Hamilton reflects on 'fun' Monza drive as Wolff makes pointed jab at safety car finale

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Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a "fun" Italian Grand Prix after securing an impressive points finish, while Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff made a pointed jab over the race's safety car finale.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton started at the back of the grid after taking new parts but drove a fine race to secure a fifth-placed finish, as Max Verstappen secured a maiden Monza win.

The podium always looked a long shot for Hamilton, but he still recovered points and actually found a less trying race weekend something to relish.

"It was a good race," Hamilton stated. "The guys were saying that anything between sixth and fourth was possible, and that felt a stretch for me. But I had fun.

"I struggled at the beginning, but I'm really, really grateful that I made my way through and got those points. I think at the end, the two cars behind had fresher tyres, so I'm kind of glad it finished like it did."

The late mechanical failure of Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren meant the race finished behind the safety car.

Hamilton was not in contention this time, but he lost last season's title decider in similar circumstances when then race director Michael Masi ended the safety car early on that occasion and saw Verstappen pass his title rival at the last.

Apparently referring to that incident, Wolff said: "The race directors are always going to be under criticism, but I think this time they followed the rules – maybe they could have done it a lap sooner – and they accepted the race ends under the safety car. This is how it should be."

With a 35-point deficit to Ferrari now for second in the constructors' championship, Wolff has a clear target in his sights ahead of the end of a difficult campaign.

"It's all to play against Ferrari; we just need to do the best every single weekend," he added. "It would [soften the blow] of this year's car a bit."