Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2021

Hamilton predicts “easy win” for Verstappen from pole

2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton doubts he can beat Max Verstappen to victory in tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix after the Red Bull driver took pole position in the sprint qualifying race.

Verstappen finished second behind Valtteri Bottas, but the Mercedes driver will start from the back of the grid due to an power unit penalty.

Hamilton started second but fell behind Verstappen and the two McLaren drivers. He remained behind them until the end and will line up fourth for tomorrow’s race.

“We lost a lot of points,” Hamilton told Sky. Mercedes opted for the medium tyre compound while the McLaren drivers used a set of softs. “We underestimated how well they will behave,” he admitted.

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

Hamilton predicted Verstappen will win tomorrow’s race with little difficulty. “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, it should be an easy win for him.

“Me, I’ve just got to get ahead of these guys ahead.”

Red Bull’s consistent upgrades for their RB16B have kept them ahead Mercedes, Hamilton believes. “I think they’ve got more pace than we [expected] all year.

“They bring upgrades every week. From what I’m told there’s only one race they haven’t brought an upgrade. They’re constantly adding performance to the car. They did a great job but well done to Valtteri today.”

Bottas is hopeful he’ll be able to mount a comeback when he started tomorrow’s grand prix from the back of the grid.

“I feel good, it feels like it’s been awhile since I finished first in a race,” he said. “Unfortunately I’m starting from the back tomorrow but the speed is there so I’ll be fighting, I’ll be coming as high as I can tomorrow.

“But today I enjoyed – it was a very clean race and we had good pace.”

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2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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52 comments on “Hamilton predicts “easy win” for Verstappen from pole”

  1. Sour grapes. Had merc made Ham start from pole for the saturday race start, Ham would be starting from pole on Sunday’s race start. Ham might have had a chance had Bottas been penalty free.
    Merc is going to start Bottas on Hards and hope he’ll manage to block Max after Ham forces him to stop early.

    1. Hamilton will have zero impact on Verstappen tomorrow. Max will check out and drive away. Guarantee he’ll have a 2 second gap by the end of lap one and well over 15 before any pit stops come into play.

      Hamilton is the only car who can challenge Max and he’s going to be stuck behind the Mclarens til at least lap 20-25. Max will likely be able to stop and still come out ahead of Hamilton.

      All the above is considering Hamilton doesn’t bottle the start again! He’ll probably end up in p10 by lap one tomorrow.

      Looks like another afternoon snooze. 2022 can’t come soon enough. We need the midfield closer to RedBull and Mercedes.

      1. Lewis again has to start on the dirty side of the track. I am curious to see if Merc will do something different and start on softs with Hamilton because of the better traction these tires have at the start of the race?

      2. It would seem the race tomorrow will have Hamilton in the token role of Wingman to Botas.
        Given how much slower Botas was on this track last year i’d be surprise if Botas finishes in the top 3.

        All i see is wasted points…

    2. I think Bottas will probably be a pitstop behind by the end of the first lap, so there’s no way he can hold up Verstappen. It was a baffling decision by Mercedes to choose this track for Bottas’ engine penalty, given that it seemed likely that he would beat Verstappen to second even before qualifying.

      1. @f1frog exactly what I was thinking. They should have focused on 1-2 for this race and take the penalty in a race that Red Bull had the upper hand.

        Unless the power unit he was using was already critical.

        1. Could it be that Bottas had already put the new power unit while we were going for the sprint because he had pace on the sprint for sure.

      2. They found a problem in the engine that is why they swapped

      3. @f1frog Bottas won’t be a pitstop behind by lap 1 or 2, perhaps 10 but I’ll admit Bottas is going to have to start like a rocket in order to stay within the pit stop window. Mercedes were too clever for their own good.

      4. Yes, I also thought the same.

  2. Well he’s not wrong. Max can pull a second a lap on the Mclarens. Hamilton won’t be able to get by until the pit stops by which point Max will have a 20 second lead. If that’s not easy then I don’t know what is. Such a shame Bottas starts last as a Bottas Verstappen battle could have made tomorrow an epic!

    1. No, he can’t and no, he won’t even if he could. No one pulls away 10-15 seconds in the first stint nowadays, it’s usually not good for tactical reasons.

  3. Don’t think it will be easy.

    Mercedes were clearly faster in 1 lap qualifying and Bottas had the measure of Max in sprint.

    However, given the form Max is in, wouldn’t rule him out of snatching a win tomorrow.

    If Max does win, Mercedes’ decision to opt for that ‘strategic’ penalty for Bottas for this weekend will be under even more scrutiny.

    1. Thank God, Max the super human will be able to snatch victory by driving hi lawn mower whilst everyone else is driving a rocket.
      I really like Max, but the most annoying thing about him is some of his groupies.
      The facts are: he’s a fantastic driver, hrs got an excellent car, he starts at the front with two shower cars behind him. He’s got a good chance to win. Simples.

      1. The most underrated comment i have read this year. Max is an amazing driver, but some of the nonsense spouted is embarrassing.

        Should be a good race tomorrow and a safety car or two can always impact strategy.

        Great to see the old Riccardo too.

        1. Yes, such total bull is talked about him.
          Example, Horner today said Max had an “epic” start. Really Christian? He had the second worst start of the top 5, 0.6sec slower than Bottas to 100mph. Only Ham was worse. Sure is a strange definition of “epic” in my view!

          1. Where do you see the start reaction times?

          2. A good start is more the the 0_200 figures.
            When starting behind an other car it’s impossible to accelerate full throttle like bottas could.
            Choosing your line is way more important.

          3. Balue on SKY TV coverage it was displayed on the replay of the start. It looked like the official feed/graphics style so I suspect would have been on your coverage too. If you have recorded it you should rewind and check.
            Dave

    2. I’m not so sure Bottas had Verstappen’s measure; Max knew all he had to do was finish second to start on pole and that’s exactly what he did. There was no point in racing Bottas, so he made sure he finished where he had to, saved the car, and stayed out of trouble. Verstappen is driving very maturely lately.

      Reply moderated
  4. I still have a really strong feeling he’s going to win it.

    1. Of course. The Mercedes pace here much faster than anyone else. We’ll all see it tomorow.

      1. Well Valteri was not a lot faster than Max during the sprint race and because of the low downforce wings it will be difficult to overtake with DRS for Lewis. Normally you can win 0,3 to 0,4 sec but now only 0,1 sec with DRS. Everything depends on how quickly Lewis can clear the McLaren cars. Also he start at the dirty side of the track again so perhaps he could lose a position to Leclerc who start at the clean side of the track.

        1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
          11th September 2021, 21:13

          That’s Bottas. Bottas’ race pace is generally considerably worse than Hamiltons, and this year, especially, the difference has often been embarrasing. So far Bottas had finished ahead of Hamilton once; when the latter outbreaked himself in Baku. And even in that race Hamilton had been ahead. Bottas is non-indicative for Hamilton’s true pace.

          I think Hamilton is still the faster one here, but indeed, it all depends on how quickly he can dispatch the McLarens. But even if he has to wait until the pit stops, it’s gonna be close.

  5. With the different compounds in play during the not-qualifying race and Mercedes’ superior pace here all weekend, Hamilton should have little problem getting by the two McLarens (if they are even in front after lap 1). Depending on how fast he does that, Mercedes can still be considered the favourites for the win if they can find a window for Hamilton to put their pace advantage to good use. They’ve already shown they can do something similar in Spain.

    Still, Hamilton’s mistake comes at an inopportune time given Mercedes’ decision to drop Bottas to the back of the grid.

    1. I suspect Hamilton will not have an easy time getting past the McLarens. He’ll need to clear them at the start or it might take until they pit to get by.

    2. Did you watch the sprint race? Have you seen how hard overtaking is in Monza over the last 10years?

  6. He’s wrong. Once he clears the Mclarens he will easily make up the gap to Verstappen. Passing him is another matter.

    1. Yep. The reason the merc wasn’t as quick today was because they chose the wrong tyres. Wait until tomorow when everyone’s on equivalent tyres and you’ll see how fast they are. After Hamilton blasts past the Mclaren he’ll catch Max up no problem and pass during pit stops.

    2. When Lewis plays the underdog he is most dangerous. Mercedes straight-line performance is still a little better than RB’s. I think he will catch Max in the last laps and win.

  7. I agree with Hamilton here. Passing at Monza is extremely difficult (as we saw today), and if Verstappen keeps his first place I can’t see anyone challenging him. Then again, all it takes is a well-timed safety car or something to change the running order.

    1. Sure, if Max is faster it’s always the car even though Bottas and Hamilton himself outqualified Max.

      That Hamilton doesn’t start on pole position is not because RB brought more upgrades, not because Max is faster, but only because Hamilton screwed up his start. Sour grapes and again blaming the team (that they can’t follow the upgrades of RB) instead of taking full responsibility for his own failures.
      Is he really almost 40 years old?

      1. Sorry, not a comment to Kalle, but a general comment.

        1. Got to agree with you ChrisVB. Hamilton messed up Friday and made an awful start today. All his own making. He is giving Max the championship this year with silly errors like this. He should have had pole but ballsed it up.
          I think he is on the downward spiral.

          1. I mentioned this earlier on this year (downward spiral), however he still has good races like the previous one, and if he extended the contract he must be convinced he still has it.

  8. Yes LH I’m sure if you had a better start and kept your second place and were then handed pole by VB you’d be claiming an easy win for yourself tomorrow.

    1. @robbie Probably. But then they’re likely very close in terms of race speed so advantage goes to poll. And with Hamilton’s average-to-poor starts this season, he’s likely to be stuck in 4th for too long to challenge Max out front.

  9. So much for sport. Is F1 purely for ‘entertainment value’?

    This Mercedes ‘gesture’ for Botas may have just seal the championship for Redbull.

    Sure Hamilton will over take a few cars and keep out of Verstappen’s way but is this really what the sport has come to?

  10. Double mess up from Lewis, missing out on pole, then a really awful start in the sprint race. 18 laps stuck behind Norris was also poor on his part and Mercedes – if you going to go conservative on the medium tyres, make sure you start well. McLaren looked fast and they’re Mercedes powered. In the end, poor judgment from Mercedes strategists, even down to not anticipating an early safety car (which would help with the softs). All round bad job. McLaren were excellent though – with Ricciardo and Norris strong, Lewis is in for a tough time.

    1. …though of course remembering VB got it all working fine Friday and Saturday. So again really Lewis has to own this.

  11. With McLaren’s rusty strategy and nerves at the start and Hamilton’s luck, he should be with Verstappen sooner rather than later.

    Bottas’ luck is just as bad as usual. Starting from pole and almost certain victory at Monza and it’s straight to the back before the start. I really don’t know how these things work.

    1. @balue

      With McLaren’s rusty strategy and nerves at the start and Hamilton’s luck, he should be with Verstappen sooner rather than later.

      Yeah, unless he bottle it at the start again. Lewis doesnt help his own big luck. Had Max got some of his luck the championship would look very different right now.

      Reply moderated
  12. Sounds like a kid who lost his toy.

  13. So, if max wins it will be an easy one.
    If Lewis wins it will be a major achievement.
    Having the fastest car by far and only loosing ruining your own position does not count…

  14. Should have been an easy win for Hamilton. His main competition got moved out of the way by his team and he’d have had a cruise to the flag tomorrow but he screwed his start up. Now unless he can get in front of both McLarens quickly, Verstappen will be miles ahead by the time they make their first pit stop.

    1. Yes, that sums it up.

  15. Tomorrow is not today, tomorrow all start on softs, tomorrow there are pitstops and tomorrow there are almost 3 times as many laps.

    Lewis has the fastest car by probably half a second, Max needed a tow to even get close in qualifying and was never able to even get close to Bottas. Mercedes is one of the fastest on the straights. So how can a 7 time champion in the fastest car claim an easy victory for Max while in the last race he was able too follow and hunt the entire race despite Max having a tiny pace advantage.

    If Lewis doesn’t win tomorrow it is because he didn’t do his job, doesn’t matter if he starts 4th or 1st. Earlier this year in Imola where he nearly crashed and was a lap down the mighty Mercedes with top speed still allowed Lewis to finish 2nd. Why does anyone think tomorrow in Monza would be any different.

    Yes he was stuck behind Norris but tomorrow there are more laps, same tyre at start and a possible undercut with pitstop.
    Also Lewis start was bad due to him not because being on dirty side, Lando has a fine start but had to go around Lewis that is why Daniel managed to overtake Lando.

  16. Lewis seemed excessively pessimistic during the post-sprint race interview. Not just by conceding the win already, but his body language was very bad too. I’m wondering if losing Niki took away the mental support that Lewis needed.

    1. @aapje I don’t think so. Hamilton last year was extremely applied from the first race and only really eased off when it was won. This year his focus seems haphazard with mistakes and off-days creeping on, while he faces consistent competition in Verstappen – much like 2016 Rosberg but much better as a driver and only really compromised (slightly) by Red Bull’s sometimes slightly slower pace. Plus Hamilton now has the double-whammy of a freed-up Bottas and an incoming Russell to process.

  17. This after throwing an easy win down the toilet flush. Bottas (who’s not really a star in race pace) showed how better Mercedes car is at Monza when compared to Red Bull. Lewis had a bad start as he had been crumbling under the pressure sometimes this season (every driver feels the pressure but he could have done a better job this time). Max might be smiling inside with this gift.
    But one interesting thing to notice is that Russell also had a bad start, again. Those two definitively don’t have the best racecraft on the grid, despite being very fast drivers. Mercedes won’t have the best lineup by quite a margin next year as some could think with a rapid glance on them.

    Reply moderated
  18. Comments like this from Lewis are very frustrating. The guy is clearly an incredibly talented and gifted F1 driver, and a truly good man and caring human being and his philanthropic and social awareness efforts are to be admired.

    But….however….

    I sincerely doubt Lewis would be saying he would be having an ‘easy’ race if he was starting in Verstappen’s position. Very often in the past (especially since Merc’s dominance started in 2014) we’ve seen him romp away to seemingly easy and crushing victories and then claim it was ‘tough’ and ‘challenging’. I don’t doubt it is tough to win an F1 race whatever the situation – I certainly couldn’t do it. But to claim your wins are difficult and then deride your rivals own as easy is disrespectful. Additionally, I can’t square how admitting defeat before lights out, and then often criticising the team via radio during the race is proof of the ‘never give up’ and ‘win and lose together’ mentality we are led to believe Lewis has.

    Lewis is a good man, a great champion of the sport and a driver the UK should rightly be proud of, that isn’t up for dispute. But as a byline he, and some fans should try showing a bit more respect for Verstappen’s achievements rather than putting it all down to the car. They would do well to remember the past seven seasons and how annoying it is that some people continue to attribute Lewis’ own achievements merely to having superior machinery.

    1. Very good comment, fully agree.

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