Italian Grand Prix: Hamilton takes championship lead as Monza mixes things up

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Hamilton and four-times champion Vettel were level on points this year after China in April, with one win and one second place each.

The competition between Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel has been tough this year.

Hamilton took the chequered flag at Monza ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel recovering from eighth place on the grid to finish third in the team's home race.

Hamilton has spoken of his desire to race for Ferrari in the past, but he will seemingly have to wait before he gets the chance to don the famous red overalls after Vettel committed his long-term future to the Italian team.

"Just remember, this is a potential qualifying tire, so don't damage it", Lewis Hamilton was told via team radio.

Felipe Massa was eighth in the Williams and Esteban Ocon ninth in the Force India after he and teammate Sergio Perez almost took each other out of the race in a ridiculous overtaking move.

Their cars are not as fast as the Ferrari but they have a powerful Mercedes engine and will be keen not to surrender position lightly, especially after such superb performances on Saturday.

Vettel revealed that his vehicle had suffered damage when he ran off the track on lap 40, putting him further behind the two Mercedes and at risk of being caught by Daniel Ricciardo in the charging Red Bull behind. With his first victory in 2008, during his Toro Rosso season, Vettel proved that anything can happen, even when the odds are stacked against you.

The popular Australian remains hopeful Red Bull can push hard in the second half of the season and build towards a big year in 2018. It promises to be a wet race tomorrow and Hamilton certainly has had a great start. "The vehicle was so strong - it was fantastic how quick we were and it was a pure joy to drive". Thereon, Ricardo stayed put in fourth to finish ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Under penalties imposed on the Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, the Quebec Lance Stroll will start alongside Hamilton on the first line.

"We have a very strong vehicle and will have a very strong end of the season". There are a couple of things we need to do better - vehicle balance, stability and braking, which is important round here to get the confidence.

"It was fun, and I definitely had some really good overtakes - a bit like 2014 I came up through the pack and did some little highlights for the year".

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