Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton looking for redemption at the Italian Grand Prix

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With the controversy at Spa still fresh, Lewis Hamilton will look to rebound in his battle with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

Now 29 points behind his championship rival, and with tensions the highest they have been all year, how Hamilton handles his emotions this weekend at Monza will give us an indication of how the rest of the season will play out.

Mercedes tensions

It has been the only story on people's minds since the last race in Belgium just over a week ago, how Mercedes handled the first coming together of its drivers on the track has been a debate that continues to rage on.

Last Friday, after a meeting on bosses and drivers at the base in Brackley, Nico Rosberg apologised for his actions, something some figures in the sport believe was the wrong move, and there is now a promise of strict action if another incident occurs again.

However, if there was a track that could put the drivers in the exact scenario where they will likely go wheel-to-wheel again, it would be Monza.

Temple of Speed

The most historic circuit on the calendar, Monza has hosted 63 of 64 Italian Grands Prix since 1950 and the unique high-speed challenge is set to be a little bit faster this year.

Thanks to lower downforce and more torque, teams are expecting speeds not seen in F1 since the old V10 era with some predicting a top speed of 225mph (360kph) along the 1.3km main straight.

Four times on the lap will the drivers break the 200mph barrier around the famous parkland track, however, this year it is a corner that is garnering plenty of attention.


A few weeks ago fans were outraged by photos showing the gravel trap at the famous Parabolica corner being taken out and replaced with a tarmac run-off area.

The reason why there was such an outcry is the corner was always seen a great challenge of a driver picking his braking point and then balancing the throttle through the long radius right that leads onto the pit straight.

It was the gravel trap that made the corner so tricky as any error would be severely punished, however, the FIA has insisted the change has had to be made on safety grounds.

As a result expect plenty of tweets and comments from fans when, during the weekend, a driver makes a mistake and runs out into the new run-off area and rejoins without barely losing any time.

Mercedes power to dominate

Last time out at Spa most were expecting a Mercedes power-fest as the long straights at the start and end of the lap would give them the advantage over their Renault and Ferrari-backed rivals.

However, as it turned out Red Bull were able to counter the impact by going against their traditional strength in the corners and took off a lot of downforce in order to be quick down the straights.

This worked as Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel, usually found at the bottom of the speed trap standings, actually led the way being the fastest cars at the top of Eau Rouge.

Chances of the same tactic working again in Monza, however, are slim as all the teams will be using the same skinnier front and rear wings Red Bull used at Spa.

Indeed this weekend should be all about those with the Brixworth-made power unit in the back as there are very few corners which require downforce.

Williams set to star

As a result this weekend could provide Williams with their best chance at a win all season. The FW36 is one of the slipperiest cars in a straight line and take away more downforce with a Mercedes engine and they really could be viable challengers to the works team for the win.

Valtteri Bottas will likely be the man to watch as he continues to have the edge over Felipe Massa, and fresh off another excellent podium result at Spa arrives at Monza full of confidence.

Another team to watch will be Force India, after a disappointing weekend at Spa, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez will hope this, the lowest downforce track of them all will play to what is traditionally a strength of the Silverstone-based team.

Can Ferrari deliver?

Of course we can't talk about the Italian Grand Prix and not mention Ferrari. The Tifosi will be out in force to cheer on the Prancing Horses and there are signs of improvement too.

Kimi Raikkonen produced his best drive of the year at Spa, a circuit he has always been strong at, while Fernando Alonso was unlucky as a penalty during the race for the mechanics still being on the grid at the 15-second signal cost the Spaniard a chance to be involved in the battle for third.

While the Italian crowd will accept there is a very small chance of seeing a Scarlet car cross the finish line first come Sunday afternoon, it will be as partisan as ever as Marco Mattiacci prepares for his first Italian GP as team boss.

The other Italian team

While they may not get the same reception as Ferrari, there is a second Italian team also looking for a good result in front of their home crowd.

Toro Rosso scored their only Grand Prix win at Monza, thanks to Sebastian Vettel in 2008, and could be part of the battle at the bottom of the top 10 again this weekend.

Much like Williams, Toro Rosso traditionally have one of the fastest cars in a straight line and while Red Bull proved they too can be no slouch, may just find Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne keeping them honest throughout the weekend.

All eyes on Mercedes

All eyes, however, will be on Mercedes who will be desperate for a untroubled, calm weekend. The team still have easily the fastest car as qualifying in Belgium proved and if the cars run reliably will be incredibly tough to beat.

Thing is, we have said that now for much of the season yet the team haven't had a one-two since Austria, so in reality maybe the question is: what twists and turns lie in wait for us at magnificent Monza this weekend?

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