F1 returned with a bang in Belgium but now says ciao to Monza for the 2017 Italian Grand Prix.
The championship might be down to seven points between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton but this is Ferrari’s home race. Will the enormity of this weekend serve to boost Vettel’s chances of a win in front of Italy’s tifosi?
This year was set to see the first chicane and Curva Grande removed in favour of a longer straight. Delays however mean that the traditional modern start is still in place for this year at least.
Here are some key pointers to watch out for this weekend.
Sizzling Force India
There is no bigger place to start than with Force India following last weekend’s events.
Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez collided at the start on entry to Eau Rouge. 30 laps later, they clashed again at that corner with Perez collecting a puncture before eventually retiring.
Team bosses have stated that team orders will come into play or risk a race ban. It will be interesting to see how both drivers approach the weekend and qualifying in particular.
If both end up racing each other on Sunday, we could well see tensions reach sizzling point with a repeat of Red Bull’s 2013 ‘Multi 21’ in store but this time at Force India.
Ultimate McLaren Honda test
McLaren seemed to make huge strides throughout practice and qualifying when took the fight to Force India and Renault.
Race day sadly saw their engine power deficiencies return as Stoffel Vandoorne slid backwards. As for Fernando Alonso, he retired citing an problem. Reports however suggest that there was no issue with the car.
Monza mainly is about straight line speed and engine power, so expect McLaren to discover just how much progress has been made or whether their partnership has to end before they embarrass themselves further.
With rumours of a Williams drive for 2018, Alonso’s passion for racing at McLaren has to be pulled into question after retiring for what apparently was a issue which is denied by Honda.
If Italy brings no luck, could Alonso repeat Kimi Raikkonen’s late 2013 ‘lack of payment’ move and sit out the remaining races citing ‘poor car’ in this case?
Following the FIA’s announcement that Mercedes can run their latest engine at a higher level of oil burn, does this hand the Silver Arrows an advantage?
The latest FIA ruling states that Mercedes can run their engine’s oil burn at a 1.2l per 100km rate. Those who are planning to bring new engines or ICE elements to Monza or beyond must run at the newly compulsory 0.9l/100km.
Mercedes only has this advantage because they brought their latest engine in last weekend.
Could that extra 0.3l/100km prove to be key to denying Ferrari a home win and even enable Mercedes to dart their way to a fourth consecutive constructor and driver championship double?
Troublesome weather in waiting?
Rain could flare up throughout the weekend, if current weather forecasts prove to be correct. This would come after Thursday reaches around the mid 30 degrees window in a heatwave.
The miserable weather is forecast for all three days according to some forecasters. Some however think Saturday will be the only day with dry running with thunderstorms on Friday and Sunday.
If the latter is correct, there are four big questions surrounding this weekend;
- Can Max Verstappen make his rain skills count admist reliability troubles?
- Could Vettel take pole on Saturday and dominate a wet race like he did in 2008 at Toro Rosso?
- Will Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Force India’s Sergio Perez maximise their wet quality and potentially get their cars challenging for a podium?
- Is this McLaren’s opportunity to get some decent points?
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