Italian Grand Prix – Weekend Preview
With Formula One still not entirely over the might of the Orange Army, it embarks into the land of the passionate Tifosi for the final part of this triple header and the Italian Grand Prix! Can Max Verstappen extend his newfound championship lead or will Lewis Hamilton find that extra gear to turn the tables back into his favour?
Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Bruna Brito
The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, better known simply as Monza, is an old school highspeed race track that has become a fan favourite thanks to its consistent delivery of amazing racing! The 5.793 km circuit is made up mainly of long straights, allowing the cars to reach some of the highest speeds of the season before enduring some of the harshest braking zones of the season as the drivers hurl themselves into the tight and twisty first and second chicanes. The iconic track also features legendary corners such as the Curva Grande and the Curva Parabolica which test a drivers psyche with their high-speed, high-risk nature.
Being built in 1922, the near centenary old track has seen history made and remade all throughout its life. In the early days, the track featured a stunning banked section that gave way to impressive wheel to wheel action as that’s where drivers truly earned their wages battling along the dangerous 30° turn. In more recent years, fans may remember the emotional scenes of 1999 when Mika Hakkinen span out of the race lead. Knowing the possible championship repercussions of this mistake, Mika’s only reaction was understandably to run into the woods and ball his eyes out.
In more triumphant circumstances, Monza has played host to some truly enthralling battles. Title rivals, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel came to blows in 2011 as they pushed each other to (and sometimes over) the limit. Even in the same race, there was a titanic battle between Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher showing just why they are both the greatest of all time. Hamilton again came up against Kimi Räikkönen for the lead in 2018 after rival Vettel span himself out on the opening lap which led to some incredible back and forth action as Kimi proved the old dog still knew how to race. Hamilton would be at the front once more in 2019 as Charles Leclerc valiantly fought off the two Mercedes cars to win the Italian Grand Prix in a Ferrari. One year later in 2020, Pierre Gasly would achieve an unlikely first win following a manic race and battle with Carlos Sainz (which you can read more about here) in a similar vein to Sebastian Vettel’s first win at the same track and with the same team in 2008!
What can fans expect this year?
Hopefully, we will once more witness the championship rivals show their excellence against one another at the front as Verstappen and Hamilton squabble for the championship glory. Meanwhile, questions remain over Valtteri Bottas’ willingness to play the team game and support his British teammate – especially after the fastest lap mess during the Dutch Grand Prix and the recent news that he will be leaving to Alfa Romeo for next year with young George Russell taking his place at Mercedes!
Ferrari is expected to perform well in front of the adoring Tifosi and it is still to be seen how this pressure will affect Carlos Sainz as he prepares for his first Italian Grand Prix in red. Charles Leclerc will love the ‘home’ support as he hopes to emulate his 2019 glory. McLaren behind, however, will be wanting to move past a disappointing race last time out, in which botched team orders have begun to build a rift between their two drivers. Alpha Tauri, meanwhile, have great pace going into their home Grand Prix – particularly as the most recent winners of the event! They will be hoping to do well this weekend.
Alpine too look strong heading into Monza, coming off the back of a double points finish in the Netherlands. Aston Martin, on the other hand, would want to move past Zandvoort as soon as possible – and the best way to do that is by performing well this weekend. Alfa Romeo, who will once again see Robert Kubica replace the COVID ridden Raikkonen, had Giovinazzi put in one of the stand-out qualifying performances of the season last weekend only to be the unfortunate victim of an early puncture. They will be hoping to turn their luck around at their home Grand Prix.
At the back of the grid, Haas is expected to occupy the last row once again, although they will be hoping to make less of a mess of it than they did last time out with both drivers throwing shade at their teammate. William’s meanwhile see Monza as one of their best opportunities to score decent points and with the recent news of Alex Albon joining the team, spirits are high rolling into Italy!
Be sure not to miss any of the action this weekend!