Betting-Previews.com brings you a Formula One World Championship betting preview and predictions for the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, slated for Sunday, September 12. The race will take place at the world-renowned Monza Circuit, which never fails to produce exceptional and fast races.
Last weekend, Verstappen claimed his seventh victory of the season, which saw him reclaim his throne atop the standings; however, there is a reason to believe that Mad Max might not remain there after this week.
While we’re ready for Verstappen to prove us wrong, the one thing we know about the “Cathedral of Speed” is that it’s been dominated by Mercedes in the turbo-hybrid era. That is largely because Monza is all about speed, low downforce performance, and delivery on straight lines and not necessarily about the car quality – which is the area where Red Bull have the edge over Mercedes.
Previous Italian Grand Prix Races
Mercedes had dominated the Italian Grand Prix since 2014 when Lewis Hamilton won his second race at Monza and his first as a member of the Silver Arrows. Since then, Mercedes claimed checkered flags in 2015, 2017, and 2018 but had to admit defeat to Ferrari in 2019, when the Prancing Horses won with the help of Charles Leclerc and a not-so-legal power unit.
In 2020, Pierre Gasly won the race for Alpha Tauri, albeit we wouldn’t overreact to that result. Realistically, Hamilton should have won but received a penalty for pitting, unaware that the pit lane was closed due to the red flag. His mistake saw him finish the race in seventh, with Gasly, Carlos Sainz, and Lance Stroll finishing on the podium.
The weather forecast for the weekend looks great, showing dry and warm weather across all three days. Temperatures should be around 30°C, with some clouds, light wind, and an under 20% chance of rain on the race day.
No Clear Form Guide
The Monza is all about speed, which is why cars with the best power units usually deliver in Italy. Until recently, Mercedes had the power advantage, but that has is all but gone.
Red Bull (Honda) have since caught up to the Silver Arrows, and you can’t ignore Renault anymore, even though they’re still not quite up there yet. Ferrari are long behind as they try to regain the power they have lost after FIA forced them to comply with the regulations.
Suffice to say, Ferrari isn’t expected to show up since they won’t be able to keep pace with Honda and Mercedes on Monza’s straights. Instead, the Prancing Horses might want to focus ahead on tracks that are more about corners, where their cars can compete with the opposition.
Monza is not the only track that requires speed, low downforce performance, and straight-line speed, albeit there isn’t any track that we could use as a solid form guide. Baku is fast, but it has corners and does not require a lot of downforces, whereas Silverstone is fast, but requires more downforce.
Spa could come the closest to a solid form guide, but the race wasn’t run this year, while we can’t really over-analyze the qualifiers due to rain.
The Usual Suspects To Fight For The Win
We might sound like a broken record by now, but it’s fair to say that the battle for the title at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix will come down to the usual suspects in Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Out of the two, it’s hard to pick out a winner, considering Verstappen is the current leader and fresh off a win, albeit Hamilton has five pole positions and four wins at Monza in the turbo-hybrid era.
That explains why Hamilton is priced as the favorite to win at 2.00 (Bet365), while Verstappen is at slightly higher odds, at 2.10 (Bet365). Soon-to-be Alfa Romeo driver, Valtteri Bottas, is at 12.00 (Bet365), while Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez, sits in fourth at 26.00 (Bet365).
Not surprisingly, Ferrari drivers are not among the favorites, with Charles Leclerc priced as high as 51.00 (Bet365), while Carlos Sainz is at 101.0 (Bet365) to win in Italy. As noted above, Ferrari don’t have the power needed to compete with Honda and Mercedes – even though they would like to deliver in front of their fans and secure their 21st victory on their home track.
Traditionally, Mercedes deliver at Monza, and we don’t believe that will change this weekend. Still, we must remember that Red Bull have shown up on tracks considered Mercedes’ strongholds this term.
At the same time, Verstappen has never finished better than fifth here, and while he should do better now that Red Bull have the best cars this season, Monza was never about the quality of the car.
Can Gasly Shine Again?
Last week, we sided with Pierre Gasly to finish inside the top-six at the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix at 3.75, and he has delivered with a fourth-place finish. As noted last time out, Gasly will do well on tracks where strong qualifying runs are highly beneficial, but since Monza will use a sprint race, it’s hard to say how he’ll do.
This weekend race will see the second spring qualifying, and the first since Silverstone when Hamilton took the pole for the spring race, but Verstappen won that race and claimed the pole for Sunday.
Sprint races are a weird addition, and while we’re essentially getting two races with them, it also makes the free practice session meaningless. And one-hour practice sessions surely can’t help the teams who are put under pressure to get their cars ready for the race.
Still, Monza is a track that is easy to figure out, so the teams should know how to set their cars up –focus on adding the best low downforce they can.
In regards to how will the sprint race affect the drivers’ chances to win; Gasly will likely have the most to lose since there are no proper qualifiers for him to do well in and secure a favourable starting position. On the other side, McLaren (Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris) could do well, seeing how they have qualified in fifth and sixth in Silverstone’s sprint race.
However, it’s highly unlikely that we will see either of them gain much at the front of the grid.
McLaren did well here last year, qualifying in third and sixth and finishing second and fourth. This year, they’re back with Mercedes power units and have made improvements to their cars, so there is a good chance that we might see Norris and Ricciardo finish inside the top six.
Ricciardo could be a solid bet for those looking for an additional ante post-selection, but we will stick with Hamilton to win the race as our main and only prediction for this race.
Prediction: Lewis Hamilton to win – 2.10 at Betfair – 1 Unit