It was an emotional weekend last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, the first-ever win in Formula One for Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, but it was a weekend marred by tragedy, and the death of Formula Two driver Anthoine Hubert, who was killed in an accident on the second lap of the Formula Two Feature Race just beyond Turn Four, an accident which also resulted in serious injuries to Juan Manuel Correa.
I would like to send my deepest condolences to Anthoine’s family and friends at this difficult time, and wish Juan Manuel Correa all the very best in his recovery and rehabilitation after such a shocking accident, and I hope the Formula Two grid can come together, and race in honour of Anthoine Hubert this weekend at Monza.
This is also where Round 14 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship will be taking place, with the 2019 Italian Grand Prix set to be a battle between Mercedes and Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton (268 points) leads the championship by 65 points over his Mercedes’ teammate Valtteri Bottas (203 points) after finishing a close second behind Leclerc in Belgium, and is really in complete control of the 2019 world championship over Bottas, who has been re-signed by Mercedes after great debate over whether he deserved to keep his spot in the team alongside Hamilton, while their test driver Esteban Ocon will be off to Renault in 2020 to be teammates with Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
Max Verstappen (181 points) is still third in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda despite crashing out of the Belgian Grand Prix at relatively low speed at Raidillon after suffering damage to his car after colliding with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen at Turn One on the opening lap of the race. To add insult to injury, Verstappen is set to take a grid penalty at Monza for using excessive power unit components.
Sebastian Vettel (169 points) is fourth, but just 12 points behind Verstappen after finishing a disappointing fourth last weekend behind third-placed Bottas, while his Ferrari teammate Leclerc (157 points) is closing in on the four-time world champion after his first race victory in Formula One, a victory tinged in sadness, with Leclerc dedicating his first win in Formula One to his long-time friend Anthoine Hubert.
Behind the Top Five in the standings, Pierre Gasly (65 points) is still sixth in the world championship after finishing ninth on his return to Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, remaining ahead of McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (58 points), who retired from the race after a power-unit failure on Lap Two.
Gasly’s new teammate at Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda Daniil Kvyat (33 points), Räikkönen (31 points), and the man who replaced Gasly at Red Bull Racing-Honda Alexander Albon (26 points) complete the Top 10 in the championship, with Albon finishing fifth from 17th on the grid in his first race with the senior Red Bull team.
In terms of the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (471 points) have had their sizeable lead cut by four points to 145 points over Ferrari (326 points), while Red Bull Racing-Honda (254 points) have lost ground to Ferrari, now trailing the Prancing Horse by 72 points.
Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (82 points) remain in a comfortable fourth, while Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (51 points) are in a battle for fifth with Renault (43 points) and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (40 points), while Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (32 points) and Haas-Ferrari (26 points) aren’t too far behind with Williams-Mercedes (one point) in last.
So, who will win the 2019 Italian Grand Prix?
Firstly, Formula One and the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI) have agreed to a new deal that will see Formula One and the Italian Grand Prix remain at Monza until the end of 2024, which is great news for the sport.
Secondly, it is going to be a battle between Ferrari and Mercedes, and given the form Ferrari showed at the Belgian Grand Prix, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either Sebastian Vettel or Charles Leclerc win this weekend, and are really odds-on favourites to claim pole position and the front row for the 2019 Italian Grand Prix, but you cannot rule out Mercedes, given their almost-always brilliant race pace.