The seven-time world champion was shuffled down to sixth heading into Turn 1 after a poor getaway from second on the grid in Saturday afternoon’s sprint qualifying race.

It was reminiscent of his botched start at Monza in 2016 when he was swallowed up by the field and dropped to sixth from pole position.

Hamilton gained a position when Pierre Gasly crashed out on the first lap with damage to his AlphaTauri but the Briton was unable to make any further progress as he finished a frustrating fifth.

Hamilton suffered wheelspin off the line and admitted his woeful start was caused by a “subtle” mistake he made with his clutch.

“The start was just broke away traction,” Hamilton explained. “Subtle, like two millimetres too deep with the clutch paddle and wheelspin – that’s it.”

Hamilton, who will start the Italian GP from fourth after teammate Valtteri Bottas’ grid penalty for taking a new power unit is applied, apologised to Mercedes for his error over team radio.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff conceded the poor start has put Hamilton in a difficult position heading into Sunday’s race, after main rival Max Verstappen extended his championship advantage to five points with second place behind Bottas.

“Between hero and zero on a start, there’s such a fine margin,” he said.

“Having too much wheelspin happens, to be honest, and that bit us hard today. But there’s everything to play tomorrow.”

Hamilton spent 14 laps stuck behind McLaren’s Norris on his way to fifth but insisted he was not holding back in their battle.

“I was being aggressive as I could be,” Hamilton added. “I just couldn’t [pass].

“The McLarens are the quickest on the straights and I just couldn’t get close enough to then capitalise on a straight line. They were just as fast in the straights, if not faster.”

And Hamilton, who has not won since the British Grand Prix in July, admitted his chances of securing his 100th F1 victory in Italy is now “highly unlikely”.

“It is highly unlikely but not impossible that we could get the win,” he said.

“It’s damage limitation at the moment so it generally should be a relatively easy race for Max unless I can get past the two McLarens early on and then challenge.”