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  1. F1

Formula 1: Lights Out - What to look for at the Italian GP

For the last two years there has been a shock winner of the Italian Grand Prix, with Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo obliging at big prices in 2020 and 2021 at Monza.

But it would be a big surprise if anyone other than runaway world championship leader Max Verstappen claimed the spoils this year.

The Red Bull ace is just 4/11 for a third win in three weeks after his victories in Belgium and the Netherlands since the return from F1's summer break.

His closest title rival Charles Leclerc is 6/1 next best in the market to send the Tifosi into raptures, while it's 9/1 that Lewis Hamilton makes up for his Dutch disappointment with a first victory of the season for Mercedes.

WhatItalian Grand Prix
WhereMonza, Italy
WhenFriday 9th September - Sunday 11th September 2022
How to watchSky Sports F1
OddsMax Verstappen 4/11, Charles Leclerc 6/1, Lewis Hamilton 9/1

Power is king at the Temple of Speed

Monza has been hosting F1 races since the championship began in 1950, and despite the addition of chicanes over the years to improve safety, it still sees some of the highest speeds the cars reach all year.

Since aerodynamics don't really help in slow corners, the teams set up for maximum top-speed, and a powerful engine is perhaps a bigger asset at Monza than any other circuit.

Spa in Belgium, where the series raced just two weeks ago, is often a useful formguide, and the way Verstappen carved his way to the front in the space of 12 laps having started in the lower half of the pack will have his rivals sweating this weekend.

The Dutchman rocketed past car after car on the main straight in Belgium and there could be no stopping him increasing his stranglehold on the championship. Verstappen leads the standings by 109 points with just 190 left to play for.

The flying Dutchman's teammate Sergio Perez followed him home in second at two other high-speed circuits - Baku and Spa - this year The Mexican can be backed each-way at 12/1, while it's 11/10 both Red Bulls are on the podium.

Pressure building on Ferrari

The Italian press is not known for its patience with what is seen as the national motor racing team, and there will be more pressure than ever on the Scuderia at their home race.

The string of errors that has seen their championship challenge fade continued at Zandvoort last week as only three tyres had been prepared for Carlos Sainz's first pit stop.

The Spaniard's misery was later compounded when he was released into the path of Fernando Alonso at a later stop, picking up a five-second penalty that dropped him from fifth to eighth.

Now, not only are they miles away from Red Bull in the standings, they are being caught by Mercedes. Finishing third in the Constructors' Championship this season would be seen as a catastrophe after such a bright start when Leclerc won two of the first three races.

Mercedes may need patience

Hopes of a ninth straight constructors title have long since been extinguished for Mercedes, but they could well pick up a win before the year is out judged on recent performances. However, that isn't likely to be at Monza.

The Silver Arrows' strength is in their race pace. The car looks happier when fat with fuel than on a single lap, while it also seems the best car at keeping life in its tyres.

However, top-speed is a weakness and Lewis Hamilton and George Russell could well struggle to live with the Red Bulls and Ferraris on Monza's long straights.

Belgium was a rare race where neither Mercedes driver appeared on the podium, while Russell owed his third place in Baku to the fact that both Ferraris broke down, and they might need similar fortune to reach the rostrum on Sunday.

Williams eyeing points

Williams are rooted to the foot of the constructors standings but Alex Albon's 10th-place finish at Spa will give them hope of adding to their modest points tally in Italy.

Albon's Williams was a rocket ship on the straights in Belgium, and while a lack of speed through Spa's sweeping curves allowed a queue of five cars to form behind him, they didn't have the power to pass him on the straight despite the advantage of DRS.

Sweeping corners aren't a feature at Monza and after a fine 12th place in the Netherlands last week, a points finish could be on the cards at a track that should suit the Williams much better.

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