Round 14 of the Formula One World Championship comes from the high speed circuit of Monza and the Italian Grand Prix. This is Ferrari’s home race and they arrive in the ascendancy after Vettel cruised to victory in Belgium, and in the process cut Lewis Hamilton’s championship lead to 17-points. The last time the Tifosi saw their team achieve a home win was back in 2010, when Fernando Alonso held off Jenson Button for the win. Judging by superior power upgrade Ferrari brought to Spa, Sunday could see Vettel and Ferrari take the chequered flag for the first time in eight years at Monza. Check out our preview and predictions to this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
Mercedes Petronas 2018 Belgian Grand Prix F1 Debrief
What Happened at the Belgian Grand Prix
Both Mercedes and Ferrari came with upgrades to their power units, athough it was Ferrari that showcased the superior pace in free practice with Vettel and Raikkonen dominating the times. Coming into Q3 it looked like Ferrari could very well lock out the front of the grid until a shower hit right at the beginning of the session.
Hamilton capitalized to secure a record fifth pole position at Spa ahead of Vettel, with the Force India’s of Ocon and Perez coming home third and fourth respectively.
The start of the race delivered a heart stopping moment of drama after Nico Hulkenburg lost control of his Renault on the first corner, sending Fernando Alonso’s McLaren airborne and up and over Charles Leclerc’s Sauber.
End of the race in the 1st corner. Frustrating.
Never been a fan of the halo but I have to say that I was very happy to have it over my head today !
📷: @f1gregoryheirman / @fotoformulak pic.twitter.com/QILqoVtjVh
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) August 26, 2018
Thankfully all three drivers emerged unscathed, although none of them would play any further part in the race, not the best send-off for Alonso in his final race at the iconic circuit.
Hamilton managed to hold onto the lead until the first corner of La Source, however Vettel applied pressure on the Mercedes up towards Eau Rouge and then onto the Kemmel Straight before taking to the outside and the lead into Les Combes, just before the Safety Car was activated for the Alonso crash.
The straight line speed of the Ferrari was clear to see as Vettel pulled away from Hamilton to go on and win by almost 12-seconds, his first victory at Spa since 2013.
Hamilton and Mercedes are clearly worried about the significant upgrade to Ferrari’s power unit, the defending champion highlighting the fact that he was simply not able to achieve the times of his rival.
Max Verstappen managed to secure the final podium spot ahead of Bottas who gave it everything to steer his Mercedes home from 17th place. A result that was crucial in keeping the Silver Arrows five points clear of their rivals Ferrari in the Constructors battle.
Force India had an outstanding weekend. After all of their financial issues which almost saw the team fold, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon came home fifth and sixth respectively in arguably the team performance of the weekend.
— Racing Point Force India F1 (@ForceIndiaF1) August 26, 2018
About Autodromo Nazionale Monza
Monza is one of the longest running events on the Formula One calendar. Since 1950 the Italian Grand Prix has been held at the circuit every year except in 1980.
The drivers head straight into the first obstacle which is the Varianye del Rettifilo, featuring a sharp right-hander and an even sharper left with practically no room to manoeuvre.
A sound exit is needed out of Turn 2 as the cars look to pick up as much speed as possible ahead of the Curva Biassono (Turn 3) with the entry into Roggia (Turn 4) the first overtaking opportunity.
The left-right leads onto a double right-hander Lesmo which can be attacked at high speed all the way through to the first DRS zone at Serraglio
A left-right follows at Variante Ascari before the cars are thrown into the final corner following another long straight. Parabolica (Turn 11) is the corner that the drivers love to attack before making their way back to the start/finish straight.
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What To Expect At Monza?
One thing you can guarantee this weekend is that the Tifosi will be out in force, creating a sea of red around the circuit. They will be particularly optimistic this year after the performance of Vettel, especially after seeing the Ferrari destroy the Mercedes last weekend in Spa.
Scuderia demonstrated a power upgrade that simply left Mercedes standing still, and on a circuit that has a standout characteristic of speed, a first home win in eight years looks very likely.
The weather is expected to be at least ten degrees warmer than Spa, although I am getting a sense of déjà vu as we could very well see a wet Q3 on Saturday, followed by a dry race day on Sunday.
Mercedes have a particularly good record at Monza in recent years, winning the last four races, Hamilton himself having taken the chequered flag on four occasions.
Vettel has tasted success on three-occasions at the Italian rand Prix, although if he can secure victory this weekend it will unquestionably be his most satisfying as his previous wins were all with Red Bull.
DRIVER STANDINGS: 8 RACES TO GO
Battle at the top 🏆
Battle between two Finns 🇫🇮
Battle between the Red Bulls 👥
Battle for P7 ❓
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 26, 2018
Italian Grand Prix Predictions
The Italian Grand Prix appears a forgone conclusion. Ferrari’s power unit is significantly better than Mercedes and barring a miracle development coming over from Brackley this week, and of course if Ferrari can stay clear of any unreliability issues, then expect to see the Tifosi celebrating a home win for the first time since 2010.
With the weather report suggesting there could be some chance of rain around Q3, then perhaps you could look at Hamilton securing pole position at 9/4, other than that I would be backing Vettel at Evs to register the home win, with teammate Raikkonen available at 9/2.
That said, write Mercedes and Hamilton off at your peril with the defending champion at 15/8 to register a fifth win in Italy.