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Dutch GP: Lewis Hamilton optimistic over Zandvoort chances as Max Verstappen dismisses Mercedes chal

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Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes could be in a ‘good place’ for Sunday’s Dutch GP

Lewis Hamilton says he could be in a “good place” to challenge for victory at Sunday’s Dutch GP, but pole-sitter Max Verstappen insists he is not concerned by Mercedes’ pace.

Hamilton will start fourth in Zandvoort after a final-corner crash by Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez denied both Mercedes drivers the chance to complete their final flying lap attempts at full speed.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff insisted Hamilton had been on course to beat Verstappen – along with Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz – to pole, while Hamilton said he had “definitely” been in the fight for a front-row start.

Despite having been off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari all season, Mercedes have generally had greater relative speed on race day than in qualifying, leading to hope that the fact they were so close in qualifying on this occasion means Hamilton will be able to mount a challenge on Sunday.

“We’re close and I hope that we can fight these guys in the race,” said Hamilton, who is looking for his first victory of the season

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Max Verstappen pips Charles Leclerc to take pole position at his home grand prix, while Sergio Perez spins out during qualifying of the Dutch GP

“It’s a difficult race to overtake as we’ve seen in the past, but we’ve got nothing to lose, we’ve got to give it everything.

"If our single lap to race pace delta that we normally have transfers over, then we could be in a good place, and then it’s down to the strategy and those sorts of things.

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was left frustrated following Perez’s late spin in Q3, which he believes could have denied Hamilton pole

"I don’t think it’s going to be overtaking on track necessarily, but I’m just going to keep my hopes up and we’ll see what I do.”

After securing pole Verstappen, who goes into the race with a 93-point world championship lead, appeared to dismiss Mercedes’ hopes, simply replying “no” when asked if he was concerned by their pace.

Ferrari duo plan to work together

To get to Verstappen, Hamilton will first need to overcome the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz, who have expressed their intent to work together to put pressure on the Dutchman.

“I think our race pace looks quite strong,” said Leclerc, who has managed just one podium finish in the last nine races.

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Ferrari’s Leclerc is confident of challenging Verstappen in Sunday’s race

“It’s going to be close with Red Bull but we just need to do a great start and then we’ll see.

"The easy way would be a great start, P1 in Turn 1, and then leave Max behind, but if that doesn’t happen, Carlos and I are in the front, so let’s see what we can do there.

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"I think you always try to work together whenever you are in this position.”

Sainz, who like Leclerc was within a tenth of Verstappen’s leading time in qualifying, echoed his team-mates sentiment.

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Sainz felt Verstappen deserved pole but is confident they can make his life difficult in the race

“I think it’s going to be an interesting day,” the Spaniard said. “There’s going to be a lot going on, even if it’s a difficult track to overtake, there’s still going to be many options with strategies.

"I think we can pretty much work together. We can play around with strategy.

"It is also true that Max has a set of new tyres that we don’t have, that gives him a bit of an edge, but even with that I’m pretty sure that we can at least challenge him and make his life a bit difficult.”

Rosberg: Max favourite for very interesting race

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Karun Chandhok analyses Verstappen’s and Leclerc’s qualifying laps as they went head-to-head for pole at the Dutch GP

Sky Sports F1’s Nico Rosberg said Verstappen remains favourite, but is giving Ferrari and Mercedes a chance of upsetting the Dutchman at his home race.

“Still Max has track position so you probably say he has to be the favourite, also he’s just generally on it and in such great form as a driver,” said Rosberg, the 2016 world champion.

“But it’s going to be very interesting because Ferrari are likely to split the strategy, and let’s see if Lewis can play a role there as well.

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Verstappen was surprised at his second home pole in two years after suffering during the practice sessions of the Dutch GP

"If Mercedes find the usual pace improvement from qualifying to race, or even just a fraction of that, Lewis is going to be right in there putting big pressure on. And Lewis is quick in races as we know.

"So I think we’re in for a really really exciting one, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.”

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