Vettel & Ferrari left to rue Monza own goal

The Italian press lamented a Ferrari own goal at Monza, and they can ill-afford any more if they are to keep pace with Mercedes.

Sebastian Vettel before the Italian Grand Prix   -  Getty Images

Given the resurgence of Ferrari in 2018, the famously passionate tifosi at Monza could have been forgiven for approaching Sunday's Italian Grand Prix with great optimism for a first Scuderia win at the circuit since 2010.

That expectation will only have been furthered when Kimi Raikkonen headed a Ferrari one-two in qualifying.

Yet it was Ferrari's inability to engineer a scenario in which Sebastian Vettel headed the grid that prevented Monza from being the track at which both the drivers' and constructors' championship races turned firmly in their favour.

Vettel could not hide his frustration at being told Raikkonen had snatched pole from his grasp and, in a series where team orders are accepted, Ferrari's failure to get the German at the front of the grid proved pivotal.

Instead of having clear air ahead of him at the start, Vettel had to concern himself with attempting to pass Raikkonen and guarding against an overtake from championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

His efforts to do the latter cost the four-time world champion, who was spun around after contact with Hamilton and tumbled down to 18th.

From there his race in terms of contending for a crucial victory was run. Vettel worked his way back up to fourth, but surrendered 13 points to Hamilton to fall 30 adrift in the title race as the Briton produced a superb overtake to pass Raikkonen with eight laps left.

Ferrari could have headed to Singapore with Vettel in the championship lead. Instead, by not making Vettel's task at Monza as simple as possible, they head to the Marina Bay Street Circuit in two weeks' time knowing he will still be trailing even if he wins the night race.

It is a situation entirely of their own making, and the contrast between how Ferrari managed the race weekend and how Mercedes put Hamilton in a position to triumph could not be more stark.

Despite having to settle for locking out the second row of the grid, Mercedes worked seamlessly in tandem, Valtteri Bottas going long before his first and only stop to hold up Raikkonen following his fellow Finn's trip into the pits and back him into Hamilton's clutches for the eventual key overtake.

Ferrari could only watch as Hamilton celebrated what for Italian racing fans will be a galling achievement of equalling Michael Schumacher's record of five victories at Monza.

In the aftermath Vettel offered up an apology, while the Italian press gave Hamilton the nickname "Schumilton" and criticised the Scuderia for an "own goal".

The 2018 season is undoubtedly the closest Ferrari have been to ending Mercedes' dominance. However, with Hamilton more than a race victory ahead of Vettel and the Silver Arrows 25 points up in the constructors' standings, it will be another year in which they come up short if they produce more own goals in the remaining seven races.

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