The race for the 2016 F1 world title seems set to go down to the wire with just two points separating Lewis Hamilton from Nico Rosberg heading into the final seven races.
That gap is down to such a slender margin after Rosberg won Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix when he took advantage of a poor start from Hamilton, who had qualified on pole.
The two Mercedes racers lined-up alongside each other on the front row of the grid for the race around the historic Monza track, but a slow start from Hamilton alllowed Rosberg to surge well clear
It was a lead Rosberg would not relinquish, and the German racer drove superbly to claim his seventh win of 2016.
For Hamilton, this was a frustrating and untimely setback especially after he produced a scintillating performance in qualifying to breeze to pole position.
The Englishman said: “My start was not ideal and I lost considerable time. I don’t really know what happened.
“However, I made good ground and claimed back lost time. Second for me is not a bad result and it is not long until the next race in Singapore.”
A delighted Robserg added: “This was a perfect race for me. Monza is such a famous track and it has such history.
“The championship battle is really on and the next few races will be very exciting.”
Sebastian Vettel completed the podium, a good result for the Ferrari faithful that had packed the Monza stands as tradition dictates.
Former Buckingham University student, Marc Gene, the Ferrari official test and reserve driver, said: “A podium result for the Scuderia here in Italy was very important.
“Obviously the team wanted to win, but we believe we can win races before the end of the season. We want to show that we are in a position to win and challenge for victories.”
Sergio Perez drove strongly again for Silverstone-based Sahara Force India, crossing the line eighth, while team-mate Nico Hulkenberg was classified in tenth position.
The part Bicester-based Scuderia Toro Rosso squad encountered more problems, with Monza proving to be a difficult race for the team that has part of its squad located in an Italian factory.
Carlos Sainz Jr. finished 15th in his Ferrari-powered car, while Daniil Kvyat’s poor form continued as he retired.
It was suggested within the paddock that the Russian may be dropped, but this was dismissed by team officials’.
Singapore hosts the next round on September 18.