By Neil Leverett
- Round 14 of the Formula 1 season rolls on to Italy and Monza this weekend
- Sebastian Vettel closed points gap to Lewis Hamilton with win in Belgium last Sunday
- Briton still holds Drivers’ Championship lead by 17 points, as Ferrari and Mercedes duel for Constructors’ trophy
MONZA, ITALY – Formula 1 rolls into Monza this weekend for the Italian Grand Prix, as Sebastian Vettel looks to build further momentum in Italy.
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Hamilton looks to hold off Vettel charge
After Sebastian Vettel cut his World Drivers’ Championship arrears back to 17 points, the German will be eyeing back-to-back Formula 1 one wins for the first time since the opening two races of the season.
Following wins in Australia and Bahrain earlier this campaign, both he and Lewis Hamilton have again played cat and mouse for top spot on the podium and having drawn level with his British foe at Spa-Francorchamps last time out in terms of wins, Vettel will be keen to take Ferrari’s momentum into top gear with six races to go after this weekend.
Hamilton meanwhile has a job on his hands to quell to German tide of his opponent, but will also be acutely aware that the latter stages of the season have been his strongest as was the case last season.
Indeed, like in Belgium, the Briton has won in three of the last four years at Monza. That however after winning in south-east Belgium, is all the motivation Vettel needs.
Does Ricciardo have anything left in Red Bull tank?
In the light of Daniel Ricciardo announcing his departure from Red Bull for Renault next season earlier this month, the Australian has struck a figure of ‘nothing to lose’ but also ‘nothing to gain’.
After another frustrating race at Spa, the 29-year-old from Perth was forced to retire after being caught up in the opening turn carnage which saw Fernando Alonso propelled into the Belgian air at speed. Ricciardo trudged back to the pits and after fixing a damaged rear wing, was forced to forfeit 29 laps in.
With just seven races left in his Red Bull career, Ricciardo will start from the back of the grid – like Nico Hulkenburg, his future teammate – with both men having upgraded their power units.
Having to play catchup already this weekend, this question must remain how much does the Australian want to impress Team boss Christian Horner as his days with the British manufacturer dwindle.
‘Fanatical fans’ ready for Monza showpiece
Monza has for decades been one of the great races on the Formula 1 weekend, and this weekend should be no exception. Following the rise from the ashes of Force India last weekend, Sergio Perez pointed to some late season form for the underdogs by finishing fastest in first practice earlier on Friday, which could set a precedent for qualifying on Saturday.
Motor racing has long been an obsession for Italian fans, and with Ferrari now regarded as clearly the fastest car in the paddock, the famous racing horse could be in for a special weekend. As Ricciardo himself states in regard to fans in northern Milan to BBC Sport:
“The fans are nuts, typical Italians. Very passionate.”
For rather different reasons, Monza has already bared witnessed to Marcus Ericsson’s spectacular crash on Friday. The Swede was was cleared to continue, but after early wet sessions and with further rain forecast during race weekend, could we see more iconic moments in Italy?
Whilst in the post the likes of the Great Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher locked horns and created fireworks around the Curva Parabolica, will Monza again deliver a race to remember?
The Italian Grand Prix takes place at Monza this weekend, with the race proper on Sunday at 2.10pm BST.
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