The F1 circus rolls into Lombardy this weekend, but can the 2015 Italian GP live up to its headline billing? Hamilton, Rosberg and Co will battle it out over 3.6 miles of scorching Italian asphalt in order to emerge victorious in what can be considered one of the most romantic Grand Prix’s of them all. You can hold onto your hats however, because any chance of a Ferrari, or indeed any other manufacturer victory appears slim given the incredible form of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes in Belgium two weeks ago, where as usual F1’s class of the field in 2015 produced a faultless and dominant performance, making Rosberg look rather ordinary in the process.
Hamilton arrives at Monza with a crucial advantage, astonishingly for the first time this season, 28 points – more than one race win, and barring any major dramas, crashes or mechanical failures the wise money would be on the reigning champ extending that lead by another seven points before Sunday evening. Not being a professional racing driver myself, it would be foolish to criticize Rosberg’s performances this season however it has to be said, that with the greatest respect, at times in 2015 Hamilton has caused Rosberg to look rather pedestrian and it could be argued that lifted by the weight of Tifosi expectations this weekend, Vettel is equally as well placed as Rosberg to take advantage of any problems Lewis might encounter this weekend.
Further down the field, after below expectation outings at the Hungaroring and Spa, Williams will be hoping for a return to the sharp end of the field at a circuit similar to Silverstone, which should play to their to their strengths. With Bottas and Massa confirmed for 2017 as of this morning
WIth the Grand Prix at Monza seemingly under threat, perhaps we should enjoy the atmosphere this weekend for what it is, one of the most passionate,colourful and emotional events on the calendar. Although Bernie seems more than happy to sacrifice F1’s heritage and history for money grabbing, poorly attended races at circuits in countries with questionable human rights records, I’m sure here at thehairpincorner we’re not alone in wanting more of the classic races (San Marino, France, Germany) to return/remain on the calendar at the expense of events in countries such as Russia and Bahrain.
We’ll keep you updated with comment and analysis each day during the Monza weekend to feed your F1 fix but in the meantime, here are three questions we’d like to answers for this weekend.
Can anyone else but Vettel capitalize on Mercedes’ mistakes?
In truth, the short answer to this question is probably no, but in the unlikely event that all of Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel retire from the race who is really in the best position to pick up a larger share of the spoils? Whilst criticism of Raikkonen has sometimes been unfair this season, unless he can put in an improved Saturday shift and move his Ferrari higher up the starting grid, at a power circuit like Monza, the wise money would be on Williams to pick up the extra points. Fresh from today’s news that they both will be retained for 2016 and eager to put the last two races behind them, Bottas and Massa could propel themselves into contention for a podium even without any mishaps for the championship’s top three.
Are Mclaren really 25bhp ahead of Renault?
Again, the short answer to this is probably no. If there can be any truth in Honda’s statement earlier in the week, then we could at least expect to see Alonso and Button giving Toro Rosso and Sauber a run for their money, given Bouliers’ claims about the strength of the McLaren chassis. Such a scenario is highly unlikely at Monza, considering it’s both one of the most power hungry circuits on the calendar, and only two weeks after McLaren appeared to make a step backwards at Spa.
Can Lotus continue to progress?
In truth, progress really can’t be used to describe any part of Lotus’ season, especially after the team admitted themselves that the car has hardly seen any development since the start of the season. If that is indeed that case, then the job the Enstone team has done this season is remarkable! Being on the podium in Belgium was a poignant reminder of past (and even quite recent) glories for the team and with a powerful Merc engine bolted into the back, Monza perhaps represents the last good chance they have to bag a high scoring finish, before the rival team developments of the flyaway season begin to come into play. We at thehairpincorner would love to see another Lotus podium, however barring any major dramas to Mercedes, Ferrari, Williams or Red Bull, its probably unlikely.
We’ll keep you guys updated after each day of the Monza weekend on the latest times from practice, qualifying and of course the race!
See you tomorrow!