Lewis Hamilton saw his world championship lead over Nico Rosberg cut to two points when he gifted victory to his Mercedes team-mate at the Italian Grand Prix.
Pole-sitter Hamilton made an awful start and slipped back to sixth. He clawed his way up to second and though he made up some ground on Rosberg it was never going to be enough to close the gap.
Hamilton had led Rosberg by 19 points before the previous grand prix at Spa but lost 10 points there after starting from the back of the grid; here, he lost another seven.
He knows he has a fight on his hands for the remaining seven races. Rosberg has had seven victories to Hamilton’s six this season.
At the start, Hamilton saw not only Rosberg but also the Ferrari team of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen sweep past him, followed by Valtteri Bottas. Daniel Ricciardo went through to push the British driver back to sixth.
Hamilton managed to get past Ricciardo and Bottas and, because Vettel and Raikkonen were on a two-stop strategy (the Mercedes pair were on one-stop) ,he managed to finish behind Rosberg. The gap was 15 seconds.
It was a major blow to Hamilton as Formula One turned its back on Europe to prepare for the remaining races. He also missed the chance to equal Juan Manuel Fangio’s record of three straight victories in the Italian Grand Prix.