Italian GP 2018: Sensational pole-setter Kimi was robbed of the victory by Hamilton!

Round 14 brought the pinnacle of motorsport on Ferrari's home soil. "The red sea" in the grandstands greeted the red-suited drivers with huge passion. Statistically, Monza has always been Mercedes' territory in the current turbo hybrid era. But this time, the red cars were absolutely flying in the qualifying. Hamilton was struggling with his performance especially in the final sector, and teammate Bottas was missing even more speed. Tyre strategy in Q2 was very straight-forward this time; everyone opted for the red-walled softest compound. Sebastian was the fastest man of the second session, followed by Hamilton and the Iceman. Q3 offered an absolutely nail-biting finale. The 14-year old track record, set by Juan Pablo Montoya, was first smashed by Hamilton, who got everything together on his first run. Kimi drove magically, especially in the final sector, but the Iceman was 0.069s shy of Hamilton. Sebastian was third, a tenth-of-a-second down on the Briton. The second runs set up a true thriller. Hamilton managed to improve his lap time, which meant smashing the track record again. Then came Sebastian, smashing it again! But then there came the on-flames driving Iceman, who smashed the track record once more, making it on pole for the first time since the 2017 Monaco GP! Pole apart, Kimi's 1.19.119s-lap was also the fastest lap in F1 history! Kimi's pole lap was absolutely sensational, Kimi being the oldest pole-setter since Nigel Mansell in 1994! Sebastian was flabbergasted when he heard, that he was "only" P2; still this was Sebastian's first front-row grid slot at Monza in his Ferrari career. The Tifosi got what they dreamt of, a Ferrari front-row lock-out! Mercedes had to settle for the second row, Hamilton having the upper hand on his Finnish teammate. Verstappen made it 5th for Red Bull, whilst teammate Ricciardo sat out Q2, as the Australian had been handed a grid penalty for engine element changes.

Italian GP 2018

There was so much tension in the air when the lights went out. The Tifosi eagerly wanted a red-suited driver to win the race. Kimi got a superb start and he was determined to dive first into Turn 1. Sebastian was hungry to challenge his teammate for the lead, but Kimi wasn't going to let the lead be taken away from him. Hamilton was passionate about getting past at least one of the Ferraris. Going into Variante, the Briton was seriously challenging Sebastian for P2. The immense pressure led to a mistake by Sebastian; he ended up hitting Hamilton's Mercedes. Sebastian spun, and in addition to dropping down to the back of the pack, he also had major damage to the front wing and the side-pod of his SF71-H. The silver lining in the situation was the safety car, which had been deployed due to the collision between Sauber's Ericsson and Toro Rosso's Hartley. The incident had taken place already at the start. Sebastian pitted for a new nose and a fresh set of soft tyres.

The re-start on lap 3 was absolutely hair-raising. Hamilton was utterly stubborn to snatch the lead from Kimi, and the Briton attacked the Iceman in Turn 1, making it past Kimi. But Kimi wasn't going to let the lead slip through his fingers. Going into Variante, a moment later, Kimi made a move on Hamilton, and snatched his lead back! It was absolutely overwhelming to see such passionate Kimi on track. What a battle of titans this was going to be!

Italian GP 2018

The battle for victory was so electrifying. Kimi didn't manage to pull away from Hamilton, but the gap between the two varied from DRS distance to a bit over a second. Ferrari called Kimi in already on lap 21. The Iceman's 2.2-second pit stop was close to perfection. Kimi switched to the middle compound and re-joined the track in P4. Both Mercedes aces stayed out. Meanwhile, Sebastian had already made his way past Renault's Sainz, claiming P7. Sebastian had fought his way through the field like a lion and offered the Tifosi an outstanding overtaking show.

Kimi knew what he had to do. He kept banging fastest lap times, which meant headache for Hamilton. The Briton pitted on lap 29, also for a fresh set of soft Pirellis. Thanks to Kimi's awesome laps, Hamilton re-joined the track in P3. Teammate Bottas was now leading the race, as he hadn't pitted yet. Kimi was rapidly closing the gap to his fellow countryman. Mercedes' message to Bottas was crystal clear: "Keep Kimi behind". Meanwhile, Sebastian pitted already for the second time, for another set of super-soft Pirellis. The German re-joined the track in P10, which meant he had to make the overtaking round all over again...

Italian GP 2018

Bottas did what the team wanted him to do; he kept Kimi behind. Bottas gave the perfect help to his teammate, who managed to close the gap to Kimi. In no time the Briton was already at the Iceman's tail. Kimi tried everything he could to find a chance for an overtaking move, but his compatriot's defence was bullet-proof. When Bottas pitted on lap 36, Kimi's rear tyres were already significantly worn due to driving in the dirty air. Hamilton, on the other hand, had 9 laps fresher tyres than Kimi. And the Briton was so frighteningly close... Every cell in me was hoping, that Kimi would be able to hold Hamilton back, and that he would get the long-awaited win. But the cold truth is, that you don't always get what you want to. After a ten-lap heroic battle Kimi's rear tyres were completely blistered and gone; Hamilton forced himself past the Iceman, and Kimi's battle was lost. Hamilton disappeared into the horizon right away. What a bitter moment it was! Kimi had been a pure diamond in the race, but there was nothing he could do about his dying tyres.

Verstappen and Bottas, who were battling for P4, had a clash of their own. Verstappen changed his line at the braking, which led into contact between the two. Bottas ended up off track but was able to continue. The stewards took the incident into investigation, and the hot-headed Dutchman was handed a 5-second time penalty for his infringement. In spite of the penalty, Verstappen was stubborn not to let Bottas past, although the Finn was significantly faster.

Italian GP 2018

Although Ferrari had held all the keys for a 1-2 finish, Hamilton crossed the finish line as the race winner, to the massive disappointment of the home crowd. Kimi had fought like a lion, and he finished the race as the runner-up. It felt like Kimi had been robbed of the victory! Due to Verstappen's penalty, Bottas was third and Sebastian fourth, Verstappen dropping down to fifth. Sebastian's crash to Hamilton came with a high price. Hamilton extended his lead to 30 points in the championship standings. The gap is now bigger than any time before this season. Ferrari are now 25 points off Mercedes in the constructors' standings.

All Ferrari fans are eagerly waiting for news about Kimi's contract; will there be a new one or not? In my opinion the Red Team are absolutely out of their minds if they don’t sign Kimi for next year! They have a pure diamond in Kimi! Hope to hear a contract announcement soon! Forza Ferrari!

With passion for racing red,

Iina Huhmarniemi

Sep 05, 2018