Italian GP: Lewis Hamilton’s Max Verstappen prediction after poor Sprint puts him on back foot for Sunday race

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen react to a dramatic Italian GP Sprint that has turned the weekend on its head; Verstappen to start Sunday’s race – live on Sky F1 at 2pm – from pole, with Hamilton only fourth behind the McLarens Lewis Hamilton has predicted an “easy win” for

 

 

Max Verstappen in Sunday’s Italian GP after the championship rivals’ contrasting afternoons in the F1 Sprint, which turned the Monza weekend on its head. Hamilton, starting behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas, went into Saturday’s grid-setting mini race as the big favourite given Mercedes’ clear pace advantage over Red Bull,

 

 

 

 

but was left ruing a disastrous start that dropped him to fifth, a position he could not then improve upon over the 18 laps. Max Verstappen, meanwhile, not only managed to secure a surprise second place behind Bottas – but has also inherited pole position for Sunday due to the Finn’s engine penalties that will send him to the back of the grid.

 

 

He also extended his championship lead over Hamilton from three points to five as a result of his Sprint finish. Hamilton, who will start Sunday’s race – live on Sky Sports F1 at 2pm – from fourth after being left frustrated behind the McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and particularly Lando Norris, was left in a despondent mood.

“We lost a lot of points,” the seven-time champion told Sky F1’s Rachel Brookes. “Got to try and figure out how I can get by the McLarens tomorrow, and try to limit the damage.” He added: “It’s not the outcome we wanted and we can’t afford days like these, especially when it is this close in the championships.”

Hamilton also believes Red Bull, who were well adrift of Mercedes through qualifying and both practice sessions, have a lot more pace in race conditions. “You saw the pace of the Red Bull,” he said. “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.”

Starting grid for the Italian GP: Top 10
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
3) Lando Norris, McLaren
4) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
5) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
6) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
7) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
8) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
9) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
10) Fernando Alonso, Alpine

Red Bull, on the other hand, would have been delighted leaving Monza on Saturday, having previously looked more likely to be battling the midfield than fighting at the front this weekend. Team boss Christian Horner readily admitted the high-powered circuit was a “bogey track” for Red Bull – and Sunday will be the first time they have even had a driver start in the top three there in the hybrid era, let alone on pole.

Verstappen was similarly elated. “It was important to get that start, and then Lewis of course didn’t get a good start,” said the Dutchman. “So far this weekend, I thought we were going to lose points but actually we gained points so far! Hopefully we can keep that up.”

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