Italian Grand Prix Preview: The Magic of Monza6 min read
Formula One heads to the oldest race on the calendar this weekend, the Italian Grand Prix. After dominating last weekend in Belgium, Sebastian Vettel is understandably the odds-on favourite to deliver again in Monza.
Vettel may well have gone into the summer break feeling that his hopes of a fifth world championship title were slipping away. Just one race in after the break though, all seems to have changed. Hamilton seemed to have no answer for the Ferrari on the power dependent circuit of Spa. Monza is similarly power dependent and then we head to Singapore, a circuit that has not suited the Mercedes in recent years. Make now doubts, Vettel is back in the title hunt… in fact, despite what the points table may tell you, he’s actually in the driving seat.
Hamilton to equal Schumacher?
Lewis Hamilton can equal Michael Schumacher’s record of five wins at Monza if he is victorious this weekend. Hamilton has won four times in the last six Italian Grand Prix, however making it five looks like an uphill task.
Hamilton’s qualifying record at Monza is also impressive. He’s taken pole on five of the last six occasions and each of the last four. The Mercedes ‘Party Mode’ goes a long way in qualifying, but, despite having taken pole last time out also, I find it difficult to conceive anything other than a Rosso Corsa coloured car taking the Italian Grand Prix pole position.
Italian Grand Prix delight for the Tifosi
Anyone that is backing against Sebastian Vettel this weekend is a braver man than me. The Ferrari has looked far superior to the Mercedes for a while now and this was clearly for all to see in Belgium. With such a short turn-around between races it’s difficult to see any meaningful gains from their opponents that could bridge that gap. Not to mention that a Ferrari driver has topped the podium 18 times at Monza, more than any other team.
Sebastian Vettel has previously won at Monza for both Toro Rosso and Red Bull. Should Vettel take victory at Monza, he will become only the second driver ever to win there for three different teams. The only driver to manage this feat previously was Sir Stirling Moss who won the Italian Grand Prix for Maserati, Cooper and Vanwall.
Grabbing pole could be key, with the race having been won from pole 10 times in the last 13 years. As previously mentioned I think it will be a Ferrari leading off the pack on Sunday and that will likely be driven by a German.
Kimi Raikkonen’s last win in F1 was Australia 2013. That’s 107 races since his last win! Should Ferrari be put in a position where Kimi is ‘taking points’ away from Vettel, they will ask him to move aside to let Vettel take the maximum points haul possible.
But, all is not lost for Kimi as he could take his 100th career podium this weekend. Raikkonen’s early exit in Belgium ended a run of five successive podium places, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he’ll get his century this weekend.
What of Red Bull?
Red Bull have been suffering with an unreliable and underpowered Renault engine for quite some time. Having an underpowered power unit in Monza is not likely to bear any results. Luckily for Daniel Riccardo and Max Verstappen there should be a new Renault engine being delivered just in time for this weekend’s race. This will mean that they are able to run the new specification MGU-K, the reported cause of many of the reliability issues the team have been facing.
Unfortunately there is likely to be some grid penalties having to be taken to ensure that the new installation performs to the best of it’s ability. Also, let’s be honest, it’s best to take the pain all in one hit, rather than ruining multiple race weekends. With this in mind, I’d advise swerving the Red Bull pair when betting this weekend.
This week’s tips…
Generally, I like to offer a selection of tips to keep you interested throughout the week, but this week it must be a little different. I truly believe that this weekend will be the Sebastian Vettel show, but I also fancy Raikkonen to make the podium. Sadly, due to outright price of the Ferrari, there’s little value to be had in backing the Finn to make the podium. I’m backing one thing and one thing only:
Sebastian Vettel to win the Italian Grand Prix at