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No sign of the party ending for F1 champions Mercedes

(Reuters) - Formula One had declared the party over, at least for engine modes, but Mercedes and six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton danced on anyway at Monza on Saturday.

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‘No party. No problem,” they declared on their Twitter feed after the Briton took pole position for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix with the fastest lap ever.

A technical directive issued by the governing FIA had made it the first race where teams had to use the same modes in qualifying and the race.

If rivals Red Bull had hoped Mercedes -- chasing a seventh successive title double this season -- would be reined in, after taking every pole this year, they were destined for disappointment.

“The car felt good. The engine felt good... it should be even better in the race. So, I’m not sure how happy Red Bull is now with this engine change,” said Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said his team just adapted to whatever was thrown at them.

“Once it was clear that the lobby against our quali mode had grown... we shifted our development work towards that situation,” said the Austrian.

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“Today we have seen for the first time how the level of performance has changed between the teams and there are some interesting outcomes. Maybe the ones that pushed the hardest didn’t show great performance today.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Hamilton’s closest championship challenger but 47 points behind, qualified fifth.

Renault’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo said he liked Mercedes’ feisty response.

“I never expected it to change the pecking order,” he said of the directive.

“I don’t know where the change was driven from, if a team drove it... or if they (the FIA) just did it thinking something would change, sending a bit of a ‘Hail Mary’.

“I guess Mercedes are in a position to be a little bit arrogant with some of those comments... I like that they are kind of dishing it back. It’s fun.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar