Lewis Hamilton believes qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix acted as a great advert for Formula 1 following a thrilling three-way scrap for pole position.

Hamilton sat on provisional pole heading into the final runs of Q3 but ended up being outpaced by the Ferrari duo, as Sebastian Vettel and then Kimi Raikkonen both went quicker with the Finn securing his first pole of the 2018 season thanks to a brilliant last-gasp effort.

The Briton did improve on his second run but ultimately finished third-quickest, just 0.014s behind title rival Vettel and 0.175s adrift of Raikkonen. Hamilton, who holds a 17-point advantage over Vettel, praised the close competition between Ferrari and Mercedes at Monza.

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“It was a fantastic qualifying session and congratulations to Kimi,” Hamilton said. “We gave it everything we could. It’s obviously incredibly close between us but they’ve had the upper hand all weekend. We’ll give more tomorrow.

“Of course, we were hopeful that we might be able to give them a run for their money which, obviously the first qualifying lap was pretty good – but the second one could always be better.

“It was just amazing how intense it was – and that’s how racing should be. So, I really enjoyed it thoroughly, to be honest. The close competition I think is great for the sport,” he added.

“It’s pushing us all, I’m sure within their team and with our team it’s pushing us to limits that we didn’t even know we could go to – so, that’s what the sport is about.”

Hamilton was often seen running slightly wide on the exit of the Variante della Roggia chicane and said he was pushing his W09 to its absolute limits in a bid to score a fifth successive pole in Italy.

“I am putting it to the edge but of course the car’s actually been feeling really good this weekend,” Hamilton explained.

“Most of our time is lost on the straights, if not all our time, generally. I can’t really explain why that is but there are areas that we lose on the straights and that has been different.”

Hamilton said gaining a strong tow from the car ahead played a crucial role in qualifying but believes he extracted the maximum from his Q3 effort.

“We’ve all been in tows during that session so I will have to look at the lap. Sebastian was just behind me so he had a good tow from me.

“I had a good tow from Valtteri and it obviously cascaded down. Here the tow effect is huge for everyone and getting the gap right is important. But at the end of the day Kimi did the job. I don’t think I could have gone any quicker.

“I’m sure you can always look at the data and see there’s a little bit more but of course I’m pushing the car as hard as I can and I’m really happy with the performance, really, this weekend. We just need that little bit more.”

Valtteri Bottas has struggled to match Hamilton’s pace all weekend and ended up fourth, 0.362s slower than his teammate.

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