted to try and get the undercut by bringing Raikkonen in on Lap 16, also acting to give the team some information on his tires that may help Vettel.

Ocon responded one lap later, retaining his advantage thanks to a slick stop from Force India, but Stroll was less fortunate, dropping behind Raikkonen following a slow turnaround by the usually-sharp Williams team.

The fight between F1’s oldest driver and two of its youngest resumed not long after the stops, with Raikkonen eventually getting a tow and using DRS down the main straight to slip past Ocon for P6 on Lap 26, with the leading five drivers still yet to pit.

Vettel was the first of the front-runners to blink, coming in for a fresh set of soft Pirellis at the end of Lap 31. However, the gap to Hamilton in the lead had swelled to over 20 seconds by the time he had come in, giving him no advantage for the undercut.

Mercedes reacted all the same, bringing Hamilton and Bottas in on the following two laps. Swift work from the Silver Arrows’ pit crew ensured the cars remained P1 and P2, with the gap to Vettel only growing.

Ferrari’s concern soon became the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who from P16 on the grid had perfected a reverse strategy to run into the top five on fresh super-soft tires after a long first stint.

Ricciardo quickly caught Raikkonen before pulling off a stunning divebomb move at Turn 1 on the Ferrari driver, boldly taking fourth away before getting his head down and setting off in pursuit of Vettel, gaining at a rate of one second per lap, setting up a tight finish.

With 53 laps in the book, Hamilton crossed the line 4.4 seconds clear of Bottas to become the first back-to-back winner in F1 this year, seizing the lead of the drivers’ championship in the process.

Vettel gave Ferrari something to cheer for at its home race by taking third place, seeing off Ricciardo’s late charge. Fourth place for the Red Bull racer nevertheless marked a stunning turnaround for the Australian, continuing his excellent form this season.

Kimi Raikkonen wound up a lonely fifth for Ferrari, putting 10 seconds between himself and Esteban Ocon at the checkered flag. Ocon’s run to sixth was impressive all the same, as was Stroll holding on to P7 for Williams ahead of teammate Felipe Massa despite a late scrap.

Sergio Perez recovered from his grid penalty for a gearbox change to take ninth for Force India, finishing ahead of Verstappen, who recovered to P10 despite the early clash with Massa.

More to follow.