Italian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers' championship for the first time this season after Mercedes dominate in Ferrari's back yard

Frank Dalleres
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F1 Grand Prix of Italy
Hamilton leads Vettel by three points following back-to-back wins (Source: Getty)

Britain’s Lewis Hamilton expects his title tussle with Sebastian Vettel to go the distance after he edged ahead of the German in the drivers’ championship with victory at the Italian Grand Prix.

Hamilton capped an ideal weekend with a controlled win, leading home team-mate Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes comprehensively upstaged home favourites Vettel and Ferrari at Monza.

It was a second consecutive success for Hamilton and a fourth in five races for Mercedes, but the three-time champion believes the pendulum could swing back in Ferrari’s favour in Singapore on 17 September.

Read more: Hamilton keeps word but loses ground to Vettel in Hungary

“The last two races have been incredibly strong. We have just gone from strength to strength,” said the Englishman, who leads Vettel for the first time this season by three points, with seven races remaining.

“It’s still close and a long way to go. Ferrari should be quick at the next circuit with the extra downforce they can put on their car, so the fight continues. It will continue to be really close.”

Vettel took third place, having quickly fought his way up from sixth on the grid, but he never looked like catching the Mercedes pair, finishing a distant 36 seconds behind Hamilton.

He is banking on a change of fortunes for Ferrari when racing resumes in a fortnight’s time, with their wins in Monaco and Hungary boding well for another tortuous circuit in Singapore.

The four-time champion said: “Even if this race has been difficult I know that we have a very strong car, and we will have a very strong end of the season, I am sure of that.”

Hamilton’s sixth win of the season came 24 hours after he surpassed Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 68 pole positions.

For the team’s supporters, however, it spoiled the marque’s 70th birthday weekend and a partisan crowd booed Hamilton as he took to the podium.

“You know what, I love it here in Italy and I love the passion of the fans,” he said.

“The Ferrari fans are fantastic and this energy is like nowhere else, apart from maybe Silverstone. I respect it, appreciate it and I am happy.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo took fourth place, with the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen fifth and Force India youngster Esteban Ocon, 20, sixth.

Canadian 18-year-old Lance Stroll, who started alongside Hamilton on the front row of the grid, was seventh, followed by his Williams colleague Felipe Massa.

Britain’s Jolyon Palmer bowed out after 29 laps due to technical problems.

Read more: F1 chief: Britain could get three grands prix a year

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