Racing at Monza is always special. The Italian fans have flocked there since it first hosted the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix back in 1950 and every year thereafter, with the exception of 1980 when it was held at Imola. For the Ferraristi, it became a cult place where they could celebrate their love for the Prancing Horse and for those who wear the Scuderia colours, it is even more special.
Prema. Monza follows on from Spa-Francorchamps where last week the FDA drivers did very well, scoring a one-two finish in the Sprint Race courtesy of Robert Shwartzman and Mick Schumacher. The Russian is back in the lead of the championship and was strong all weekend long. Mick Schumacher’s weekend was equally positive, finishing third in the Feature Race too, thus leaving Belgium with a big points haul, so that he is now 26 points off the leader.
Callum. Englishman Callum Ilott is no doubt keen to forget all about Spa, where he experienced his toughest weekend of the season. His big lead going into the Belgian race means that coming away with no points has not been too serious for him, as he is now second, 10 points behind Shwartzman. However, it means that Monza, where he took pole last year, will be a key moment in his season. At Spa-Francorchamps, Ilott suffered because his set-up was not quite right and in the feature race, he was hit in the early stages by Yuki Tsunoda who was later penalised.
Positive signs. Marcus Armstrong also had a positive weekend in Belgium, gritting his teeth in what was not the best weekend for his team, while Giuliano Alesi paid a high price for his bad on luck on Friday, when he collided with the barriers during free practice and then had a mechanical problem during qualifying which meant he spent most of the day in the pits.
Cause for optimism. “We arrive in Monza with everything in place to have an interesting weekend,” reckoned Marco Matassa the head of the FDA technical department. “In Spa, Shwartzman showed he has sorted out the problems he faced in qualifying in the previous rounds and showed he had a good handle on tyre management, which is so important in Formula 2. We also have confidence in Schumacher, who is on very strong form right now, as proved by his three podium finishes in the last three races. I hope Ilott can find a set up on the car that will suit him on a low downforce track like Monza and that Armstrong and Alesi manage to have a smooth trouble free weekend. There are still four more rounds to go, but the championship is very tight and no one can allow themselves to miss out on points which could make the different come the end of the year.”