George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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Red Bull boss Christian Horner has sent a subtle warning to Max Verstappen to make sure he avoids a similar incident to that of the British Grand Prix, which saw the Dutchman start on pole after winning sprint qualifying, only to be taken out at turn one by championship rival Lewis Hamilton.
In a scenario not too dissimilar to the Silverstone weekend, Verstappen starts on pole for the main event on Sunday, despite not actually winning the sprint race after inheriting pole position from Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton meanwhile starts from fourth position after a poor start on Saturday and will have two McLarens to contend with before he can even bring the fight to the championship leader at the front.
Expecting a battle from the Mercedes of Hamilton, Horner weighed up the risks of a fierce battle in Monza.
“You get into that risk and reward scenarios – of course, he’s going to fight for the win,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.
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“That’s his instinct but you know at the end of the day you got to be there for the chequered flag – we saw the consequences of that at Silverstone, and we certainly don’t want a repeat of that following the sprint race.
“Of course,the objective is to try and convert pole position into a victory but I think there’s gonna be some challenges tomorrow.
Verstappen has picked up Red Bull’s first pole position at Monza in the hybrid era, and with it extended his lead at the top of the table to five points over Lewis Hamilton.
“It was all dictated at the start,” added Horner.
“A great start from Max, a poor start from Lewis. We were able to capitalise on that.
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“The fast-starting McLaren’s on the softs, we were vulnerable to them at the start but we were able to cover it off. We got a good start, Lewis got bogged down. Once you’re through turn two, you’re away at that point.
“You know the soft tyre is worth about four metres, if they’re on the front row with a soft tyre, well why wouldn’t they.
“Mercedes will have the same dilemma.”
Verstappen meanwhile was delighted with their performance, but did raise concerns surrounding Mercedes’ pace, despite one starting from the back of the grid.
“The race went a little bit better than expected – I mean, we’re a good start so we got up to second and we have scored some nice little points and of course starting on pole for tomorrow.
“Nevertheless, I mean they [Mercedes] still seem very quick but I was giving it all you know to try and stay close so it’s gonna be an interesting battle tomorrow.”
McLaren finished ahead of Hamilton, being promoted to second and third on the grid ahead of Sunday’s race, splitting the two title protagonists.
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