Hamilton: Monza win was biggest mental blow to Ferrari
Lewis Hamilton believes his triumph at the Italian Grand Prix last month delivered Ferrari its biggest mental blow of the season.
Ferrari had headed into its home race at Monza on the back of an important win in Belgium, and its speed in qualifying to lock out the front row left it odds on for a 1-2 finish.
But the team threw away its golden opportunity in allowing Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel to race each other at the start, as that allowed Hamilton his chance to make a move at the second chicane.
Hamilton got past Vettel, who spun off, and then set about pursuing and ultimately overcoming Raikkonen to pull off one of the surprises of the season.
With that win heralding the start of a run of wins in Singapore, Russia and Japan that helped him secure the world championship in Mexico last weekend, Hamilton has singled out Monza as a key weekend for title momentum.
"I would say that day was probably the biggest psychological blow for them," he said in an interview with select media including Motorsport.com.
"They'd had a couple – Seb's psychological difficult time was when he made a personal mistake. When the team makes a mistake it's painful, but when you personally make a mistake as a driver, when it's in your control, that's a horrible feeling.
"So, he would have taken that to heart. Then we had that fight at Monza and that would've been a team blow for them surely."
With Mercedes having struggled at the previous Belgian GP, Hamilton admitted that missing out on the front row at Monza had been hard to cope with.
"We'd lost the race before.. We knew we were up against it coming into Monza," he said. "We were hopeful that we might be able to out perform. Probably with a perfect lap maybe I could have qualified second.
"Actually on my side I was frustrated... No, pissed off with myself basically. That is just how it is. I never hold back on it.
"I thought I've done all that practising, then you mess it up in qualifying. I did do a good lap, it was just I still lost half a tenth here or there and that would've been the difference between second or third.
"Then, Saturday night it was difficult, and I was thinking a lot about how aggressive I wanted to be on the Sunday. It is very difficult to gauge how aggressive you should be. You go too far, spin off, cause an accident and start from last. Or crash.
"Or don't do enough and you don't capitalise on the window that was there. That's always the unknown. You don't know what's going to happen until it's presented to you and that's the great thing about motor racing, particularly races."
Hamilton's success in Monza was mentally important, but he knew that more work was ultimately needed if Mercedes was going to pull off the championship.
"We still didn't get complacent after that great result for us. We knew that we still had to execute. We were going to places like Singapore where Ferrari again usually destroy us. And what a weekend that was."
Hamilton says that the 2018 campaign threw up a number of surprises, but reckons that it was the strength in depth of Mercedes that helped him come out on top.
"None of us predicted the things that were going to happen," he said. "We couldn't have predicted we were going to win in Hockenheim. No one knew we were going to win in Monza or particularly Singapore.
"Collectively we've all done an amazing job in this team. How we manage our sessions, depending upon whether we go out out first in qualifying or later on which the Ferraris always do and get stuck in traffic.
"All these different things. We've really listened to each other and really executed."
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with his team
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Sutton Images
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