As we head into the final race of the triple-header that got racing underway after the summer break, there just has been no stopping the current Championship leader Max Verstappen.
Ferrari have been dropping the ball on multiple occasions, while Mercedes looked like they could finally take the fight to Red Bull in the Netherlands.
Could Ferrari win at home? Will Mercedes take their first win of the season? Or will Verstappen continue his dominance?
Let’s look at a few possibilities this weekend.
The 2022 regulation changes haven’t been kind to Aston Martin. The British team have easily been the second worst team on the grid in terms of pace and have struggled on most race weekends.
Aston Martin’s biggest struggle this season has been their qualifying pace. While they have looked competitive on Sundays, especially after their radical upgrades, their starting position has hurt them a lot. There is potential in their car, however, and the team need to unlock it to be fighting for a bigger haul of points. They have been doing well on Sundays, as mentioned before, and their outgoing driver Sebastian Vettel, who will retire at the end of the season, has provided them with the majority of their points.
The team showed strong race pace in Belgium and also in the Netherlands. While Lance Stroll stole a point for the British team in Zandvoort, Vettel’s low grid position of P19 hurt his chances of scoring.
Aston Martin generally have strong strategies, and if they continue to show their strong race pace throughout the weekend and not just on Sundays, expect them to score well in Monza.
Even though they returned to the top step of the podium this year, the 2022 season has been nothing less than miserable for the Scuderia. After starting the season strongly with two wins in the opening three rounds, Ferrari have fallen way off the mark. From competing for the title win, Ferrari now might even lose their second place in the Constructors’ to Mercedes.
Poor strategy calls, driver errors, reliability issues and Red Bull being untouchable have all contributed to Ferrari’s problems. While Red Bull didn’t start the season with the strongest car and had reliability issues, once they got on top of the latter, their upgrades have given Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez an absolute beast of a machine to drive. While Ferrari have been strong on Saturdays, with Leclerc having taken five poles in the last races, they just haven’t been able to compete with Red Bull on Sundays. That said, Ferrari still have an extremely quick car, and if they can get on top of their strategy good-ups, the Scuderia should be able to fight Red Bull for the win and on their day even take it.
Heading into Monza, their home race, Ferrari should be bolstered by the home advantage, and, given all the issues that they have faced in the last few races, their luck is bound to turn. Given the high-speed nature of the track, it should suit Ferrari, and with Leclerc a previous winner here, it will bode well for the home team. If Ferrari can lock-out the front row on Saturday, they should win at the Temple of Speed for the first time since 2019, when Leclerc held off Lewis Hamilton to take his first win in front of the Tifosi.
Expect Ferrari to do well in Monza and maybe even stand on the top step of the podium.
Pole prediction: Max Verstappen / Charles Leclerc
Win prediction: Red Bull / Ferrari
A rough year
Twelve months ago, at the Italian Grand Prix, it was McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo standing on the top step of the podium, celebrating his first win with McLaren and the team’s first since 2012. Fast forward to now and the story is very different. The McLaren car is not as competitive as it was last season, and the British team are currently behind Alpine in the Constructors’ Championship, and it looks more and more likely that they will have to concede that fourth spot. Add to that Daniel Ricciardo’s woeful form this season, and things just haven’t been looking up for the Woking-based team. Ricciardo’s form has taken such a hit, that the team have announced that the Australian will be leaving the team at the end of the season, a year before this contract was supposed to run out.
Ricciardo’s confidence is at an all-time low, and the McLaren under him just isn’t one with him. More than halfway into the season, a good amount of time and a host of upgrades haven’t been able to help the eight-time Grand Prix winner, and the current set-up of the McLaren doesn’t look like it will help Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo either.
McLaren are likely to struggle in Monza and are in for a difficult weekend.
Race details: When and where to watch (India)
Circuit: Autodromo Nazionale di Monza / Monza Circuit
Venue: Monza, Italy
Practice Session 1 time: 17:30 (IST), 9 September 2022
Practice Session 2 time: 20:30 (IST), 9 September 2022
Practice Session 3 time: 16:30 (IST), 10 September 2022
Qualifying time: 19:30 (IST), 10 September 2022
Main race time: 18:30 (IST), 11 September 2022
Where to watch: Star Sports Network | Disney+ Hotstar