Italian Grand Prix Preview

Preview round 14 of the Formula One Championship, the Italian Grand Prix.

Back-to-back with Belgium comes Italy, the home of speed, the Tifosi and the final European race of the year. But who will fly away with the championship lead? The momentum of victory? Or bragging rights within the team. For Rosberg, he carries the momentum of victory out of Belgium – while Hamilton carries the momentum of a monumental podium charge.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari. Photo Credit: Colin Dixon.

Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) during the 2015 Italian GP. Photo Credit: Colin Dixon.

The Italian Grand Prix is one of the highest regarded races on the calendar. With passionate fans adorning the grandstands, trees surrounding the track and famous moments at every corner. Italian fans even call the race ‘La Pista Magica’, the magic track.

Monza’s idyllic setting in the woods of the royal park has been a feature of Formula One since the sports birth. With Monza just the third permanent race track, after Silverstone and Indianapolis.

And now, the 5.793-kilometre circuit winds around the trees and under the old banked circuit. Where racing began with a 10-kilometre road racing circuit, but over time reduced to make for the beautiful Monza we know today.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Italian Grand Prix - Race Day - Monza, Italy

The 2015 Italian Grand Prix. Copyright: Force India.

A year ago, when Formula One ventured north of Milan, it was Lewis Hamilton celebrating victory after dominating the race to finish ahead of the Ferrari of Vettel. But while one Mercedes driver stood atop the podium, the other was in the pits – after Rosberg was forced to retire with an engine failure.

Last year’s race came at a special time for Nico Rosberg, with the race coming a week after his wife, Vivian, gave birth to their first born child. And this year, the race comes a week after another special occasion for Rosberg – with Nico claiming his first victory around the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit last time out.

That race, though, did feature a storming charge by Lewis Hamilton to finish with his team-mate on the podium – despite starting the race from the back row of the grid. Hamilton’s 60-place grid penalty did, however, have its benefits. With Lewis now having secured three fresh power units for the remainder of the season – more than what his rivals in store.

Nico Hulkenberg, negotiating the Ascari chicane, at the 2015 Italian Grand Prix. Copyright: Force India.

Nico Hulkenberg, negotiating the Ascari chicane, at the 2015 Italian Grand Prix. Copyright: Force India.

Not only does Rosberg carry the momentum of victory out of Belgium, as he took victory to reduce Hamilton’s championship margin to just nine points. But Force India carry momentum of their own too – having overtaken Williams for fourth in the constructors’ standings.

The Italian Grand Prix’s high-speed nature should allow for a high-speed show of skill as the Mercedes drivers fight once more for victory. But should conditions be like they were in Spa, Mercedes could have a test on their hands from Ferrari – having put the gauntlet to the Silver Arrows in the high-temperature practice sessions.

Should Ferrari be able to pose a threat at their home Grand Prix, the devoted Tifosi will be a sight to behold. With Ferrari without a win on home turf since Fernando Alonso back in 2010.

Since the 2010 outing, victories at Monza have been split 3-2 between Hamilton and Vettel. With the now Ferrari driver holding victories in 2011 and ’13, to go with his debut victory for Toro Rosso at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.

Another victory to Vettel’s name will place him ahead of Hamilton on four wins around Monza, and ahead of the likes of Ayrton Senna and Fernando Alonso. A fourth for either driver will place also place them in joint-second on the all-time list with Nelson Piquet.

Autodromo Nazionale Monza track guide - copyright F1.com

Autodromo Nazionale Monza track guide. Copyright F1.com.

The 2016 Italian Grand Prix will be broadcasted live in England on both Sky Sports F1 and Channel 4. TV times for both are as follows:

Thursday, 1 September
14:00 – Driver Press Conference
20:45 – Paddock Uncut
21:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Friday, 2 September
08:45 – Italian GP – Practice 1
08:55 – Italian GP – Practice 1 (Channel 4)
08:55 – Italian GP – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
11:00 – GP2 – Practice
12:45 – Italian GP – Practice 2
12:55 – Italian GP – Practice 2 (Channel 4)
14:50 – GP2 – Qualifying
15:30 – Team Press Conference
16:00 – The F1 Show

Saturday, 3 September
08:45 – GP3 – Qualifying
09:45 – Italian GP – Practice 3
09:55 – Italian GP – Practice 3 (Channel 4)
09:55 – Italian GP – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
11:25 – Murray Walker meets Jenson Button (Channel 4)
11:55 – Italian GP – Qualifying (Channel 4)
12:00 – Italian GP – Qualifying
12:55 – Italian GP – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14:35 – GP2 – Feature Race
16:10 – GP3 – Race 1

Sunday, 4 September
06:20 – Weekend of a Champion (Channel 4)
08:10 – GP3 – Race 2
09:20 – GP2 – Sprint Race
11:30 – Italian GP – Track Parade
12:00 – Italian GP – Pit Lane Live
12:00 – Italian GP – Build Up (Channel 4)
12:30 – Italian GP – Race Show
13:00 – Italian GP – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live/Channel 4/Sky Sports F1)
15:30 – Italian GP – Paddock Live

Times above are for Sky Sports F1 unless stated.