We’re past silly season at F1 and the fastest race on the Formula One calendar is now here. Beloved by drivers and spectators alike, Monza is known for its turns and long straights where drivers can go up to 360km/hr.
The Autodromo Nazionale Monza has been home to the Italian Grand Prix since its inception in 1950, with the exception of 1980 when it was held at Imola, the home of the San Marino Grand Prix between 1981 and 2006.
McLaren have taken on more grid penalties at the Italian Grand Prix – 10 for Fernando Alonso and 5 for Jenson Button after their engines were replaced. They will start from the back at the Italian GP. The team have had a dismal season, with only 17 points so far, and although their performances have been better in the latter half of the season, they are not in the running for either constructors’ or drivers championships.
Mercedes continue their domination with the Italian Grand Prix. The Silver Arrows have used all their tokens for engine upgrades, and Championship frontrunner Lewis Hamilton was fastest at FP2 yesterday, followed by his teammate Nico Rosberg.
Ferrari were quick afterwards, with Sebastian Vettel after them in third. Force India brought a B-spec car to play early last month, and this showed in Sergio Perez’s standout performance at the Belgian Grand Prix. The Mexican was in sight of a podium spot before eventually finishing in 5th.
Perez and teammate Nico Hulkenberg finished well at second practice for the Italian Grand Prix, finishing in P4 and P5 on the timesheets behind 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who is in the running for the fastest lap award (he has 2 in the season so far) and recently had his seat at Scuderia Ferrari renewed for another year, finished in 6th.
It need not be another Mercedes-dominated race however, as Vettel moved up to 2nd fastest by third practice. Williams, who have been enjoying a recent good run of form, moved up as well. Teammates Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa have recently had both their contracts renewed by the team through the 2016 season. The team had a strong show at last year’s Grand Prix as well, with Massa finishing on the podium and Bottas behind him in 4th.
Red Bull Racing’s woes continued, with Daniel Ricciardo losing pace and finishing at the bottom in third practice. Red Bull had also taken on penalties for new engines, with Ricciardo taking 25 grid places, the most of any drivers penalised. While teammate Daniil Kvyat only got 10, Ricciardo had other elements of his power unit replaced, leading to additional penalties. Despite this, however, team boss Christian Horner said Ricciardo’s engine had a “terminal problem.”
Nico Rosberg said he would be observing teammate Lewis Hamilton to try to beat him. The gap between the two Mercedes has been minimal this year, and they have been the team to beat – something that has not happened too often during the 2015 season.
Pirelli and tyre-related drama continue to plague Formula One, with the tyre manufacturer issuing statements absolving themselves of all blame following multiple tyre incidents at the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium last week. While one of these was Nico Rosberg’s practice incident, the other lost Vettel and Ferrari a podium spot with two laps to go in the race.
The Italian tyremakers issued directives to teams saying cars had to be run with a minimum tyre pressure of 5psi greater than the previous level – 18psi as a precaution following the incidents at Spa.
Drivers, among them world champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were displeased with the decision. Pirelli revised the limits twice, finally ending at 1.5psi higher at the rear and 3psi higher at the front.
Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix will be this evening, with race day tomorrow. It is rumoured this may be the last race at the venue, but these have not been confirmed.
Frontrunner Hamilton is the reigning champion at the race, followed by teammate Nico Rosberg and Williams’ Felipe Massa.