Hamilton determined to have last laugh at Italian Grand Prix

02 September 2017 05:54

Lewis Hamilton has promised to wipe the smile off rival Sebastian Vettel's face as he steps behind enemy lines for the Italian Grand Prix.

Hamilton would take the lead in this season's Formula One championship for the first time with victory at the home of the Tifosi after moving to within seven points of Vettel.

The Englishman has been in an unforgiving mood since the sport's summer break, following up his brilliant victory at Spa-Francorchamps with the fastest time in opening practice on Friday.

And although he was pipped to the top of the time sheets by Valtteri Bottas in the day's second running here at Monza, Hamilton will start as favourite to seal his fourth consecutive pole position.

Such an accomplishment would see him stand alone as the sport's all-time record pole-setter after matching Michael Schumacher's tally of 68 in Belgium last weekend.

But of more pressing concern for Hamilton is that of dealing a psychological blow in Vettel's direction at his Ferrari team's home race.

"This weekend the ultimate goal is obviously to win, and to put a dent in that lead that he's had all season,'' Hamilton said. "He's had that smile on his face all year long, being that he's had that title lead. So I'm looking forward to turning that upside down.''

Hamilton has spoken of his desire to race for Ferrari in the past, but he will seemingly have to wait before he gets the chance to don the famous red overalls after Vettel committed his long-term future to the Italian team.

"I have in the past felt that I was in the enemy's back garden in Monza,'' Hamilton, 32, said. "But I would say that for the last four or five years I've had such a great welcome here, even from the Ferrari fans.

"Every time I come I feel at home. I love it here. When you turn up and see the fans at the gate, there's a lot of Ferrari fans there but at least 50 per cent of them say 'Forza Ferrari, come to Ferrari'. It's a compliment."

For Vettel, he is bidding to become the first Ferrari driver to win in Monza since Fernando Alonso, now of McLaren, triumphed back in 2010.

"To be honest, I was not aware of that," Vettel said. "In the team it is no topic at all. We are looking forward and not backwards.

"You hear left and right that you have to win, and if you do win here you are the hero. I don't feel that. I would say everything that is positive around the Monza weekend is fantastic.

"It is something very special to be here, to wear red, and for me even more to drive the car."

Source: PA