Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has predicted an "easy win" for Red Bull rival Max Verstappen in the Italian Grand Prix as the two title challengers experienced contrasting Sprint Qualifying races at Monza.
Hamilton started second to teammate Valtteri Bottas in the Sprint but was swamped at the first chicane and dropped behind the McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, with Verstappen jumping up to second.
With the positions remaining unchanged for the remainder of the 18-lap race, Hamilton now trails Verstappen by five points in the standings and fears further damage will be inflicted on Sunday.
Verstappen will start the main event from pole position after Bottas' engine penalties are applied.
"You saw the pace of the Red Bull. I don't know if he [Verstappen] was quicker than Valtteri but they're [Red Bull] so fast, and now he's on pole, so it should be an easy win for him," Hamilton told Sky Sports after the Sprint race.
He added: "We've got to try and figure out how we can get by the two McLarens tomorrow and try to limit the damage."
Hamilton also made a point about the rate at which Red Bull have been applying to their car throughout the season, after the Milton Keynes-based outfit played down their chances at Monza.
"I think they've got more pace than you think they've got... than they've had all year," said Hamilton.
"They bring upgrades every week. From what I'm told, there's only one race they haven't brought an upgrade [to]. They're constantly adding performance to the car and they did a great job."
Video: The secrets of the historic Monza circuit
Follow Rudy van Buren as he takes you on a flying lap around the home of Italian motorsport, the historic 'Temple of Speed' at Monza.