Having been treated to the spectacle of Spa-Franchorchamps last weekend, the teams move on to Monza in Italy for the next round in the Formula 1 championship.
MYSTERY AND MAJESTY OF MONZA
There are hardly enough superlatives to describe Monza: magical, historical, fast, inspiring.
Put simply, Monza is the embodiment of Formula 1 and the track that every driver wants to conquer.
It came to life in 1922 and has since been on the race calendar every year apart from 1980. Located inside the walls of a royal park, it has staged more grand prix than any other circuit and is the third oldest permanent circuit in the world.
And much of this history remains at the track today. The old sloped banking that formed part of the track in the 1950’s, and the iconic corners of Grande, Lesmo and Parabolica have stood the test of time in a nod to the grandeur of the track.
“What is there left to say about Monza?” asks McLaren’s Jenson Button.
“It’s a unique, incredible racetrack – I love that its history surrounds the place – you just can’t ignore it. I also love that unique blend of Italian passion – and chaos – that engulfs the weekend.”
Amongst all of that, however, the drivers have their work cut out to tame this challenging track.
It is regarded as the fastest on the calendar with cars exceeding 320km/h (199mph) on four occasions around the lap. But teams will also be closely monitoring brake wear with the six braking zones around the lap all following high-speed entries.
Perhaps the most crucial corner is Lesmo (Turn 6 and 7). The second part of Lesmo – Turn 7 – is a deceptively fast right-hander at 280km/h and the drivers need to get good speed through the exit to take advantage of the long straight that follows.
“The two Lesmo corners are crucial: you need to be stable under braking and control your traction – get wheelspin out of the corner and you’ll destroy your tyres,” noted Force India’s Sergio Perez.
“Then you have the Parabolica: it lost a little of its challenge with the tarmac run-off but you still need to be very precise and use the very last inch of track in this interesting corner.”
Lewis Hamilton turned in a superb drive last weekend in Belgium to finish third after starting from 22nd place.
After accumulating 55 penalty points to stockpiling engine parts, Hamilton can now look forward to remainder of the season with no further setbacks – barring any mechanical problems.
“Spa was about as good as damage limitation can get, I think!” said Lewis Hamilton.
“Now we go to Monza – a track I know well from so many racing categories throughout my career and one it’s impossible not to love. The speed, the history, the atmosphere… it’s just so iconic in every way.”
“It’s game on for me now with the penalties out of the way and fresh engines ready to use. I can’t wait to get back out there.”
For Rosberg, his objective is clear: he is “treating every race like a cup final” to claw back the deficit to Hamilton and put the pressure back on the reigning world champion.
MAGNUSSEN SET TO RACE
Kevin Magnussen suffered a serious high-speed crash last weekend when he lost control of the car through the final part of Eau Rauge.
The Renault ploughed into the tyre barrier but Magnussen managed to limp away from the scene despite the car ending up in pieces.
He was later assessed for injuries and with only a bruised ankle the ambitious driver is looking to take to the track in Monza.
“I’m feeling okay. It was a big crash and I was sore but fortunately had nothing worse than a bruised ankle,” said Magnussen.
“I’ve had some more checks in Denmark and am working with my physio to keep fit. I feel I’m ready to race in Monza. The FIA will of course have the final word but I really want to and I’m confident that by then it will be fine.”
The Italian Grand Prix will start at 14:00 local time and will run over 53 laps.