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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Hamilton odds-on to make further inroads at Monza

Thunderstorms expected for practice day

Lewis Hamilton celebrates after his Belgian Grand Prix victory
1 of 1

Italian Grand Prix practice one
Sky Sports F1, 9am Friday

The eager Tifosi heading to Monza for the opening day of Italian Grand Prix action are likely to get very wet, so punters are advised to keep their powder dry rather than have a bet on first practice.

A day of thunderstorms is expected over the royal park near Milan, but with better weather forecast over the rest of the weekend there may not be much track action if it rains during practice.

Running in low-downforce configuration for the high-speed circuit, the cars are even more skittish than usual. There is little point risking damaging the cars when there is nothing to be learned from running on a sodden track.

Lewis Hamilton cut Sebastian Vettel’s championship lead to seven points with his win in Belgium last weekend and is an early odds-on favourite to follow up at Monza.

Both are fast tracks, but at Spa Vettel’s Ferrari seemed to cope better in the final sector of the track, which features a long flat-out run followed by a heavy braking zone. Monza is rife with sections like that, so there may be some hope Ferrari can pull off a home victory for the first time since 2010.

Vettel is rated 7-2 second favourite, ahead of Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas at 5-1.

Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso are expected to take engine change penalties this weekend, and are likely to start the race from the back of the grid.

Standings after 12 of 20 races: 1 Vettel 220pts, 2 Hamilton 213, 3 Bottas 179, 4 Ricciardo 132, 5 Raikkonen 128, 6 Verstappen 67, 7 Perez 56, 8 Ocon 47, 9 Sainz 36.

Venue Monza, near Milan
Number of laps 53
Lap length 5.793km
Lap record 1.21.046 R Barrichello (Ferrari) 2004

Schedule – practice one 9am Friday; ­practice two 1pm Friday; practice three 10am Saturday; qualifying 1pm Saturday; race 1pm Sunday.

TV All live on Sky Sports F1

Circuit characteristics Monza is not as fast as it once was but the Cathedral of Speed is still dominated by long straights. There are two tight chicanes which provide good overtaking ­opportunities

DRS zones Before the first and third chicanes
Tyre allocation Medium (white), soft (yellow) and supersoft (red)

Last five years’ winner (grid) N Rosberg (2), L Hamilton (1), L Hamilton (1), S Vettel (1), L Hamilton (1)
Last year Lewis Hamilton looked peerless in qualifying but fluffed his start, dropping to sixth. He fought his way back up to second with 35 laps to go, but Nico Rosberg had built an unassailable lead by then.

2016 pole L Hamilton, 1.21.135
2016 fastest lap F Alonso, 1.25.340 on lap 51
2016 classified finishers 18/22
Reason for retirements Collision (2), mechanical (2)

Weather Thunderstorms and ­torrential rain on Friday and a chance of showers on Saturday, but the race is expected to be dry.

There may be some hope Ferrari can pull off a home victory for the first time since 2010
E.W. Terms
Sky bet