F1 2014 Italian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton has it all to play for…

Hamilton beat Nico Rosberg in Monza qualifying yesterday and stands a great chance of winning today

Lewis Hamilton has done everything right to give himself the best chance of beating teammate Nico Rosberg in today’s Italian Grand Prix.

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In yesterday’s nail-biting qualifying session in Monza, Hamilton topped all three sessions, crucially putting together a smooth run in the all-important final session. For the first time since May, Hamilton had a trouble-free Saturday and gained the upper hand in his championship fight with Rosberg.

A fairly uneventful qualifying session saw Williams’ pair Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa line up on the second row of the grid, ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso once again dragged the most from his under performing package to line up 7th, with teammate Kimi Raikkonen languishing down in 12th after two scruffy laps in the second qualifier.

Red Bull duo Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo finished 8th and 9th, their under powered Renault engine clearly suffering on Monza’s long straights. After his recent run of results, Vettel will be keen to stay ahead of his young teammate in today’s race.

Further down the grid, it was a painful session for the Lotus team with both cars out in Q1 for first time since the season opening Australian Grand Prix in March. Caterham driver Kamui Kobayashi delivered an impressive lap, beating both Marussia cars, a significant feat for his struggling team.

But of course all eyes were on Hamilton and Rosberg and their championship battle as the session reached its climax.

Hamilton delivered a truly impressive lap on his first run, faster than his teammate by some 4 tenths of a second. While Rosberg found more time before the session ended, Hamilton’s first time remained a benchmark, claiming his 36th career pole position, his fifth this season.

At the end, there was a visibly tense atmosphere between Hamilton and Rosberg as they posed for photographers and press. No words were shared between them, nor did they seem able to make eye contact, such is their rivalry.

But whether or not that that will be how they finish the race remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure, we’re all set for a thrilling duel when the lights go out today….

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* The Italian Grand Prix is on BBC1 between 12.10pm and 3.35pm and on BBC Radio 5 live between 12.45pm and 3pm. Highlight will be on BBC3 between 7pm and 8pm.