F1 schedule: How and what to watch at the Italian Grand Prix (Monza)

Max Verstappen won his second straight home Grand Prix and the fourth race in a row last week at the Dutch Grand Prix. That personal record sees Verstappen match the 12th longest streak in F1 history. But his win wasn’t guaranteed, nor was the biggest challenge from Ferrari. Both Mercedes had excellent race pace and were seeing terrific tire life after starting on the Mediums. They looked in contention for a possible 1-2 with their Hard tires performing well after a round of pit stops. Instead, a late caution saw a version of Abu Dhabi 2021 all over again — Verstappen right behind Hamilton with fresh soft tires and an easy overtake for the win.

F1 now heads south to Monza and the Italian Grand Prix to wrap up the European schedule. The Dutch Army will be replaced with the Tifosi, Ferrari’s passionate supporters. Can they offer up a challenge to Verstappen’s dominance? Will the Mercedes team be able to keep up with the return of a track dominated by long, fast straights?

Since the last round, the Contract Recognition Board (CRB) ruled in favor of McLaren and Oscar Piastri. Plus, reports that Mick Schumacher is leaving the Ferrari Driver program, and possibly his seat at Haas (who receive engines from Ferrari). With open seats at Alpine, and possibly Alpha Tauri, Williams, and Haas the driver market is in full swing.

Where Things Stand

With Verstappen’s (310 points) 10th win of the season, he now has a 109-point buffer over Charles Leclerc & Sergio Perez, both on 201. While there are still over 500 points at play in the remainder of the F1 season, the Red Bull team is showing no signs of weakness. The battle between 2nd to 5th is only separated by 26 points with George Russell at 188 and Carlos Sainz on 175 points.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing extended their gap over Ferrari with Perez landing his fourth straight top-five finish. Meanwhile, Mercedes continue to gain on Ferrari, now just 30 points back, despite Hamilton’s zero points last weekend at Spa. Further down the order Alpine keep adding distance over McLaren, now 24 points, as the teams battle over drivers & massive end-of-year financial rewards.

The Circuit

Italian Grand Prix – Monza – F1 Circuit Map

Long high-speed straights and tight corners highlight the circuit at Monza. The layout is expected to swing favorably back toward Red Bull, not that they need it, as well as Ferrari. The front stretch sees the second of two DRS zones heading into Turn 1, the spot where Hamilton and Verstappen collided last season sending Max’s car crashing down on top of Lewis’. A memorable visual and testament to the strength of the Halo device. With drivers at full throttle for at least 80% of the lap, it lives up to the nickname the ‘Temple of Speed’. With heavy braking zones and hot temperatures expected, watch for issues with both tire wear and brakes toward the end of the Grand Prix.

How To Watch (all times ET)

  • Practice 1 – Friday 9/9 – 7:55 am – ESPNU/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Practice 2 – Friday 9/9 – 10:55 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Italian GP Preview Show: Friday 9/9 – 1:10 pm – ESPN3/WatchESPN
  • Practice 3 – Saturday 9/10 – 6:55 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Qualifying – Saturday 9/10 – 9:55 am – ESPN News/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Grand Prix Sunday (Pre-race Show) – Sunday 9/11 – 7:30 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Grand Prix Race – Sunday 9/11 – 8:55 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN

DraftKings Sportsbook is offering odds on the race. As is usually the case as of late in F1, Max Verstappen is the clear favorite to win at Monza at -265. He is followed by Charles Leclerc (+650) who will be hoping the home support for Ferrari can help spur on an unlikely win. And after a strong Dutch Grand Prix, the Mercedes teammates have the next best odds Lewis Hamilton (+800) and George Russell (+1100). There are several contenders with favorable odds to spring a top six spot – Lando Norris (+100), Estaban Ocon (+275) & Aston Martin teammates Sebastian Vettel & Lance Stroll (both at +1200). After last season’s Hamilton-Verstappen collision and surprise Daniel Ricciardo win, anything is possible at Monza.

What to Watch For

  • Ferrari returns home. When F1 was last in Italy for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in April there was great expectation for Ferrari. While qualifying and the Sprint Race saw positive results, the Grand Prix was a disaster. Carlos Sainz was hit by Daniel Ricciardo on the opening last sending him into the gravel. Charles Leclerc in an attempt to make up lost positions was too aggressive and spun, eventually finishing 8th. It was the first weekend dominated by Verstappen and Ferrari have only won twice since then (from 12 rounds). They return for the Italian Grand Prix after a series of strategic blunders and mechanical issues hoping to finish the season strong and build towards a 2023 Championship challenge.
  • Five in a row? With Max favored once again and on a track that will suit the Red Bull, he is set for another personal record. If he wins at Monza that will be his fifth in a row, tying him for the 6th longest win streak in F1 history. A feat only ever accomplished by Lewis Hamilton (twice), Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell, Jim Clark & Jack Brabham.
  • While Mercedes have continually made progress as the season has continued on, it is still largely track-specific. Their car does well in high-speed corners such as Silverstone or Zandvoort last weekend. And while Monza brings the speed, its long straights have been a weakness for the Silver Arrows. A win is most likely unreachable for the team, but if they can even match Ferrari this weekend it will be seen as another step towards finding a place amongst the title contenders.
  • McLaren may have won the Oscar Piastri battle, but on track, Alpine has their number. And while Alpine’s car looks the better of the two on race pace, it’s also a two-on-one battle with Daniel Ricciardo struggling even when Lando Norris is up in the mix for 5th through 8th. Will McLaren be able to find any answers this season to reclaim 4th place or will they shift their focus on developing next year’s car in hopes of seeing a Norris-Piastri pairing lift them back up the order?
  • Who steps forward from the bottom half of the Constructors Championship? With minimal points available 8th through 10th, anyone catching Alfa Romeo for 6th is unlikely. Even though Williams, Aston Martin & Alpha Tauri are all in better form over the past few races. Aston Martin have been dealing with qualifying issues but have scored points in 10 of the past 12 rounds. A team that looks to be heading in the right direction, and with massive investment, you see why Fernando Alonso was willing to jump ship with a guaranteed two-year contract.
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