Rosberg leads the fans in a singalong after Italian GP win
ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 05, 2016 09:26 AM
Third placed Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, right, looks at Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany as he celebrates on the podium after winning the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Monza racetrack, Italy, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer
MONZA, Italy (AP) — On top of the podium after winning the Italian Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg grabbed the microphone and launched into Italy's theme song from its 2006 World Cup soccer victory, encouraging the fans below to sing along to the White Stripes anthem.
Oh, oh-OH-oh oh OHH OHH.
Talk about playing to the crowd.
"This race is unbelievable," Rosberg said before his rendition of "Seven Nation Army."
"I feel that part of me is Italian in a way, because I have a lot of friends here and I grew up with the culture."
The crowd in Monza is known for invading the track at the checkered flag and after 11 years in Formula One — and many more as the son of F1 champion Keke Rosberg — the multi-national Mercedes driver wanted to thoroughly enjoy his first victory at the "Temple of Speed."
"You're the best in the world," Rosberg told the crowd in Italian after the singalong. "Thank you."
Rosberg also proved best Sunday, winning virtually unchallenged after teammate Lewis Hamilton wasted pole position with a poor start.
Hamilton got off the line at the same time as the other cars but immediately fell behind, dropping to sixth before the first corner.
Rosberg, who started second, took the early lead and cruised to his seventh win of the season, second straight this year and first of his career at Monza, which has hosted more Formula One racing than any other track.
"It was all down to the start," Rosberg said. "I had an awesome start and that made the win. So it was all there."
Rosberg also cut Hamilton's championship lead to two points with seven races remaining.
"The race is on with Lewis," Rosberg said. "It's always going to be a great battle and I look forward to what's to come."
Hamilton climbed his way back to finish second.
"It's hard to overtake here," Hamilton said. "That's the best I could do with such a loss at the start.
Hamilton attributed his problem at the start to an "inconsistent clutch."
"My procedure was done just as I was supposed to," Hamilton said. "We just had an over-production of torque and the wheels were spinning from the get-go."
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen crossed third and fourth, respectively.
Rosberg celebrated with a series of fist pumps when he got out of his car, playfully jabbing at a TV camera. Then he jumped into a group of his team members who hoisted him into the air.
Already fastest in qualifying, Mercedes' single pit-stop strategy proved better than Ferrari's two-stop plan.
It was the 21st win of Rosberg's career.
After his disastrous start, Hamilton quickly charged up the field, passing Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull and overtaking Valtteri Bottas' Williams on the main straight.
Hamilton then went ahead of the Ferraris after their second pit stops,
Pushing hard to catch Rosberg in the final laps, Hamilton's wheels locked up at the first chicane and he bounced across the speed bumps, costing him more than a second.
Rosberg's winning margin over Hamilton was 15 seconds, with Vettel 20 seconds behind and Raikkonen 27 seconds back.
"I think we had good pace but it was sort of expected that they would be quicker than us in race pace," said Vettel, who got the loudest cheers on the podium. "At the end the answer was really clear."
Ricciardo finished fifth and Bottas crossed sixth.
Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10.
On a hazy late summer day, red-clad Ferrari fans lined the entire track, with banners dedicated to current and former drivers.
"Michael, All our thoughts for you and your family," read one banner dedicated to seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher, who remains in secluded recovery from serious head injuries he suffered in a skiing accident in December 2013.
"You cannot describe the passion, you can only live it," read another banner.
During the singing of the national anthem, fighter jets flew over the main straight, coloring the sky in the green, white and red of the Italian flag.
Soon after the start, Jolyon Palmer in a Renault and Felipe Nasr in a Sauber made contact, sending both cars back to the pits with damage. Palmer retired, while Nasr came back out briefly to serve a 10-second penalty for causing the accident.
Daniil Kyvat's Toro Rosso and Pascal Wehrlein's Manor also ran into trouble and retired midway through the race.
Next up is the Singapore GP in two weeks.
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf