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Rosberg wins in Italy to close title gap


The Autodromo Nazionale Monza is often referred to as the Cathedral of Speed, and other such nonsense.

That said, it will take an upset of biblical proportions, a minor miracle even, if we are to see anyone other than Lewis Hamilton take victory, and thereby another giant step towards his fourth title, here today.

Ignoring the fact that he out-paced the Ferraris by a second, he was almost half-a-second quicker than his own teammate.

While Monza has been heavily emasculated over the years, it still demands total respect and can bite back when you least expect.

For those that haven't experienced it, Monza is something very, very special. It oozes, passion and history, and within the confined of this purpose built circuit located in Europe's largest park, can be found traces of the entire history of the sport.

On the other hand, thanks to the nature of the track and the speed of the cars, the event is usually over around 75 - 80 minutes after it began... so blink and you'll miss it.

To add to the frustration, as in previous years we are only expecting most drivers to adopt a one- stop strategy, usually around lap 25.

Anyway, today's race is Mercedes - or Hamilton's to lose - and we really can't see anything getting in the way other than a technical issue or a 'misunderstanding' between the Silver Arrows pair at the first chicane.

Behind them it's another matter, with Ferrari under pressure from Red Bull, Williams, Force India and even Haas looking good.

Despite being in 'The Cathedral' the weather gods are looking likely to intervene, and while Monza isn't a car breaker as such - though it does put enormous strain on the engine and brakes - over enthusiasm usually claims more 'victims' than anything else.

With that in mind, ignoring the possibility of the Mercedes pair being silly, especially on the opening lap, there is Max Verstappen, who starts from seventh, just behind Bottas and alongside Perez.

Following last week's shenanigans, it's fair to say that the Red Bull driver will want a blemish free afternoon.

Now that McLaren has cleared up its plans for 2017 (and 2018) - yeah, as clear as mud - perhaps the pressure will have eased a little within the team. However, with the Manor of Wehrlein sandwiched in between Alonso and button one has to ask if this says more about the Woking outfit or its Banbury rivals.

Toro Rosso is expecting another tough day, Monza, like spa, showing up the weaknesses of the Faenza package, not least its 2015 Ferrari engine.

Following the buy-out by Longbow finance, Sauber continues to make little improvements, though it is doubtful the Swiss team will open its 2016 points account this afternoon.

Then there's Renault, another team that faces a long - OK, not that long - afternoon, as the characteristics of this track show up its various weaknesses.

The pitlane opens and the drivers begin making their way to the grid.

The Mercedes duo will be only drivers in the top ten starting on the soft tyres, which could play into Ferrari's hands, while Pirelli has recommended that drivers do not exceed 39 laps on the mediums, 34 on the softs and 20 on the supersofts. The Italian manufacturer, therefore suggesting that the quickest strategy will be a two-stopper, with two 17-lap stints on supersofts and one 19 lap sting on softs.

A one-stop strategy is not as quick and would mean one 28-lap stint on softs and 25 laps on mediums.

Before the national them there is a minute's silence in respect of the victims of the recent earthquake that devastated Amatrice in central Italy.

Sadly, the anthem is 'sung' at Mercedes pace whilst the band appears to be Renault powered. Quite dreadful.

Behind the top ten, most are on softs, bar Alonso, Button, Kvyat and Magnussen, who are all on supersofts, while Ocon, who didn't post a time in qualifying, is on mediums.

The field heads off on the warm-up lap, all get away cleanly. Hamilton clearly can't wait to get proceedings underway.

They're away, and it's a dreadful start for Hamilton. As Rosberg pulls away, so too does Vettel and then Raikkonen, as the Briton is passed by Bottas and Ricciardo before the first chicane.

Strong starts from Hulkenberg also, while Verstappen, like Hamilton suffers a poor getaway. Massa gets away well but has to avoid a slow Verstappen, thereby forcing Alonso wide.

As the main pack enters the first chicane, Massa locks-up, while a little argy-bargy sees three drivers need to take to the escape road and over the speed bumps.

On the run to the second chicane Vettel sticks with Rosberg, but in the end he simply doesn't have the pace. Further back, Verstappen, down in 12th, is desperate to pass Wehrlein and Hulkenberg who appears to have lost positions at the first chicane despite that blistering start.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez, who started tenth, is now back in twentieth.

At the end of lap one, Rosberg leads the Ferraris with Vettel all over the back of the Mercedes. Bottas is fourth, ahead of Ricciardo, Hamilton, Perez, Hulkenberg, Massa and Alonso.

Hamilton is all over Ricciardo the Briton passing the Red Bull in Curva Grande. Behind, Nasr and Palmer lock wheels and touch, sending the Sauber into a spin.

Out come the yellows as Palmer loses his front wing in a clash with Nasr at the first chicane in another case of two into one won't go. For a brief moment their wheels interlock before the Renault hits the Sauber sending it into a spin which almost catches Magnussen. Palmer heads back to the pits for a new front wing as does the Brazilian.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Monza, here.


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1. Posted by Cobra Driver, 05/09/2016 12:06

"I live across from a family park and on Sunday there were a couple of 4 or 5 year-old children going head-to-head with their tricycles. I found their race far more exciting than Monza. For heaven's sake Bernie, GO!

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2. Posted by mittagongcalling, 05/09/2016 5:00

"There were a lot of empty seats Bernie!!!!"

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3. Posted by F One, 04/09/2016 16:29

"Kinda Zzzzzzzzzz tbh."

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