Preview: The 2015 Italian Grand Prix

A look ahead to this weekend’s Formula One Italian Grand Prix.

Monza, the home of speed and the embodiment of passion thanks to Italy’s famous Tifosi. But will the Tifosi be cheering their beloved Ferrari on to their third win of the year or will Mercedes spoil the party? Form favours Mercedes but Ferrari will look to move on from the lost podium in Spa when Vettel’s Pirelli exploded.

Monza Parabolica - copyright woolennium

The Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago saw Hamilton comfortably win the race, even with Rosberg gaining time under the virtual safety car and clawing time back with most laps. But the battle for third was far tighter with Grosjean pushing his Lotus into fourth and reeling in the Ferrari before Vettel’s rear-right Pirelli exploded on the penultimate lap.

The explosion left a sour taste in Ferrari’s, and mostly Vettel’s, mouth with the incident stripping them of a potential podium. But the podium fell into the hands of a delighted Romain Grosjean and Lotus amidst financial and legal struggles with their former reserve driver suing them for not enough Friday drives in 2014.

Now Lotus are under fresh rumours of a Renault buy-out that would save the team and put another constructor back on the grid for either 2016 or 2017. But for now Lotus head to Monza with a quick car that could challenge again.

Force India also had a car that was rapid in a straight line at the Belgian Grand Prix but their race was far from as successful as Lotus’. Now if they can arrive in Italy with a car that is also capable of the top speeds saw on the Kemmel Straight, Force India should be more than able to wrap up a good points hall for the Silverstone based team.

Mercedes in the woods at the Autodromo di Monza - Copyright: Paul D'Ambra

One of the most beautiful things about Monza is its idyllic setting in the woods with the now 5.793 kilometre circuit winding around the trees and under the old banked circuit. The banked circuit at Monza was used as part of the inaugural season in 1950, with the Italian Grand Prix being a key part of the calendar ever since. However the future of the race at Monza is in a questionable state with the current contract set to expire next year and a lack of funding holding back any renewal.

For now though, the racing will continue and the long welcoming straights will be home to the power of F1 this September. Two DRS zones will also be in force this weekend to aid overtaking into turn one and the Ascari chicane.

The Ascari chicane formed with turn 8, 9 and 10 is one of the highlights of the circuit and will certainly be a key part of the race, with the chance of running over the track limits very high at turn 10 and can reward drivers massively if they use the run off at high speeds. But race control and the stewards may (and should) keep an eye on the corner and punish drivers who excessively use the run off.

Autodromo Nazionale Monza track guide - copyright

This year’s Italian Grand Prix will be Nico Rosberg’s first race since becoming a father after his wife, Vivian Rosberg, gave birth to their first child on Sunday, August 30th. Now as a father to a baby girl, the Mercedes driver will need to celebrate the birth of his child with a win in Monza or a large points haul against Hamilton if he is to make a dent into Lewis’ title defence.

As things stand in the Drivers’ Championship, Lewis leads Nico by 28 points having won six races this seasons compared to Nico’s three. On a Saturday, Lewis has been even more dominant taking 10 of the 11 pole positions so far and set a new personal record and tie one held by Michael Schumacher.

So for this weekend form points to Hamilton taking yet another win and extending his lead. But it was Rosberg who lead the race last year until two errors cost him the lead, thus the race, after taking the lead from Hamilton off the grid when the Brit suffered a poor launch. This could be easily repeated this year with the new start procedures and Mercedes’ current run of poor starts.

Ferrari in the woods at the Autodromo di Monza - Copyright: Paul D'Ambra

For the 2015 Italian Grand Prix, Sky Sports F1 has exclusive live TV coverage in the UK over the weekend. Coverage starts this Thursday with the Drivers Press Conference live from Monza.

Thursday September 3
14:00 – F1 Driver Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
20:45 – Paddock Uncut: Italy (Sky Sports F1)

Friday September 4
08:45 – F1 Practice 1 (Sky Sports F1)
08:55 – F1 Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
11:00 – GP2 Practice (Sky Sports F1)
12:45 – F1 Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1)
12:55 – F1 Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14:50 – GP2 Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
16:00 – Team Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
17:00 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
18:45 – Inside F1 (BBC News)

Saturday September 5
08:45 – GP3 Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
09:45 – F1 Practice 3 (Sky Sports F1)
12:00 – F1 Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
12:55 – F1 Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live)
14:35 – GP2 Feature Race (Sky Sports F1)
16:15 – GP3 Race 1 (Sky Sports F1)
17:00 – F1 Qualifying Highlights (BBC One)
18:45 – Inside F1 (BBC News)
18:55 – Ted’s Notebook: Italy – Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)

Sunday September 6
08:20 – GP3 Race 2 (Sky Sports F1)
09:30 – GP2 Sprint Race (Sky Sports F1)
11:00 – Ted’s Notebook: Italy – Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
11:30 – Formula One Italian Grand Prix – Race – Live (Sky Sports F1)
12:30 – Formula One Italian Grand Prix – Race – Live (BBC Radio 5 Live)
17:05 – Formula One Italian Grand Prix – Race – Highlights (BBC One)
18:15 – Formula One Italian Grand Prix – Race – Highlights (Sky Sports F1)
19:15 – Ted’s Notebook: Italy – Race (Sky Sports F1)