Lewis Hamilton handed boost for Italian Grand Prix as Max Verstappen penalised

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton’s almost inevitable march to a sixth world championship has been given another boost after it was revealed Max Verstappen will start this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix from the back of the field.

Verstappen is Hamilton’s closest non-Mercedes challenger for the title, 87 points adrift of the Briton.

But just days after he crashed out on the opening lap of the Belgian Grand Prix, it emerged that an engine penalty will demote the Dutchman down the grid for Sunday’s race in Monza.

Red Bull’s engine supplier Honda have introduced a new engine for the 14th round of the campaign, and Verstappen’s former teammate Pierre Gasly, now racing for the junior team Toro Rosso, will also be penalised for taking on the revised power unit.

Hamilton is 65 points clear of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas with just eight rounds remaining. Like Bottas, Verstappen has won twice this season.

Charles Leclerc registered Ferrari’s first win of the campaign in Belgium last time out, and the Italian team are expected to fare well in front of their home supporters this weekend.

Leclerc and teammate Sebastian Vettel will both appear in Thursday’s press conference in Monza to preview the final round of the European season.

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