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Italian GP: Ferrari are favourites once again?

It may have taken a while, but Ferrari finally won their first race of the season last time out in Belgium as Charles Leclerc took both pole and victory.

And yet, there has been no time to dwell for Ferrari as Formula One is back for a second successive weekend – the three-week summer break is distant in memory.

Ferrari finally managed to get one over Mercedes last time out and arrive this weekend as the favourites for victory once again, the long straights of the fast Monza should play into their hands perfectly.

The track is so quick, 75% of a lap is spent on full throttle by a driver.

It was a bittersweet victory for Leclerc following the passing of his friend and F2 driver, Anthony Hubert (image from Charles Leclerc’s Instagram).

However, Lewis Hamilton has been the ‘King of Monza’ recently and one more victory will move him onto top spot, outright, with the most ever Italian GP wins – currently tied with Michael Schumacher on five.

With five victories in the past seven races at Monza, maybe the suitability of the straight lines for Ferrari will not make a difference should Hamilton be on top form.

Fernando Alonso remains the last Ferrari driver to win this race, back in 2010.

Usually it is the Dutch orange that takes over the grandstands each race in support for Max Verstappen, but this time it will be nothing but the red, black and yellow of Ferrari.

The Italian crowd is fanatic and going ten years without a Ferrari driver winning in Monza could be unthinkable for the fans.

Whilst going 12 rounds without victory, will two arrive in the space of one week for Ferrari or will Mercedes take top spot once again for a sixth straight victory in Monza?

However, can Red Bull get into the mix? Alex Albon will be confident following a solid debut for the team in Belgium, whilst Verstappen can always go toe-to-toe with any other driver when he is on top form.

A power shift occurring at Ferrari?

At the 2018 Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari had their golden chance to win the race.

Kimi Raikkonen put the car on pole, with Vettel in second, however, on lap one Vettel found himself at the back of the grid.

Heading into turn four, Vettel was on the inside but then collided into Hamilton thus causing the Ferrari to spin and the chance of a victory was subsequently lost for the German.

However, Ferrari still had one of their cars in the lead, yet Hamilton’s terrific wheel-to-wheel racing prevailed as he overtook Raikkonen for first at the opening chicane with just eight laps to go, as he then went on to take victory.

But, just a week earlier, Vettel had won the Belgian Grand Prix which made it look as though the title race for that season was back on, however the German is yet to win a race since that Sunday in Spa.

It looked as though that year without a victory was about to end last weekend in Belgium after the German was ahead of Leclerc and leading the race following the pit-stop window.

However, he then started to struggle with his tyres as his team-mate was on the charge and Ferrari decided to intervene, as they ordered Vettel to let Leclerc past.

It will be Ferrari mad this weekend, the Italian fans are known to be passionate (image from thef1spectator).

Maybe this is a sign to things to come and that Leclerc will become the priority at the team, with the Monegasque only ever going to improve following his maiden victory.

This time in Monza, Leclerc will once again be more of a favourite than Vettel to take victory and the fans hopes will largely be placed with the 21-year-old.

Will the Monegasque be handed a more favourable race strategy this weekend or will Vettel continue to be the number one driver?

Leclerc is the one on form as Ferrari may start to bring more of a fight towards Mercedes in the second half of this season.

But, Hamilton has won the two previous races in Italy and may become the first driver since Juan Manuel Fangio to win three-in-a-row at the ‘Temple of Speed’ – Monza is also the place in which the Mercedes driver claimed the record for the most pole positions of all-time with the 69th of his career.

By Edward Hardy

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