Nico Rosberg capitalised on a starting error of his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to win the Formula One Italian Grand Prix in Monza.
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff said straight after the race that Hamilton had taken the blame for the poor start, but he went on to retract his self-blame.
Rosberg, who lined-up second, took the lead on the run down to the first corner, and then never looked back, controlling it from the front, en-route to his first victory at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza and the 21st of his career.
That cut the lead to just nine points going into the Italian GP, a race that Hamilton loves and has dominated in the past.
The defending world champion slipped down into sixth place, while the two Ferraris managed to move up the order, with Williams driver Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo ahead of him.
Triple world champion Hamilton, who had been on pole position as favourite to take his 50th career victory and third in a row here, finished second after a slow start gifted Rosberg the race.
Lewis Hamilton is still the leader in the 2016 Driver Standings with 250 points while Nico Rosberg is trailing behind with 248 points. The German has won seven races so far this season, compared to Lewis’ six, and the last two races have been fundamental to see him close in on his teammate. Max Verstappen also made a poor start, dropping to 12th but managed to pass Pascal Wehrlein’s Manor on the opening lap.
Still, as one of the Twitter observers pointed out: “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have”.
F1 now leaves Europe for the year.
Alonso tried to come back at Button, but the Englishman had too much pace and pulled away.
McLaren meanwhile called their odd decision an “innovative three-driver strategy”, which we think is Ron Dennis speak for ‘move over Jenson, it’s time for Stoffel to have a go’.
But while Rosberg’s style might not win him hearts and minds – despite his deep affection for Italy there was again the odd senseless boo from the crowd as he stood on the podium – it is putting him in contention for this championship. “It was all down to the start, I had an awesome start and it was all from there”.
Referring to the championship, in which there are seven races remaining, Rosberg said: “The race is on”.
Hamilton said he had loads of wheel spin as the red lights went off at the start of the GP. “I knew that my engineers would be anxious or nervous of how the start went, so that is why I tried to put their mind at ease”.
“So it’s about finding the best compromise, and that’s why it’s a case of let’s see what happens in Singapore”.
“I don’t really know what happened at the start but I’ll try to understand it later”, Hamilton added, casting some of the blame on an inconsistent clutch.
“It’s hard to overtake here”, Hamilton said.