Contrasting expectations for Hamilton and Button at Monza

By Jessica Borrell

  • Monza Preview
  • Last European race of 2015 calendar
  • High-speed straights, low down force circuit

Monza, Italy – The final European race of the 2015 calendar will highlight straight-line speed and punish those who lack concentration.

Many argue Monza isn’t the most exciting race, and that it has lost some of its legendary spark. The reinvention of the infamous sweeping Parabolica becoming more forgiving to mistakes and the kerbs being lifted all make for different challenges on the grid.

One thing hasn’t changed though; the fans, or more aptly in Italy, the Tifosi. The blanket of red shirts and flags covering the grandstands, the continuous post race chanting and the history they bring with them still makes it a classic to watch. This is the first Italian Grand Prix for Sebastian Vettel driving the prancing horse, but it will not be an easy challenge for him to get on the podium, let alone win, when the Mercedes power train keeps marching on in dominant fashion.

The Monza mission

Monza is a relatively easy track on paper; full of long straights and few corners to punish the tyres on, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing a shunt or two. Daniel Ricciardo told the Formula 1 website it’s not as easy as you may think for the drivers.

“If you need a breather, there are plenty of long straights where you can take one. Actually that can be a bit of a problem because it really isn’t a circuit where you want to lose focus. You’re coming into very heavy braking zones at very high speed and you can’t afford to lock-up or lose time by braking too early.”

The more exciting choice of soft compound tyres in a hard breaking circuit such as Monza is going to put all eyes yet again on Pirelli. Vettel was evidently furious after his rear right exploded with less than three laps to go, and called out the Italian tyre supplier to Sky Sports for providing less than safe options.

“It has to be said that the quality of the tyres is just appalling and we already have this issue now for years. I have no idea what we are waiting for. Pirelli’s prediction was that the tyres would last for 40 laps and we only used them for about 30 laps. Things like this mustn’t happen.”

Horsepower is crucial

With the straights and tyre-wear big factors in deciding strategy, you would expect the likes of Mercedes, Lotus and Force India to excel in the conditions. Mercedes have the power to speed away from any challenger and only Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg can ruin the others race it seems. Lotus’ surprise podium in Spa a fortnight ago has given a much-needed boost to team morale. It was rumoured that they had bailiffs sniffing around and the cars were impounded but have since left and now will look for another result this weekend.

Britwatch Sports has to give a shout out to Force India who with Sergio Perez earned a solid fifth place and a resulting ten points. Nico Hulkenburg unfortunately couldn’t finish race but the car suits being pushed to it’s max through the straights and should fare well here.

It’s going to be a miserable race for Williams and McLaren who will leave Europe in hope of better results. Williams suffered tyre degradation quicker than their rivals and that left them targets for those around. We have seen in previous races that Williams have stayed further up the points at circuits where they can maintain an advantage during the corners to set themselves up for any challenge down the straights, which is where they’ve struggled. McLaren know their engine isn’t up to full wack yet so won’t expect any miracles down the straights.

Schoolboy errors

All drivers will have driven Monza dozens of times, whether on track or in the simulator, so no one will be going into the race blind. Keep a look out that experience may pay dividends for drivers when the breaking zones comes quicker than you think. The first “corner” can catch out any late breakers and force them into the run off, which on the first lap bunches up the pack, scrabbles the running order and cause mayhem when ordered to give back a place without letting anyone else sneak up beside you. Who says Monza is boring?

The Belgian Grand Prix starts at 1pm and is live on Sky Sports F1 with highlights on the BBC.

 

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