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Hamilton buoyant as late Monza Q3 gamble pays off, delivers record pole

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Lewis Hamilton made no secret of his happiness after a late gamble in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix delivered him a record-breaking 69th Formula 1 pole position at Monza on Saturday.

Hamilton opted to abandon his second-to-last lap in Q3 in order to set himself up for a final flyer when track conditions would theoretically be better, albeit acting as his final shot to beat pace-setter Max Verstappen.

Hamilton delivered a stunning final lap to go 1.1 seconds quicker than Verstappen, securing the 69th pole of his career in style, moving clear of Michael Schumacher to hold the outright record for poles in F1.

“It’s very hard to find the words to explain how I feel, I’m trying to figure it all out. It probably won’t sink in for a long time,” Hamilton said.

“It was an epic day, I feel truly blessed. The Red Bulls really made me work hard for the pole today, which I’m grateful for.

“The weather has obviously been incredibly tricky for us all. What a day to come here in this beautiful country with the English weather and to be massively challenged. It was very difficult to see out there, and very easy to make mistakes – as always in the rain.

“The second to last lap was OK at the beginning, but then I backed out of it, hoping that I’d get one more lap. There was a lot of pressure for that last lap. There could have been a red flag, there could have been a yellow flag. There was a lot of risk, but I gave it everything.

“A big thank you to my team for making it all possible, the guys here, the guys back at the factory for continuing to support me.

“We’ve got a lot of the sponsors here from Mercedes-Benz and Petronas who have been sponsoring and supporting me for a long, long time, so I’m really grateful for that.”

The Italian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Pirelli reveals new super-hard, hyper-soft F1 tires in Abu Dhabi

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Pirelli has confirmed it will add two new tires to its range for the 2018 Formula 1 season, launching the ‘super-hard’ and ‘hyper-soft’ compounds in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Pirelli currently makes three of its five dry compounds available to teams for each race weekend, and despite varying selections across the course of the season has struggled to offer much in terms of strategy options, with one-stop races being the norm.

The hope is that the addition of two new tire compounds and a re-alignment of their durability will offer teams more choices in races.

Pirelli confirmed plans to introduce a new softest tire below the current ultra-soft earlier this month, inviting fans to pick a name.

The pink-colored compound will be known as the ‘hyper-soft’ from next year, with the arrival of a new ‘super-hard’ (colored ‘ice blue’) also being confirmed at a launch event in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

“Compared to this year, when the tires grew by 25% to fit a brand-new generation of cars, the changes for next year are less far-reaching,” Pirelli head of car racing Mario Isola said.

“However, we’re pleased to present some important innovations with softer and faster compounds across the range: including the new hypersoft.

“We realized that, under the unique circumstances of this year, some of our 2017 compounds were perhaps conservative: the tires we have created for 2018 addresses this, in line with the objective of having around two pit stops at most races.

“However, the fundamental design concept of the tires hasn’t changed next year, preserving the attributes that all drivers have appreciated this year and allowing them to push hard from the start to the finish of each stint.

“The new range consists of faster tires that should lead to even harder and more spectacular racing in 2018.”

Besides the seven dry compounds made available, there will be the two rain tires – wet and intermediate – taking it to a total of nine for the 2018 season.