George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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Lewis Hamilton has batted away any suggestion he’s carrying a “curse” as the Briton waits patiently for his 100th victory in Formula One. The seven-time world champion starts from fourth on the grid in Monza, with main title rival and championship leader Max Verstappen inheriting pole position during sprint qualifying.
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas stormed to victory during Saturday’s session, but due to engine penalties, will start at the back of the grid for Sunday’s main event.
Hamilton, however, suffered wheelspin off the line, dropping the 36-year-old behind Verstappen and the two McLarens to start fourth for the main event, with a win “highly unlikely” according to Hamilton.
When asked if his illusive 100th win could be “cursed,” Hamilton was quick to dismiss any suggestion.
“I don’t believe in curses,” said Hamilton on Saturday. “[On Sunday] it’s highly unlikely, but not impossible, that we can get the win. We will be working as hard as [we] can to try it.
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“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.”
Hamilton’s fourth-place start means the 36-year-old will have two McLarens to contend with before he can even bring the fight to the championship leader at the front.
Reflecting on the sprint qualifying session, Hamilton added: “I was being as aggressive as I could be.
“McLaren is the quickest on the straights and I just couldn’t get close enough to capitalise. They were just as fast on the straight, if not faster.
“So the start, it just broke away on traction.
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“[It was] subtle, like two millimetres too deep with the clutch pedal and… wheel spin.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also offered his thoughts on Hamilton’s poor start during sprint qualifying, which saw the Briton overtaken by three cars at the start of the session.
“First of all, the start can happen,” added Wolff. “Between hero and zero on a start is such a fine margin.
“Having too much wheelspin happens, to be honest, and that bit us hard, but we still have everything to play [for].”
Meanwhile, it was a lights to flag victory for the departing Bottas, with Wolff praising Mercedes’ second driver.
“Valtteri just had an unbelievable getaway and drove away into the sunset,” Wolff added.
“[It was] one of the most dominant ways of winning a race, irrespective of whether it was a Sprint race or not – it was a real masterclass from Valtteri.”
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