Top betting tips for Italian GP: Lando Norris to claim podium finish at Monza

After failing to achieve top spot at Monza for the past two years, can Lewis Hamilton claim the Italian crown this weekend? However, our Planet Sport tipsters have an unlikely hero in their sights?

Three points separate Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in the World Championship standings - and the Italian Grand Prix odds reflect just how tight their battle is.

Planet Sport tipsters have scanned all the Italian GP markets to find the value to help you bash the bookies this weekend.

(text odds in the article are subject to change)

Italian Grand Prix Planet Sport picks

There is little doubt Red Bull have had a performance edge over Mercedes throughout the season and that was shown again when Verstappen sent his home crowd delirious by winning at Zandvoort last weekend.

Had it not been for a tyre blowout in Azerbaijan and coming off worst from first-lap incidents in Britain and Hungary, the Dutchman's lead would be much bigger than three points over the reigning champion, whose only failure to score came from his own mistake in Baku.

However, Monza is usually a Mercedes stronghold and so if Red Bull can secure their first victory at the 'Temple of Speed' since their golden era under Sebastian Vettel, it would give them huge confidence that they can go on to secure both World Championships this year.

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This is not a normal weekend, however, as it features the second trial of Sprint Qualifying, and we all know how the first one at Silverstone played out - Hamilton was fastest in the traditional one-hour session on the Friday, Verstappen beat him in Saturday's sprint and then they collided on the opening lap of the race, disastrously for the Red Bull driver.

In normal circumstances, the fastest car tends to come out on top at Monza and with the forecast for hot and sunny weather, that should be the case this weekend.

With the Red Bull RB16B holding that pace advantage over the Mercedes W12, Verstappen at 11/10 appeals as the better bet in the Race Winner market than Hamilton at 1/1.

Italian Grand Prix Podium Finish picks

If you are looking for a somewhat bigger return, there is a tasty-looking option for a Podium Finish, provided someone can muscle their way onto the rostrum at the expense of the all-too-familiar top-three line-up of Verstappen, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

It will be interesting to see how the news, finally confirmed this week, that Bottas is leaving Mercedes at the end of the season to join Alfa Romeo, making way for George Russell, will affect his driving for the rest of this year.

There were initial signs in the Netherlands, when appearing to defy a radio message, that the Finn was no longer as keen to play the team game. But, his unflappable personality also indicates there may not be much change in his performance.

Nevertheless, neither Bottas nor Sergio Perez has been completely reliable this year and at odds of 8/11 and 9/4 respectively, they are passed over in favour of Lando Norris at 5/2.

The Briton enjoyed a brilliant first 10 races this year, but his results have tailed off in the last three, although there were excuses each time.

He was caught up in a Bottas-triggered melee in Hungary, crashed out of a wet Belgian qualifying session, and then Zandvoort did not suit the McLaren at all.

But Monza will. It certainly did last year when Norris' former team-mate Carlos Sainz qualified third and finished second to shock winner Pierre Gasly. Norris himself started sixth and ended up fourth.

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On blisteringly quick tracks this year such as Imola and the Red Bull Ring, Norris has been a contender for pole position, and it is easy to see him challenging to be on the front row this weekend - for the sprint at least.

With a trio of top-three finishes already in 2021, this looks an ideal opportunity for Norris to bounce back from his recent blip to secure a fourth.

Italian GP Points Finish picks

Let's have one more shot and take a swing at Antonio Giovinazzi, still available at an appealing 4/1 in the Points Finish market despite a much more encouraging weekend at Zandvoort.

Precious few seats remain up for grabs in Formula 1 next year, but Giovinazzi's at Alfa Romeo is one of them, and he knows he needs strong results if he is to stay there alongside new arrival Bottas.

There were promising signs from the 27-year-old Italian when he qualified seventh at Zandvoort. However, he was unlucky in the race, getting involved in some early argy-bargy with Fernando Alonso and then suffering a puncture when in with a chance of points.

What better place than in his home race, and that of Alfa Romeo, to show that qualifying result was no one-off?

With Kimi Raikkonen still side-lined after his positive COVID-19 test, and reserve driver Robert Kubica again deputising, Giovinazzi will carry the leading hopes for Alfa Romeo, and he looks good value to secure some priceless points that would keep alive his hopes of extending his F1 career.

When will the action take place? (All time BST)

First practice: Friday 10 September, 1.30pm.

Qualifying: Friday 10 September, 5.00pm.

Second practice: Saturday 11 September, 11.00am.

Sprint: Saturday 11 September, 3.30pm.

Race: Sunday 12 September, 2.00pm.

How do I watch?

The race is broadcast live on Sky Sports F1 in the UK, and the build-up begins at 12.30pm.

Extended highlights are shown later in the day on Channel 4 at 6.30pm.

Or follow it live and get all the latest reaction and news on Planet F1.