Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton have been all set to do battle again as they discuss a”box-office” front row at Sunday’s Italian GP, together with dwelling favourites Ferrari looking to eventually end Mercedes’ Monza dominance.
Leclerc, Ferrari’s brand new superstar who only held off Hamilton one week back in Spa, starts on rod and is going to have the burden of a country on his shoulders since the in-form youthful Monegasque bids to the Scuderia’s first win in front of the enthusiastic’Tifosi’ fans since 2010.
The race begins at 2.10pm on Sky Sports F1, with build-up at 12.30pm.
“Seeing all the fans as crazy as [Saturday] was unbelievable,” Leclerc advised Sky F1 after rolling out a eccentric qualifying session. “I actually expect to see them that way [on Sunday] under the podium.”
But with Sebastian Vettel at the Ferrari, Leclerc is exposed.
Hamilton begins just behind the 21-year-old and will lead Mercedes’ charge ahead of Valtteri Bottas, and also the Silver Arrows are convinced considering they’ve been much closer than they expected F1’s fastest monitor.
“I really like that it’s that close and it is not multiple tenths,” explained Hamilton, just 0.039s off Leclerc on Saturday.
With Hamilton that the victor on each of these occasions mercedes have won the past five races at Monza. This past year, he handed Vettel on the very first lap before hunting following the qualifying one-two of Ferrari down team-mate Kimi Raikkonen’s.
He’s in a much better position in 2019.
“I certainly believe we can keep them up,” added the championship leader, that will try to expand his 65-point benefit. “Whether we can close the gap and overtake them, time will tell.
“I need to be grateful that I am on the front row. We expect to get a fight. We’ve split them, so as a group it’s a excellent place for us to be in.”
Leclerc said:”It is obviously going to be very, very difficult because, to start with, they’re fast, secondly, slipstream and DRS are very important here. I think the race pace is rather good in Spa, but for sure it’s going to be tricky to maintain them .
“I think a very good beginning from myself and also from Seb will probably be very important for the great outcome.” .
The possibility of Leclerc vs Hamilton enthuses the Paul Di Resta of sky F1 back again.
“It has box office,” said Di Resta. “Ferrari on pole gets the crowd going. They’ve embraced Charles.
“Lewis must perform a little overtaking to win this race, as he did this past year. Tricky circumstances, it ought to be good.”
Vettel, without a victory in over a year, will begin with Daniel Ricciardo before Nico Hulkenberg following their brilliant ahead of the Renaults. The fourth row is shared by Red Bull’s and carlos Sainz Alex Albon.
And keep an eye out behind Lando Norris along with Pierre Gasly who also have motor penalties with the Dutchman prepared to do some overtaking as he starts at the back of the grid.
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, swaying 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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