Italian Grand Prix Preview: Tyres the talking point

Monza, Italian Grand Prix, Kettle Mag, Charlie Wright
Written by F1_Charlie

When you think of the Italian Grand Prix, the first thing that springs to mind is one famous Italian company, but this time the eyes of the F1 world will not only be on a scarlet red Ferrari but also the tyre supplier Pirelli.

Pirelli have come under fire following Sebastian Vettel’s tyre blow out in the final stages of the Belgian Grand Prix. Vettel’s right-rear tyre blew out on the Kemmel straight at scary speeds. There were warning signs earlier in the weekend when Nico Rosberg also suffered a huge tyre blow-out during Friday practice at a different corner and thankfully did not collide with a tyre wall. 

An investigation has taken place at Pirelli with the tyre manufacturer saying that 63 cuts were found in tyres. The events of Spa has all become a bit of a blame game with Pirelli putting the blame firmly in the hands of the circuit who feel as if the tracks should be cleaned better. This is a story that will surely rumble on for weeks, let’s just hope that there aren’t any tyre related incidents this weekend.

Monza is one the classic F1 venues and is the fastest circuit on the calendar. The circuit has seen a huge change over the years, whilst it does still remain, the famous banking is no longer used. There is something unique and special about racing in the royal park just north of the Italian capital of Milan thanks to the history of the circuit and the passionate fans that fill the grandstands.

Quite simply, Monza is a temple of speed. The 5.7 KM circuit is made up of just 11 corners, with just two heaving breaking events around this famous circuit, the majority of the lap is spent at full throttle. The circuit is one of a kind with all the focus on top speed at Monza the teams have to put together a one off areo package, expect to see lots of skinny rear wings this weekend as all the teams try to reduce drag that slows the car down.With very little corners and a multitude of long straights, it is safe to say that although this is Ferrari’s back yard, it is a circuit that the mighty Mercedes will be taking over. 

If you are a betting person you have probably already put your money on another Mercedes one-two finish come Sunday afternoon, to rub salt into the wounds of the rest of the pack, the power advantage that Mercedes have over the other teams will be even greater this weekend thanks to an engine upgrade which has seen Mercedes use all of their remaining seven tokens this weekend. The bad news if you are Mercedes customers – Williams, Force India and Lotus – Mercedes are the only team to be running the upgrade and will not be offering it to the others.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton who has came fresh from the hair salon with a new blond do will be looking to further extend his 28 point gap to his rival and new father Rosberg whose wife Vivian gave birth last week. The German knows that he has to up his game in qualifying and states “nothing less than a win will do.” Rosberg’s error last year handed Hamilton the victory, surely there will not be a repeat.

Last year Ferrari were utterly embarrassed in front of their adoring fans with Kimi Raikkonen the only driver in red to score points, well he got two points, but the tifosi want and expect an awful lot more. Hungary seemed to be a turning point for the team with Vettel taking the win and Raikkonen looking strong until he ran into reliability problems towards the end of the race. Vettel was looking comfortable in the final podium position until his tyre blew which handed Romain Grosjean a much needed podium for Lotus.

Just making it to Monza is a victory in itself for Lotus. Money in recent years has been a big problem at Enstone with talk of a Renault take over hotting up, there could be big changes within the team. Bailiffs seized the cars following the Belgian Grand Prix following ex-reserve driver Charles Pic who feels as if he had a contract to be in the car this season. The team have thankfully arrived in Italy for the weekend and could be on for another strong showing, the timing could not be better for them.

It would not be an F1 weekend without the farcical, yet usual penalties before the weekend has even started. Who are the unfortunate victims this week you ask? Just for a change both McLaren’s will start at the back of the grid after taking a new engine for this weekend. Both Red Bull drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat have been hit with a ten-place penalty for both taking a new engine each.

You could say that it is business as usual. Mercedes are looking dominant, the tyres aren’t working as they should and no one really knows where they will start the race because of grid penalties.