We’ve only just recovered from Spa, but F1 is back again this weekend at the legendary Monza circuit – home to the Italian Grand Prix and the famous Tifosi.
Here are four things we’re excited to see in Monza…
Will it be home comforts for Ferrari?
Moving into the faster circuits of Spa and Monza, you’d be certain that Mercedes’ aero advantage over Ferrari would play into their hands. In a way, it did with Lewis Hamilton’s breathtaking pole position lap and Safety Car affected race victory, but Ferrari wasn’t as far behind as many, including themselves, had predicted.
Ferrari’s home turf is all about raw power, braking and traction through the slower corners that punctuate the lap. Could Sebastian Vettel’s claim that the Scuderia have “no circuit to fear” for the rest of 2017 mean that the Tifosi will have plenty to cheer about?
Is Verstappen heading for the Red Bull exit?
Unbelievably, Max Verstappen’s failure in Spa – which saw the Red Bull pull off the Kemmel straight in a plume of disappointment – was the Dutchman’s sixth retirement this season. That’s one more than the much maligned Fernando Alonso, and top of the charts in terms of mechanical failures.
It’s no illusion that this isn’t what Max wanted when he was promoted to the main team last season. The maiden triumph in Spain last season felt like the start of something special, and now feels like an age away.
It’s even started the rumour that the Verstappen clan are looking to move on to another team, with father Jos being asked by Dutch television, saying that “you start to question everything” when things go wrong this regularly.
Red Bull have responded by going on the offensive towards engine partner Renault, a position that is as familiar to them as a pair of old slippers. It may be a little too late if this continues, however – were watching a once in a generation talent fall by the wayside.
Force India is now a top team – for all the wrong reasons
Another race, another coming together from the two Force India drivers. Only this time it wasn’t once, it was twice, and the repercussions from FI management came swiftly – do it again, and you’re banned.
Sound familiar? That’s because it’s the same policy enforced by Mercedes last season, in response to Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg getting a bit too close for comfort as their title battle heated up.
It’s a message sent to stop Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon damaging the season the team is having. Force India sit in a solid fourth place in terms of constructors and it should be a great time for the team, yet they’re dealing with nearly warring teammates that could scupper it all, which only goes to show that joining the top tier means having top tier problems.
Is it all over for Fernando Alonso, McLaren and Honda?
The next few weeks will be decisive for everyone involved at McLaren and Honda; the team have made overtures to other engine suppliers, notably Renault, while Honda has cancelled a 2018 deal with Sauber, leading to rumours of a complete withdrawal. And sitting in the middle of it all is a World Champion desperate to be competitive.
In Spa, Fernando Alonso’s start saw him on the tail of the leading pack in an incredibly impressive seventh place, only to have car after car pass him on the straights and an early finish due to an engine problem. But Honda now says there wasn’t a problem in the data they’ve studied, insinuating that Alonso simply gave up.
Sooner, rather than later. decisions need to be made by all involved. Does Alonso leave in search of that competitive car? Do Honda withdraw completely from Formula One? Where can McLaren go if one or the other, or both, happen? At least in Italy, we’ll be one step closer to the end of this whole mess.