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By Timothy Neal

Formula 1’s fastest track greets the grid for round 16, with Red Bull entering as clear favorites after taking out the last four Grand Prix’s.

Pirelli have nominated the three compounds in the middle of their range for Monza: the white C2 hard (x2 sets), the yellow C3 medium (x3 sets) and the red C4 soft (x8 sets).

As always, Monza favors the teams with the fastest straight line speed and lowest drag, with a lower-wing preferred to reduce drag.

Ex-teammates Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will both be taking engine penalties this weekend, which will be the second time in three races for Bottas, whilst Hamilton will be at the back of the grid.

Hamilton will be bitterly disappointed with the penalty after his collision with Max Verstappen knocked him out of contention at Monza last season, as his chances for a victory this season appear to be getting narrower for the Silver Arrow driver.

The tense battle for last years championship came to a head at Monza in 2012, with Verstappen and Hamilton assisting each other in achieving a pair of DNF’s

Although it’s almost unfathomable to consider, Verstappen has never been on the podium at Monza, but taking the speed data from the super-fast Spa track into consideration, it would be remiss not to assume he’ll break that hoodoo this weekend.

“I like to stand on the podium everywhere but also this track has never been good to us; we just never really had that top speed and of course on some tracks you can compensate with a lower wing, but here, everyone tries low-downforce so you’re just stuck with it,” Verstappen said.

“Plus, this was always a track where we always had to take engine penalties and stuff, which also never really helps to get to the podium. This year we have a good chance and if you look at our car throughout the season, we’ve always been good on the straights.”

Verstappen’s closest rival, Charles Leclerc, has said that Ferrari is expecting a difficult weekend at Monza. He enters the Italian Grand Prix 109 points in arrears of the Red Bull charger after jumping Sergio Perez for second spot at Zandvoort.

“On paper at least, it looks like a difficult weekend, we expect Red Bull to be stronger, the track characteristics doesn’t fit exactly our car but we’ve had some good and bad surprises this year so hopefully this is one of the good ones and we overperform compared to what we expect,” said Ferrari’s Monegasque ace.

“Comparing to Red Bull, especially because it’s a bit more consistent throughout the whole year, we are slower down the straights. Their main strength this year is straight line speed, we seem to be a bit quicker in the corners.

Last year’s winner, Daniel Ricciardo, enters this year’s Monza in a vastly different situation after last year’s remarkable victory, with the McLaren driver on the outer for next season, as he prepares for his last Italian race with the Woking team. But despite all of the trouble Ricciardo has faced this year, he still gets to head to Monza this week as its reigning victor.

Sept 9 – Practice 1 – 10:00-11:00pm

Sept 10 – Practice 2 – 1:00-2:00am

Sept 10 – Practice 3 – 9:00-10:00pm

Sept 11- Qualifying – 12:00-1:00am

Sep 11 – Race – 11:00pm

F1 standings

  1. Verstappen 310
  2. Leclerc 210
  3. Perez 210
  4. Russell 188
  5. Sainz 175
  6. hamilton 158
  7. norris 82
  8. ocon 66
  9. Alonzo 59
  10. Boots 46

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