Despite being beaten by his Scuderia Ferrari rivals, Lewis Hamilton was left thrilled by the 2018 Italian Grand Prix‘s exhilarating qualifying session.
Hamilton was embroiled in a session-long fight with title rival Sebastian Vettel and the other Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen for pole-position at Monza. In the final Q3 segment, Hamilton had bested both scarlet cars with the fastest F1 lap of all time, beating a fourteen year-old record held by Juan Pablo Montoya.
In the dying seconds however, Vettel eclipsed Hamilton’s time by just fourteen hundredths-of-a-second. Hamilton was demoted further when Räikkönen finally settled the battle with a lap almost two tenths-of-a-second quicker than Hamilton’s, leaving the championship leader third on Sunday’s grid.
“That was an exciting qualifying session!” said Hamilton. “We’ve improved the car overnight and I’m really happy with where we were today. I’m really proud of my guys for pushing this hard – we’ve squeezed absolutely everything out of the car today.
“Going into the second run of Q3, I kind of knew that the Ferraris might just be able to pull out some extra bit of time, but I think second place might have been possible today.
“I lost maybe half a tenth in the last corner and that’s the difference between third and second.”
Hamilton now looks to take the fight to the Ferraris in front of their home crowd during a 53-lap race in which he is looking to “really apply the pressure.”
“We’ve got to fight hard tomorrow. The long run pace of the Ferraris looked quicker than ours, so it’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure.
“The start will hopefully create an opportunity for us. I’ve got to study hard tonight to figure out a way how I can get in front of at least one of the Ferraris on the first lap. It’s great that Valtteri is right behind me, so we can really apply the pressure on the red cars.”