LEWIS HAMILTON performed a massive U-turn on taking the blame for his Monza shocker, which gifted the race to bitter rival, Nico Rosberg.
The defending world champion, who had cruised to pole position the previous day, was slow off the line and needed to battle back from sixth to finish second.
Hamilton, who has also had poor starts in Melbourne, Bahrain and Canada, initially admitted he was at fault for the poor getaway.
The world champion APOLOGISED for his error over the team’s radio – before then backtracking, saying it was just a bluff to put his engineers at ease.
He said: “I knew my engineers would be worried and nervous of how the start went, so that’s why I tried to put their minds at ease.”
Last night, he was still licking his wounds as Rosberg sliced his lead in the championship to just TWO points with seven races to go.
Confusingly, Hamilton then pointed an accusing finger at his Mercedes team’s iffy clutch, saying it wasn’t his fault.
He added: “I am told it wasn’t driver error – it was just we continue to have inconsistencies with our clutch. It has hit me quite a lot this year.
“The procedure was done exactly how I was supposed to do it but unfortunately the wheels were spinning from the get-go.
“But we are still leading the world championship. We have had so many things go against us on our side of the garage and still to come back and be where we are – there are still lots of great things that can happen.”
Merc boss Toto Wolff was equally baffled by Hamilton’s comments but quickly leapt to his driver’s defence, saying it was the team’s policy not to single out individual errors.
He said: “Lewis came on the radio and said ‘don’t worry about the start. I made a mistake’, I think there was too much wheel-spin.
“I don’t want to blame anybody, not Lewis, nor the engineers, nor the systems. We have to address that topic because it lost him the race.
“We are never blaming anybody. If you start to blame this is when it goes downhill. People will try to protect their arse and make sure they have a conservative system in place.
“A driver in the heat of the moment after losing a race to his team-mate will say things.
“Once we have seen all the data we will address it internally what needs to be done for that to be avoided.
“This is not a game of vice-versa blaming. As he says, you win and lose together and in that case Lewis and the team has lost.”
Irrespective of blame, the slow start gifted the win to Rosberg, who cruised to an untroubled victory here in Italy that became a dull procession.
Rosberg said: “An F1 race is never straight forward. The start is always a big battle and I managed to win that.
“I needed to keep the pace up and it is never easy, but it was not the toughest race.
“I am not thinking about the championship. My belief to win individual races is still my best approach, so why would I change it?
“If I thought about a 45 point lead going to 19, then I would lose sleep over that, so I don’t think about it and enjoy winning races.”
Meanwhile, Jolyon Palmer lashed out at Sauber’s Felipe Nasr after they clashed on the first lap, earning the Brazilian a 10-second penalty and sending the Brit out of the race.
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Palmer fumed: “He ran me off the road in Turn Two. He’s not racing very fairly and ended both of our races.
“If you drive someone off the track when we’re side by side, I think there’s better racing in GP2 or GP3.”
Driver of the Day: Nico Rosberg did what needed to be done but it was all too easy.
Move of the Race: Daniel Ricciardo pulled off a stunner to get past Valtteri Bottas on lap 48.
Mistake of the Race: Hamilton’s slow start proved to be the end of his hopes of winning this GP.
Milkfloat: Felipe Nasr crashed into Jolyon Palmer on the first lap.
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