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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Force India set to move forward at Monza

Hamilton may struggle to match Ferraris

Esteban Ocon in action during qualifying
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Italian Grand Prix
Sky Sports F1, 2.10pm Sunday

Kimi Raikkonen chose the right track to claim his first pole position of the season, sending the Tifosi into raptures by setting up a Ferrari one-two on the grid for the Italian Grand Prix.

In the last 20 years, more pole-sitters have gone on to victory at Monza than any other circuit, but Raikkonen is likely to need some misfortune to befall his title-chasing teammate Sebastian Vettel if the Finn is to be allowed to win.

Lewis Hamilton missed out on a front-row start by just 0.014 seconds, but it could be a race of damage-limitation for the championship leader with his Mercedes lagging behind Ferrari in the power stakes.


Top tip
Force India double points finish 7-4

Several drivers are starting lower down the grid than they strictly should be on pace.

Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg share the back row thanks to penalties while an eventful qualifying hour ended with Kevin Magnussen, Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc also lower down the order than they would have expected.

Perez started fourth on the grid in Belgium last week and finished fifth, and the newly-renamed Racing Point Force India team looked strong again in the preliminaries at Monza.

Esteban Ocon qualified a decent eighth, but a mistake at the wrong moment from Perez saw the Mexican fail to progress from Q1.

Perez will start 14th, but he should have the tools to move forward and join his teammate in the top ten by the finish.

Other markets
Daniel Ricciardo fastest lap 5-1

When a driver from one of the big three teams starts down the field, it has been a profitable strategy this year to back them to set the fastest race lap.

Such is the gap between the Mercedes-Ferrari-Red Bull triumvirate and the rest of the field that they can overtake the midfield cars on slower tyres, then switch to faster rubber for a late low-fuel charge to try to nick a few more points-paying positions.

Valtteri Bottas became the latest success story for that strategy when he finished fourth having started 17th in Belgium last week, setting fastest lap along the way, and Daniel Ricciardo is value to follow suit.

The Aussie may have a tougher job on his hands than Bottas did. Max Verstappen was 1.5 seconds off the pole pace in the other Red Bull in qualifying, while fresh tyres aren't such a great advantage at Monza where straight-line speed is the key.

Ferrari may opt to give Vettel a strategy which allows him to set fast laptimes in the middle of the race and get ahead of Raikkonen during the pitstops, thus avoiding the embarrassment of asking the Iceman to give up the race win on track.

But Ricciardo set the fastest lap during last year's Italian Grand Prix as he made his way up from 16th to fourth and at the prices it is tempting enough to have a nibble.

Force India double points finish
2pts 7-4 general
D Ricciardo fastest lap
1pt 5-1 Betway, Hills, Sky Bet

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A mistake at the wrong moment from Perez saw the Mexican fail to progress from Q1
E.W. Terms
Sky bet