Back to back race weekends although offering continuity, also offer some sort of displeasure to the Teams with this tight schedule. Some even call it ridiculous to have a schedule of this kind, While for the fans, after a long summer break, Spa as always proved to be an exciting encounter, Monza always promises to have some uniqueness. Although, the Championship can be said to be open, One team will have to defend their honor here while the other teams are keen to define the pecking order.
“It’s one of those really special races and a venue where you can really appreciate the history of the sport” - Paul di Resta
“It has been another tight turnaround as we head into the Italian Grand Prix weekend, but we’d better get used to that as it’s only the first of four back-to-backs in this second half of the season!” - John Booth, Marussia
“Monza is a sensational venue with lots of history - it’s a beautiful amphitheatre. The track is incredibly unique with massive top speeds, so there’s a lot of heavy braking” - Mark Webber
“Monza always gives a great challenge. It’s so unique compared with the more modern circuits as the layout means the car needs to be setup differently.” - Kimi Raikkonen
One can be pretty sure that everyone in the F1 Universe will love Monza, It’s one of the oldest surviving tracks with lots of rich heritage. In spite of the modern day tracks boasting of the state of the art facilities, nothing comes close to Monza, It’s one of its kind.
"Firstly, the track always produces very, very close grids and this is a season where the grids are close anyway." - James Allison
The key to Monza as many would point out is to be the fast in the straights while also caring a lot about Acceleration, Traction and Aerodynamics. Several teams design their parts specifically for this track and which might not be used anywhere else. With an exciting season currently we are having, It’s almost impossible to predict who is going to steal the spotlight this weekend.
“Monza is a similar circuit to Canada, where maximum speed and brake stability are important; and these are our strengths” - Pedro de la Rosa
“It feels like you never stop accelerating - and then you hit the brakes and the car feels really unstable, because the wings aren’t doing much to keep it settled” - Lewis Hamilton
Sometimes people tend to overestimate the drivers on the grid, although they crave for speed, Monza arguably is their difficult track. 75% of the time, drivers are said to be on full throttle but most important thing is that this track being so different to the rest of the tracks in the calendar it takes awhile for these drivers to get used to. On average as noted by di Resta, they are around 25 Km/h faster than what they used to drive across the year and the next most interesting fact is that braking distance are meant to varied in the race as the fuel load decreases and this is another reason, most drivers find it difficult. Yet, sometimes when drivers say, Monza is a difficult track, some people never understand why say so.
“It always takes awhile to get used to the car because we run with a lot less downforce compared to any other circuit. Your braking distances increase and we’re travelling about 25 km/h faster than we do all year. So adapting to that quickly and getting up to speed is always a challenge. It’s mainly about getting the brakes right. You need to have your brake balance spot on and it’s not easy when you’re changing fuel load” - Di Resta
Nevertheless, Monza is a track loved by drivers, the teams and the F1 Universe. Certain people while appreciating the track for its uniqueness are also wary of the Tifosi, While the obvious support from the fans will be to one particular team, few others who had a strong link with the red giant team are also hoping to garner enough support for the weekend.
“Monza’s heritage gives it a unique character” - Martin Whitmarsh
“When I think of Monza, I immediately see everything through a red veil. It is the beating racing heart of Italy, everything there lives and breathes Ferrari” - Michael Schumacher
At Spa, Even before the start of the practice sessions, Lotus were tipped to be a strong contender for the weekend, while many hinting that they might just win the race but turned out that they didn’t even come close to challenging Button who emerged as a dominant force. With Lotus now having a mixed weekend at Spa and with Grosjean being suspended for this race, James Allison points out that it will be tough to pick themselves as a contender.
“And, having made predictions about the last race that were not exactly on the mark, it’s even harder to do so here! That said, if you took the season as a whole, we’ve got a fair hit rate of arriving at tracks and performing reasonably. So the balance of probability is that we’ll do the same in Monza as well” - James Allison
One of the obvious reasons for their lack of competitiveness at Spa was the double DRS which would have been an X-Factor in Challenging Button in the race, but the team having not gathered enough data in that Free Practice Sessions, they decided to put off that ‘device’ for now. On quizzed more about the ‘device’. Allison stated that Suzuka might be the optimum place for its debut.
“Although we would like to have it at Monza - because it is the type of circuit that rewards such a thing - we don’t have the DRS device configured to cope with the Monza level of downforce“ - James Allison
Sauber, who had a miserable race at Spa are looking to turn their fortunes quick. As we pointed out in our race analysis for Spa, It’s important for a team like Sauber with far less resources as compared to other teams to gather the momentum quick and deliver a strong result failing which they will trailing behind many of the their nearest rivals for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Sauber’s Head of Engineering, Giampaolo Dall’Ara points out that for a team to perform well at Monza, a good mechanical grip is required.
“The Variante Ascari, a medium-speed chicane which is a double corner that also gives us an engineering challenge to balance out the drag requirements, which are very low with a reasonable amount of downforce and definitely a very good mechanical grip” - Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber head of track engineering
Sauber likewise seem to acknowledge the fact that despite having a good car which can perform reasonably well at this kind of track, it’s better off to set a low expectations.
“The expectation is to have a good weekend.” - Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber head of track engineering
Sebastian Vettel, who was on the top step of the podium last year states that it’s quite difficult to produce a perfect lap consistently in Monza but both both Vettel and Webber are having an modest expectations of Monza. Having literally been troubled at Spa where in the long straights Red Bull proved to be quite vulnerable, it will be a hard task for them to repeat what they have done in 2011 but the only way out for them is to be good at their strategy just like how they took the second place in Belgium. Ferrari have a hard task in their hands, it will be very important for them to come off with a decent result. With such a huge support from Tifosi, it would be a huge embarrassment for them if they don’t get a podium. An encouraging fact for them is Massa’s pace last weekend. Alonso will be looking forward to produce some points on the table as the gap he had in driver’s championship is being dented hard by his rivals. If Massa’s pace is anything to go by, We might very well see a Ferrari on the Podium.
“Strategy turned out to be a key ingredient to success last year, with the podium places only decided on the final lap, and we would expect the same again this year. With the cars at full throttle for so long, it’s hard for anybody to gain a big lead unless they use strategy to their advantage” - Paul Hembery
In the battle for seventh place in the constructors, Force India is looking to reproduce a strong result as in the likes of Spa, It would be a hard task for them this time however considering their pace on the long straights were encouraging at Spa, They might be looking to get both the cars into the Top 10 also another important thing to note was that in Montreal they looked to have a solid pace in the race but their tyre degradation was a huge issue which put them out of a strong result, although they stated that it wouldn’t be much of an issue again, they have to be careful with the tyres else Williams might get back their lost position. Williams are now desperate of a strong result, last week didn’t go according to their plan and with Maldonado slapped with dual 5 grid place penalties, it would be a hard task for them to set a target. Bruno Senna has showed some glimpses of his potential and he would have to help his team to a large haul of points as possible.
“We are aiming to get both cars home in the points and provided we have a trouble-free weekend there are no reasons why this cannot be achieved” - Mark Gillan
Out of the new teams, Caterham has showed some potential in the last weekend as they are now itching closer to scoring their maiden point, Marussia showed a step up with their performance as they made some updates to their car and are now closer to their nearest rivals, HRT showed strong run with Narain, but with him being force to retire, they seem to be quite distant to their rivals. Marussia however states that Monza however is not an ideal place for them to show their true potential while HRT says the characteristics of F112 will suit the track. A much better pecking order will only emerge at Singapore when Caterham and HRT are both set for an update.
“Given the nature of the F112, our car should adapt well to this circuit. Our maximum speed is good and so is our braking so I’m confident that we will be able to perform well” - Luis Perez-Sala
“With the realistic expectations we have for this race, because we aren’t simply picking up where we left off. Monza is quite a different challenge as its high speed characteristics call for a low-downforce set-up and we know from Canada that our car does not work as well at this type of track” - John Booth
Two drivers will share a greater deal of spotlight this weekend, Jerome d’Ambrosio, who is all set to step in for Romain Grosjean has admitted that he has to grab this opportunity as it’s important for him to showcase his talent and make use of this limited opportunity while the other focus will be on Ma Qing Hua who will become the first Chinese driver to step into the cockpit of a Formula 1 car, He will replace Narain Karthikeyan who was the first Indian ever to do so.
“I had my last podium in GP2 there, so I have good memories of Monza. It is a very challenging track because of the low downforce. It’s also going to be a special event in general, because it is the last race in Europe and Monza always has a very special atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to it” - Jerome d’Ambrosio
"This is a very important step towards my dream of becoming a Formula One driver, It will be my second time in the car, after the young driver test in Silverstone, and I’m very excited about driving at a circuit like Monza. The objective of this session is to continue advancing with my programme, rack up more miles and experience at the wheel of an F1 car and help the team with whatever they need.” - Ma Qing Hua
Regardless of what they do rest of the season, Monza will always be special to F1 Universe and with Formula 1 gradually moving away to new venues, Monza will be loved even more then ever before and it will be an important thing in a team's mind to give their maximum as it will be an honor to achieve something at the track such as this
"It’s a track where the past comes to life and it’s an honour to tread upon the same Tarmac as some of the sport’s true greats" - Martin Whitmarsh