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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.”

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).