Monza takes centre stage this weekend on the Formula One calendar as Lewis Hamilton goes in search of a hat-trick of wins in the Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton returned to the top of the podium last time out at Spa, with a superb drive that consolidated his position at the top of the standings over rival and team-mate Nico Rosberg. This weekend Formula One heads to the fastest track on the calendar: Monza, where top speeds are expected to exceed 220mph.

Racing at such high speeds places unique demands upon the cars. This is an especially challenging track for tyres, partly because of the set-up needed to hit top speeds. Engineers trim out the wings to reduce drag, trading off performance in the corners for speed down the straights. This increases the work for the tyres considerably under acceleration and braking. Those straights are periodically interrupted by slow, tight chicanes where the drivers have to brake extremely hard and bounce across the kerbs in search of the fastest lap time.

The Belgian Grand Prix saw high-speed tyre failures for two of the championship’s front runners. Nico Rosberg’s right-rear blew up during practice on Friday, then with two laps to go in the race Sebastian Vettel had a failure on the same corner of the car.

This has prompted fears there could be a repeat this weekend at a venue where the speeds are higher yet the same tyre compounds are being used: Harder rubber has been used previously for this race; the change was made in the hope it would encourage greater variety in strategies and a more exciting race.

As well as speed then – and this should be a race where once again Mercedes powered cars have a big advantage, we have to particularly consider tyre use and reliability in our betting strategy.

Will the Mercedes again be up to two seconds per lap clear of the field on long-run race pace?

The answer to this is “probably not quite” given this circuit’s shorter length and less varied demands, but Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg should be in a league of their own. They at 1/2 and 3/1 outright to win the race respectively, take up 85-86 per cent of the win book and it’s 16/1 bat the top two.

Rosberg looks increasingly out of answers to Hamilton’s pace. In the eleven qualifying sessions so far this year, Hamilton has beaten him ten times

Elsewhere Spa has often been a strong guide to how cars will perform at Monza two weeks later. In Spa Vettel countered his power disadvantage with an ultra-low downforce configuration that we should expect to see again at Ferrari’s home race

Williams qualified well but a high-downforce wing setting made them vulnerable at the end of the long straight. There are two big DRS overtaking sections at the end of the Monza straights and presumably Williams will not make the same mistake again

Force india qualified well but suffered exaggerated tyre wear through the race with Perez. Lotus should go well again at Monza, after Grosjean’s podium at Spa

Red bull and Toro Rosso have underpowered cars for the fastest tracks but mitigate this with set up and low drag to make them more competitive

With the outright market offering such little value, of more interest are sub-markets such as reaching the podium, top six finish and points finish.

The best bet I see is Romain Grosjean to reach the top six at 6/4. In a competitive Lotus, confidence high after Spa, that’s a nice price

Grosjean himself sounds confident

“On paper, Monza should suit our car better than Spa so in theory a podium could be possible again”

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