Lewis Hamilton beat Sebastian Vettel in a close battle in Sa last weekend to close the gap at the top of the drivers Championship to seven points with eight races to go. This weekend it is the Italian Grand Prix at Monza
There was a muted quality to Lewis Hamilton’s celebrations after his 58th victory. Despite the satisfaction of holding off a charging Vettel he knew that Mercedes had cause to be concerned about Ferrari’s superior race pace.
Ferrari had been expected to struggle at Spa, in a battle with Mercedes’ straight-line speed, but the constant pressure from Vettel signalled that Ferrari could have a fractional advantage in the eight grand prix to come. As the German put it, “Going from now, I don’t think we have a circuit that we should fear.”
What Hamilton does have going for him is that the Mercedes qualifying mode should often ensure he starts races in pole position and has track position on the Ferrari. He has been expected to dominate on the quick power circuits and this season that has been true but the difference in the winning margin at Silverstone before the summer break and Spa after it is marked.
What Vettel has going for him is that the Ferrari has a superior down-force package, especially good for cornering, braking and the tighter circuits. If the Ferrari has closed the gap again, that bodes well for Monza which is one of the fastest F1 circuits, with long straights but also requires down-force in high braking areas
A complication is also that the race comes straight after Spa, where engines operate at full power for much of the lap. The same applies for Monza, and now in the second half of the season reliability can be an issue
Outright odds for Monza are as follows
The Hamilton price is understandable, on such a power circuit, but doesn’t take into account how close Ferrari are again, their race pace and ability to operate at wider tyre windows.
Vettel at 7/2 with Bet365 is the bet.