For the first time in years, Ferrari are turning up at their home Grand Prix in Monza – with a realistic chance of winning and also an expectant Tifosi.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who signed a new long-term deal in Spa last week, is leading the Drivers’ championship by seven points from Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel is looking to deliver Ferrari’s first drivers title in a decade and he is looking for the win at Monza in his red machine, and although he has three wins in the Italian GP – he has not done it with Ferrari.
“It’s a special place,” said Vettel. “When I walked the track this morning there are some pictures coming back.
“Monza is never a critical race for us. But I think it is the nicest race – we have a lot of support and the atmosphere is special. I am looking forward to it.”
Hamilton comes into the weekend knowing pole position will see him land the 69th of his career and that would break the record he currently shares with Michael Schumacher, but the Brit is concentrating on trying to catch Vettel.
“Ferrari have the better car and we have to do all we can to stay in front this time,” said Hamilton.
“I’m happy but I know the difficulties that lie ahead and I have to try and figure out how to apply positive energy to my guys to bring more magic.”
Away from the top two, one of the biggest talking points has been the constant clashes between Force India duo Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon – but the team don’t plan on letting that happen again.
Team Otmar Szafnauer says: “I’m disappointed that they couldn’t sort it out – and that the team has to now play big brother. That is disappointing. But the team comes first and that is what we have to do.
“If we would have done that initially, maybe this wouldn’t have happened if we had rules of engagement. So you can say that we lost out on some points. But there is always that balance between the show and allowing them to race and pushing each other, and artificially controlling it, which we don’t like to do.”
Red Bull are not expecting a good weekend in Monza and are already looking ahead to Singapore and could take penalties in Italy to help them in the future.
Daniel Ricciardo admitted: “I don’t want to take any risks in Singapore and race with an old engine. If we have to be strategic about it then OK.”
Red Bull have seen Max Verstappen suffer a number of engine problems in recent races and they are not happy with supplier Renault, and are demanding an improvement.
“I think that Renault are quite aware that their reliability and product isn’t where it should be and that’s their business to sort that out,” said Horner.
“We’re a paying customer and it’s obviously below par — the service that we’re seeing at this point in time, because of the reliability issues. We’re staring down the barrel at a bunch of penalties at Monza.”
Our new motorsport expert Seb Morris delivers his verdict on Monza
I think Monza will certainly bring a more interesting race than the ones we’ve had so far this year. This is simply due to teams taking so much downforce off the cars in search for high top speed speed gains down the many straights Monza has to offer.
This ultimately brings it down to who has the best power plant/ vs natural downforce ratio for the track.
As usual. The Mercs will be right up there and still the favourites, however the ferraris also know how to set up a car round Monza and it seems they are nearly dead level with Mercedes in terms of power. I wouldn’t be suprised if Vettel pulls something out of the bag here.
Further down the grid, I see Red Bull struggling this weekend due to the power plant and penalties. I wouldn’t be surprised to see teams such as the Force Indias and even Williams try to over take red bull on pace with the Mercedes power plant.
Watch out for something that could potentially throw a spanner in the works in qualifying is teams making their drivers work together to slipstream each other in alternate laps in qualifying. This could have much as a half a second benefit if done correctly.