Ferrari need a result at home to halt Red Bull charge

2013 Italian Grand Prix preview

Posted on

| Written by

Less than ten years ago it was not unusual for F1 to arrive at Monza with the championship already decided.

But the growth of the calendar, with more ‘flyaway’ events added at the end of the year, means the last European grand prix of the season takes place with over a third of the races yet to run.

In the Michael Schumacher era Ferrari had the luxury of arriving at their home race in 2001, 2002 and 2004 with their star driver already crowned that year’s champion.

Monza itself hasn’t seen a championship decided since 1979 – another good day for the home team – and it won’t do this year. But it could determine whether the last leg of the championship is a contest for the title or a procession towards Sebastian Vettel’s fourth consecutive coronation.

The significant of Vettel’s fifth win of the year at Spa will not have escaped his rivals. But for a faulty Red Bull gearbox at Silverstone he would have won more than half the races so far this year.

That moment of misfortune makes a big difference in psychological terms when looking at the points standings. Without it, Vettel’s points lead would be almost three wins. With it, he is less than two wins ahead, and the chances of him being caught is more realistic.

Inevitably the hopes of the Monza crowd will be primarily invested in Ferrari. Their pace at Spa suggested they could be on for a strong weekend here. But Vettel’s emphatic wins on the two lowest-downforce tracks so far this year – Montreal and Spa – will temper the optimism at Maranello.

Monza circuit information

Lap length5.793km (3.6 miles)
Distance53 laps (306.7km/190.6 miles)
Lap record*1’21.046 (Rubens Barrichello, 2004)
Fastest lap1’19.525 (Juan Pablo Montoya, 2004)
TyresHard and Medium

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Monza track data in full

Monza remains the only true minimal downforce race of the year which gives it a particular appeal for drivers like Jenson Button. “The place is unique,” he said.

“Ever since we lost the ‘old’ Hockenheim, this has been the only place on the calendar where you run a really super-low downforce configuration. And you can feel it – the car accelerates up to speed incredibly quickly, feels skittish and loose when you’re running flat-out, and can be tricky and unpredictable under braking.

“But that’s what makes the place a special kind of challenge, and I really enjoy that. When you have the car hooked up beneath you, you get into a special kind of rhythm around Monza: you’re going so fast that the whole lap just flows together. There’s nowhere quite like it.”

Happily there’s no indication Monza is set to go the way of the Hockenheimring. For next year it’s not the track that’s changing – it’s the cars. This will be the last blast for normally aspirated V8 engines on F1’s great power track. Next year’s race with V6 turbo and uprated energy recovery systems will look and sound very different – Mercedes have already given us a glimpse of the future.

Italian Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Red Bull

While much of the attention has been focussed on Daniel Ricciardo signing for the team this week, Mark Webber’s final F1 races continue to tick down. This could be his last chance to race at Monza for some time, as it is not currently part of the World Endurance Championship calendar.

Surprisingly, this is one race where Webber is yet to score a top five finish, let alone stand on the dramatic podium above the start/finish straight. “Monza has never been that kind to me,” he said. “I’ve had a few retirements and have never finished on the podium, so I want to get a good result there this year.”


Ferrari bounced back at Spa, showing a good turn of pace in dry conditions during practice and parts of qualifying. On race day Fernando Alonso bounced back from ninth on the grid to finish second.

Ferrari’s leading driver in the championship can rely on his good starts to get him in the thick of the action but needs to avoid a repeat of his fifth row start at Spa and make sure he’s at the sharp end from the moments the lights go out.


Last year McLaren came close to scoring a one-two at Monza – Button retired from second place when a faulty tank starved his engine of fuel. They’ve been nowhere near that kind of performance this year, but with downforce less of a consideration here they may be more competitive than usual.

McLaren celebrated their 50th birthday on Monday and will be doing more to mark it this weekend.


Lotus’s championship hopes suffered a blow at Spa as Kimi Raikkonen posted his first retirement in over a year.

But team mate Romain Grosjean expects the track should suit the E21: “It can be quite hot there sometimes and it can be hard on the tyres. Considering that this is where we seem to have an advantage with our car, let’s hope for both.”


Mercedes may have lost ground to Red Bull in Belgium but despite both their drivers finishing behind Alonso they increased their points margin over Ferrari.

Executive director Toto Wolff credited the strength of the team’s driver line-up: “As their performances this season have shown, Lewis and Nico are probably the most closely matched and balanced driver pairing in Formula One.”

“Their combination of speed and consistency has taken Mercedes to second place in the constructors’ championship and our clear target is to consolidate this position over the coming races.”


Esteban Gutierrez has doubts over how well the Sauber will work on Monza’s unique layout: “It will be a crucial weekend, because stability in slow corners is important and, unfortunately, this is where we’ve been struggling. We have to focus on that and try to improve.”

Force India

New third driver James Calado will make his debut for the team in first practice this weekend. Force India have enjoyed some of their best results at Monza and need to strike back at McLaren who passed them in the points standings at Spa.


Spa brought no cheer for Williams who increasingly seem to be running out the clock on a season which has been a crushing disappointment.

Toro Rosso

Can Jean-Eric Vergne capitalise on this opportunity to underline his own credentials by out-scoring his Red Bull-bound team mate? Vergne is a point ahead with eight races to go.


Giedo van der Garde has driven well in the last two races and his confidence seems to be growing: “After the last couple of races I’ll go to Monza feeling positive about the next race and the rest of the season,” he said.

“The whole team had a lot of praise for what we did in Spa, particularly taking advantage of the conditions on Saturday, and it’s good to see people understanding that what we’re doing now is exactly what we said we would do this year – learn, improve and deliver the results we want. 14th in Hungary and both qualifying and the race in Spa show how the package is coming on and it’s a good feeling for me and the whole team.”


Ferrari-backed Jules Bianchi is hoping the crowd will extend some of its enthusiasm his way this weekend.

“It is the atmosphere, the fans and all the history attached to Monza that makes it so fantastic,” he said. “I also have a nice connection with the fans, and this year it will be nice to enjoy their support racing for the Marussia F1 Team.”

2013 driver form

DriverG avgR avgR bestR worstClassifiedForm guide
Sebastian Vettel2.642.101410/11Form guide
Mark Webber6.554.502710/11Form guide
Fernando Alonso5.643.501810/11Form guide
Felipe Massa8.736.893159/11Form guide
Jenson Button10.009.0051711/11Form guide
Sergio Perez11.1811.0062011/11Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen6.554.2011010/11Form guide
Romain Grosjean9.008.563199/11Form guide
Nico Rosberg4.006.441199/11Form guide
Lewis Hamilton2.454.3611211/11Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg11.7311.118159/10Form guide
Esteban Gutierrez17.5514.3311209/11Form guide
Paul di Resta12.829.004189/11Form guide
Adrian Sutil10.189.635138/11Form guide
Pastor Maldonado15.9113.5010178/11Form guide
Valtteri Bottas15.1813.70111610/11Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne13.6410.296127/11Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo10.8212.117189/11Form guide
Charles Pic19.9116.1114189/11Form guide
Giedo van der Garde19.3617.0014219/11Form guide
Jules Bianchi18.9116.3313199/11Form guide
Max Chilton20.2717.64142011/11Form guide

Are you going to the Italian Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to Italy for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you.

We’ve got a dedicated group and forum for people going to the race.

You can embed your pictures from the race via Flickr and videos via YouTube and other major video-sharing accounts. Join in here:

Over to you

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Italian Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2013 Italian Grand Prix

Browse all 2013 Italian Grand Prix articles

Images © Mercedes/Hoch Zwei, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Lotus/LAT, Force India

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

46 comments on “Ferrari need a result at home to halt Red Bull charge”

  1. Championship is already decided.

    1. That’s funny, I’m sure there’s still eight races to go.

      1. I believe even I have a chance to still become champion!

        1. @andae23 Well, you were already thinking of getting the Team 23 livery into F1, why not enter the whole team and drive for them, seems like a great chance.

          1. @philereid Hmm, I’m a bit short on time to set up an entire F1 team within 2 days, but I guess that’s what is called a challenge ;)

          2. @andae23 – We’ll pool our resources for TF23 :P

          3. @jamiefranklinf1 Haha, I think we might pull it off then :)

      2. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
        4th September 2013, 16:40

        @raceprouk And RBR will dominate all of them. SO YEAH, 8 RACES OR A 1000, IT’S OVER.

        1. You mean like how Red Bull dominated in Hungary? Oh wait, they didn’t.

          The title ain’t decided till the maths say so.

    2. Absolutely, even Chilton can still outscore Vettel by the season’s end

      1. @andae23, @shreyasf1fan, @Andrew Simmons, @vjm
        So you are not going to watch the rest of the season because the WDC is already over ??

        1. @tifoso1989 First, vjm and I didn’t suggest the season was ‘over’. Second, just because the winner of the championship is almost certain doesn’t imply we don’t want to watch the rest of the season – that’s false logic.

          If I were to decide not to watch the rest of the season, there are a lot better reasons to argue that than the championship being ‘over’ (DRS, tyres etc.).

          1. @andae23
            Sorry for this misunderstanding but i thought that both your comments were containing some sense of irony !!!!!!!!!

    3. I wouldn’t go that far, but if nobody can keep Vettel from the top step of the podium at Monza, it may be near impossible going forward.

      Vettel has won the last two races at Singapore and Korea, three of the last four in Japan, both races in India, and the first two races in Abu Dhabi. By that time, he could have already clinched the title if he doesn’t do it at Yas Marina.

  2. Alonso or Vettel to win this one with Hamilton 3rd. Lotus to struggle and Webber to have another poor start. Massive drama about how it will be exciting strategy wise but Vettel will do a one stop and win

  3. Everytime i see grosjean make a mistake on track. it makes me hate him more. hope lotus get hulk/di resta next season

    1. Whenever I see someone write *hate*, I get really anoyed myself, I can understand *I don’t like him*, but not *hate*. In the end it’s only a sport even if you are a fanatic.

    2. Di Resta? Really? Di Resta? Everyone keeps toting him as some kind of exceptional driver, but if he was, he wouldn’t still be at Force India.
      Even he thinks he’s better than he actually is.

  4. Can that fastest lap record set by Juan Pablo Montoya ever be broken in the near or distant future? If so, what should be changed about F1?

    1. I think the records we see on these tracks are there to stay for a long time – in 2004 they had traction control, V10s that had to last only 1 weekend, transmissions weren’t restricted (that much), engine maps were open and the min weight was lower.

  5. Grosjean is fun, makes me think of a day when drivers didn’t give a crap about orders or taking care of the car. Only has to mature a bit more.

  6. It’s been massively strange this year in that if anything, Red Bull have seemed stronger on the low-downforce tracks that the high downforce ones. I think that will be at least partially due to the tyres (high downforce = high energy = high wear) but what it mainly indicates to me is that just generally Red Bull have a very strong car on every track it seems. That is complimented by a driver who only wasn’t at his best in Hungary and possibly China.

    They have a very formidable package, and I wouldn’t be one to bet against them winning this race (which I wouldn’t have said at the start of the season). Alonso must continue hoping therefore that Vettel crashes!

    1. Wonder if Felipe’s success in getting a new Ferrari contract hinges on him taking VET out – duration of contract directly proportional to the number of times he takes VET out over next 8 races.

      That should be a decent motivation, no ;)

      1. @visi even though he’s massively *****-whipped at Ferrari, I still think he has a crumb of honour ;) That’d hopefully prevent anything like that happening!

        1. Was just kidding of course!
          Anyway, off to Monza on Friday so will keep a particularly close eye on him – no hanky panky biz :)

          1. @visi I know haha, I’d never seriously say *****-whipped :P

            @beejis60 it’s an effective method but he’d have to have Robin Hood-like accuracy :P

        2. Maybe massa will try to throw a visor tearoff into his brake duct instead :p

  7. Just put some money on Alonso winning the race. Vettel and Redbull have exelled at the low downforce races in Canada and Belgium this year, but each time Alonso was there in 2nd place, starting from 6th and 9th place. I think it isn’t unlikely he could start from a better grid position in Monza, and thereby staying closer to Vettel and possibly passing him with the Ferrari’s great top speed.

    1. @me4me
      Alonso made up a lot of places, but he was constantly loosing time to Vettel. So if the performance of Spa and Canada is anything to go by, then Alonso wouldn’t stand a chance even starting on the front row.
      Thankfully though, F1 isn’t that predictable. Usually not anyway.

      1. True. But by Redbulls own admission, they had a great weekend at SPA, and that obviously won’t always be the case. Not that im rooting for Alonso btw .. hoping for Vettel to win at sunday hehe

  8. But for he failure in Britain he would have won half the races? True.. ish.

    You can’t accuretly add a ‘but for’ argument without applying it to everyone in that event. Lewis would likely have won silverstone had he not had a tyre failure.

  9. I think Ferrari or RBR will fight for the win – Lotus will struggle.
    The unknown is Mercedes – they say they aren’t gonna be fast, but this year they seem to improve their results by modifying expectations.

  10. vettel’s lowest finish is 4th??? wow

    1. @sato113 the average race finish of 2.1 is massively impressive – that hasn’t happened since 2011! Kind of puts into perspective how relentlessly consistent the pairing have been.

      1. That is great (for someone), but I also remember 2006 when Alonso in the first 9 races was no lower than 2nd with 6 wins, and no retirements in the first 12 races. Not sure if even Schumi beats this results.
        This is the best year from Vettel but yet he has some work to do:-)

        “Ferrari need a result at home to halt Red Bull charge” – no matter what result they get they will lose. Besides, there is a strong possibility of precipitation on a race-day which is bad for Ferrari.

        1. I saw earlier that there is a chance of rain which would be very interesting.

        2. @slava

          That is great (for someone), but I also remember 2006 when Alonso in the first 9 races was no lower than 2nd with 6 wins, and no retirements in the first 12 races.

          Vettel achieved this in 2011 ;)

    2. Though I find it annoying (as I am an Alonso fan) Vettel’s performance this year has been truly impressive to say the least… It will be a tall order for anyone to catch Vettel this year( I think realistically it’s only Alonso who can get somewhere closer to Vettel)… In 2006 Fernando finished 1st or 2nd in the first 9 races and yet Schumi caught him by China.. but circumstances are quite different here, Redbull & Vettel seem to be going from strength to strength whereas Ferrari is very inconsistent in their performances… Alonso needs to win atleast 4 or 5 more races this season to have any chance and I dont see that happening as Redbull will be very strong in the coming races and Merc and Lotus also will be in the running for race wins… It looks like Vettel will be a 4 time champion unless something dramatic happens … Though I dont like it he really deserves what he’s achieved..

    3. Vettel sort of beats Alonso at his own game. His consistency is impressive even more than it was in 2011 because this year the RB isn’t as dominant.

      1. This is year the Red Bull has only been the best car at Bahrain, Montreal and Spa, yet he has almost two races in his pocket.

        Always extracted the most out of his car in qualifying, extracted the most in races. He’s incredible.

  11. I too need a strong result from both Ferrari and Mercedes… please guys, don’t let Seb run away with it so early

  12. It feels so wrong to be heading to Monza not much more than half way through the season, when for so many years Monza signified the start of the climax the season, ofter a pivot race in the championship outcome with 2-3 races to go. I hate Bernie.

    1. ” I hate Bernie”. I love Bernie.

    2. @racer – Agree with the sentiment. However, in a very obtuse way, Monza could be seen as a pivot for this season as well. Based on their recent history, probably Ferrari’s best chance since… Spain?!

      – If the pretenders (mainly ALO or HAM) win / ahead and VET is not in the points / minimal points => Championship alive

      – If VET ahead of the pretenders (putting aside winning for a moment, a distinct possibility in itself) => Ferrari and Merc abandon development of 2013 spec and Championship pretty much done and dusted

  13. This is it. If Vettel wins on Sunday…its definitely over.

Comments are closed.