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Formula 1

Hamilton predicts ‘easy’ Italian GP win for Verstappen

by Matt Beer
4 min read

Lewis Hamilton predicts the Italian Grand Prix will be an easy victory for his Formula 1 world championship rival Max Verstappen after the events of the Monza Sprint.

Mercedes had been fastest through practice in Italy and filled the Sprint front row with Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton, while Verstappen was nearly half a second off their pace in third.

But Bottas began the Sprint knowing he’d be demoted to the back for the grand prix due to an engine change penalty, and Hamilton then fell back to sixth immediately with a poor start.

He regained one place via Pierre Gasly crashing and will get another via Bottas’s penalty, but still starts the Italian GP fourth behind the McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris while Verstappen has pole.

“You saw the pace of the Red Bull,” Hamilton told Sky.

“I don’t know if he was quicker than Valtteri, but they’re so fast and now he’s on pole so it should be an easy win for him.

Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Max Verstappen Red Bull F1 Italian GP Monza

“Me, I’ve just got to try to get past these two guys ahead.”

He played down any thoughts of Monza being a Mercedes-friendly circuit, saying Red Bull’s aggressive approach to the season meant it should be expected to be the pace-setter everywhere.

“I don’t think they’ve got more pace than we think they’ve had all year,” said Hamilton.

“They bring upgrades every week. From what I’m told, there’s only one race where they haven’t brought an upgrade.

“They’re constantly adding performance to the car and they’re doing a great job.”

Hamilton said his first-lap losses were simply a case of a poor launch off the grid, later telling the wider media that “the start was just that traction broke away. It was subtle, like 2mm too deep with the clutch paddle, and wheelspin, that’s it”.

McLaren Mercedes Italian GP F1 Monza

He had hoped the McLarens’ choice of soft tyres meant they would fade compared to his medium rubber later in the race, but that wasn’t the case.

“We just underestimated how well they would behave,” Hamilton said of the soft tyres.

“I’ve got to try to figure out how I can get by the McLarens tomorrow and try to limit the damage.”

Bottas: Losing pole position “annoying”

Valtteri Bottas Mercedes F1 Italian GP Monza

Valtteri Bottas admitted it was “annoying” not to be credited with pole position or to be able to start from the front thanks to his engine penalty after leading the sprint from start to finish.

“For sure it’s annoying having that good last few days and good performance and then you reset completely for day after and start from the back,” he said when asked by The Race if it is irritating to have set fastest time in qualifying and won the sprint race but neither being able to start from pole position, nor being officially credited with it in the record books.

“But those things are out of my hands, so I’m not going waste too much energy or be too negative about it because there’s nothing absolutely I can do about it. The only thing I can do is try my best and go full gas tomorrow.

“But at least I got three points. Every point counts for me personally and for us as a team.”

Bottas declined to make a prediction of what result could be possible in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, but cited the example of PIerre Gasly’s shock win last year as proof that anything is possible.

“I’ll be fighting to get as high as I can tomorrow,” said Bottas.

“Anything’s possible. If you look at what happened in the race last year, you never know. So I keep pushing.”

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