Lewis Hamilton struck back after the Spa debacle to take victory at the Italian Grand Prix this weekend. He had to fight back from fourth after a failure on the startline wiped out his qualifying heroics.
Daniel Ricciardo came alive in the second half of the race, pushing through the field - and passing Vettel - to take an unlikely fifth place.
An epic midfield battle provided the most entertainment, with Bottas passing everyone from tenth to fifth twice and Daniel Ricciardo joining him on his points raid on the back of an inspired tyre strategy, and the McLarens, Ferraris and Force Indias fighting hard all race long.
PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING
Italy's late summer greeted the teams over Friday and Saturday with clear skies and warm temperatures. Red Bull's Spa form deserted them, with a failure for Ricciardo and a lack of top-end speed for both.
As expected, Mercedes and Williams were at the front, but mixing it up with them were the Ferraris and Jenson Button's McLaren.
Qualifying was the expected Mercedes 1-2 with Hamilton seizing the top slot. Bottas followed Rosberg to third and was followed by teammate Massa.
Ricciardo and Vettel squeaked in to the top ten with P9 and P8 respectively. Alonso faded to seventh, split from the Williams by the McLarens and the first non-Mercedes powered car.
Kamui Kobayashi made a welcome, if temporary, return to Caterham, soundly beating teammate Ericsson and both Marussias.
The grid changed slightly with a penalty for Kvyat who is now on his sixth engine for the season and Marcus Ericsson would start from pitlane after ignoring yellow flags in practice - he was unable to take a grid penalty after qualifying dead last, so was dumped in pitlane instead.
Sunday was as bright as the previous two days and the grid formed up under sunny skies.
Rosberg got a good start where Hamilton did not, falling to fourth after an electronics failure. Kevin Magnussen jumped to second and Massa third.
Bottas went badly backwards, ruining his excellent second row position. Ricciardo went with him by going off at turn one.
Vettel was another winner from the start moving to fifth, while Hulkenberg moved into the top ten, as did Raikkonen.
Massa attacked Magnussen while Hamilton and his pitwall tried to fix a problem with his electric motor. Things seemed to sort themselves out by lap four and he took on the Williams.
The Williams and Mercedes drivers were keen to pass the McLaren and both passed it on lap five at the same corner - Massa drove past the silver Mercedes-powered machine, towing Hamilton through with him.
Another Williams was on the move further back, Bottas taking on the Force India of Hulkenberg at the first turn and getting through cleanly.
On lap six the Marussia of Max Chilton got it all wrong at the Roggia chicane. He launched over the high kerbs meant to stop drivers cutting the corner, pitching him across the track and into the wall. He was "a little bit winded" but unscathed.
Rosberg had built a three second lead when he went straight on at the Rettifilio, moments after being told that Hamilton's rear tyres were going off. He lost a second as he picked his way through the polystyrene boards.
Hamilton grabbed second from Massa next time around, going around the outside at turn one. The race was on, the Briton began to close down on the championship leader.
Bottas rounded up Perez on lap fourteen. He was then faced with the Ferrari of Alonso who was locked in a fierce battle with Jenson Button. The Finn took just two laps to get by the Ferrari.
Another two laps and Bottas had sixth place from Button.
First man to pit was Sebastian Vettel on lap 19, surprisingly early given the one-stop strategy. Nico Hulkenberg, who had started on the hard tyre, pitted on the following lap, moving him to the medium tyre, the less fancied of the compounds.
Bottas took the other McLaren on lap 21, fighting past Magnussen and taking on fourth place.
Magnussen and Alonso pitted together on lap 22 and left in the same order, but coming out behind Vettel. Button pitted next time around, falling behind Perez but ahead of Alonso.
Perez was the big winner, getting ahead of them both.
Up front, Hamilton's engineer delivered the cringeworthy "Hammertime" order as Rosberg pitted. The order was to encourage Hamilton to press on so he could attempt to snatch the lead from his teammate in the pits.
Bottas pitted on lap 24 and came out among the traffic of Vettel, Magnussen and Perez, losing out to all of them and ending up ninth. He quickly redressed the situation and got by Perez next lap around.
Hamilton pitted but his in-lap was not fast enough, still behind Rosberg.
Ricciardo pitted from fifth, dropping back to twelfth after a quiet first half.
On lap 29, Rosberg went off again at the Rettifilio. Hamilton exited the turn in the lead as Rosberg slalomed through the foam for the second time. Hamilton had been closing despite his team telling him to back off.
Ferrari's faint hopes ended on the same lap as Alonso's car ground to a halt at the scene of Rosberg's turn one indiscretion.
Magnussen and Bottas had a multi-lap battle as the McLaren driver defended harder than he had on previous occasions.
Bottas tried to pass around the outside but was pushed wide by Magnussen, a move that would eventually be investigated by the stewards.
Daniel Ricciardo had his first moment of action, making a brave pass on Kimi Raikkonen at turn one, beginning his fightback.
Bottas finally got by Magnussen on lap 37 after selling the Dane a dummy and going around the outside down the main straight. To add insult to injury, Magnussen copped a five second penalty.
Button finally pushed past Sergio Perez's Force India on lap 39, the two former teammates almost clashing thorugh a wheel-to-wheel battle that started at the Rettifilio and ended at the Lesmos, with Perez triumphing despite bumping over the kerbs at the Roggia.
The battle with Perez set Ricciardo up for a pass on Button, taking eighth and then seventh with a gutsy move around the outside of Perez. Button then grabbed eighth from Perez at turn one but had to battle hard to keep Perez behind him and again the Force India driver got ahead at the Lesmos.
Ricciardo didn't give Kevin Magnussen any time to fight back, slicing past the McLaren and setting off after his teammate three seconds down the road. He began to close in at the rate of 0.8 seconds per lap.
Ricciardo was on Vettel by lap 47, pulling alongside into turn one. Vettel went in deep and held the Australian behind but Ricciardo kept his head and stayed right under the German's rear wing. He popped out from the slipstream and shot past at the Roggia chicane, then drove away.
Vettel came under pressure from the McLaren of Magnussen as his tyres - on the car since lap 19 - began to deteriorate.
Nerves frayed at the front, too, with Hamilton locking up extravagantly into turn one. A couple of laps later Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat nearly had a gigantic accident at the same place.
The Russian had a narrow escape as he appeared to run out of brakes into turn one (a mechanical problem, it transpired), taking to the grass to avoid Raikkonen and wiping out nothing more than a foam board - it could have been a lot worse.
Hamilton took the win with a three second lead ahead of Rosberg, followed by Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.
Daniel Ricciardo came home fifth after his gritty drive through the field.
"The strategy helped today, it kept the tyres fresh enough to go those extra few laps at the end. I saw the cars in front of me pit and the pace was still good enough, so seeing that we didn't have great pace when we were out of position then we thought we would try something different and that's why we went long, which helped towards the end of the race."
Formula 1 returns in two weeks for the Singapore Grand Prix
- Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes 1h19m10.236s
- Nico Rosberg - Mercedes +3.175s
- Felipe Massa - Williams/Mercedes +25.026s
- Valtteri Bottas - Williams/Mercedes +40.786s
- Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull/Renault +50.309s
- Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull/Renault +59.965s
- Sergio Perez - Force India/Mercedes +1m02.518s
- Jenson Button - McLaren/Mercedes +1m03.063s
- Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari +1m03.535s
- Kevin Magnussen - McLaren/Mercedes +1m06.171s
- Daniil Kvyat - Toro Rosso/Renault +1m11.184s
- Nico Hulkenberg - Force India/Mercedes +1m12.606s
- Jean-Eric Vergne - Toro Rosso/Renault +1m13.093s
- Pastor Maldonado - Lotus/Renault +1 Lap
- Adrian Sutil - Sauber/Ferrari +1 Lap
- Romain Grosjean - Lotus/Renault +1 Lap
- Kamui Kobayashi - Caterham/Renault +1 Lap
- Jules Bianchi - Marussia/Ferrari +1 Lap
- Marcus Ericsson - Caterham/Renault +2 Laps
- Esteban Gutierrez - Sauber/Ferrari +2 Laps
Fernando Alonso - Ferrari - Power Unit
Max Chilton - Marussia/Ferrari - Spun off
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