There’s a 65-point gap at the top of the drivers’ standings as Formula 1 heads to its 14th race of the season – the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Lewis Hamilton’s second-placed finish in Belgium last time out extended his advantage over teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Ferrari will be hoping their first win of the season last week marks an upturn in fortunes ahead of their home race in front of the Tifosi.
3 Legs 4 Wheels looks ahead to the trip to Italy.
Last year’s race
Then-Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen gave the home fans something to cheer about in qualifying, when he set a lap time at the fastest ever average speed in F1, putting himself on pole position.
After an early safety car caused by a collision at the back of the field which ended Brendon Hartley’s race early, the Finn soon came under pressure from Hamilton for the lead.
Raikkonen pitted first from the front, and had to push hard on new tyres to ensure Hamilton remained behind once he stopped, but by then the Ferrari driver had already damaged his tyres, making him an easy car to pass once the Briton caught up to him.
Max Verstappen initially crossed the line third, but missed out on a spot on the podium due to a five-second time penalty for an incident with Valtteri Bottas during the race, which handed the Mercedes driver the final place on the rostrum.
There was also a disqualification after the race, with Haas’s floor deemed to be illegal following a challenge from Renault, which saw Romain Grosjean lose out on a sixth-placed finish.
Monza may be almost 100 years old, but the track has undergone many changes over the years. Having hosted F1 every year except 1980, it now uses a 5.793km circuit, with the race being held over 53 laps.
11 corners make up one lap of Monza. Kimi Raikkonen set the outright lap record last year, but Rubens Barrichello’s 2004 effort of 1:21.046 remains the race lap record.
Home sweet home 🏠
Join @Anto_Giovinazzi for a fast, exciting lap around Monza in this week's Circuit Guide
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 5, 2019
There are two DRS zones being used for this race. The first is detected one the way into turn 7 and deployed just after, with the second detection point at turn 11 to be activated after the finish line.
Raikkonen’s tyres not lasting the distance probably cost him the race last year, which could explain why both Mercedes and Ferrari have fewer of the C4 compound than the rest of the grid.
Contrastingly, Max Verstappen – who’ll be starting at the back of the grid due to an engine penalty – and the Racing Point drivers – both have 10 sets of softs.
The early safety car meant there were a few tyre strategies in play last year, with a number of drivers – including Sebastian Vettel – coming in after just one lap and stopping again later in the race.
Those who made up places during the race though were the ones who made the one-stop strategy work, particularly those who were able to stay out longer than those around them, finishing on fresher tyres.
Monza may be Ferrari territory in the stands, but it’s been a barren spell for the Italian manufacturer at home, with their last victory coming courtesy of Fernando Alonso back in 2010.
That win came following a tantalising battle with McLaren’s Jenson Button, with the duo having both lined up on the front row.
The Briton got the better start before the pitstops brought them together on the track. The duo battled wheel to wheel, with the Spaniard eventually came out on top, finishing less than three seconds ahead of the then reigning champion.
Statistics and form
Mercedes may be dominating the constructors championship, with Hamilton holding a huge lead in the drivers’ standings, but three of the last five races have been won by other teams. Another win for Hamilton this year would make him the most successful driver at this track though – he’s currently tied on five with Michael Schumacher.
Hamilton has been near-unbeatable in Italy in recent years, winning four of the last five races at this track. Vettel is the only other driver on the current grid to have won at this track, securing three wins during his Toro Rosso and Red Bull days, but he’s yet to stand on the top step since switching the Ferrari.
Red Bull admit this isn’t the best track for their car, which probably influenced their and Honda’s decision to give Verstappen, as well as Pierre Gasly in the Toro Rosso, a fourth engine of the season, ensuring a start from the back of the grid. The good news for those two is that Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat both seemed to go well with the new power unit in Belgium. No one other than Vettel has ever stood on the podium in Monza for Red Bull, although Albon clearly likes the track having finished in the top three in F2 last year, so he could feature, particularly with rain forecast.
Sergio Perez is one driver who always seems to do well at Monza. He had a podium at this race in 2012 and has been in the top 10 every year since 2014, plus he heads into this race after equalling his best finish of the season with 6th in Belgium last time out, ending a run of eight races without a point.
McLaren will be hoping to bounce back from a double DNF last time out, although Lando Norris was classified 11th after breaking down on the final lap at Spa. It ended a strong run of points hauls for Carlos Sainz which had left him on the verge of overtaking Gasly in the drivers’ championship. Only Haas have more retirements this season, although including classified DNFs, McLaren leads the way in retirements.
Don’t forget to join us during qualifying and the race for our live blogs, and check out this week’s podcast to hear what we think ahead of this weekend’s action. You can also take part in our predictions game and see who we think could be on the podium. If you want to get in touch, you can do so through Twitter and Facebook.