Lewis Hamilton broke Ferrari hearts today after snatching a hard-earned victory on their home turf in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

The defending World champion scored his 68th career win and fifth in Italy. It was also his sixth triumph of the 2018 Formula 1 season as he extended his lead on the Drivers’ Championship standings.

After starting from third on the grid, Hamilton and chief title-rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari were involved in a racing incident early on, which resulted in Vettel spinning and dropping all the way to the back of the pack while allowing the Mercedes man to take over in second position.

Hamilton was then later engaged in a hot battle with leader and pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen, and with the better of the two pit-stop strategies along with a little help from teammate Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton was able to close the gap and eventually pass Raikkonen on lap 45.

Hamilton took the chequered flag in a total time of one hour 16 minutes 54.484 seconds. Raikkonen struggled with his tyres over the final laps and was classified 8.705s behind in second place, while Bottas inherited the final podium step after finishing 14.066s adrift and with Max Verstappen being given a five-second time penalty.

Vettel recovered well enough to claim fourth place, while Verstappen dropped to fifth followed by the Force India duo of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez in sixth and seventh, respectively. Carlos Sainz of Renault, and the Williams tandem of Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin rounded out the top 10.

“That was one tough race, but a really enjoyable one - I’m very, very happy,” said Hamilton, who claimed the fastest lap in Italy, which was his 40th fastest lap in Formula 1.

“This afternoon has shaken off to be one of the best. It’s so close between Ferrari and us, this race was really down to who makes the least mistakes and who looks after their tyres the best.

“Valtteri did a great job extending his stint which enabled me to close up to Kimi. It was really great team work today, a great pit-stop, great communication with the team.

“It was an intense first lap, we all got off to similar starts. When we went into Turn 4, I was a bit surprised that Sebastian chose the inside and did not go for the outside. That was my opportunity and I had to make sure that I was far enough alongside him. We touched for a brief moment and my car was slightly damaged afterwards, but fortunately I was able to continue and keep up with Kimi.

“Once I had closed the gap to Kimi on my second stint, I could see that his tyres were blistering, so I started to take care of my tyres and made sure that I didn’t blister mine. When Valtteri then came in for his pit stop it was a bit harder to keep up with Kimi, but I knew that my tyres were in better shape. I had to push as hard as I could to close the gap, particularly through the Lesmos and Ascari. But this track is really just incredible, it’s such a phenomenal circuit to drive with all its high-speed corners and the fact that you can follow through the corners and the chicanes make it one of the best tracks in the world.

“It’s always a real privilege to win in Italy. But we need to keep our heads down, work hard and make sure that we put up a good fight in Singapore.”

Hamilton (256 points) leads the Drivers’ Championship by 33 points from Sebastian Vettel (226 points), while Mercedes (415 points) are ahead of Ferrari (390 points) by 25 points in the Constructors’ Championship.

The Formula 1 season resumes with the Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay on September 16.

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