Lewis Hamilton says Max Verstappen should have “an easy win” in the Italian Grand Prix after securing pole position in the Sprint, while he was consigned to a second row start in Sunday’s race .
Verstappen started the Sprint qualifying in third place behind the two Mercedes drivers but Hamilton — starting second on medium tires — had a poor getaway and dropped to sixth. Pierre Gasly’s crash moved Hamilton up to fifth but he couldn’t overtake the soft-shod McLarens ahead, and with Sprint winner Valtteri Bottas taking a grid penalty on Sunday, Verstappen’s second place was enough for pole position at Monza.
“I think we underestimated how well they (soft tires) would behave,” Hamilton said. “We’ve got to try and figure out how to get by the McLarens tomorrow and try to limit the damage.
“You saw the pace of the Red Bull. I don’t know if he was faster than Valtteri but now he’s on pole, so it should an easy win for him. For me, I’ve just got to try and get past these McLarens.”
Hamilton believes Red Bull is getting stronger as the season goes on due to its development rate.
“I think they have got more pace than they’ve had all year. They bring upgrades every week. From what I’m told, there’s only one race where they haven’t brought an upgrade, so they are constantly bringing performance to the car and they’ve done a great job. But well done to Valtteri today.”
After losing ground at the start that he couldn’t recover, Hamilton says he is not going to dwell on that specific moment.
“I don’t (reflect on it) — it wasn’t that great but it is what it is. That’s where it all started. So yeah, we lost a lot of points.”