Thursday noticebook – Italian Grand Prix

on

Ahead of the 2019 FIA Formula One Heineken Italian Grand Prix, the development of the complex hybrid power units is still a hot topic as manufacturers are keen to get the best out of their products on the most power-sensitive circuit of the calendar.

Engine issues yet to be solved – Both Mercedes and Ferrari experienced power unit issues with their latest engine upgrade during last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix. The German marque installed its third-specification power unit into all six Mercedes-powered cars while Ferrari tried out its latest engine upgrade in its two customer teams, Alfa Romeo and Haas. The Italians was caught by surprise when the fresh power unit in Antonio Giovinazzi’s car suffered a failure during the qualifying session. Ferrari’s team boss Mattia Binotto admitted that the introduction of the new engine for the works team was a concern. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also conceded that his team was yet to determine the reasons behind the engine problems that occured in Sergio Perez’s Racing Point and Robert Kubica’s Williams.

The famous ’party mode’ – Speaking to f1technical.net during the Hungarian Grand Prix, Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said that Honda is on the right path to close the gap to the field-leading engine manufacturers, Ferrari and Mercedes, albeit their qualifying mode still offers room for imporvement. At Monza, Honda’s F1 managing director Toyoharu Tanabe confirmed that improving the qualifying performance has been on top of the list with the introduction of the spec-4 power unit which made its debut at Spa a week ago. „Our new Spec 4 worked properly, the result from the data shows as we expected. At the moment we are happy, we will analyse the data and try to optimise the calibration to improve performance as much as we can for Monza," he is quoted as saying by autosport.com.

Verstappen with a grid penalty - Alexander Albon and Toro Rosso drivers Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat have already served a grid penalty at Spa for exceeding their allocations when Honda introduced a fresh new-specification power unit. After running with a relatively old unit, Max Verstappen will receive a fresh one at Monza which will see him start from the back of the grid on Sunday as he will start using his fourth engine. Speaking to motorsport.com, Verstappen sounded hopeful that he can make up for the lost ground as Monza is usually a track where overtaking is very much possible. „"We all know Ferrari is going to be really quick there, and if you start from the back you probably won't catch the top four. Everything behind that I think it's possible to catch up with."

One-car entries – After last weekend’s horrific crash during Formula 2’s feature race, several F2 teams announced that they will field a one-car entry for the Monza round of the championship. The Sauber junior team by Charouz, Trident and Arden will all run only one entry in Italy. Callum Ilott will represent the by Charouz team while his teammate Juan-Manuel Correa is continuing his recovery in England. Following the tragic passing of Anthoine Hubert, the Arden team will be represented only by Tatiana Calderon. Giuliano Alesi will drive for Trident while his teammate Ralph Boschung will sit out the event.

Unique appearance – This weekend’s Italian Grand Prix will be an emotional event for the 1979 Formula One world champion, Jody Scheckter. The Ferrari legend will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his title win in front of the tifosi at Monza by piloting his championship-winning car on a series of demonstration laps around ‘La Pista Magica’.

One-time partnership – For Alfa Romeo’s home race, the outfit teams up with TMS, a vehicle maintenance specialist. TSM is an Italian leader in the maintenance, repair and fitting of a range of automotive vehicles spanning from cars to fire engines, military armoured vehicles and ambulances. The company, based in the outskirts of Naples, will partner Alfa Romeo Racing for the event in Monza, with TSM branding featured on the bodywork of the C38 cars of Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi.

No decision yet – Speaking to the media at Monza ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Günther Steiner said that he is in no rush to take a decision over his team’s driver line-up for next season. “There is no desperation setting in.” The Bolzano-born is relaxed about the driver pairing as no big changes are expected to the 2020 field after some of the puzzles have been put in the right place. „The market wasn’t moving a lot this year and there are not a lot of big movements going on. It is very difficult to decide what is better to do, therefore it takes a little bit longer, it’s not ‘is he good or is he not good’.

Deal extension – Formula One announced yesterday that it will visit Monza for at least five more years after a successful contract extension with the Automobile Club d’Italia. The Italian Grand Prix has been held since 1950, the year the sport was established. The race has been held every year at Monza with the only exception of 1980 when Imola played the hosting role. Angelo Sticchi, President of the Automobile Club d’Italia labelled the contract extension as a win after a long period of discussions. “It is just like winning a Formula 1 Grand Prix, a very hard and important one, fought to the finish line – which counts as not one but five titles! It’s with great satisfaction that I welcome the conclusion of the agreement between ACI and Formula 1, which guarantees the inclusion, for the next five years, of the Italian Grand Prix in the calendar of the Formula 1 World Championship, and ensures that the event will take place in the ‘Temple of speed ',” he said.