History and tradition. The Italian Grand Prix is not short of either, having been on the Formula 1 calendar ever since the championship’s inception in 1950. And yet, this year we return to Monza for an Italian Grand Prix with a slight twist, a touch of something new – well, newish – as the weekend adopts the sprint qualifying format debuted at Silverstone two months ago. Just how much it will shake things up is still something of an unknown, but one thing is for certain: there will be no escaping Monza’s irresistible charms this weekend.
To set you up for what’s ahead, keep scrolling for our latest preview. It includes the thoughts of McLaren F1 drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, and Production Director Piers Thynne, and lifts the lid on a new merchandise range that will leave you sitting pretty… in pink.
How to follow
|Where||Autodromo Nazionale Monza|
|When||10 - 12 September|
|Start time||15:00 local, 14:00 BST, 09:00 EDT|
|Follow||TEAMStream and the McLaren App for exclusive commentary and insight|
What they say
“Really looking forward to heading to Monza, especially after a tough weekend in Zandvoort. I’m looking forward to bouncing back and hopefully being where we deserve to be, scoring more points and qualifying a bit higher up the grid. We'll be working hard to do that. It’s another awesome track. We’ve been really spoilt with this triple-header, racing at three tracks that are extremely cool. Monza is a track where we’ve had good results in the past, so hopefully we can have another good weekend.”
“Monza is a good race and a fun weekend. It’s an awesome track to drive and great for racing as well. It often provides some good opportunities. If you’re quicker than the car ahead and you’ve got speed, you can normally overtake, so I'm definitely looking forward to that.
"Italy is always fun, great food and another circuit with an amazing atmosphere. It’s also the second sprint weekend, which will be pretty intense. We’ve got one practice to get into it, and then we’re into quali. It’s definitely a higher pressure situation for us, so we’ll need to hit the ground running, get up to speed quickly and take away some points. I’m looking forward to it.”
“Heading into the back end of this triple-header certainly presents a riskier time of year from an operational perspective. That risk manifested itself at Spa with Lando’s accident during Q3 on Saturday. This created some challenges for us as a team. However, what was fantastic was the level of collaboration across the operational teams during that Saturday night through Sunday and into Monday as the damage and impact on us was understood. The situation really underpins our teamwork and collective ability to find solutions.
“The real push at the back end of a triple-header is not only to ensure the right level of performance is there, but when you’ve had an accident like we’ve had, it’s to ensure that you’re never in a place where it’s going to compromise race stock.
“We had a challenging weekend at Zandvoort coming away with a single point, which is still important for the Constructors’ Championship. Monza is a completely different circuit, and we hope the characteristics will play more into our favour. The team is working hard this week to ensure we’re in optimum shape and that we go into this event with the right levels of stock.
“Sprint races are still fairly new to us. We approached the first sprint event at Silverstone as a base to understand the format and look at various strategies for a different operational approach. From our learnings, we decided to keep our pre-existing approach going into Monza, with the additional stock in the system being able to support the team and enable us to react if there is an issue. It’s going to be interesting to see how this different format plays out at one of the most exciting tracks on the calendar.
“We also need to look beyond Monza, because the quality and the aero care of our parts are paramount and there is very much performance in that. Looking into the flyaway races where we can’t get at the stock quite as frequently as we can when it’s in Europe, we’re working on a number of sets that will stay with the team from Russia for the back end of the season. Therefore, we’ve got to push hard through this week and in the coming weeks up to Russia. It’s always a balance between risk, performance and quality.”
What the stats say
0.415 seconds is all that separated us from victory at last year’s Italian Grand Prix and it’s the closest we’ve come to a race win since Jenson Button won the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2012, which just so happens to be the year of our tenth, and most recent, win at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
Whether it’s Monza, Mugello or Imola, Lando has never finished outside the points when racing in Italy. His best result at Monza was his fourth-place finish last year and he’ll be looking for more of the same this time around. Daniel boasts a similarly impressive record in Italy, having only missed out on points once in the past eight years.
What to watch out for
Sprint qualifying. Yes, it’s back after making its debut at the British Grand Prix earlier in the season. Many of you probably know the deal by now: qualifying on Friday, sprint qualifying on Saturday, and grand prix on Sunday. But for those in need of a refresher, here’s how a breakdown of this weekend’s format…
There will be just one practice session on Friday before qualifying. This qualifying session is the same as a normal F1 qualifying session but, instead of determining the grid for Sunday’s race, it will determine the grid for sprint qualifying which will take place on Saturday after another one-hour practice session. Sprint qualifying is a 100 km race – that’s 18 laps of Monza – lasting around 25-30 minutes. The finishing order will decide the grid for the grand prix and points will be awarded to the top three finishers – three for the winner down to one point for third.
Right, now that’s out of the way, what else should you watch out for? Well, there should be more overtaking than we saw at the Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort is all about narrow twists and turns, but Monza is all about long straights – it’s not called the ‘temple of speed’ for nothing you know – and this should provide an opportunity for slipstreaming and overtaking. In fact, slipstreaming could be a big talking point this weekend, particularly in qualifying – and by qualifying we mean the one on Friday, not Saturday. Drivers will jockey for track position that can give them a chance to take advantage of tow.
Monza’s many straights mean the throttle is pinned to the floor for much of the lap and it’s one of the most power-sensitive circuits on the calendar. The need for speed will see cars running the least amount of downforce they have all season – cue skinny wings and the removal of unnecessary aero flips and flicks on the bodywork – as teams seek to minimise drag and maximise straight-line speed.
It’s not all about the straights though, speed exiting the corners onto the straights is crucial. The aim is to carry speed onto the straights by riding the kerbs, coping with rapid changes of direction and having good traction coming out of the chicanes and Monza’s famous final corner, Parabolica, which has been renamed ‘Curva Alboreto’ in honour of the late Michele Alboreto, who raced for Ferrari in the mid-1980s.
Finally, as we all know, Italy is synonymous with style. Monza itself is just a stone’s throw away from Milan, the fashion capital of the world. And while we’re not expecting Lando and Daniel to strut their stuff down a catwalk in the middle of the Piazza del Duomo this weekend, they will be modelling a very special set of gloves that feature a unique design to commemorate our 25-year partnership with leading racewear provider Sparco.
What to wear
At the Dutch Grand Prix, the colour to be seen in was most definitely orange. Whether all the orange on display was Papaya we’re not so sure, but we’re certain that Papaya is the way to go again this weekend. Unless, of course, you fancy wearing pink… Yes, that’s right, pink. Daniel got creative over the summer break and the DR Pink Range we’re launching this week is the fruit of his hard work. Caps, T-shirts, hoodies, this brand-new merch will have you looking pretty in pink.
So, having now learnt about this exciting, new clothing range that’s about drop, we’re pretty confident you want to get your hands on it as soon as possible. Just how do you do that though? Well, that’s easy. To be the first to hear more details on the launch, make sure you’re signed up to McLaren Plus by completing the form below. It’s completely free and gives you unparalleled access to the team, as well as exclusive competitions and giveaways.
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