George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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Lewis Hamilton has praised US Open champion Emma Raducanu, who ended Britain’s 44-year wait for a women’s Grand Slam singles title, as she beat Leylah Fernandez to win the US Open on Saturday night. The 18-year-old took a 6-4 6-3 win over her 19-year-old Canadian opponent as the world watched a star being born in New York.
The tennis sensation became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam and did it without dropping a set in thrilling style.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton took to Twitter to wish her luck on Saturday morning, and speaking ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, followed it up with glowing praise for the 18-year-old.
“It was just incredible to see her rise, the focus that she has, the sheer determination she has. She’s obviously such a sweet person as well, the UK has something really to be proud of, and I’m super proud of her, I can’t wait to see what she does next.”
Hamilton starts from fourth on the grid in Monza, with main title rival and championship leader Max Verstappen inheriting pole position during sprint qualifying.
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Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas stormed to victory during Saturday’s session, but due to engine penalties, will start at the back of the grid for Sunday’s main event.
Despite the set-back however, Hamilton said he hopes to “do the country proud,” much like Raducanu did in New York.
“You can take inspiration from anyone, and she is definitely an inspiring figure so, today I will try and do the country proud as she did, it’s a little bit of a tough order, but she showed that everything is possible.”
Hamilton’s fourth-place start means the 36-year-old will have two McLarens to contend with before he can even bring the fight to the championship leader at the front.
Hamilton added: “I was being as aggressive as I could be. McLaren is the quickest on the straights and I just couldn’t get close enough to capitalise. They were just as fast on the straight, if not faster.
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“So at the start, it just broke away on traction.
“[It was] subtle, like two millimetres too deep with the clutch pedal and… wheel spin.”
Verstappen meanwhile did raise concerns about the seven-time world champions, despite one of them starting from the back of the grid.
Reflecting on the sprint, the Dutchman said: “The race, a little bit better than expected – I mean, we’re a good start so we got up to second and we 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.
However, Verstappen felt Red Bull had put themselves in a strong position.
“I have to say we did trim our car, you know, to have decent top speeds, so I’m not too worried about our top speed in the race,” added Verstappen.
“Of course we also know that Mercedes have a very good pace also you know, over the whole lap. But nevertheless, you know, We’re gonna try and have a good race tomorrow.”
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