As the powers that be consider a plethora of changes to the sport it appears as if the traditionally passionate Monza circuit will not form part of it.
No one will ever mistake F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone as soft touch. Then again, you don’t take a racing series and turn it into the pinnacle of motorsport by being sentimental. When asked about the future of the Italian grand prix he frankly answered “what goes, goes.”
For now though the circuit which ran its first race in 1950 is still on the F1 calendar and the next stop for the 2015 season. The famed Monza circuit isn’t revered for its technical difficulty or for its delivery of explosive races, at least not lately. It is loved for its history and for the cherished part it has in the history of Formula 1 racing.
The devoted and fanatical Tifosi may be dreaming of a red car winning the race but the demands of this classic power circuit makes that doubtful. Step number one for the engineers will be efficient aerodynamics. To reduce the maximum amount of drag the smallest rear-wing will be fitted, along with the slickest bodywork, in order to increase top-speed down the circuit three long straights. A towering straight line speed however isn’t the be all and end all as braking for the circuit’s few corners is as significant. “Braking has become the biggest thing at Monza. It’s very tricky to get that right,” says Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Ferrari team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene has cautioned fans not to expect too much this weekend and likened their chances of victory to “pulling a rabbit out of a hat.” However, Arrivabene has confirmed that there will be no “super engine” for Monza but that the team may spend “some tokens” to close the gap to Merc. Ferrari’s last engine upgrade was made at the Canadian grand prix with a fairly lacklustre improvement being the result.
The start of Sunday’s race could play a big part. In Belgium, under the new start procedure, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg dropped to fifth from second on the grid and Hamilton’s start wasn’t perfect either. This, combined with the long run to turn one, could put the Silver Arrows under pressure early on. If truth be told the only chance for an exciting Italian grand prix depends on the kind of start those in the second row can muster. If not, this will be another Mercedes victory bar any sort of unreliability.
Twelve months ago Nico Rosberg’s quest to win the world championship was on even keel with teammate Lewis Hamilton. Yet, despite a handful of wins and pole positions, in 2015 his chances appear to be shaky at best. This year the German’s confidence has taken a knock under the onslaught of the Hamilton juggernaut. Consequently, there aren’t many who would legitimately give Rosberg a genuine shot at taking the title off Hamilton.
It’s up to the driver of the number 6 Mercedes then to mount a serious challenge against Hamilton. And not just a challenge that is going to beat him this weekend but one that will force the reigning champion to seriously consider the possibility of a real threat from the other side of the garage.