Hamilton was able to overtake Raikkonen, eight laps from the finish, and held on to win a fifth Italian GP and extend his lead over Vettel to 30 points.
Most observers had certainly expected a hard result after Ferrari locked out the front row at Monza, yet the team's race began to fall apart inside four corners when Vettel clashed with Hamilton.
The Briton's sixth win of the season lifted him to 256 points, to his German rival's 226.
"It was a massive turning point".
"For sure I think we had the speed [to win] but then the tyre went and there was nothing left in the end on the left rear", Raikkonen said after the race.
Hamilton said he had already been "a bit surprised" that Vettel went to the left at the first chicane, where "there was a small touch between us all" and was surprised by his approach to the Roggia too.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen was handed a five-second penalty for refusing to give Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas room and pushing him off track. So, when I touched Lewis, I span around and that was unfortunate, as my auto got quite some damages.
"Lewis saw the gap round the outside but he didn't leave me any space".
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It was traveling between Albuquerque and Phoenix when state police said it crashed along along Interstate I-40 in McKinley County. The crash happened Thursday afternoon near the town of Thoreau in western New Mexico. "It just stays in your mind", he said.
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In more orchestrated circumstances, Ferrari would have done everything to ensure Vettel started on pole with Raikkonen riding shotgun behind.
The race stewards investigated and ruled the crash a normal "racing incident" that merited no further action. "It doesn't help when you lose points but it's not the end of the world. It wasn't really a case of "let's just go around and save the tyres for the last moment", we had to go, and unfortunately it didn't pay off today".
Following the Safety Car caused by the incident, Hamilton and Raikkonen then enjoyed an nearly identical battle, with Raikkonen, having been passed in Turn 1, going around the outside of Hamilton into Turn 4 - although this time, no contact was made...
"I think it was 100 per cent Sebastian's fault", Rosberg told Sky F1.
Once again, Vettel's temperament was called into question after a collision that some pundits felt might have been avoided; he viewed it differently, of course.
"I'm not too anxious", he told reporters after finishing fourth in an Italian Grand Prix won by his Mercedes rival.
"To know that I am up there with Michael is always a real privilege".
"It is very, very easy to allow it to get to you, to allow it to have an impact on your life and have you think about it, all these different things". "If you've seen 'Top Gun, ' you know what wingman actually means: we're both each other's wingman so that's all good".