The Ferrari-owned Mugello circuit plays host to its first ever championship Formula One race at this weekend’s Tuscan Grand Prix (Race: 9.10am ET, Sunday).
The altered circumstances of this year’s championship have provided opportunities for a number of circuits that weren’t originally scheduled to hold races to get themselves onto the calendar. This particular race holds special significance as Ferrari’s 1,000th Grand Prix.
The team will run a special livery at this weekend’s event, created to coincide with that anniversary, but history and home track advantage is still unlikely to make them competitive. They were well off the pace in Monza last week and both of their cars had already exited the race prior to the craziness that produced a surprise winner.
For much of the weekend, it appeared a foregone conclusion that Mercedes would take victory. They locked out the front row in qualifying with over a seven-tenth gap to the third-placed driver. Even though Valtteri Bottas suffered some issues that initially saw him drop back from second to sixth, Lewis Hamilton had a commanding lead out front.
Then Kevin Magnussen’s Haas gave up on him on the inside of the final turn, producing a safety car and because of its position, the closure of the pit lane. Mercedes called in Hamilton without realizing it had been closed, leaving him with a 10-second stop/go penalty. The race was halted shortly after following a heavy crash for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. When it restarted, Hamilton came in to serve his penalty and re-joined in 15th.
With Hamilton out of the way, Bottas suffering understeer problems and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen out due to a power unit failure, the podium places had a very different look to them. Pierre Gasly held off the McLaren of Carlos Sainz to take his maiden victory in the AlphaTauri. Lance Stroll, whose poor getaway at the restart ruined his chance of taking the win, was third for Racing Point.
There is unlikely to be quite such a varied podium this weekend. Last week’s race was one of the rare occasions when things go wrong for Mercedes. Red Bull and Verstappen should have a quicker package at Mugello, which bears a degree of resemblance to Silverstone with many medium and fast-speed corners, albeit with a longer main straight.
The best American bookies’ odds for the race win and podium markets don’t offer a great deal of value, but it might be worth backing Verstappen’s teammate Alexander Albon to take a top-six finish.
Albon hasn’t had the best of seasons and his position will only come under further scrutiny given Gasly’s performances in the junior team. Albon has finished in the top six in half of the eight races to date, including in one of the two races at Silverstone, the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix in which Verstappen triumphed. A repeat on Sunday is a distinct possibility.
The McLaren of Lando Norris, Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault filled the three remaining top-six spots in Monza. They were ahead of the recovering Hamilton, Esteban Ocon’s Renault, the second AlphaTauri of Daniil Kyvat and the Racing Point of Sergio Perez. Perez has confirmed that he will leave the team at the end of the season, presumably to make way for the yet to be announced arrival of Sebastian Vettel from Ferrari.
Perez’s teammate Stroll has performed above expectations this season, outscoring Perez on a points-per-race basis and securing four top-six finishes. Racing Point have a quick car this year and Stroll has a solid chance of coming home in the top six again on Sunday.
Ferrari might not be in contention for victories or podiums this weekend, but their lack of straight-line speed should not be quite as readily apparent as it was at Monza. The betting odds on them getting into the points look relatively attractive.
Leclerc has been their primary points scorer this season and showed well in both of the races at Silverstone, finishing third and fourth with a pair of excellent drives. He is capable of breaching the top 10 on Sunday once again.
Our preview’s F1 Tuscan Grand Prix predictions and betting picks’ verdict is as follows:
- Back Alexander Albon to finish in the top six @ +105 with Intertops. It is +100 with Bovada or BetOnline.
- Bet on Lance Stroll to finish in the top six @ best odds of +150 with Bovada or BetOnline.
- Back Charles Leclerc to finish in the points (a top 10 finish) @ +100 (evens) with Bovada, Intertops or BetOnline.