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Formula One Open Wheel

2017 Italian Grand Prix Preview

Momentum? Lewis Hamilton has a slight advantage over his title opponent, Sebastian Vettel, with five wins to his four. However, we have seen momentum change directions so frequently this season in Formula One that we are positively dizzy.

Needs A Good Run? Speaking of Ferrari, the Tifosi, those passionate race fans of Ferrari have very high expectations and are not afraid to boo any Ferrari driver who doesn’t do as well as they think he should. The Scuderia has not won at Monza since 2010, so they are likely to be ravenous for a win.

Sentimental Favorite? Italian race fans are among the most vocal and passionate in the world, so we can’t call it “sentimental.” If we had to name one though, it would be Fernando Alonzo, former Ferrari driver who brought the Tifosi their last Monza victory.

Challenges? Concerning outright speed, Monza is the fastest of all Formula One circuits. It has wickedly fast straights and challenging corners. Need I spell it out? Tire management!

Quotes:

“With the new generation of 2017 cars, we may see lower or similar top speeds to last year, but with more energy going through the tyres because of the extra downforce under the new regulations. This combination of speed and downforce defines the amount of work that the tyres have to do. The tyre choice has also been influenced by the risk of blistering at Monza, as there are plenty of braking areas in a straight line. This means that the cambered shoulder area of the tyre can easily overheat and so cause more blistering compared to other circuits. In the past Monza has given us many different types of weather, but following a very hot summer, it’s reasonable to expect more high temperatures over the weekend. How this influences tyre behaviour is likely to be a focus of free practice as the teams examine different potential strategies.” Mario Isola, Pirelli Head of Car Racing

I love Italy and I love Monza! It’s one of my favourite weekends of the season and the tifosi are amazing – they make such a special atmosphere. All the passion you feel throughout the weekend is very special. Also the track is great – you get to experience truly high speeds; you arrive very fast into the corners, with very low downforce, and it’s going to be very interesting in these 2017 cars. In many ways Italy is quite similar to the Mexico race in terms of the atmosphere and passion of the fans at the circuit. I’ve had some special days in Monza too, when I finished on the podium in 2012 and beat both the Ferraris. I guess that wasn’t great for the tifosi but I still received a lot of support when I was standing on the podium.” Sergio Perez, Force India driver

“Like Spa, Monza is one of those legendary tracks where everybody loves watching cars going racing. With the new wider, faster cars this year, it will definitely be another circuit where we’ll see a new fastest lap and some incredibly high speeds on the straights. It’s the fastest circuit on the calendar in terms of outright speed, and for a driver it’s an incredible feeling racing down those iconic straights punctuated by the tight chicanes and big, fast corners that require a huge amount of commitment. We’ve always said this circuit wouldn’t suit our package, and we expect a tough challenge. Although it’s power-hungry like Spa, it’s also different in many ways. Spa is a long race; the Monza circuit is short and sharp and the race always feels like it’s over very quickly. The thing I love most about Monza is the fans. Even when you’re not dressed in tifosi red, the fans come out in force and they’re all super passionate about racing and motorsport. The Italian Grand Prix is a favourite for many people and it really deserves its legendary reputation as a magic circuit for race fans.” Fernando Alonzo, McLaren driver

“I grew up in Italy and it’s a country I know well; it’s like a second home for me. I lived in Rome for some time when I was younger and I’m fluent in Italian, so I always enjoy going back! This race has been on the F1 calendar for many years and it’s a legendary circuit: it has very long straights, which means we drive at very high speeds, and it’s always an interesting race. The only thing I don’t like is the fact that the Parabolica doesn’t have a gravel trap any more… It’s now all asphalt, so it’s not such of a challenge and a compromise if you go off track; in the past it could end up meaning that your race was over! I have very good memories from Monza, as I won a few times while racing in junior categories, so it’s always special to go back there every year. Having said that, I also have a negative memory from 2014, when my brake disk broke at Turn 1 compromising my race to finish in P11: Starting from the last position on the grid I was able to make my way up, but not enough to score points… A big shame, as we were doing a very good race! I hope to create more good memories this year!” Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso driver

“The atmosphere in Italy is pretty awesome. I normally like more technical tracks, but Monza is still fun. It’s a track I’ve always enjoyed and it’s quite unique. The drivers’ parade in Monza is always special as well. Everyone is shouting Ferrari, but it’s still pretty awesome to experience it.” Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing driver.

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By Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.