Formula One moves from one iconic circuit to another, as the 2017 Italian Grand Prix is scheduled to take place next weekend at the legendary Monza circuit.
Despite losing to Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton last Sunday at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari must surely feel encouraged by their performance especially during the race. The German driver was able to remain all over the back of his main title rival, not only at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix, but also at the restart as well, and his ability to keep up with the Mercedes over the entire race distance suggested he was in the faster car. Likewise, Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen showed good pace before a 10-second penalty ended his charge for the podium, although Kimi still managed a good recovery and kept Bottas comfortably behind in the final stages of the race.
We have seen so far in 2017 just how difficult it is to pass on track, and Lewis Hamilton made the most of this in Belgium, making his car very wide when it needed to be to keep his championship rival behind. It is therefore crucial to Scuderia Ferrari, and their drivers’ and constructors’ title challenges for the 2017 Formula One season, that they can begin to outqualify Mercedes more often than they have been so far this year, given the fact that currently Mercedes have managed to score eight poles to Ferrari’s three.
The first test of this will be on home soil this weekend at Monza, and the Maranello team are sounding confident, with Sebastian Vettel believing that the team have no circuit to fear for the rest of the year. Whether this extends to qualifying at a circuit where the raw power of the Mercedes engine will no doubt come into play remains to be seen, but Scuderia Ferrari’s performance through slow speed corners, which punctuate Monza’s straights, will give them cause for optimism.
One thing is for sure: if the Italian team can begin to show superior pace on Saturdays, and with Sebastian Vettel’s stellar record across the races that make up the second half of the season, Lewis Hamilton could have a very difficult job stopping the championship going to Maranello for the first time in a decade.