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Hamilton predicts "easy win" for Verstappen

NEWS STORY
12/09/2021

Starting the Italian Grand Prix from fourth while title rival, Max Verstappen inherits pole, leaves Lewis Hamilton predicting an "easy win" for the Dutchman.

If the Sprint has done anything, it has set up the Italian Grand Prix perfectly.

Heading into the weekend Red Bull was predicting that the nature of the Monza track meant that the race was Mercedes' to lose, and while Verstappen demonstrated that the gap in performance was less than expected it was clear that the Black Arrows appeared to have things wrapped up.

So much so, that the German team opted to fit a new engine in Valtteri Bottas' car, meaning that the Finn would start the Grand Prix from the back of the grid.

However, taking pole for the Sprint, Bottas would at least be able to play a part in his teammate's title fight.

However, a poor start from Hamilton, down to a misjudgement with his clutch paddle, meant the Briton lost vital positions not only to Verstappen but the two McLarens.

Unable to pass the Woking cars over the course of the Sprint this means that the world champion starts the Grand Prix from fourth, while, due to his teammate's grid penalty, Verstappen starts from pole, the title rivals separated by the Woking pair.

"You saw the pace of the Red Bull," said Hamilton in the moments after the Sprint. "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.

"Me, I've just got to try and get past these two guys ahead," he added, referring to the McLarens.

"I think they've got more pace than you think they've had all year," said Hamilton of Red Bull, the Austrian team having continually downplayed its hopes for the weekend, pointing to the Mercedes superiority on such tracks.

"They bring upgrades every week," he added. "I think, from what I'm told, there's only one race where they haven't brought an upgrade, and then they're constantly adding performance to the car.

"They did a great job, but well done to Valtteri today."

Referring to the McLarens, which were on softs, compared to the mediums that Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen were running, he said of the red-banded rubber: "We underestimated how well they would behave.

"Anyway, I've got to try and figure out how I can get by them tomorrow, and try to limit the damage.

"They are the quickest on the straights," he added, "and I just couldn't get close enough to then capitalise on the straight line."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Monza, here.

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