Italian GP Preview | Temple of Speed waves Formula One away from Europe

Preview the 2017 Formula One Italian Grand Prix, the final European race of the year.

Lewis Hamilton’s Belgian Grand Prix victory tightened the gap at the top of the standings back down to seven points, cutting into Sebastian Vettel’s margin ahead of his team’s home Grand Prix. Leaving Vettel with the pride of a nation to retain his lead, while Hamilton searches for his 69th career pole. Enough to be top of the list outright, having matched Michael Schumacher’s record on his last outing.

Lewis Hamilton had been in contention to match Michael Schumacher’s record for the most all-time pole positions in Formula One since he eclipsed Ayrton Senna back in Baku. Teeing up a potential record-matching pole at his home round, the British Grand Prix.

Pole, however, went in favour of his team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, at the Red Bull Ring. Breaking Lewis’ chances of a home celebration, where pole was only enough to move to within one of the seven-time World Champion. Before pole in Hungary was clinched by title-rival Sebastian Vettel and Formula One drifted into the summer break.

Emerging from the shade come F1’s return, though, was a fighting Hamilton as he utilised the Mercedes’ aero-efficiency advantage to take pole at Spa. Matching the record set by Michael 11 years ago, and in 43-fewer Grand Prix’s than the legendary German.

Lewis Hamilton during qualifying for the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix, matching Michael Schumacher’s F1 pole record. Photo credit: Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

Now the opportunity to be number one out-right is on offer for Hamilton going into Monza. The home of Ferrari, the team at which Schumacher achieved greatness and dominated the sport.

In Lewis’ way, however, will be another German at the wheel of a Prancing Horse. His long-term adversary, Sebastian Vettel.

And to Vettel’s advantage, Ferrari arrived at Spa with a car that’s aero-efficiency disadvantage to Mercedes had been reduced. With a possible engine upgrade also in the works for the Scuderia’s home round, rivalling the unit Mercedes brought to Spa prior to engine regulation tweaks that limit the amount oil that can be burnt per 100 kilometres.

The reduced oil limit comes into effect this weekend in Monza. Although any unit already implemented will still be able to run at the previous 1.2 litres of oil per 100km, rather than the new 0.9L limit. This change is aimed to prevent oil being burnt as fuel to improve the combustion created in the engine, which creates a greater power output than otherwise achievable.

Fernando on track at the 2016 Italian Grand Prix -

Fernando Alonso on track at the 2016 Italian Grand Prix. Photo credit: McLaren.

Thanks to Monza’s direct layout of straights and chicanes, straight line speed is vital in Italy hence why the circuit is dubbed the Temple of Speed. A factor that falls against McLaren, with the Honda power unit continuing to lack competitiveness.

Monza’s idyllic setting in the woods of the royal park has also been a feature of Formula One since the birth of the sport, missed off the calendar just once back in 1980.

Italian fans even call the race ‘La Pista Magica’, the magic track thanks to its prestige and heritage that can be dated back to 1922 – making the Autodromo Nazionale Monza the oldest circuit on the current Formula 1 calendar.

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 12.06.05

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza track map. Copyright:

While McLaren is more than likely to struggle in Italy, the nature of the track could allow Williams to benefit. Handing the Wantage based outfit its best chance of a strong result given the lacklustre 2017 Williams has shown so far as aerodynamic shortfalls have hampered Massa and Stroll.

Those shortfalls have left Williams looking at drastic changes to its 2018 car in a bid to be more competitive over the course of a season. Potentially climbing back up the Constructor’s order after being a top-four team since the hybrid era began.

In contrast, Williams currently sits in 5th place, 58 points behind Force India and just 11 ahead of 8th placed Renault. Had it not been for Lance Stroll’s podium finish in Azerbaijan, their points tally could be drastically different.

As for the outfit who has staked its claim to fourth this season, Force India, the Italian Grand Prix will be the first race it opts for team orders following the two collisions between Perez and Ocon in Belgium on top of previous altercations between the team-mates.

Palmer v Stroll -

Lance Stroll races Renault’s Jolyon Palmer during the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix. Photo credit: Williams Racing.

For Formula One’s final European round of the season, live coverage in the UK will be provided exclusively by Sky Sports F1 as Channel 4 cover Round 13 via highlight programmes.

Sky Sports F1
31/08 – 14:00 – Driver Press Conference
31/08 – 18:15 – Paddock Uncut
01/09 – 08:45 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
01/09 – 10:55 – Formula 2 Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
01/09 – 12:45 – Practice 2
01/09 – 15:20 – Formula 2 Qualifying
01/09 – 15:50 – Team Press Conference
01/09 – 16:35 – The F1 Show
02/09 – 08:45 – GP3 Qualifying
02/09 – 09:45 – Practice 3
02/09 – 12:00 – Qualifying
02/09 – 14:55 – Formula 2 Feature Race
02/09 – 16:45 – GP3 Race 1
03/09 – 07:55 – GP3 Race 2
03/09 – 09:10 – Formula 2 Sprint Race
03/09 – 11:30 – Race
=> 11:30 – Track Parade (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 12:30 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live
06/09 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

Channel 4 F1
02/09 – 17:30 – Qualifying Highlights
03/09 – 17:45 – Race Highlights

BBC Radio F1
01/09 – 08:55 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
02/09 – 13:00 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live)
03/09 – 13:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Vettel, hamilton, Tricolore -

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton take in the Tricolore ahead of the 2016 Italian Grand Prix. Photo credit: Autodromo Nazionale Monza.

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