Nico Rosberg took his first Italian Grand Prix victory with a controlled display from the front, leading home a supreme Mercedes 1-2 after a poor start by Lewis Hamilton all but gifted him the race.
A third straight Monza win looked to be a formality for Hamilton after storming to pole position by half a second clear of Rosberg, but he was forced to watch his teammate streak off into the lead when a clutch issue off the line left him swallowed by the two Ferraris and Valtteri Bottas behind.
But compared with Hamilton’s other poor starts this season, recovery was a simple matter for the Briton – after breezing past Bottas under DRS on the main straight, Hamilton made his first and final stop for mediums and simply waited for the Ferraris ahead to see out their own two-stop strategy and drop behind him.
“It’s tough to take when you lose a race because of such a poor start,” Hamilton said. “From there it was just about managing the tyres in the first stint and I was delighted to get back up to second after the first stop.
“I’m happy with my performance this weekend but after such an incredible qualifying day yesterday it was disappointing to be unable to capitalise.”
Hamilton eventually took the chequered flag fifteen seconds adrift of Rosberg, who ran an unchallenged race at the front on his way to an “incredibly special” seventh win of the season.
“It means so much to win here at Monza,” said Rosberg. “The race went perfectly for me. Our car has been amazing this weekend and I extend a massive thank you to the whole team.”
Despite facing a renewed threat from Red Bull and Ferrari in Belgium, Mercedes appeared to be competing in a category above their rivals in what Toto Wolff called a “pretty perfect” weekend marred only by the team’s recurring clutch problems.
Paddy Lowe added: “Clearly we need to analyse what happened to Lewis at the start and do better next time [but] it’s fantastic to get the 1-2 here today and it’s been a sensational performance all weekend from the drivers, race team and team back at Brackley and Brixworth.”