Full preview of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza

Lewis Hamilton may head into this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza leading the championship, but he knows that victory here is massively important for his championship chances

Hamilton’s McLaren, with its aerodynamic efficiency and Mercedes engine, is expected to be the dominant force around the Italian autodrome.

Read Autocar’s Belgian Grand Prix report

The same cannot be said for the last five circuits that F1 2010 will visit, however, where the Red Bull of his chief rival Mark Webber should be strongest.

Hamilton knows, therefore, that he must capitalise on this chance to take as many points as possible off Webber as he can.

See Autocar’s ongoing picture review of the 2010 F1 season

That’s not to say that it is a two-horse race to the 2010 F1 title. Fernando Alonso, in fifth place, is just 41 points behind Hamilton with 25 awarded for a victory.

Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button in their Red Bull and McLaren cars respectively are in third and fourth places and no doubt ruing their collision at the Belgian Grand Prix.

No doubt soon Red Bull and McLaren will want to start supporting just one of their drivers, so Button and Vettel can ill-afford losing any further ground.

Don’t count out Alonso or his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa at Monza. Their car is almost as capable as the McLaren at fast circuits; a point demonstrated by the speed trap figures from the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago.

The Ferrari team as a whole is no doubt breathing a sigh of relief after the World Motor Sport Council decided not to punish the team further for its actions at the German Grand Prix. The Italian team will desperately want to return to form in front of its home crowd this weekend.

Further down the field, expect the Force Indias to do well and all the new teams to struggle more than they have in recent races because their Cosworth engines appear to be a little down on power in comparison to other powerplants.

My bet for the race: It would be too easy to go for a McLaren, so I’m going to say Alonso to win in front of Ferrari’s adoring fans.

Andrew Papworth

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