Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton have been all set to do battle back as they share a»box-office» front row at Sunday’s Italian GP, with home favourites Ferrari trying to finally end Mercedes’ Monza dominance.
Leclerc, Ferrari’s new star who only held off Hamilton a week ago in Spa, begins on rod and will have the weight of a country on his shoulders since the in-form youthful Monegasque bids to the Scuderia’s first win before their enthusiastic’Tifosi’ lovers since 2010.
The race begins at 2.10pm Sky Sports F1, with accumulation at 12.30pm.
«Seeing all of the fans as crazy as [Saturday] was unbelievable,» Leclerc informed Sky F1 after having a bizarre qualifying session. «I actually hope to see that way [on Sunday] below the podium.»
But with Sebastian Vettel at the Ferrari, Leclerc is vulnerable.
Hamilton begins behind the 21-year-old and will lead Mercedes’ charge ahead of Valtteri Bottas, along with also the Silver Arrows are confident considering than they ever expected F1’s fastest track, they have been nearer.
«I really like that it is that close and it is not several tenths,» explained Hamilton, just 0.039s away Leclerc on Saturday.
With Hamilton the victor mercedes have won the past five races at Monza. Before hunting down team-mate Kimi Raikkonen’s after Ferrari’s qualifying one-two last year, he passed Vettel on the very first lap.
He is in an even better position in 2019.
«I definitely believe we could keep up with them,» added the championship leader, that will try to expand his 65-point advantage. «Whether we can close the gap and then overtake them, time will tell.
«I have to be grateful that I am on the front row. We get to have a fight with the Ferraris, which is fine. We’ve split themas a group it is a great position for us to maintain.»
Leclerc stated:»It’s going to be very, very hard because, to begin with, they’re quick, secondly, slipstream and DRS are extremely important here. For sure it’s going to be rather difficult to maintain them behind, although I think that the race pace is quite good in Spa.
«I think a very good beginning from myself and also from Seb will probably be quite crucial for the good outcome.» .
Sky F1’s Paul Di Resta is excited by the possibility of Leclerc vs Hamilton back again.
«It is box office,» said Di Resta. «Ferrari on pole gets the crowd going. Charles has been embraced by them.
«Lewis has to do some overtaking to acquire this race, as he did last year. Tricky conditions, it ought to be good.»
Vettel, without a victory in over a year, will begin ahead of the Renaults following their brilliant with Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. The fourth row is shared by carlos Sainz and Red Bull’s Alex Albon.
And keep an eye out for an Max Verstappen series, with the Dutchman behind Pierre Gasly who also have engine penalties along with Lando Norris.
Italian GP Provisional Grid
1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
4) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
5) Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
6) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault
7) Carlos Sainz,» McLaren
8) Alex Albon, Red Bull
9) Lance Stroll, swaying Point
10) Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
11) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
12) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
13) Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso
14) Romain Grosjean, Haas
15) Sergio Perez, Racing Point
16) George Russell, Williams
17) Sergey Sirotkin, Williams
18) Lando Norris, McLaren
19) Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso
20) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
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