Italian Grand Prix Preview

Two weeks on from the madness of the Belgian Grand Prix, Formula One hits the tarmac of yet another classic track as Monza takes hold of the final Formula One Grand Prix in Europe for 2014.

The Autodromo di Monza has held Formula One Grand Prix’s since the inaugural championship in 1950. Since then the Italian Grand Prix has been held at Monza every year, except in 1980 when Imola held the race.

Autodromo di Monza track guide

Autodromo di Monza track guide – From Formula1.com

Over the years, the Autodromo di Monza circuit has seen some modifications made, but has managed to retain the history of this legendary track. Back in the circuits early years it was composed by two circuits. One part was similar in composition to the current layout, but was combined with an inner banked oval circuit. Over the years, the inner oval circuit was gradually removed from the track layout, with fleeting appearances in 1955-56 and 1960-61. Outside of the removal of the oval, the track used saw few variations. Those that came were mainly in the final sector on the run down towards the Curva Parabolica or the Curva Parabolica itself. Where the original curve was abolished to create a solid double right hander, like at the Curva Di Lesmo in the current layout. Over the years, the curve was reintroduced and remains one of the key aspects of the track, even though it has drawn criticism this year.

Back in the beginning of August, photo’s began to circulate that the Curva Parabolica had been tarmaced over on the start of the run off. In the past this corner had been a gravel trap that would punish drivers if they made a mistake and often saw drivers flicking dust into the air as they kiss the edge of the gravel. This year however, the start of the run off will no longer be gravel, instead tarmac. There does still remain some gravel further into the run off but this will hold far less of a punishment should a driver run wide. In truth, this change will only show any difference should a driver make a mistake as they push through the corner simply because the run off is not near the racing line. If anything, this change could create the possibility for side-by-side moments through the Parabolica.

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Regardless of the modification’s to the Parabolica, the Autodromo di Monza can almost alway guarantee action. With the long straights leading to Variante del Rettifilo (Turn 1) and to the Curva Parabolica, drivers will be able to create overtaking opportunities under breaking or simply by straight line speed. For the run down the pit straight, this will be also aided by DRS, like on the run down from the second Curva Di Lesmo towards the Ascari chicane. Also, the run down from the first chicane towards the end of the first sector should hold some drama. The Curva Grande or Curva Biassono has held in recent years a fierce battle between Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. In 2011, Fernando forced Vettel to inch out onto the grass strip to the side of the track as he defended his position. Then a year later Sebastian sought revenge as he defended his position from Fernando. The only difference being Vettel forced Alonso further out and into the gravel, resulting in the German taking a drive through penalty.

For this years race, Pirelli will be providing the teams with the two hardest compound of dry tyres. The orange branded hard compound and the white branded medium’s will be used at Pirelli’s home event due to the high-energy loads put through the tyres. Pirelli explained in a statement that the high traction and breaking demands, sustained high speeds and frequently warm temperatures were the reason behind the decision.

Going into the weekend, once more it will probably be another dominant weekend for the Mercedes drivers, unless unreliability creeps in or contact is made once more. With the aftermath of the Belgian Grand Prix incident in which Rosberg punctured Hamilton’s rear-left tyre, there is the potential for sparks to fly once more.

Williams and fellow Mercedes powered teams should be able to capitalise on the power they have at hand to beat the Renault powered teams. This could see Red Bull struggling again to challenge the front runners but if they can set their car up sufficiently, a podium might not be too far away.

Ferrari will also be looking for a strong set up as they look to shine in front of the Tifosi. Being a team with the hopes of a nation riding on their shoulders, Ferrari are always under a lot of pressure from their fans and without a challenging car once more, the prancing horse will need to be in full sprint come Monza.

If you will be watching the Italian Grand Prix weekend or just the race live in the UK this Sunday, SkySportsF1 and the BBC will have all the action live across the weekend.

For SkySportsF1, their coverage begins on thursday and their full schedule is as follows:

Thursday 4th September:
15:00 – F1 Drivers Press Conference

Friday 5th September:
08:30 – Live Italian F1 GP: Practice 1
11:00 – Live Italian GP2: Practice
12:45 – Live Italian F1 GP: Practice 2
14:50 – Live Italian GP2: Qualifying
16:00 – F1 Team Principal Press Conference
17:00 – The F1 Show

Saturday 6th September:
08:45 – Live Italian GP3: Qualifying
09:45 – Live Italian F1 GP: Practice 3
12:00 – Live Italian F1 GP: Qualifying
14:35 – Live Italian GP2: Feature Race
16:20 – Live Italian GP3: Race 1

Sunday 7th September:
08:20 – Live Italian GP3: Race 2
09:30 – Live Italian GP2: Sprint Race
11:30 – Live Italian F1 GP: Track Parade
12:00 – Live Italian F1 GP: Race Build Up
13:00 – Live Italian F1 GP: The Race
15:30 – Live Italian F1 GP: Paddock Live
18:00 – Italian F1 GP: Highlights

As for the BBC, their coverage of the Italian Grand Prix weekend kicks into action on Friday and is as follows:

Friday 5 September:
08:55 – Live Italian F1 GP: Practice 1, BBC Two
13:00 – Live Italian F1 GP: Practice 2, BBC Two

Saturday 5 September
09:55 – Live Italian F1 GP: Practice 3, BBC Two & BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
12:10 – Live Italian F1 GP: Qualifying, BBC One

Sunday 6 September
12:10 – Live Italian F1 GP: Race, BBC One & BBC Radio 5 live (from 12:45)
19:00 – Live Italian F1 GP: Highlights, BBC Three