Le Mans winner Richard Bradley has tipped McLaren to struggle and Lance Stroll to surprise for his Italian Grand Prix predictions in the latest edition of the On Track GP Podcast.
McLaren have emerged as the most consistent threat to Max Verstappen and the dominant Red Bull team over recent weeks, with Lando Norris claiming consecutive podiums in Britain and Hungary.
Norris fancied his chances of taking pole position at last weekend’s Dutch GP at the high-downforce Zandvoort circuit, but was forced to settle for second on the grid before fading to seventh in a rain-affected race.
Revealed: Richard Bradley’s Italian Grand Prix predictions with On Track GP
With the high-speed Monza circuit presenting a very different technical challenge, Bradley believes the lessons from McLaren’s disappointing performance at Spa point to a troublesome weekend for the team in Italy.
And he feels Liam Lawson, who replaced the injured Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri at very short notice at Zandvoort, and Williams driver Alex Albon – fresh from qualifying fourth on the grid in the Netherlands – may be the ones to watch.
The full video is available to view at the foot of this article.
“Max Verstappen will be quite quick,” he said.
“Very excited to see Liam Lawson there, because it’s a place that he’ll know very, very well and it’s a much more normal circuit – and it’s probably one of if not the easiest circuit on the calendar in terms of learning references and stuff like that, so I’m really excited to see that.
“Again, Alex Albon – he just keeps on blowing us away, doesn’t he? Really excited to see that.
“I think McLaren will struggle. I think, based on what we saw at Spa, I don’t think their low-downforce package is the best.”
Asked to name his surprise package for the Italian GP, Bradley named Stroll, who in 2017 at Monza became the youngest-ever driver to start a grand prix from the front row of the grid aged 18.
Stroll has come in for extreme criticism this season due to his poor performances alongside two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso, with the Canadian currently 121 points behind his Aston Martin team-mate in the Drivers’ standings.
Bradley believes the nature of the Monza circuit will conceal Stroll’s weaknesses against Alonso better than most venues on the F1 calendar and, despite the team’s own straight-line speed worries, has backed the 24-year-old for a strong result.
He said: “I’m going to go rogue and say Stroll.
“I’m going to say that because, again, it’s one of the easier circuits and it’s very, very easy to get used to. It’s very easy to see your team-mate’s data and to be able to apply it and Monza – there’s lots of references, there’s lots of markers for you to be able to say: ‘OK, I need to brake 10 metres later, I’ll do this.’
“So I think Stroll will be quite good there.
“And again [it’s] a circuit where everybody’s done hundreds of laps there. It’s actually got very famous YouTube [clip] of Stroll in Monza because he did an absolute barrel roll in between the first chicane and the Curva Grande in Formula 3.
“That race was just carnage, Formula 3 around Monza is always carnage. They actually had to abandon the last race because everyone just kept crashing.”
The Italian GP is the home race of Ferrari, who despite claiming pole position for the 2022 event are without a win at Monza since Charles Leclerc’s triumph in 2019.
Bradley feels Leclerc’s pole on the streets of Baku earlier this season should offer hope to Ferrari, but expects the Scuderia’s year-long wait for a victory to go on.
“Obviously, Monza is the most important race of the year for them,” he said. “They put a lot of effort into Monza. Ferrari always seem to go a little bit better at Monza than they do everywhere else.
“I don’t think they’ll be too bad. It goes back to that Baku form because there’s a lot of similarities between Baku and Monza – but you can’t see them doing anything special, can you? Probably P5/6, maximum.”
On Track GP is a YouTube channel launched in collaboration between PlanetF1.com and DR Sports. You can watch the full latest episode of the On Track GP Podcast below, debriefing the Dutch Grand Prix and looking ahead to the Italian Grand Prix.