Mercedes can continue their dominance of the 2015 Formula One season by securing their 10th victory of the year at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix (Race: Sunday, 13:00 BST, live on Sky Sports F1).
Lewis Hamilton was the clear class of the field in Belgium last time out. He qualified on pole position and led home his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to a comfortable one-two in a result that extended his championship lead over Rosberg to a season-high 28 points.
Sebastian Vettel had been running third for Ferrari before a late tyre failure handed the position to Romain Grosjean, who secured both his and Lotus’ first podium finish since the United States Grand Prix of 2013. It is was a difficult weekend all round for Ferrari, with Kimi Raikkonen finishing seventh after starting 16th due to a gearbox change before qualifying.
Daniil Kyvat drove superbly to come through from 12th to finish fourth for Red Bull at a circuit at which they were not expecting to perform well. Sergio Perez ran as high as second in the early stages of the race before eventually bringing his Force India home in fifth for his and the team’s best finish of the year, ahead of the Williams of Felipe Massa (pictured).
Max Verstappen performed a wonderful overtaking manoeuvre on Felipe Nasr en route to finishing eighth for Toro Rosso. Valtteri Bottas came in ninth for Williams after a mix-up at his first pit stop forced him to serve a drive-through penalty, while Marcus Ericsson secured his second straight 10th place finish for Sauber to round out the points-paying positions.
The historic Monza circuit first hosted the Italian Grand Prix back in 1922 and, except for one run at Imola in 1980, has been the venue for the event on a continuous basis since 1949. The modern circuit comprises four straights of varying length separated by three chicanes, a couple of medium-speed corners and the famous Parabolica curve.
In a change from last year’s selection of their medium and hard compound tyres, Pirelli have chosen their soft and medium compounds for this weekend’s event. Weather forecasts suggest that there is a good chance of rain appearing during qualifying on Saturday but that Sunday’s race should be run in warm and sunny conditions.
Mercedes can be expected to take a clean sweep of pole position and the race victory this weekend. Hamilton is the most likely victor, but the team’s dominant form means that the odds on offer for such a double are becoming increasingly uncompetitive as the season goes on. It is therefore difficult for us to recommend backing Hamilton on this market.
Williams have performed below expectations in each of the last two Grand Prix but should provide a strong challenge for a podium finish this weekend at a circuit they are confident will be well-suited to their chassis. They qualified and finished third and fourth at last year’s Italian Grand Prix and have the class-leading Mercedes power unit behind them.
Massa pipped Bottas to third in last year’s race and comes into this year’s event in good form, having finished ahead of his team-mate in each of the last four Grand Prix. The Brazilian driver usually runs well at Monza and can be fancied to secure his second podium finish of the season this weekend.
Force India have shown good pace since introducing their B-Spec car at Silverstone at the start of July and are aiming for a strong points finish this weekend. Perez ran very well to finish fifth in Belgium last time out and there is a feeling within the team that Monza is another circuit that will suit the characteristics of their car.
Perez qualified and finished ahead of his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg at last year’s Italian Grand Prix, while Monza was also the venue for the best result of his Formula One career to date: a second-place finish for Sauber back in 2012. The Mexican driver will expect to be in the running for a second consecutive top-six finish on Sunday.
Pastor Maldonado has endured a very difficult season at Lotus. The Venezuelan driver has finished just four of the 11 Grand Prix to date and again failed to make the chequered flag in Belgium last time out. His second-lap retirement was self-inflicted, with damage sustained during an early off at Eau Rouge resulting in a loss of engine power.
Maldonado’s future is in doubt. Renault have been strongly linked with a takeover bid for his current employers and may seek to replace him on the back of his poor performances this year. Monza’s three chicanes provide plenty of opportunity to get involved in race-ending scraps and there is a good chance that Maldonado will again fail to finish on Sunday.
F1 Italian Grand Prix Preview’s Betting Tips
Mercedes may take control of the race but our Italian Grand Prix preview has still unearthed some interesting Formula One bets for this weekend: