Lewis Hamilton surprised by Mercedes' narrow deficit to Ferrari

Lewis Hamilton at the Italian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton revealed his surprise at Mercedes’ pace during practice for Formula 1’s Italian Grand Prix, having expected to face a bigger margin to Ferrari.

Ferrari has held a power advantage this season and controlled proceedings in Belgium last weekend, with its SF90 significantly faster through the first and third sectors.

Hamilton had been braced for Ferrari to streak clear at Monza but on Friday he trailed Charles Leclerc by just 0.068s.

“They’re quite quick in a straight line, we’re quite strong I think on race pace,” said Hamilton.

“But actually perhaps a little bit closer on single lap pace. It looks like we’re going to have a fight.

“It definitely is surprising. I didn’t know what to expect this weekend.

“I expected them to be quick on the straight, which they are, but there’s enough corners where we’re able to gain it back. They’re not really that quick through the corners, so it kind of balances us out.

Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas placed fourth in the sister W10.

“We knew coming here they were going to be strong, but for sure it didn’t look any worse than Spa for us,” said Bottas on Mercedes’ predicament.

“For sure we have a good chance this weekend and if qualifying is for sure going to be important, But the main thing is Sunday and how the race pace is going to be.”