• IN WORDS: Lewis and Valtteri's Italy Debrief

Just how do Lewis and Valtteri sum up such a sensational weekend of racing at Monza?

'The excitement is spurring us along'

The past few races have been incredibly intense for both the team and our drivers, so to come out of them with more points than our closest rivals has been a huge motivation boost.

"The pressure is so high, I'm just trying to deliver every single weekend," Lewis explained. "I feel I've been extracting more out of the car.

"I think the last three wins, considering we definitely felt like we've not had the upper hand on those weekends and been two steps behind, to finish ahead by one step is an incredibly proud feeling for everyone in the team.

"I'm sure that excitement is what's spurring us along. There are still seven races to go, there's still a lot of points and we are not being complacent at all.

"We know we've got to work even harder than they are to either close the gap or deliver results like this more often.

"It could've easily been the other way, we could have lost a lot of ground. Every race you try to find the right balance between being aggressive and making mistakes. You never know if you're going to pull it off, or try to overdo it, or leave stuff on the table.

"I didn't want to walk away from here feeling I had left something on the table. Naturally, I love the wheel-to-wheel battle we had with Kimi.

"That's honestly the thing I love most about racing. The most amazing feeling is those wheel-to-wheel battles. I had it in karting, in GP2 and every now and then in F1. When you do, it's the greatest thing."

'It wasn't sacrificing my race'

Valtteri's run to P3 included a long first stint on SuperSofts, which helped in his battle against Max Verstappen and also helped Lewis close on Kimi Räikkönen's Ferrari too.

"Before the race we went through all the strategy scenarios and, honestly, there's a minimal difference at this race because the tyres can last so long," the Finn said.

"So, it wasn't really like I was sacrificing my race, as long as I kept Kimi behind - if he overtook me then for sure I would lose time.

"I was happy to do it [stay out], because I knew I would still get a good chance to attack Verstappen, so I don't think it compromised my result.

"The points difference between me and Lewis is now very big, so I'm willing to cooperate when it makes sense.

"We are here as a team and we need to be realistic, we want to win both titles so that's how it is."

'It's quite far up there'

After his stunning victory at Monza, Lewis was asked if it feels like one of his greatest ever victories. What does he think?

"Under the sheer pressure we are under, I definitely will consider it to be quite far up there," he said.

"Obviously to do it on Ferrari's home turf as well and so much pressure on the team... with the performance that they have, to really be able to pull a little bit more out of the bag, and really make it stick...

"I generally think this year I've been quite consistent in my delivery. I really have been happy with what I've been able to extract from the car and again, just incredibly grateful and proud of the team for continuing to keep their faith in me and keep pushing as they are.

"Days like this, it'll be amazing to go back and see the guys, we'll have a team photo to celebrate and that is a very, very proud moment to be a part of that.

"There are so many people in these teams now, it's incredible. And there's not one single person or component that's more important than another. It's been great teamwork."

This season is proving to be one of the most intense in recent times, how is Lewis handling that?

"The heat is there, the intensity is there," the Brit explained. "It's unavoidable for me and him [Sebastian]. It's very difficult for people watching to feel what we feel.

"The pressure is...I don't even know what word to use for it. It's the highest I can ever remember.

"That's the pressure you put on yourself because you want to succeed, it's the pressure of your desires and fears, and of all the people who are depending on you, which is a lot of people."

'That wasn't fair'

Valtteri's battle with Verstappen included brief contact between the pair, which forced him to cut the chicane and lose time.

He was going for an overtake around the outside into the first chicane, but Verstappen moved across in the braking zone and there was contact.

"I was trying to race him hard," Valtteri explained. "I initially tried to go on the inside but maybe I was a bit too far back. He locked up, went straight on, kept his position.

"Then, on the second time, knowing the fact he is definitely one of the more aggressive drivers in terms of defending and attaching, I wanted to race hard and expected him to be fair.

"He covered the inside, I braked on the outside, we were pretty much side-by-side and he just started to drift left.

"For sure, he saw me there. And for me, the rule is very simple - when you defend on the inside, it doesn't cost you anything if you leave a cars' width and it's fair for the guy on the outside. That wasn't fair, so that's why he got the penalty.

"I definitely wanted to overtake him, for sure it gives you a boost but in the last two laps we saw Sebastian wasn't actually closing in that quickly.

"So, the team told me to not take risks anymore, because he's got the penalty anyway. So, for me it was important to be close enough. I would have still loved to overtake him."

'I gave him the right amount of space'

Lewis was caught in his own clash, this time on the opening lap while going into battle with Sebastian Vettel for second place.

The move around the outside into the second chicane was brave, but Lewis left Vettel enough room on the inside.

Vettel ran deep into the corner and collided with Lewis, spinning around and dropping back. Was Lewis surprised by the defence Vettel put up?

"No, I would've done the same," he said. "He was braking, he was on the limit. It's just by the time he got to the apex, Kimi came across.

"He would probably have lost a bit of downforce. Obviously, he went in a bit deep.

"I gave him the right amount of space. I'm so proud of that manoeuvre. It felt great in the moment it looked exactly like I'd experienced."

'I will get the results I deserve'

It seems unbelievable that after 14 races and some brilliant form, Valtteri has yet to win a race in 2018. However, he's fired up and determined to change that.

"For me, it's disappointing and amazing that I haven't won a race this year," he admitted. "It's been quite close many times, especially in the first third of the season.

"I really want to win races, that's why I am here. I don't think the only way I can win in the next few races is if Lewis secures the title.

"If I have good pace, a good qualifying and I'm strong in the race, I think that I can definitely win. As long as I perform well, then hopefully I will get the results I deserve."