Nothing can stop Lewis Hamilton. Stewards’ investigations, Nico -Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel: none of them seems able to derail the Englishman’s remorseless pursuit of greatness.
Only a fool would bet against Hamilton in such strong form, with so much good fortune on his side, winning a third world championship this year.
Lewis Hamilton driving his McLaren to victory in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Picture/AP.
Hamilton survived an almighty scare here, his seventh victory of the season only confirmed 21/2 hours after taking the chequered flag due to suspicions that Mercedes were running illegal tyre pressures.And if this afternoon in Monza could not get any better, Rosberg, his principal challenger for the drivers’ title, saw his engine blow up two laps from the end, gifting Hamilton a 53-point lead.
Even if he would not say so - Hamilton, 30, has become the diplomatic team player in his three seasons at Mercedes - surely he could hardly believe his luck.
It is a deficit practically no one other than the man himself believes Rosberg will eliminate, barring some sort of divine intervention. Even the gods dare not disrupt Hamilton at the moment, a man walking on air, walking on water, and most pertinently walking all over the opposition.
While the rest of the paddock were running around trying to understand the complexities of tyre pressures, expecting Mercedes to be disqualified, Hamilton was, in his own words, “just chilling”, chatting away to his engineers.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany waves a Ferrari flag as he celebrates his second place on the podium after the Formula One Italian Grand Prix, at Monza. Picture/AP.
Instead he was marvelling at perhaps the finest weekend of his career.There is no other word for it than perfect.
He topped every practice session, every qualifying session, led every lap of the race, and ended with the fastest lap. Absolutely untouchable. If he finishes all of the seven remaining races second, he will be world champion.
“Perfect weekend for me,” Hamilton said.
“Special. I’m not sure I’ve ever had such a weekend like it. I feel seriously strong now, with the way I’m driving. I know that no matter what is thrown at me now we will fight through."
The whole farrago might have left Hamilton thoroughly unperturbed - he was only told the specific details of the possible infringement in the post-race press conference - but the wider sport was in a frenzy for a few hours in Monza last night.Only in Formula One can the determination of the race result be more interesting than the race itself.
The specifics of the investigation were as follows. For the first time anyone can remember, the FIA -decided to measure tyre pressures on the grid.
Teams must not run -below a minimum, both for safety reasons - the blowouts from Spa-Francorchamps were fresh in the mind - and so as not to gain a competitive advantage.Pirelli’s suspicion had been that teams were trying to subvert the rules to gain such an advantage.
Toto Wolff, the Mercedes executive director, strenuously denied the -accusation.“I can absolutely rule that out,” he said.
“We have worked with Pirelli to make the regulations on tyre pressures and camber. I can rule out that we tried to get an -advantage - it would be unscientific in any case.”
In the stewards’ readings, however, both Hamilton’s and Rosberg’s cars were found to be below the limit. Fifteen minutes from the end of an otherwise soporific Italian Grand Prix, dominated by Hamilton from start to finish, Mercedes were informed that they might be in breach.
Fearing a time penalty, the team told a bewildered Hamilton to extend his massive lead further still. He obliged, but it still gave him a fright.With the result in doubt, many in the paddock believed it was a cut and dry case: Hamilton should be disqualified.
Then at 17:48, the stewards delivered their verdict. Wolff strolled over to the media scrum and gave the thumbs up.The FIA found that the tyre pressures were legal when the cars left the garage, but due to the tyre -blankets being off while they sat on the grid, the temperatures fell, and the pressures did with it.
It makes you wonder why they bothered measuring them five minutes before the start in the first place.
So in one sense, Hamilton was almost disqualified for a rule which had until now not existed. He could have been guilty of a crime only invented just before the race. But good fortune and sense went his way.
Sadly not for Rosberg. After a problem on Saturday morning, he was running an older specification of engine, both less powerful than Hamilton’s and with more miles under its belt.
Starting fourth, he had to take avoiding action to miss Kimi Raikkonen, who barely moved off the line.
Finally, after some clever strategy, Rosberg was chasing Vettel for second in the closing stages. Mercedes turned the power up, pushing the engine to its limits. It spectacularly blew up two laps from the end. Both luck and form have deserted him at the worst possible moment.
“It is a massive step in the wrong direction,” Rosberg said. “It’s the biggest loss I’ve had in one day throughout the whole season, so that’s very bad, and I now need to catch up a few points. I keep going. Giving up doesn’t exist for me.”
Meanwhile, Hamilton’s race engineer, Pete Bonnington, triggered confusion in the cockpit when he told his driver to dramatically speed up. “We need some good lap times now Lewis, no need to ask questions,” Bonnington said.
After an anxious reply, he continued: “Just execute. We’ll explain at the end.” Execute he did.Vettel followed him home 25 seconds later, Felipe Massa 20sec later than that.
The investigation which ensued did not take the shine of the perfect day for Hamilton.Even with seven races still to go, he looks to have one hand on the trophy now.