be_ixf;ym_202112 d_01; ct_100
Sunday images from the 2018 Italian Grand Prix

Hamilton shrugs off the Tifosi in Ferrari heartland

Sep 032018

Lewis Hamilton left the Italian Grand Prix with the 68th win of his Formula One career as well as arguably one of his finest victories. The win in Ferrari's heartland means he now has a 30-point lead in the drivers' championship, as the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Team enjoyed a double podium, with Valtteri Bottas taking third place.

Lewis, who started the race at Monza on the second row of the grid, overcame tough opposition from both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, plus the thousands of Ferrari fans who cheered on their team, to take his fifth win of the season.

The four-time World Champion, who was also was jeered on the podium by the Tifosi, said he gained added motivation from the hecklers, who were desperate to see their team win on home soil. Yet the Silver Arrows driver survived a first lap collision with Vettel before overtaking Raikkonen eight laps from the end to take the chequered flag.

On paper, this should have been a win for the Italian team, who had enjoyed the better pace during the qualifying sessions. However an excellent drive from Lewis, plus a solid supporting role from Valtteri, ensured a valuable haul of points for the team. After the race Lewis said: "There was a lot of negativity, as there is when you're against an opposing team, but I could see so many British flags out there, which helped me a lot.

"In future, the negativity is really a positive thing for me because I harness it and turn it from negative to positive. In the arena that we're in, it is very, very easy to allow it to get to you, to allow it to have an impact on your life and have you think about it. But it is also quite easy to harness it and use it and that gave me so much motivation. I welcome it. If they want to continue to do it, that just empowers me. It doesn't offend me, because there's nothing to get offended by. I just keep smiling."


Lewis is no stranger to the Monza podium. This latest win puts him level with Michael Schumacher's win tally in the record books. Lewis added: "It's always very difficult to compare past performances. I don't really have the greatest of memories - but under the sheer pressure that we are under, I definitely will consider it to be quite far up there. Obviously to do it on Ferrari's home turf as well, with such a difficult crowd and so much pressure on the team with the performance that they have, to be able to pull it out of the bag and really make it stick..."

While Lewis now has a commanding lead in the drivers’ championship ahead of the night race in Singapore, the role Valtteri played cannot be understated. The Finn held off the challenge from Raikkonen during the mid-race shuffle during the pit stop window, which ultimately saw the Ferrari man use up his tyres, allowing Lewis to pounce late on.


Valtteri is desperate to end the wait for his first win of the season, and admits he is now playing a supporting role to his teammate’s championship hopes, although he thinks seeing Lewis win the title early could boost his chances of a maiden win in 2018.


Valtteri said: "Every victory is important, but especially here. Ferrari was definitely the quicker car in qualifying. We knew it would be a challenging race, and at their home race, managed to get more points than them, which is really important for us, and Seb not being on the podium is good for Lewis.


"Honestly, the points difference between me and Lewis is now very big, so I'm willing to co-operate when it makes sense. For sure, we win as a team, and we need to be realistic. The team wants to win both titles. For me, it's quite disappointing that I haven't won a race this year. I think I've lost many times, especially in the first quarter or third of the season, and really want to win races. That's why I'm here. I think if I have the pace and a good qualifying, if I'm strong in the race, I think they'd let me win. But for sure, then it's a bit more simple if Lewis wins the title. I don't really want to think about it too much. As long as I perform well, then we'll get the results."