Lewis Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix to take a 53-point lead in the Formula One championship last Sunday (6) after Mercedes team mate and closest rival Nico Rosberg retired with his car in flames.
The Briton had to wait several more hours, however, for the result in Monza to be confirmed after a stewards’ enquiry into low tyre pressures on his car.
With some rivals calling for the reigning champion to be disqualified, the stewards ruled Mercedes had followed the specified procedures and decided to take no further action.
Meanwhile, Force India regained fifth place in the team standings with their biggest points haul this season as Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
Perez, who was passed by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen towards the end of the 53-lap race for sixth place, regained his spot after Rosberg dramatically suffered an engine failure while running third.
“I had a really enjoyable time today. I had very strong pace from the beginning to the end; I managed the tyre degradation well and I feel we got the maximum that was possible from the race,” Perez said.
“The first stint was fairly calm: I found myself in clean air and I managed to open a gap over the cars behind so I wasn’t under any pressure. After my pit stop, I knew Kimi was closing in behind me. He was really quick and there was nothing I could do to keep him behind any longer than I did.
“I am very pleased with our performance over the whole weekend and the team really deserves these points. Today’s result is important because it moves us back to fifth in the championship with a nice gap over our rivals. We did a good job and we deserve this result,” the Mexican added.
The seventh place was a welcome result for his teammate Hulkenberg, who suffered retirements in his last two outings. The German, however, added that he had a tough time on the track.
“I finished the race feeling a little bit frustrated because we didn’t have the pace we know is possible. I actually think we had a problem with the car and it’s something we need to investigate because I was losing downforce, the car was sliding and the rear tyres were heating up too much, all of which really hurt my pace,” said Hulkenberg.
“The second half of the race was quite difficult, and that’s when we were considering changing to a two-stop strategy because I was struggling so much with the tyres. In the end we decided against it and I was able to hang on to seventh place for some important points,” added the German.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished 25 seconds behind Hamilton, while Brazilian Felipe Massa took third for Williams a mere 0.3 ahead of his Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas.
The double points finish, Force India’s fourth of the season, gave the team 14 points, and boosted them up to fifth, replacing Lotus. The Vijay Mallya-led squad now have 63 points, 13 more than Lotus.