Emilia Romagna Grand Prix predictions: Upgraded Mercedes brings renewed hope
- Max Verstappen has won 12 of the last 16 Grands Prix
- Alpine have secured a double-points finish in two of the last four races
- Recommended bets:
- Max Verstappen to win
- Lewis Hamilton to finish on the podium
- Alpine double points finish
The first in an Italian double-header is next on the agenda for the Formula 1 roadshow as the 10 teams head to Imola and Max Verstappen is a 2/5 favourite to make it three successive Emilia Romagna Grand Prix wins.
The reigning world champion extended his lead in the World Drivers’ Championship with a dominant performance in Miami, cutting through the field from a starting position of ninth to take the chequered flag five seconds before teammate Sergio Perez, and some 26 seconds ahead of the nearest non-Red Bull car.
The Red Bull pairing have now finished first and second in four of the five Grands Prix this season to turn the championship into a two-horse race, although with an irrepressible Verstappen on top form and leading by 14 points, it looks more like a one-horse race.
W14 upgrades bring hope to Brackley
Given the chasmic pace difference, this period of Red-Bull dominance does not look like it will end anytime soon but one team hoping to make inroads into their commanding position are Mercedes, who will bring a major upgrade package to Imola as they abandon their zero-sidepod philosophy.
George Russell has already played down claims that The Silver Arrows will shoot back to the front of the grid but, after a difficult weekend in Miami in which he and Lewis Hamilton finished fourth and sixth respectively, there is hope this new development direction will cut some of the deficit and bring the team back into race-winning contention.
Certainly, with the talent and experience at their disposal they should be able to challenge the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso for the third step on the podium, which the Spaniard has stood upon in four of the five races so far this season.
Hamilton, who has finished ahead of Russell in three of these races and took second place in Australia, could well be in contention for another podium on Sunday.
Alpine gaining momentum
Outside of the four standout teams of Red Bull, Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari, Alpine have the most cause for optimism, despite a troubled start to the season.
Represented by the duo of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, the French team enjoyed a rare untroubled weekend in Miami for their second double-points finish of the season, and there is no denying the car looks pacey when it does not have engineers working on it.
Both drivers finished in the top 10 in the 2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix and, providing they can avoid collisions and breakdowns, another double-points finish is well within reach.