At Silverstone it’s the extraordinary depth of knowledge among the more than 100,000 fans that routinely flock to Britain’s home of motorsport. In Brazil it’s the pressure-cooker atmosphere created by the thunderous drums and constant chanting in the grandstands that makes Interlagos special. In Suzuka it’s the commitment and dedication of the fans that remain in the grandstands late into the night to watch the garage crews work. In Monza, however, it’s all of that and more.
The Italian Grand Prix is simply of F1’s greatest events. There’s the heritage of a circuit where grand prix racing was first hosted almost a century ago. It’s the frenzied passion of the tifosi that on race day borders on outright chaos. And finally, it’s the eye-popping speed at a circuit where the fastest ever lap of F1 was set last year – at an average speed of 263.587 km/h (163.785 mph). There really is nowhere else in F1 quite like the home of the Italian Grand Prix.
And as our drivers prepare to take on the ‘Temple of Speed’, Max reveals why it’s the famed Parabolica curve that gets his pulse racing and Alex explains how he’s been preparing for his first F1 outing at ‘La Pista Magica’.
Your ‘home’ event at Spa was a difficult time for everyone involved in motorsport. How are you feeling ahead of this weekend in Monza?
It was a weekend of mixed feelings in Spa and it definitely put things into perspective but I’m glad we have back-to-back races so we can get straight back on it this weekend.
We go from Spa to another classic circuit, Monza. What are you expecting from this year’s Italian Grand Prix?
Monza is super-fast which makes it great fun to drive but it can also be a challenge for us and like Spa, it isn’t our strongest circuit on the calendar. For me, the best parts are the high-speed sections and to nail the last corner is not easy but when you do it feels really nice. Monza has so much history around it and the fans are some of the most passionate we see all year. There is plenty of red in the grandstands but hopefully the orange army will also be out to support us in full force this weekend.
Before looking ahead to Monza, let’s reflect a little bit on your Team debut in Spa. It was quite a race for you wasn’t it?
I kind of glided through the week and now that my first weekend is over I will take some time to reflect and see what I need to work on with the Team. Fifth was a great result but there are definitely things I need to work on and improve so I’ll do my homework ahead of this weekend to try and understand the car more.
What are you expecting from your first F1 race at Monza?
I’m looking forward to Monza. I actually lived in Italy for two years when I raced in go karts and I have a lot of friends there. Monza will really be a continuation of the work we did in Spa and I’ll keep on learning as much as I can. I think it’s a good thing Spa and Monza are back-to-back races as after the race on Sunday, I jump in the sim on Wednesday to keep everything fresh in my mind ahead of the weekend. That way I don’t need time to re-understand the car.
What are the things you’ll be concentrating on this weekend?
We’re going to focus more on qualifying runs, which is fun, whereas in Spa we looked more at race runs because of the penalty.
Monza obviously isn’t the easiest track for us, but I’ve driven the car now so I think FP1 will be a bit smoother this time around! I’m also more comfortable with everyone in the Team as I didn’t know many people before going to the circuit last week. Everyone is very friendly, there’s a great atmosphere and now it’s just about understanding how everything works. I’m guessing, and hoping, there will be a lot less noise and attention on Thursday so that it’s a bit quieter for me!
What about the circuit itself? You’ve been there before in GP3 and Formula 2. Is it one you enjoy?
It’s actually not one that I love driving-wise. There’s just something about it but I still managed to fight for third there in F2 last year and I was a tenth off pole, so it’s not a disaster!