Italian GP – Unusual report from the track

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Formula One visited the North Italian jewel box of Monza to get together for its final European round of the season. F1technical.net’s Balazs Szabo attended the race track and worked just above the Ferrari garage to give you an insight into the happenings on and off the race track which is the last ultra-high-speed circuit on the calendar.

The Autodromo Nazionale Monza screams through the enormous and beautiful Royal Park which is located next to the Royal Villa. Being the third purpose-built race track of the world, Monza has been hosting races since 1922. History lurks around every corner of the circuit which usually draws in spectators from all around the world.

Ferrari celebrated its anniversary

Ferrari celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2017. After racing himself, the legendary founder Enzo Ferrari started his racing business in 1929 by setting up his Scuderia Ferrari racing team and was leasing racing cars from Alfa Romeo. He then became Alfa Romeo’s Sporting Director. However, it was the year of 1947 when Ferrari built its very first car, the 125 S which marks the birth of the Italian car manufacturer.

Ferrari set up a tent just in front of the main paddock entrance where it exhibited 21 of its most important road cars including the 125 S model. On Saturday evening, the team held a short party where it offered a cocktail to all paddock pass holders. F1’s new director Chase Carey also attended the event while Maurizio Arrivabene arrived with Toto Wolff to the celebration.

Vettel explained the myth behind Ferrari

In Thursday’s FIA press conference, Sebastian Vettel was asked to explain why Ferrari has such an overwhelming fame and myth all around the world. The German added that Ferrari’s road cars are not comparable to any other sports cars.

“There are a lot of great sports cars around the planet, I don’t know all of them, at least that’s the way I feel and that for me is something unique and it’s similar and it probably describes or answers your questions.”

“It’s the feeling when you step into a Ferrari, when you sit in a Ferrari, I don’t know, you can step into another car but you don’t get the same feeling. When the engine then starts and you have the chance to drive yourself then I think everybody who likes cars and has a passion for racing falls in love with the cars straight away,” said the quadruple champion.

Monza is probably a one-off

The Italian GP is probably the most emotional and passionate event on the calendar. The cauldron-like atmosphere of the whole event is unique. The race track is just outside the town of Monza. As shuttle buses park a few hundred of metres from the track gates, fans flock and stream all around the surroundings from the nearby accommodations and the Monza railway station. It makes the whole territory to a festival: red flags, caps and shirts, music and merchandizing stands occupy the area. The atmosphere is even better on the circuit. Every time Sebastian Vettel or Kimi Räikkönen passed the grandstands, fans screamed and cheered on them.

There are some supplementary stands on the lower side of the main grandstands which are not equipped with normal seats, but are still great thanks to their closeness to the circuit. These were packed with red-suited fans on Saturday and Sunday. During the postponed qualifying session, some fans wearing Santa Claus costume kept the people entertained. Monza’s iconic enormous heart-shaped Ferrari-flags were the first to hit the track after the race.

During the Belgian GP, Ferrari recovered from the woes it encountered at similarly high-speed Silverstone earlier this year to take second and fourth places. The Scuderia’s fans, the Tifosi therefore came out in force in the hope of a victory for the Prancing Horse on home soil. Even if that did not materialize, the good mood of many loyal fans did not want to fade away. Many stayed on the track for long minutes after the chequered flag to celebrate the Italian Grand Prix. Ferrari’s third driver Antonio Giovinazzi appeared at the scene to share out a few autographs. Fans only left the track when security guards started clearing the track.

A unique pit building

Monza has a long pit lane which may be a curse for strategists because the big difference between the speed on the start-finish straight and in the pit lane urges them to keep pit stops during a race at the minimum. It, however, enabled to create a unique setting of the pit building with spacious rooms. The media centre is a contiguous room with a long inclined window. It provides the journalists with a mesmerizing view on the main grandstands and pit lane.

Filipinho’s football show

Felipe Massa’s kid Filipinho kept the paddock crowd entertained in the final preparation minutes to the Italian GP. The eight-year-old played football with two elder boys on the territory in front of the Ferrari and Williams motorhome.

Robert Kubica and Herbie Blash

Former F1 driver Robert Kubica attended the Italian GP to hold talks on a possible return to F1. The Pole is said to be in contact with more teams at the moment and is adamant to make a successful return after his recent test runs during the post-race testing on the Hungaroring indicated his fitness is not a serious hindrance anymore. The one-time GP winner did not enjoy a huge media attention like in Budapest, he could walk up and down the paddock over Sunday and shook hands with his injured, partially amputated right arm.

Former FIA deputy race director Herbie Blash made a rare appearance in Monza. Charlie Whiting’s long-time assistant stepped back from its role at the end of last year to hand it over to Laurent Mekies. The 68-year-old has been holding his role as deputy race director since 1995.

Pirelli to monitor its sets

The view from the media centre of the Monza track gives the opportunity to monitor every move teams complete on the pit wall and in front of their garages. It is exciting to follow the preparation and after-work of a pit stop in any session. Pirelli employs an inspector at every team. His task is to scan the bar code printed on every single tyre of each set. Ferrari’s mechanics worked superfast to cover the tyres which were just dismantled from the SF70-H with tyre blankets which meant mechanics sometimes had to put the blanket partially off to make the bar code free.

Safety car is spoilt in Monza

If you assume that F1’s Safety Car is hidden behind closed doors over a weekend, you are wrong. Apart from a few practice runs over the weekend when Bernd Mayländer who has been serving duties for F1 since 2000 can get up to speed, Safety Car has to be fueled up. It often happens on the open stage. On the Hungaroring for example, there is a petrol station just outside of the main entrance. The safety and medical cars usually visit it over the pit lane visit which gives the fans a unique opportunity to get close to the Mercedes cars. In Monza, the two sports cars do not even have to leave the territory of the track complex as there is a petrol station next to the secondary paddock entrance.

Vettel was surprisingly confident

Sunday’s Italian GP saw Sebastian Vettel losing the championship lead for the first time this season after he clang to the leading place in the standings since his win in the season-opening Australian GP. The German was, however, not disheartened after the race despite to the ominous form of Mercedes on Ferrari’s home soil in Monza. He enjoyed the podium celebration, took over the job of cameraman to film the passionate crowd under the unique podium setting. In the FIA press conference, the quadruple champion expressed an unusually positive attitude and underlined that Ferrari’s SF70-H is a car which could excel in the remainder of the season. Behind the scenes, Vettel was talking to Lewis Hamilton and welcomed Mercedes’s press officer who accompanied the Briton, there was no sign of any spat between the two rival camps.