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Is an historic win on the cards for Verstappen? How will Lawson fare at AlphaTauri? And could Williams be surprisingly strong at Monza? Here’s what to watch out for and who to back at the 2023 Italian Grand Prix.


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There are few circuits in Formula 1 as evocative and historic as Monza. The legendary venue near Milan, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, has appeared on the calendar in every single season except one. Trackside, the passionate Tifosi bring the unique atmosphere each year, regardless of how Ferrari are faring in the championship.

Monza could be home to another historic moment in 2023 or, like in 1988, it could bring an end to one of the most dominant periods in Formula 1 history. Either way, the so-called ‘Temple Of Speed’ is sure to deliver an exciting on track weekend.


Will Verstappen overcome the Monza curse?


This weekend, Max Verstappen is looking to do what no driver has done before him: take a tenth consecutive Formula 1 victory. Winning from pole at his home race last weekend, Verstappen equalled Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine victories in a row. Now, at Monza, he’s hoping to go one better.

Verstappen – who is also on the cusp of setting a new record for the largest ever championship lead – has been truly dominant so far in 2023. The Dutchman has previous winning experience at Monza, having taken his first Italian Grand Prix victory last year.

To win the race, Verstappen must first overcome the ‘Monza Curse’. In 2019, Charles Leclerc won the Italian Grand Prix. The following year he crashed out of the race. In 2020, Pierre Gasly won the Italian Grand Prix. The following year he too failed to finish. In 2021, Daniel Ricciardo won the Italian Grand Prix. And in 2022 – you guessed it – he failed to reach the chequered flag. Verstappen will be hoping that the curse doesn’t strike four years in a row!


Liam Lawson’s first full F1 weekend


Last week, I pondered how much Daniel Ricciardo’s presence at AlphaTauri would help the team to kickstart their season.

The team have picked up only three points this year and sit last in the Constructors’ Championship, so the last thing they needed in 2023 was any more bad luck.
Unfortunately, that’s what they experienced on Friday at the Dutch Grand Prix, when a crash for Ricciardo saw him break a bone in his hand.

The Australian, who had made his comeback just two races ago, now faces another month on the sidelines as he recovers. In the meantime, Liam Lawson will take his seat. Lawson impressed on debut last weekend, where he finished ahead of team-mate Yuki Tsunoda in the race. Lawson’s performance is doubly impressive when you consider that he had just one hour of practice before the competitive action began in challenging changing conditions. It will be very interesting to see how the New Zealander performs this weekend, when he has the opportunity to spend a full weekend in dry conditions in the car.

AlphaTauri’s home race is the only one at which they have won in Formula 1 – and they’ve done so twice: with Sebastian Vettel in 2008 and Pierre Gasly in 2020. Nobody is expecting anything near a win for Lawson this weekend, but a point or two would be a solid result. Lawson is 9/1 to finish in the top ten at the 2023 Italian Grand Prix.

An exciting qualifying hour


Saturday afternoon could be one of the most exciting qualifying hours of the 2023 season. Qualifying at the Italian Grand Prix is almost always a fast and furious affair, for a variety of reasons.

Traffic can be a big issue at Monza. The traffic is caused by cars queuing up towards the end of their outlaps in order to get a slipstream from the car ahead during their fast laps. It had led to farcical situations in the past, like most of the cars missing the chequered flag and not being able to set a lap time at the end of Q3 back in 2019. Those who time their slipstreaming correctly could gain a few positions on the grid.

To add to the excitement this year, F1 is trialling the ‘Alternative Tyre Allocation’ for the second time. It means that all drivers must use only the hard compound tyres in Q1, the medium compound in Q2 and the soft compound in Q3. The result when it was first trialled – at the Hungarian Grand Prix – was a pole position for Lewis Hamilton and a mixed up grid behind him. Could we see something similar at the Italian Grand Prix?

Another milestone weekend for Alonso

Fernando Alonso is proving that age really is just a number in Formula 1. The 42 year old returned to the podium at Zandvoort, finishing as runner-up and recording his seventh top three finish of the year. His podium appearance made him the driver with the longest gap between first and last career podiums in Formula 1, with an impressive gap of 20 years and 5 months since his first top three appearance back in 2003.

This weekend, if he reaches Lap 51 of the 2023 Italian Grand Prix, the experienced Spaniard will become the first driver in history to have raced 20,000 Grand Prix laps in F1. Making the end of the race is no guarantee, as Alonso knows only too well. From his last seven Monza appearances, he has retired on no fewer than five occasions.

Before that unlucky spell, however, Alonso recorded four consecutive podiums at the Italian Grand Prix between 2010 and 2013. He’d surely like to take a trip to the iconic Monza podium for the first time in a decade this weekend.

Williams’ big opportunity to shine?

Williams could be the surprise package at the 2023 Italian Grand Prix. The Monza circuit suits the strengths of the team’s car. Last weekend, on a track which the team did not expect to suit them, Alex Albon was able to qualify in the top four and pick up points, while Logan Sargeant was able to reach Q3 for the first time in his Formula 1 career.

Albon was denied a chance to race at Monza last year, when appendicitis saw him ruled out of the Grand Prix. He handed his car over to Nyck de Vries, who was able to pick up points on debut. What is the Williams capable of in the hands of Albon? We’ll find out this weekend.

Points are a definite possibility, even the target, for Williams this weekend. How about dreaming bigger and going for a podium result? Albon is 18/1 for a top three finish, or 125/1 for a magical Monza win. The latter is unlikely, but stranger things have happened at the Temple of Speed!

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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