Britain's Lewis Hamilton struggled to explain his calamitous start to the Italian Grand Prix which ruined any chance of a 50th career win and ultimately saw his championship lead cut by rival Nico Rosberg.
Following an emphatic performance in qualifying on Saturday which had resulted him take pole, the world champion looked set to secure his third successive victory at Monza -- the first to achieve such a feat since Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950s -- but had dropped to sixth by the first corner.
Hamilton battled back to take second but was unable to challenge Mercedes team-mate Rosberg, who now trails by just two points in the title race, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel claimed third place.
“I don’t know what happened, I did everything as normal,” said Hamilton, who enjoyed a 19-point championship lead before the pre-summer break. “I did the sequence exactly the same. I just got lots of wheelspin.”
Hamilton initially took the blame for the poor start over the team radio, but later added: “To be honest, I said that to reassure my engineers who I knew would be feeling nervous.”
After slipping to sixth, it took Hamilton 11 laps to circumvent Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, while the two Ferraris, Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, were still in between him and Rosberg, who by that stage had a 15-second lead.
“I could see Nico pulling away and I knew from quite an early stage that winning the race would not be possible,” said Hamilton. “Second was the best I could do after the start I got.
“Nico was pulling away and having an easy, breezy roll up there – that’s what it’s like when it’s first and you’re behind slower cars. He did a great job and I just had to get back up to second.”