Rain caused chaos in last weekend's Dutch Grand Prix, but a fine few days of weather is expected at Monza for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.
Unsurprisingly, runaway championship leader Max Verstappen was able to master the challenging conditions at his home race at Zandvoort to secure a record-equalling ninth consecutive Grand Prix victory.
If he can repeat last year's Italian win he will be the sole owner of that record and, with his Red Bull looking even better suited to the demands of the fastest circuit on the calendar, it is hard to see beyond yet another Verstappen victory.
|Italian Grand Prix
|Autodromo Monza, near Milan, Italy
|14:00 Sunday, 3rd September, 2023
|How to watch
|Sky Sports F1
|Max Verstappen 2/9, Sergio Perez 9/1, Fernando Alonso 18/1, Lando Norris 20/1, Lewis Hamilton 20/1
After Verstappen's Orange Army descended on Zandvoort last week, the crowd will have a red hue at Monza as the Ferrari-mad Tifosi take over the circuit, though more in hope than expectation this year.
It was another disappointing weekend for Ferrari in the Netherlands, but Carlos Sainz's fifth-place finish was his best for five races, while the high-speed nature of the Monza circuit should play to the car's characteristics.
Charles Leclerc claimed pole position at Monza last season, but was unable to hold off Verstappen, who became the fifth different Italian GP winner in as many years.
Charles Leclerc was in championship contention in the early part of last season before his challenge fell apart and things have gone downhill again this year.
The struggles of driving a less competitive car have been compounded by more strategic errors, as well as too many mistakes from Leclerc himself.
The latest of those came at Zandvoort last week, where he crashed in qualifying and went off the track in the race, damaging his floor badly enough as to be hopelessly uncompetitive.
There are reasons to think Leclerc can bounce back in Ferrari's back yard, however.
Leclerc has managed only three podium finishes this season, but significantly they all came at circuits with long periods of flat-out running - Azerbaijan, Austria and Belgium.
The Monegasque racer was also on course for a podium at the season-opener in Bahrain, which is another power track.
Monza has the highest average speed of the season and is dominated by straights.
Leclerc is one of only two non-Red Bull drivers to start from pole position this season and that came in Baku, where the track is made up of slow corners and long straights, just like Monza.
While Verstappen saunters to effortless victory after effortless victory his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez is doing his best to demonstrate that the Dutchman's success is not all down to the car.
The Mexican veteran has headed home the chase of Verstappen in second place only once in that last eight races, but the signs are that Perez is rediscovering his form after a mid-season wobble.
Checo won two of the first four races of the season and declared himself a championship contender, but an early crash in qualifying at Monaco began a run of five races in which he failed to start a race inside the top ten.
He has enjoyed spells in the lead of the last two events, however, and should be confident of another strong outing this weekend.
Perez was unlucky not to collect his fourth podium in five races in the Netherlands last week, a penalty for speeding in the pit-lane demoting him from the third place in which he crossed the line.
The Mexican won in Azerbaijan and was second in Belgium at similar circuits, while he finished third in Austria despite starting 15th on the grid, and the about him joining his illustrious team-mate on the Monza podium is worth taking.
The team now known as AlphaTauri scored their only two F1 victories at Monza, with Sebastian Vettel in 2008 and Pierre Gasly in 2020.
While it's impossible to see them repeating those achievements this weekend, Yuki Tsunoda could give the team who sit bottom of the constructors' standings a lift by picking up a point or two.
Highly-regarded rookie Liam Lawson made his F1 debut last week after Daniel Ricciardo broke his hand in a crash on Friday, and the New Zealander's presence should be incentive for Tsunoda to be at his best.
Tsunoda picked up penalties in both qualifying and the race at Zandvoort, but in general the fiery Japanese charger has been far more mature in his approach this season.
Fast circuits also seem to bring out the best in his car.
Tsunoda scored points by finishing tenth in Baku and Belgium and his Honda-produced RBPT power unit is enough of an asset to make the 5/1 on offer for a top-ten finish to be of interest.