The battle for the F1 Championship continues apace this weekend at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, with Sebastian Vettel having won the Belgian Grand Prix, to cut down his gap to chief rival Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel is now only 17 points adrift of Hamilton in the race for the F1 Drivers Championship title after his fifth victory of the Formula 1 season, but last year Hamilton ruled the roost at Monza
He took pole position in the 2017 Italian Grand Prix and went on to win, in a tight finish with then Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas, Vettel settling for third ahead of the race’s fastest lap Daniel Riccardo.
There was a chaotic start to the Belgian Grand Prix last week with a massive first corner crash, but Vettel and Hamilton stayed ahead of it, and once Vettel had made the jump to take the lead into the first corner, he was dominant. In behind, there was carnage at the first turn when the halo, much maligned by some, ended up saving the life of Charles Leclerc, involved in a huge pileup with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.
Hulenberg missed his breaking point, ramming Alonso’s McLaren over the Sauber, with his left rear wheel heading for Lelclerc’s head, before it hit the halo which bore the brunt of the impact, and almost certainly prevented serious injury or worse.
There was another collision too, which had a notable effect on the race. Daniel Riccardo’s Red Bull and Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari collided, which forced both into treatment, despite the fact they both re-joined following the incident.
In the middle of the bedlam, Valtteri Bottas – already starting from the back because of engine penalties - damaged his front wing and needed to pit for a new one. That he managed to earn fourth was a testament not just to his car but his talents.
Lewis Hamilton still leads after all of this and remains odds-on favourite to win overall with all the top Formula 1 betting sites, but there will be worries this weekend about the Ferrari’s superior race pace and straight-line speed. Hamilton may have taken pole in Belgium, but once Vettel passed him he had the pace advantage, and we now head to Monza, a track which couldn’t be more ideal for Ferrari - the home team.
Monza is an Italian circuit of contrasts, with four long straights and intricate breaking zones through the first half of the surface. It is all about downforce and straight-line speed - something we have already questioned with the Mercedes this year, despite their one-two in the race last season.
It explains Royal Panda’s price of 8/11 for Vettel to take pole in the Pole Position Betting, and 9/10 for Vettel to win the Italian Grand Prix. Both quotes are worth considering, although they are on the shorter side, given the right gaps between the two this season. The 9/4 for Hamilton to take another pole position is tempting too, as the Brit has won six poles so far this season.
Red Bull lost Riccardo to an early crash last week, but Verstappen was a solid third and it is tempting to take the 8/11 on them earning a Double Points Finish with Ladbrokes. It is a matter of both cars finishing based on their performance, and hopefully both will be able to avoid the first corner carnage of last week, with Monza having a run off point.
Force India went through a whirlwind weekend at Spa. They started the weekend being plunged into administration, and then rescued from administration, before getting a new owner and new name. They were docked of their championship points, but bounced back to record their best combined result of the season.
Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon showed great skill to finish fifth and sixth in the Belgium Grand Prix, and before that, Force India had consistently been running in the top half for pace through the season.
They have double points finishes in four of their last five races, with the occasion they didn’t mange to do so coming when both drivers were involved with crashes. The 11/8 about them in this weekend’s Double Points Betting with Bet 365 makes plenty of appeal. Both Ocon and Perez finished in the top ten at the Italian Grand Prix last year, having qualified fifth and 11th.