Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Back to the home of F1 fans

Hello race fans.

The circus has decamped from Spa, traveled south and pitched up at the heartland of motorsport and the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in the suburbs of Milan.
If you want history, passion and speed then Monza is the race for you. This cathedral to motorsport is only rivaled by Silverstone in terms of speed and history with both circuits being there at the very beginning of the Formula one world championship. The likes of Fangio, Gonzalez and Moss made their name here, the likes of Peterson, Rindt and Von Trips lost their lives here.

Touching 210 mph as they travel like a missile through the Italian parkland, nowhere else do you see a Formula one car demonstrate just how fast these things are capable of going, just how much raw speed an engine, four wheels and a few bits of carbon fiber can have. In 2009 Montoya lapped the track in 1m19.525s (162.949 mph) which remains the fastest lap ever recorded in an F1 car.

As for the atmosphere, well there are no more fanatical race fans than the hundreds of thousands of Tifosi that pack the circuit for the race weekend. Monza doesn’t need to bus in the locals or fill the stands with clueless corporate suits on a day out from the office. These fans are here to support one team and one team only because this is Ferrari country, the stands will be awash with Scarlet as the Tifosi go wild whenever the Ferrari exits or enters the pits. They love it, Italy loves it.

Basically you have to have a car that goes like a hoodie carrying an armful of phones 4 U’s finest when the driver mashes the loud pedal to the bulkhead. Head down and fast, break for the right left Variante del Retifilo, into the woods for the long sweeping flat out right of Curva grande until you arrive at the left right Variante della Roggia, a short blast to the two right handers at Curve di Lesmo than nail the throttle until you get to the left right left flow of Variante Ascari a good exit from there and max out the rev all the way down to the Curva Parabolica. Nail the apex, let the car run out to the very edge of the track on the left as the tires try to spit you out of the right hand corner that goes on forever before you’re onto the start finish straight once again.

This place is as old school as it gets, get it wrong and it ends in broken bits of carbon fiber and pain. There are no tarmac run off areas to save your sorry backside. Ride the curbs and stay off the grass.

Pretty much no one, apart from Webber, thinks there is any chance of the championship leaving Vettels grasp now. But there are still honors to be races for and a win at Monza is one of those honors. No driver worth his pay check thinks this is just another race, the big boys will want to show the faithful that they deserve the praise and the also ran's want to have their moment of glory.

Given that the Redbulls don’t normally run well on the power circuits like Spa and Monza, I’d expect at least one or other of the Redbulls to win here too. But the McLarens were fighting with one hand behind their backs in Belgium. Button got to 3rd from way back in the pack and Hamilton was controlling things nicely until he took his eyes off Koby. Hamilton won’t give up until the chequered flag drops and he’s pumped up looking to save his year. But you know, Vettel has been showing Lady Luck a rip roaring time of late and she can be difficult to tempt away from a driver when she takes a shine them. I think she remembers the days when Schumacher and her used to go gallivanting around the world in a spray of champagne and trophy’s … It must be a German thing.

Whilst all this frivolity is going on with the sharp Italian suits and the attendant, but very bored looking, glamorous arm candy in Italy. I shall be in, a no doubt windswept and wet, corner of a Northampton airfield watching proper cars with roofs, lights and different engines continue to battle for the title of world endurance champions.

In what is becoming an annual event for me now, I will be huddling manfully in the teeth of a howling gale watching the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Silverstone 6 hour race.
Yes, after Le Mans and Spa this is about as good as it gets for me. For a mere £25 on Sunday I can sit in any grandstand seat, hang around the back of the pits whilst the race is on. Talk to any driver I happen to bump into and sit and enjoy 6 hours of quality racing. £25 might just buy you a cup of tea and sticky bun at the British Grand Prix, so a full days racing with the chance to meet the teams and watch the racing from inside a garage for the cost of an umbrella is damn good value in my book.

Right then, don’t forget to update your predictions before Friday. If it’s cold Ferrari won’t win, but don’t bet against a red car on pole. I think it’s going to be a straight fight between Redbull and McLaren.

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