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Formula 1

Italian Grand Prix 2014 Preview

Written by @OMGitsTarrynLee for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

Italian Grand Prix | Sunday 07 September | Autodromo Nazionale Monza | 14:00

Forza Ferrari will be the mob mentality this weekend as the teams travel to the stronghold of the Italian stallions for a race in front of the passionate Tifosi spectators, who will be craving at least a podium for their beloved team. A win for one of the Ferraris at Monza would send the Italians into a spasm of delight, but unfortunately for the feverish fans of the scarlet team, the only driver who seems able to crack the Mercedes’ grip on the top spot is Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Previous Race
Fresh controversy in Belgium saw Hamilton cry foul as Rosberg ‘accidentally’ collided with the Brit, handing him a debilitating puncture that left him trailing and eventually ended his race with a wordless retirement. Rosberg fared much better and although he spent most of his Sunday following the back end of Ricciardo, he gained steadily throughout the race and lost out on the checkered flag by just over three seconds. Raikkonen proved that experience counted around Spa, finishing in fourth (his largest haul of points this season.) Alonso’s weekend was less favourable, his seventh place finish brought on by issues at the start of the parade lap as his car remained suspended and at the mercy of mechanics while the others moved off the grid. Bottas returned to his familiar spot on the podium, proving the Finn and the Williams team are worthy contenders when it comes to scoring decent points. Both Force Indias were present in the points again, an unsurprising result for  a solid and consistent team. Button has faded back into mediocrity after his brief dance with brilliance circa ’09. Consistently average performances from the former champion could be damning. His years with Brawn bought him more time in the sport, but without collecting more points for the McLaren team (an F1 goliath looking to recoup its reputation for winning) he may find himself looking for a drive with a team that are content with mid-table finishes.Rookie Toro Rosso driver Kvyat secured another points finish, highlighting the team’s knack for picking talented young drivers to prep for a possible future at Red Bull.

Track
The Italian Grand Prix is one of the longest running races on the calendar and the Autodromo Nazionale Monza also has the privilege of being the fastest circuit of the season. Dubbed “La Pista Magica” (the magic track) by the locals, it is named partly because of their bias towards their home Grand Prix and Ferraris in general, but also because their national team happens to be the most successful at the track. The Italians’ luck at the historic circuit has dwindled over the years, with their last win here being Alonso’s victory in 2010, although the Spaniard has managed consecutive podiums since then to keep the Tifosi obliged. Monza is also famous because of the high number of fatal crashes that have occurred at the challenging track, but improved safety and taming of the circuit has decreased the incidents over the years. Parabolica, one of the most challenging corners on the track, has fallen victim to the safety regulations and the tarmac provides much lighter punishment than the gravel trap it replaced. The Italian tyre manufacturers Pirelli naturally consider Monza their home race, and have supplied the two hardest compounds to withstand the tough nature of a track that is a combination of fast corners, slow chicanes and long straights. Qualifying is important, with seven of the last ten winners in Italy having started on Pole.

To Win Outright 
Lewis Hamilton 7/10
Nico Rosberg 15/10
Daniel Ricciardo 10/1
Valterri Bottas 20/1
Sebastian Vettel 25/1
Fernando Alonso 33/1
Felipe Massa 33/1
Kimi Raikkonen 66/1

VALUE BETS
Kimi Raikkonen (66/1 a win, 15/10 a Top 6 Finish)
Raikkonen came away from Spa with his best result of the season which is unsurprising considering his previous successes at the track. He still hasn’t managed to get as much out of the car as Alonso, but even the veteran Ferrari driver has battled to challenge the dominant Mercedes team. As one half of the beloved Ferrari pair, Raikkonen will be under pressure to perform this weekend. Another Top 6 for Kimi is an achievable feat, as the Finn is yet to make it onto the podium this season. Get on at 15/10.

Sebastian Vettel (25/1 a win, 5/2 a podium)
Vettel has spent the majority of 2014 lagging behind his impressive young teammate, which seems to have done nothing to ignite the current champion’s usually fiercely competitive nature. All the bitter team rivalry seems to be located in the Mercedes garage and Vettel’s competitive streak appears satiated by a couple of podiums. He’s actually a bit of a master around Monza, with a hat-trick of victories under his belt at the Italian track. He hasn’t yet managed a win this season, with all the glory resting on the shoulders of his Aussie counterpart. Bet on Vettel to finish on the podium in Monza, he usually makes an appearance in the Top 3 to the annoyance of the Italians.

Daniel Ricciardo (10/1 a win, 27/20 a podium)
The goofy and ever-grinning Ricciardo replaced Webber as the team’s favoured Australian driver after Vettel’s former teammate retired, clearly sick of being second string. Much of the same treatment was expected for the former Toro Rosso rookie, who seemed a fair replacement for veteran Webber, but likely to fall away next to Vettel’s illustrious achievements. However, the younger driver, who at 25 is just two years the German champion’s junior but less familiar with success and who often seems surprised to find himself on the top step of the podium, has flourished. After snatching his third win from Rosberg in Belgium, he’s proved that nothing is a fluke and is definitely one to be watched.  A podium, at least, is a smart bet on the consistently high-scoring Aussie.

POLE POSITION: Lewis Hamilton 8/10
Hamilton appears to have offended the God of Formula One (Ayrton Senna probably) because he’s had some pretty terrible luck that has persisted over a few races. Gone are the days that he looked set to cruise easily towards his second championship, unopposed and supported by his teammate. Rosberg won the opening Grand Prix of the season, giving a slight glimpse into the future, where Hamilton’s streak of wins fell victim to a cutthroat teammate, whose blatant desire for a Championship to call his own is unparalleled. The tussle between the two has created an interesting team dynamic and possibly another prolific teammate squabble, a circumstance which is commonplace in F1. Bet on Hamilton to seek revenge for Rosberg’s altercation in Belgium, by snatching the Pole Position from his rival on Saturday.

TO WIN: Fernando Alonso 33/1

Alonso is the man the Tifosi will be pinning their hopes on this weekend, which is wise considering he’s a frequent visitor to the podium in Italy. Unfortunately for Alonso and the Italians, Ricciardo is the only man to win a Grand Prix this season that isn’t behind the wheel of a Silver Arrow. Alonso has never been very capable in Qualifying, with high enough results to ensure him a great start, but it’s rare to see him on Pole. He is one of the best starters on the grid (except in Belgium) and the skilful manner in which he weaves through the pack should ensure at least one victory for Alonso this season. Nothing would thrill the fans more than a home win and hope for their struggling super-team in the Constructors’ Championship. With Monza providing a fitting venue for Alonso’s first checkered flag of 2014, take a risky bet on the Ferrari driver for first place at 33/1.

Think we’ve got it wrong? Well leave your comments below and tell us how you think this one is going to play out.

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