Mon, Sep 07, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Hamilton cruises to Italian GP victory to double F1 lead

AP, MONZA, Italy

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain gets the checkered flag as he crosses the finish line to win the Formula One Italian Grand Prix at Monza in Italy yesterday.

Photo: AP

Lewis Hamilton cruised to his seventh win of the season at the Italian Grand Prix yesterday and doubled his Formula One lead over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, whose engine caught fire with two laps remaining.

However, Hamilton’s victory was under question after stewards summoned Mercedes concerning tire pressures on both of their cars.

A potential challenge from Ferrari fizzled when Kimi Raikkonen stalled on the front row of the starting grid.

Hamilton finished 25 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the other Ferrari, while Felipe Massa crossed third, 47 seconds back.

Massa finished just three tenths ahead of Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton now leads Rosberg by 53 points with seven races remaining this season.

With the 40th win of his career, Hamilton moved within one victory of Ayrton Senna and Vettel on the all-time list.

The Briton also became the first driver to secure back-to-back wins at Monza since Damon Hill in 1993-1994.

Raikkonen started on the front row for the first time since China in 2013, but wasted the opportunity by stalling in his grid position.

The Finn eventually got going, but dropped immediately to the back of the pack, before working his way back through the field to finish fifth.

Blocked immediately behind Raikkonen, Rosberg of Mercedes also lost ground at the start, but pushed his way up to challenge Vettel for second place when his car failed.

It was a tough race for cash-strapped Lotus, with Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado stopping due to mechanical problems after just three laps.

With the future of the race uncertain after Monza’s contract expires next year, throngs of predominantly red-clad Ferrari fans poured into the royal park surrounding the track.

During the singing of the Italian anthem, fighter jets flew overhead leaving a trail of red, white and green smoke — the colors of the Italian flag.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi belted out the anthem while standing next to F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, who is to decide Monza’s fate.

There was more smoke — pure red — produced by Ferrari fans in the grandstand.

Fitting right into the show, Star Wars creator George Lucas was also in attendance and took part in the podium ceremony.

Before the race, drivers stood for a minute of silence to remember Justin Wilson, the British driver who died after debris struck his helmet in an IndyCar race last month.

F1 now heads to Asia for races in Singapore and Japan. The season ends in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 29.

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