By Neil Leverett
- Round eight of the 2020 Formula 1 season rolls into Monza this weekend for the Italian Grand Prix
- Lewis Hamilton eyes 90th GP win, Ferrari seek solace in Lombardy as Williams family set to step down
- Double header in Italy ahead of Mugello F1 bow next weekend in Tuscany
MONZA, ITALY – As Formula 1 rolls into Italy this weekend, Ferrari face a difficult homecoming at Monza, whilst Lewis Hamilton eyes a 90th Grand Prix win.
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Hamilton eyes milestone
As Round eight of the 2020 Formula 1 season moves south across the continent into the Mediterranean this weekend, Autodromo Nazionale di Monza plays host to the Italian Grand Prix.
Picking up his fifth win of the campaign last Sunday at Spa, Lewis Hamilton arrives in Lombardy looking to notch a milestone 90th F1 race win.
Now just two victories from equalling Michael Schumacher‘s long-standing record, an Italian F1 double header over the coming fortnight could see the Briton mark his most significant feat yet.
Holding a 50-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton appears to be at his imperious best and with five wins at Monza already under his belt, the Mercedes driver is well set to further inch his way to motor sport immortality this weekend.
Bottas targets improvement
Finn Bottas meanwhile has been left chasing Hamilton’s shadow once more after his opening weekend win in Austria.
Left with a sizeable deficit across the following six weekends this season however, the 31-year-old is targeting improvements at Monza.
Beaten again to pole by the rampant Briton by over half-a-second in Belgium, Hamilton was able to race away into the Stavelot horizon and as Bottas told F1.com, must up his game in qualifying to get the jump on the six-time world champion.
“Lewis has been really consistent, not making any mistakes in qualifying.
I feel my race pace this year has been better than any year before, so that’s a positive. [So] I feel like always in the race I’m there and I can fight for it.
So now it’s just about trying to perform better and more consistently in qualifying sessions.”
Ferrari desperate for home respite
With harmony relatively oozing from the garages of Mercedes, Ferrari make the return home to Italian shores in something close to ‘la crisi’.
Perennial constructors champions in the noughties, Scuderia’s unfathomable fall from grace has stunned many this season, not least Team boss Mattia Binotto who stands a rather isolated figure.
A chance to resurrect their fortunes on the same home tarmac Charles Leclerc was victorious on last season, is a welcome one.
However, with the eye of scrutiny on the Prancing Horse more than ever this weekend, the pressure will be ten-fold.
Despite Ferrari’s paltry two podium finishes via Leclerc at the Red Bull Ring and at Silverstone, the demands will be high of Binotto and his team but the absence of the tifosi surrounding the circuit will at least be a blessing.
A combined 13th-14th finish in Belgium was the lowest finish for Scuderia in many years and after their failing car performance was exposed last time out, the question is, could it yet get worse for the Italian manufacturer in their own back yard?
Williams’ family farewell
This weekend will also mark a poignant moment in F1 history, after it was announced on Thursday that both Sir Frank Williams and daughter Claire will step down from Williams team responsibilities after the Italian GP.
Founded in 1977, Williams Sr. turned the British manufacturer into one of the sport’s most successful teams, winning nine constructors’ championships and seven drivers’ titles, dominating for large chunks of the 1980s and 1990s.
Their last GP win was in 2012 however, and for the past two seasons they have finished last in the championship.
Financial losses last year led to the family in seeking new investment from US investment group Dorilton Capital, who took over ownership last month.
On what will be an emotional weekend, Claire Williams told BBC Sport that with the team’s future now secured, it was finally time to leave the paddock after a family involvement now in its’ 43rd year.
“With the future of the team now secured, this feels like the appropriate time for us to step away from the sport.
As a family, we have always prioritised Williams. We have demonstrated that by our recent actions with the strategic review process and we believe now is the right time to hand over the reins and give the new owners the opportunity to take the team into the future.
We have been in this sport for more than four decades. We are incredibly proud of our track record and the legacy we leave behind.”
The 2020 Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix takes place at Autodromo di Nazionale Monza in Italy, this weekend.
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