If Max Verstappen is going to break his Monza hoodoo, this might be the weekend he does it.
Verstappen will start from pole tonight at the Italian Grand Prix, since Valtteri Bottas – who finished first in qualifying – has been forced to the back of the grid because of an engine change.
Mad Max has never stood on the podium at Monza, but he catches a big break with Lewis Hamilton starting from fourth, behind the McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris.
Mercedes should have the power advantage on this fast circuit, but there’s no doubt the Sprint Qualifying results give Verstappen a rare opportunity to succeed.
Mad Max is on pole and Lewis starts fourth, but the two McLarens will have a job ahead of them to keep Hamilton at bay. A 1-2 finish between the top two drivers in F1 is well worth a look.
Despite his lack of success at this circuit, Verstappen was gifted pole position. He and Red Bull will need to run a perfect race from a strategy standpoint, but it’s theirs to lose.
Hamilton is in a bit of trouble here, starting from fourth place and the price reflects that. But he’s had success at this track and with the Mercedes power it would be silly to write him off.
Ricciardo will start from second on the grid, so the value in the Top 6 Finish has diminished. Can he podium? Of course. Will he finish on the podium? As much as we’d like to see it, Hamilton and his teammate Norris are real threats. Podium Finish is worth a roll of the dice, but Top 6 Finish is safer.