Nico Rosberg closed the gap to Lewis Hamilton in the Formula One standings to just two points as a shocking start ruined the reigning champion's Italian GP.
Nico Rosberg closed the gap to Lewis Hamilton in the Formula One standings to just two points as a shocking start ruined the reigning champion's Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Hamilton was a class above his Mercedes team-mate on Saturday, qualifying almost half a second quicker than the German, but a sluggish launch opened the door for Rosberg to dominate at Monza - taking his first win at the 'Temple of Speed'.
Rosberg had gone from 43 points ahead of Hamilton after Barcelona to trailing him by 19 going into the mid-season break, but successive wins have tilted momentum back in his favour and a seventh win of 2016 represents his best tally in a single season.
The Silver Arrows' Saturday dominance, and consequent one-stop strategy, meant Hamilton did not have to fight the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen for second place - Vettel beating his colleague to the lower step on the podium.
A three-four finish at their home race will do little to lift the pressure on the famous constructor, however, after being outpaced and out-strategised all weekend.
This race weekend has been notable for announcements that the retiring Felipe Massa and Jenson Button will leave F1 at the end of the season - possibly temporarily in the latter's case. The Brazilian placed ninth for Williams, with Button finishing 12th.
ROSBERG FAST TO THE FINNISH
Rosberg had not won at Spa-Francorchamps before last weekend and if that victory was tempered by Hamilton starting from the back of the grid, this had none of the sweetness taken away.
The German has often struggled off the line in 2016, but he hooked it up to perfection on this occasion to register his 21st race win - taking him beyond Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen, a feat holding plenty of importance given his Finnish heritage.
A 50th podium finish for Rosberg will be celebrated long and hard after tilting the balance of power in the title race back towards him.
HAMILTON FRONTS UP
Hamilton came over team radio to accept blame for his slow start, seemingly letting his clutch slip after an initial solid launch.
The fine margins of F1 were laid bare as Rosberg was able to control the race as a result, but Hamilton's stunning form before the shutdown remains a factor as he keeps his nose in front... for now.
FERRARI'S HORSES PONDER RATHER THAN PRANCE
With Red Bull dropping out of the fight at the front as Renault's horsepower left them coming up short at F1's ultimate power track, Ferrari were left free to focus on taking the fight to Mercedes.
Vettel won the inter-team battle, but there was no excitement for the tifosi to get behind as Rosberg disappeared up the road and Hamilton did likewise after they were forced to stop again.
Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne has been highly critical of the team at their home race, ramping up the pressure as many others have been allowed to look ahead to 2017.
IN THE POINTS
1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +15.070secs
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +20.990s
4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +27.561s
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +45.295s
6. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) +51.015s
7. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +54.236s
8. Sergio Perez (Force India) +64.954s
9. Felipe Massa (Williams) +65.617s
10. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) +78.656s
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 250
2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 248 (-2)
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 161 (-89)
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 143 (-107)
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 136 (-114)
1. Mercedes 498
2. Red Bull 290 (-208)
3. Ferrari 279 (-219)
4. Williams 111 (-387)
5. Force India 108 (-390)
The motor homes are packed away as F1's European tour comes to an end. Singapore's night race comes in a fortnight's time - another track Rosberg has not won at before.