Hamilton fights back to claim sensational Italian GP victory


MONZA, ITALY – Lewis Hamilton has claimed a sensational victory at Monza in the Italian Grand Prix, fighting back from a poor start to defeat teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg on Sunday afternoon.

The British driver dropped down to fourth place at the start of the race, but managed to fight his way back up into contention for the race win. When Rosberg made a mistake at the halfway point in the race, the Briton slipped into the lead and did not look back.

The two Mercedes drivers had started side-by-side on the front row of the grid, prompting many to expect another on-track collision like the one we saw in Belgium two weeks ago. However, it was a very clean fight at the front, and one that Rosberg was clearly second best in.

Off the line, pole-sitter Hamilton made a terrible start to allow Rosberg into the lead of the race, alleviating any concerns that many had about contact between the two drivers at the first corner. The German driver was followed by McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, who jumped up from fifth place on the grid as Valtteri Bottas, who had started third, slipped outside of the top ten. His Williams teammate, Felipe Massa, ran third ahead of Hamilton.

Both managed to find a way past Magnussen on lap five, moving Hamilton up into the top three. However, he was now stuck behind Massa, allowing Rosberg to scamper away at the head of the field although he could not create too great a gap at the front, with the Williams behind managing to match and even better his lap times.

Rosberg soon began to struggle with tire wear, locking up at the first chicane to allow the chasing duo to close the gap to within two seconds. Hamilton soon disposed of Massa with a superb overtake at the first chicane, and duly set his sights on catching his teammate and championship rival at the front of the field.

Further back, Bottas began his fightback, working his way up into the top six with some great overtakes on Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Jenson Button. After his good start, Magnussen found himself in fourth, but soon also lost out to the Finn; Bottas may have lost the chance to win, but he appeared to have salvaged a good haul of points. After pitting though, he found himself stuck in traffic behind Magnussen once again, with Vettel running ahead in fourth.

Hamilton’s relentless pace soon drew him close enough to Rosberg to pick up a tow, giving him a speed advantage in a straight line. Come the first round of pit stops though, it was Nico who still led, albeit by less than two seconds.

The pressure soon tolled as Rosberg locked up for a second time at the first chicane, allowing Hamilton into the lead of the race. The Briton soon put in a fastest lap to extend his lead over his teammate to over two seconds, and by lap 30, the recovery was complete.

Ferrari’s home race took a turn for the worse on lap 29 when Fernando Alonso’s car ground to a halt at the end of the main straight. This left Kimi Raikkonen as the sole Maranello runner in the race, sitting in the final points-scoring position of tenth.

Bottas’ charge was stunted by traffic in the battle for fourth place. Sebastian Vettel was the man leading the way, but just three seconds separated five cars, with Button and Magnussen pushing to score some much-needed points at McLaren. However, the latter soon found himself under investigation from the stewards forcing Bottas off-track at turn one. By the time the Finn had found a way past, the stewards handed Magnussen a five-second stop/go penalty which would be added to his final race time.

Once he had passed Vettel for fourth, Bottas soon escaped the train of cars and scurried down the road. Further back though, Sergio Perez entered a great fight with Jenson Button for position, only for both drivers to ultimately be passed by Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull.

The Australian soon managed to catch and pass Magnussen for sixth, and quickly began to catch Vettel in the sister Red Bull for fifth place. He made light work of the four-time world champion, overtaking him with five laps to go.

Out in front, Hamilton was dominant. After losing the lead just past half-distance, Rosberg had no answer for his teammate’s pace, and was forced to settle for second place at the flag. However, he does still lead the drivers’ championship by 22 points with this result.

Felipe Massa rounded out the podium positions for Williams with a superb performance that marked his first top-three finish since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix. Teammate Valtteri Bottas came home in fourth, promoting Williams up to third place in the constructors’ championship as Ferrari could score just two points at its home race thanks to Kimi Raikkonen in ninth.

Daniel Ricciardo continued his rule over Sebastian Vettel by finishing one place ahead of his teammate in fifth, whilst Sergio Perez secured seventh following Magnussen’s penalty. The Dane was eventually classified tenth behind teammate Jenson Button and Raikkonen.

At Monza today, nobody had an answer for Lewis Hamilton. The British driver produced a sensational drive to defeat his teammate and cut the gap at the top of the standings to Rosberg.

Formula 1 returns in two weeks’ time with the Singapore Grand Prix. With six races to go, can Hamilton overhaul Rosberg at the top to win a second world title?

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.