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2017 Italian Grand Prix: Ferrari Set for Monza Fightback

The Formula One circus returns to the Temple of Speed – Monza for Round 13 of the Formula 1 World Championship.

The Italian Grand Prix also marks the end of the European season and the teams will embark on a series of fly-away races after Monza till the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

The circuit is one of the oldest tracks on the F1 calendar and has featured on the F1 roster almost every season. There have been a number of modifications made to the Monza circuit and Formula 1 cars have raced on all of them. The one in use for Formula 1 is the 9th variation of the circuit. The 5.793km long, 11 corner circuit with famous turns such as Curva Grande, Curva di Lesmo, Variente Ascari and Parabolica.

The engines have to work harder than any other track of the season.. Engines are at full throttle for 79% of the lap around Monza and it is the ultimate test for a manufacturer.. Top end speed and low drag are important with good traction out of the slow chicanes. A power deficit is easily exposed at teams with such a deficit make up for the lack in power by running extremely low-downforce setups.

Understeer is usually a problem around the lap with the very skinny wings the cars are set up with. The top speed last year was held by Lewis Hamilton. According to Mercedes’ data, he clocked a speed of 359.0km/h with the help of DRS and a tow down the pit straight. This years cars are wider and have more drag so we may not see blistering speeds. It is expected, however, that Variente Ascari (Turns 8, 9, and 10) will be taken at full throttle.

The championship battle is heating up and as we head off to the fly away races things will get intense. The gap between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton has been yo-yo’ing throughout the season. After his victory in Spa last week, Hamilton has brought the gap down to 7 points. A victory in Italy could see Hamilton leading the championship for the first time this season.

Mercedes are expected to be dominant at Monza. The power of the Mercedes engine gives them the advantage they need over the rest of the field. Ferrari are expected to bring an updated power unit to Monza which should bring them closer to Mercedes. There is still no confirmation of such a move.

Further back in the field, Red Bull expect to take engine penalties for Max Verstappen after he retired from the Belgian Grand Prix with a dead cylinder no.4 in his Renault Power Unit. With the Renault engine down on power compared to Mercedes and Ferrari, Verststappen looks like he’s going to have a tough weekend.

The Force India team had their hands full with their drivers coming together out on track once again. Force India Team Principal, Vijay Mallya has made it clear that the team will enforce team orders. While no one likes to see team orders, their drivers were given enough opportunity to show each other some respect on track but this did not happen.

Pirelli have stuck with the same compounds they have brought to Monza last year. The red marked super soft, the yellow marked soft and the white marked medium tyre. The durability of the of 2017 compounds may mean that it will be a one stop race this year. There are many overtaking opportunities around Monza so if teams wish to mix up their strategies a bit they do have that option.

While Mercedes may have won in Spa it was not the commanding victory Mercedes have usually pulled out. The fact that Ferrari were able to keep up with the Silver Arrows during the race despite their engine power update was definitely an eye opener for Mercedes bosses. Their speed will definitely make them hard to beat come qualifying. But the points are awarded after the race.

About Ritesh K Bhana

Ritesh likes to think he is a true Tifosi, but he still remains fair to other teams. He supports two other teams which are not Red Bull and McLaren. Follow Ritesh on twitter @Humanshield_1

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