Lewis Hamilton looked set to take his seventh victory of the season at the Italian Grand Prix as he beat Sebastian Vettel to the chequered flag, but the Mercedes driver’s win was thrown into doubt when in the final stages of the grand prix his team was summoned to appear before the stewards after the race to explain low starting tyre pressures on his and team-mate Nico Rosberg’s car.
The Briton had put in a dominant performance to hold a 19-second advantage over second-placed Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari in the closing stages when with a handful of laps to go he was suddenly told to increase the gap he had to the German.
The issue stemmed from tests on the grid, inside the five-minute-signal before the start, that revealed that the left-rear tyre of Hamilton's car and that of team-mate Rosberg had tyre pressures below the minimum starting pressures specified for the weekend. Hamilton's tyre was 0.3psi below the specification, while Rosberg's was 0.6 under the required mark.
At the chequered flag, third place went to Williams' Felipe Massa who inherited the position less than two laps from the chequered flag when the engine in Nico Rosberg's Mercedes failed. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen who stalled on the front row of the grid at the start and dropped to the back of the field recovered to finish in fifth place behind the second Williams of Valtteri Bottas.
When the lights out went out at the start Hamilton made a good getaway to take the lead but second on the grid Raikkonen stalled and was swamped by the cars behind. Vettel took second but Rosberg made a bad start and dropped to sixth from fourth as he was passed by Massa, Bottas and Perez.
Further back, Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz made a good start to climb to 11th place by the end of the first lap, as did Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo, who made his way from 19th on the grid to P13 as lap two started.
Raikkonen dropped to the back of the field but was soon back in the battle for points as Verstappen served an early drive-through penalty and Pastor Maldonado pitted and then retired. His Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean was in trouble as well and the Frenchman pulled over from P7 and retired from the race on the second lap. Raikkonen was thus quickly promoted to P11 by lap three behind Sainz.
At the front Hamilton began to swiftly pull away and by lap the end of lap eight he had carved out a 4.5 second advantage over Vettel, with Massa a further 3.7s back.
On the edge of the points-scoring positions, Sainz in P10 was coming under pressure from the Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Kvyat. The position would soon fall to Ricciardo as Sainz was hit with a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage when he passed Button. He immediately served the penalty, changed to a set of soft tyres and dropped to P18.
By the start of lap 19 Hamilton had effortlessly increased his lead over Vettel to almost 10 seconds, with Massa third ahead of Williams team-mate Bottas. Rosberg was the first of the front-runners to pit, diving in from fifth place to take on a set of medium tyres. Perez was sixth on the road ahead of Sauber's Marcus Ericsson and Raikkonen in seventh.
Williams responded to Rosberg's stop by pitting Massa, who also took on medium tyres. The undercut worked for Rosberg, though, and unable top match the Mercedes works driver's pace, Massa dropped behind the German.
Bottas made his sole visit to the pit lane on lap 22 but the stop was a relatively slow 4.0s by the time the pit stop phase was over, both Williams cars had lost places to Rosberg.
Raikkonen in third on old starting soft tyres but was passed on lap 28 by Rosberg and the Finn was the last of the frontrunners to pit, from fourth place, on lap 29. He rejoined in P10. Also in on that lap was Kvyat, from P9, with the Red Bull driver bucking the top 10 trend and swapping opening medium tyres for a set of quicker softs for his final stint. He rejoined in P12 behind Sainz.
Ricciardo was the last to make a first regulation pit stop and on lap 31 he visited the pit land from P7. Like Kyat, he shed his starting medium tyres and bolted on soft tyres for a late-race charge.
With the stops complete, Hamilton held the lead on lap 33, 19.3s ahead of Vettel who was 5s clear of Rosberg. Massa was now fourth ahead of Bottas with Perez in sixth place. Raikkonen had climbed to seventh after passing Force India's Nico Hulkenberg on the previous lap and the final points positions were occupied by Ericsson and Ricciardo, with Kvyat now 11th.
The second half of the race unfolded in similar fashion to the opening phases of the race, with Hamilton stretching further ahead and with Vettel consolidating his second place ahead of Rosberg.
Rosberg was told by his team, however, that they expected Vettel's tyres to deteriorate more rapidly than their own in the final stages and in the closing laps Rosberg began to reel the Ferrari man in.
The gap between the pair dropped to below three seconds but Vettel's path to the flag was made more comfortable when Rosberg's engine, an older Spa-specification unit he had been forced to use due to a problem with his Monza engine in practice, expired with two laps to go.
Ahead Hamilton was being given the order to increase his pace and he eventually took the flag 25 seconds ahead of Vettel. Behind them Massa fought a nip and tuck battle with team-mate Bottas for the final podium place and the duo crossed the line just inches apart, with the Brazilian to the fore. Behind them Sergio Perez was sixth for Force India, while team-mate Nico Hulkenberg took seventh. Red Bull Racing's put in a battling drive to climb from 19th place on the grid to take eighth place and the final points positions were occupied by Sauber's Marcus Ericsson and the second Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat.Editor F1tour: Augusto Cuestas
|2||5||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||53||+ 25.042||3||18.00|
|3||19||Felipe Massa||Williams||53||+ 47.635||5||15.00|
|4||77||Valtteri Bottas||Williams||53||+ 47.906||6||12.00|
|5||7||Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||53||+ 1:08.860||2||10.00|
|6||11||Sergio Pérez||Force India||53||+ 1:12.783||7||8.00|
|7||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||52||+ 1 lap||9||6.00|
|8||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||52||+ 1 lap||19||4.00|
|9||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||52||+ 1 lap||12||2.00|
|10||26||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull||52||+ 1 lap||18||1.00|
|11||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||Toro Rosso||52||+ 1 lap||17||0.00|
|12||33||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||52||+ 1 lap||20||0.00|
|13||12||Felipe Nasr||Sauber||52||+ 1 lap||11||0.00|
|14||22||Jenson Button||McLaren||52||+ 1 lap||15||0.00|
|15||28||Will Stevens||Marussia||51||+ 2 laps||13||0.00|
|16||98||Roberto Merhi||Marussia||51||+ 2 laps||14||0.00|
|17||6||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||50||+ 3 laps||4||0.00|
|18||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren||47||+ 6 laps||16||0.00|
|19||8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus||0||+ 53 laps||8||0.00|
|20||13||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus||0||+ 53 laps||10||0.00|
|FRI practice 1|
|FRI practice 2|
|SAT practice 3|