Hamilton Takes Eleventh Pole in Twelve Races
Having won all three of the practice sessions in Monza, reigning F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton recorded the fastest lap of 1:23.397 in Saturday’s Italian Grand Prix qualification shoot-out to take pole position for the eleventh time in twelve races.
Shockingly qualifying fourth with a time of 1:23.703, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg is close to being in a must win scenario after finishing second to his British colleague in the Belgian Grand Prix. The German’s slow time was attributed to him having to change back to the old spec engine after a problem was found in the new one after final practice.
Ferrari Split the Mercs in Monza
On a Monza track that greatly favours horsepower, the 2014 Italian GP qualification session featured an all-Mercedes powered top six, but in 2015 the Ferrari driver pairing of Kim Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel sent the Tifosi wild by qualifying second and third respectively with times of 1:23.631 and 1:23.685.
Williams Lock-Out Third Row in Italy
Expected to perform well on a fast Monza circuit that suits their straight-line speed and Mercedes engine, the Williams pairing of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas qualified fifth and sixth respectively in Saturday’s qualification session with times of 1:23.940 and 1:24.127.
The Force is Strong at Monza
Although Nico Hulkenberg’s car ground to a halt after just one lap in Q3 at Monza, he and Force India colleague Perez are expected to perform well at the Italian Grand Prix given their Mercedes engines and recent flirtation with top six places. Perez eventually qualified seventh with a time of 1:24.626, with Hulkenberg in ninth after a 1:25.317.
Bad Day for Red Bull
Desperate to secure a Mercedes power unit for 2016, want-away Red Bull endured a poor Italian GP qualification session on Saturday, with drivers Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo qualifying fourteenth and fifteenth respectively after posting 1:25.796 and 1:25.633 times. Worse still, both drivers have been given ten-place grid penalties after engine changes.
Button Out Qualifies Alonso
After a record 105-place grid penalty for their drivers at the Belgian GP, McLaren only had to contend ten and five-place penalties for Alonso and Button in Monza, with the Briton’s time of 1:26.058 beating the Spaniard’s fastest mark of 1:26.158.
Italian Grand Prix Betting
Pole-sitter Hamilton is priced at 4/11 with Stan James, while Ferrari’s Raikkonen and Vettel are offered at 9 and 7/1 respectively with Sky Bet. Fourth on the grid, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg has what must be his biggest price in a couple of seasons at 8/1 with Bet365.
In conclusion, unless it rains, despite their impressive qualification session and need to impress on home soil, we don’t expect Ferrari to win the 2015 Italian GP because they’d likely have to race at quali pace for the duration and/or take one pit stop less in a race that’s traditionally a one-stopper.
With Rosberg fourth, Hamilton doesn’t have a ‘rear gunner’ to protect him this time and is therefore very vulnerable to being jumped by one of the Ferrari’s at the start, who just have to go for the lead straight away given the race factors outlined above.
Now, whilst we recognise that Rosberg’s need to revert to the old engine has hampered his pace, there isn’t a big difference between his 1:23.703 time and third-placed Vettel’s 123:685, and with Rosberg’s record of podium finishes, Stan James’ 8/15 about the same outcome in Italy is good value.
However, fifth in Belgium and in improved form since the B-spec car was introduced mid-season, Force India’s Sergio Perez has impressed us, finishing fifth, fourth and eight in practice in Italy – and with previously impressive performances in Monza like his podium for Sauber in 2012, we think he’s a good shout to finish in the top six this time.
Advised Bet: Perez top 6 finish at 13/8 with Paddy Power
Tune into Sky Sports F1 from 12:30 on Sunday to watch the action unfold