After quietly blasting back into life at Spa Francorchamps, Formula One is already on move to Monza for 2018 Italian Grand Prix.
This is Ferrari’s home race so will it be celebrazioni domestiche or miseria for the Prancing Horse in front of their home crowd?
Circuit: Autodromo Nazionale Monza
Race Distance: 306.720km
Tyre Compounds: Mediums, Softs and Super Softs
As a power circuit, straight line speed is going to be important around here which adds further intrigue to the Ferrari vs Mercedes battle unfolding this season.
Both teams brought upgrades to Belgium which seemed to benefit Ferrari more as demonstrated by the way Sebastian Vettel breezed past Lewis Hamilton on run to Les Combes.
Monza however will provide a tougher test of their new power units because 70% of lap will be spent at full throttle, and it was from this point that Ferrari fell away from Mercedes in both the driver and constructor championships.
Fast forward a year and both championships are currently very close, making this weekend quite defining in terms of whether Ferrari are a match or even faster than Mercedes.
These power units however must last till end of season which potentially favours Mercedes, if they are deliberately not extracting full power at this stage in an attempt to mislead Ferrari physiologically.
Spa meanwhile saw Vettel make some wet weather progress in his Ferrari, having struggled in Germany and Hungary, which is a positive with rain expected throughout Friday practice before potentially returning during Saturday’s Qualifying.
With various factors in play, this is surely going to be a pivotal weekend between Ferrari and Mercedes before the flyaways recommence.
Racing Point Force India arrive in Italy with hopes of continuing their step forward from Spam having scored on their debut as a new entry last time out.
Monza should suit Force India just as much as Spa did because they are amongst the best in straight line speed and with new parts coming this weekend, Sergio Perez is “really motivated” about what they can achieve and if will “continue with the speed” that was consistently on display throughout last weekend.
The Mexican’s thoughts are echoed by Team Principal, Otmar Szafnauer who believes that “top speed and stability on the brakes” will play to their strengths and continue “the momentum from Spa.”
Those thoughts could well be tempered by the weather forecast but should qualifying goes the opposite way of rain moving in throughout session, don’t count Force India out in Q3 if it’s a drying track.
Following Force India’s points deletion for change of owner and a wretched Belgian Grand Prix for Renault, Haas now appear to have the advantage heading into this week with the gap between them and Renault down to six points in the race for fourth.
Monza however is a power circuit much like Baku and Montreal and Haas failed to score at either tracks this season, making this track potentially a tough circuit for their car.
Guenther Steiner has however confirmed that they will be bringing “some smaller upgrades” here, which should hopefully provide a step forward at these sort of tracks, although weather could well limit their potential this weekend.
Rain is forecast throughout Friday before potentially returning on Saturday and we have seen Haas perform decently if not spectacular in previous wet conditions this season, despite making Q3 in last two races.
This weekend therefore could be significant in Haas’ battle with Renault, who haven’t fared as well in the wet as the American outfit across recent race weekends.
Missed any of the first ten race weekends and want to get up to date? Click on any of the hyperlinks below to go and check out my round up of the weekend/s.