George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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Lewis Hamilton has conceded that Max Verstappen should claim an ‘easy win’ at this afternoon’s Italian Grand Prix following the pair’s contrasting fortunes in Saturday’s sprint qualifying session. All eyes will turn towards Monza from 2pm onwards, with Verstappen starting the race from pole after finishing second behind Valtteri Bottas yesterday.
Hamilton, on the other hand, got off to a disastrous start and ended up finishing fifth. He will start from back in fourth at the main event as a result.
Speaking ahead of the race, the Mercedes star said: “We lost a lot of points. We’ve got to try and figure out how I can get by the McLarens tomorrow, and try to limit the damage.
“It’s not the outcome we wanted and we can’t afford days like these, especially when it is this close in the championships.
“You saw the pace of the Red Bull. 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.”
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo will start on the front row in second place, with team-mate Lando Norris just behind the Aussie in third.
JUST IN: Max Verstappen raises Lewis Hamilton concern ahead of Italian GP
Italian Grand Prix LIVE
- Lights out at Monza at 2pm
- Max Verstappen starts on pole with Valtteri Bottas at the back
- Lewis Hamilton down in fourth after a poor sprint qualifying session
- Verstappen currently leads the Drivers’ Championship order by just three points
1.20pm: Hamilton is seeking his 100th race win at Monza this afternoon, but the 36-year-old will face a tough challenge in chasing down Verstappen from the second row of the grid.
The seven-time world champion has admitted that it will be difficult to pip the Dutchman to the chequered flag, but insisted that he will be looking to pass the McLaren duo of Ricciardo and Norris at the earliest opportunity.
“It’s highly unlikely, but not impossible, that we can get the win,” said Hamilton.
“I think it’s damage limitation at the moment. It generally should be a relatively easy race for Max, unless I can get past these two McLarens early on and then challenge him.”
1.10pm: Verstappen currently finds himself in control of this year’s Drivers’ Championship battle with a slender three-point lead over Hamilton in the standings.
Although the 22-year-old has never been in this position before at the same stage of the season, he does not appear to be feeling the pressure, declaring earlier this week that he is entirely confident in his own ability to succeed.
“It’s not that big of a difference whether you’re fighting for the title or not,” he told La Gazzetta Dello Sport.
“I’ve always known that if I have a car I can win with, that I can fight for the title. Now I finally have that and I enjoy it too.”
1.00pm: Good afternoon and welcome to Express Sport‘s live coverage of the Italian Grand Prix where Max Verstappen will be hoping to extend his advantage over Lewis Hamilton with another victory.
The Dutchman will start the race from pole position after yesterday’s sprint qualifying session, with Valtteri Bottas relegated to last place as a result of a power unit change.
Verstappen’s former Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo also begins on the front row, just ahead of fellow McLaren driver Lando Norris in third.
Meanwhile, Hamilton will line up on the second row in P4 after a lacklustre performance in the 18-lap sprint.
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