Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2017

Hamilton out to spoil Ferrari’s party: Five Monza talking points

2017 Italian Grand Prix

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It’s the last European race of the season and an opportunity for Lewis Hamilton to take the championship lead if he can become the first person this year to win back-to-back races.

Here are five key talking points for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

Hamilton must capitalise on Mercedes’ advantage

Out of the eight remaining races this year, Monza should be the strongest venue for Mercedes. They’ve been unbeaten at this circuit since the current engine regulations came in and the power unit upgrade they introduced last week should strengthen their position.

Given that, Lewis Hamilton has to go into the weekend confident of being able to win and move into the lead of the championship. Failing to do so before the following race in Singapore, a track which is expected to favour Ferrari, would be a blow to his title hopes.

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Will we see the fastest lap ever?

Formula One has set new track records at every circuit it has visited so far this year. But at Monza the all-time record for the fastest lap around any circuit could be broken.

The target is an average speed of 262.242kph. That was the benchmark set by Juan Pablo Montoya 13 years ago with his lap of 1’19.525. This year’s new cars should get close to it, but whether the record falls or not could come down to the next talking point.

Qualifying tactics

Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Monza, 2013
Ferrari’s slipstreaming plan failed in 2013
Due to the increased drag produced under the 2017 regulations, teams are deriving a great benefit from having their drivers slipstream each other in qualifying. McLaren and Ferrari used this to good effect at Spa, and Monza’s straights offer another opportunity to do it.

However it isn’t easy to get right. It depends on a high degree of co-operation between drivers, something which was lacking when Toro Rosso tried to do it at Montreal, another track with long straights.

Ferrari fever

It’s five years since a Ferrari driver arrived at Monza leading the world championship. Having recently committed to the team for another three years, Vettel can expect a rapturous reception this weekend.

Monza is also traditionally a venue where Ferrari’s president makes an appearance. Sergio Marchionne has a lot more to smile about now than he did 12 months ago.

War at Force India

After five clashes in the last six races, Force India team bosses have read the riot act to Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

The team says it will take steps to “separate” its drivers when they are on the track. But how well will the non-aggression pact work in practice, particularly in a race which offers few strategic options?

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.

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:

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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...

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55 comments on “Hamilton out to spoil Ferrari’s party: Five Monza talking points”

  1. ”Formula One has set new track records at every circuit it has visited so far this year.” – That doesn’t apply to Circuit de Catalunya as this year’s pole lap is slower than both the fastest pre-season test lap and the fastest ever lap set during an in-season test session in April 2008.

    1. That’s because for testing they had all the tire compounds available, while for the race the ultrasoft wasn’t available.

    2. I don’t think they include testing as they don’t necessarily run to race weekend rules.

      1. @glynh, that is correct – testing times do not count towards an official “fastest lap” because the team can, if they so wish, run the cars in a configuration which is not legal and allows them to go faster than they could otherwise go. Indeed, in the past one or two teams were accused of deliberately running in an illegal configuration to make themselves look more competitive than they actually were when testing in order to impress sponsors.

        The case that @jerejj cites is exactly one of those examples – Massa would not have been allowed to use the car in that configuration in an actual race, so the time isn’t recognised as a “fastest lap” (in the same way that Schumacher set faster times in testing in 2004 on the previous circuit layout, but those testing times are not recognised as “fastest laps” either).

        1. @glynh @anon @40_valve_audi Yeah, but still, technically the fastest April 2008 in-season test lap is the outright lap record of the current layout. The outright/absolute record of any given circuit is a lap time that’s set during any given session regardless of whether it’s the race itself like with official ones, qualifying, a free practice, or a test session.

      2. There is no illegal car when you set a track record.

  2. Ohh.. Mercedes has an advantage? I didn’t know that.. I thought the Ferrari was the best all around car with dark matter propulsion and the Mercedes was wining a power circuit just cuz Hamilton was pedalling the Flintstone car faster

    1. @j3d89

      No one is arguing the Mercedes power unit isn’t the best. Like for like it has a slight advantage over Ferrari, the power unit Mercedes will use for Monza will have less mileage than Ferrari’s on it as well. They clearly have a power unit advantage.

      At Spa Ferrari had the faster race car though, that was clear both from the free practice race run analysis which put them about half a second a lap faster, and from both how easily Vettel kept pace with Hamilton and how quickly he chopped down the advantage Hamilton eeked from the first pit stop by catching a tow from Raikkonen.

      Hamilton won because he had track position from qualifying and didn’t lose it after the safety car restart. Most people are confident that had Vettel gotten ahead of Hamilton he could have gapped him just like he did in Melbourne.

      Ferrari think they have the better race car, Mercedes think Ferrari have the better race car, and the pundits think Ferrari have the better race car. I’ll take their verdict over people who just can’t stand to give Hamilton any credit for his racing.

      1. digitalrurouni
        30th August 2017, 12:50

        +1. Pretty much this. It’s just silly to think Ferrari don’t have the better race car. Silverstone IMO was just a hiccup for them.

        1. False. Mercedes has a longer wheelbase making it a better car in high-speed high-downforce turns. That’s why they were great in Belgium, Spain, and UK.

          1. @marciare-o-marcire

            The long wheelbase is designed with the purpose of being better in high-speed, high-downforce corners. That doesn’t mean that Mercedes aero package is actually superior to the Ferrari aero package though. The analysis from free practice in Belgium put Ferrari about 1/2 a second ahead of Mercedes on long runs and they were quicker through sector 2 which is the twisty section of the track.

            Through the season who has the best package at a particular circuit ebbs and flows between Ferrari and Mercedes, the Mercedes power unit advantage and Hamiltons qualifying performance is letting them have the track position advantage. But in Spa, the consensus among people who know what they are talking about is that the Ferrari was a faster race car.

      2. actually, because of a loophole in the regulations mercedes are now able to burn more oil than ferrari (1.2kg per 100km vs 0.9kg per 100km), starting from the belgian gp. This gives them even more of an advantage. Therefore don’t give too much credit to hamilton’s racing abilities if he wins every race from here to the end of the season.

        1. @marciare-o-marcire except they didn’t exploit the higher limit at Belgium and are unlikely to too often as it puts more strain on the engine. They kept within the 0.9l limit at Spa.


          And Ferrari chose not to do this as they wanted more time for their final spec engine. They know exactly what they are doing.

        2. @marciare-o-marcire

          Ferrari can burn just as much on power units from before Monza as Mercedes can. It’s not a loophole, it’s the rule all teams adhere to. Ferrari deferred their update because other planned upgrades to the spec are worth more than the small amount of oil burning.

          And seriously considering the power unit burns through 100kg of actual fuel during an hour of racing, how much time do people think 0.3kg of oil, designed for lubrication, in addition to fuel designed for combustion is actually worth?

          It’s obviously worth something or the team wouldn’t do it, but we’re likely talking about marginal occasional boosts, we’re not talking about dumping 80bhp extra through the back wheels like a KERS unit.

          1. @philipgb well articulated 👌🏽

      3. Marian Gri (@)
        30th August 2017, 14:00

        Everything was/is so clear for some of you… Incredible! BTW, how’s your predictions? It seems some of you know everything right from FP1, pretty sure you became a billionaire via betting. Tell me who’s gonna take the PP and the win, I want to get rich. Promise to give you 50%.

        1. @corrado-dub

          It will be Hamilton for pole and the win at Monza. Let me know how much the winnings are x

        2. @corrado-dub

          How much did we win?

      4. So Mercedes despite having less aero for spa.. still pulled almost or the same sectors as vettel.. and on the straight it clearly was 7-10km faster than the reds.. Mercedes weakness is the long wheelbase for tight slow corner and that’s it..

        Mercedes saying Ferrari is faster is just a mind game… Ferrari saying that if they are not obliterated in a Mercedes circuit then they shouldn’t gear to fall behind with the remaining circuits.. vettel saying they have the best car is cuz vettel he is a team player not like Alonso who always going to bash the team and the car unless he gets the rocket he had with Renault

        1. Mercedes was only faster on the straights than Vettel. Raikkonen had a similar top speed as Mercedes. That’s Vettel’s choice for putting on more downforce.

          It’s not Mercedes who said Ferrari was faster. It’s pretty well documented. Even Vettel and Raikkonen said so.

          Why do you think Vettel was so down on the podium? Because he had lost to a faster car? Or because he knew he could and should have won and only lost due to Hamilton simply driving better?

          1. @patrickl
            Yep. Hamilton is, by far, the better driver. That explains Hungary, Austria, Monaco and Bahrein.

      5. Mercedes had the best car .they got pole and set up the car to make it faster on straights so it’s impossible to pass.the Mercedes was set up this way to win , not set fastest laps.it doesn’t matter what happens in practice because Mercedes turn up their engine when they need to.like for example when vettel tries to overtake.
        In Monaco the difference between chassis was berry small but Lewis drove poorly.in spa bottas drove a poor race.
        that does’t mean Lewis drove a bad race but he had many advantages.

      6. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
        30th August 2017, 15:58

        Well said @philipgb. Here’s James Allen on Spa

        In fact inspection of the soft tyres after the race suggests that Hamilton would have been in trouble to reach the end without the Safety Car intervening.

        In other words, despite running in clean air from the start and never locking a wheel the whole race, Hamilton would have had to convert to a two-stop or risk a 0-points finish (effectively ending his title challenge).

        Vettel was able to follow Hamilton the entire race and keep his tyres in good condition, which demonstrates the performance difference between them. Hamilton was very lucky the safety car intervened.

        On this evidence, Mercedes don’t have any strong tracks for the remainder of the season, they have fallen behind in the development race.

        1. @thegrapeunwashed

          I think other than Singapore they’re still likely to take pole at the remaining races. And I think wins for Mexico (low altitude, high speed), Brazil (high speed, difficult to pass), and Abu Dhabi (difficult to pass) are all on the cards.

          But for Malaysia, Japan, and America it’s really up in the air. If Vettel wins 2 of them I think he takes the championship. Hamilton needs a Vettel grid penalty or DNF in my view.

          1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
            30th August 2017, 20:18

            @philipgb I agree with you about the qualifying advantage, it’s been their saving grace for most of the year – and perhaps it will be enough for Hamilton to scrape through by the skin of his teeth, but Vettel must be the firm favourite now.

        2. I think Ham en VET where in the balance for an extra stop.
          If you look how everybody pitted during the SC and not opting for track position tells me both where already looking at a 2 stopper.

      7. @philipgb, I guess that it is one of those things where, since people have been used to Mercedes being so strong over the past few years, people seem wedded to the idea that the W08 is a faster car and want to reject any evidence that points to the SF70-H having a comparable performance to the W08.

        Furthermore, it seems that there are quite a few Ferrari fans who wish to portray themselves as the underdog, such that they want to exaggerate the prowess of the W08 and underplay the performance of the SF70H to play into the “heroic” narrative that they want to create.

        1. It’s hilarious, actually. Ferrari themselves say they feel they have the better car in race trim. Vettel says the same. Everyone from Mercedes believes the same. But certain Ferrari and Vettel “fans” refuse to acknowledge this, and would rather cling to any misguided belief that the Mercedes is God’s own chariot.

          1. I made exactly this point and got a fair bit of flack from some angry Tifosi on here. One chap went so far as to say that the W08 is more dominant than the 2010 Redbull or 2013 one because they have more wins at this stage of the season, failing to take into account the most important metric which is actual gaps, distances and laptimes and technical gurus such as Pat Simmons, Craig Scarborough and Matthew Somerfield saying there is nothing in it.

            If Ferrari employed 2 top tier drivers they could be leading the WCC, unfortunately Seb is having to do the majority of the work on that championship also.

            Ferrari should be commended by their fans by all counts, doing the best job and being the most improved team by a mile. Instead, their fans want to play them as the hapless Italians, getting by through sheer will alone and put down their own team’s achievements.

          2. Indeed. Some Ferrari fans even dispute Vettel has number 1 status at Ferrari and actually say that its Lewis who has the undisputed backing of the team. Unbelievable!

      8. “…the power unit Mercedes will use for Monza will have less mileage than Ferrari’s on it as well.” I thought Ferrari are getting new engines this week. Mercedes already have a full race on theirs.

        1. I think it’s uncertain yet if they will or won’t introduce a new spec. If they do it will be at the lower oil burn rate that is being implemented from Monza onwards, any that Ferrari have at the old rate have a higher mileage than the new Mercedes unit.

  3. How are there 5 clashes in 6 races? 2 in Spa, 1 in Baku, 1 in Canada and…

    1. Weren’t there two in Baku as well?

    2. They hit each other into turn one in Hungary

  4. i have a gut feel that Vettel’s gonna win this one.

    This is his first time coming to Monza as a ferrari driver with a car capable of winning. This race clearly means alot to Vettel as he wants to emulate Schumacher!

    If Vettel wins italy will ERUPT!!

    1. Nice thought, but isn’t going to happen.

      1. They said Spa was going to be a Mercedes blow-out. With just a 2 second gap at the finish, it was hardly a blow-out. They said that Ferrari would not be as strong in the development race. The evidence proves that common belief wrong. There is every probability Vettel can win this weekend.

  5. Hamilton MUST win this race. It’s his time to show his worth. If not for team incompetence, he would be comfortably ahead.

    1. In Azerbaijan, the team lost him 15 points, though importantly Vettel outscored him by 2 points rather than conceding 15 to him like he should so that’s a 17 point swing he lost.

      But the potential points on the table from Russia, Monaco, Austria, and Hungary where Hamilton underperformed would be more than that. If it’s reasonable to forgive Hamilton for occasional sub-par performance, you have to grant that to the team as well.

      1. Austria was hampered by a gearbox. The team also panicked in Australia by pitting him too early into 5th place traffic. That cost Hamilton 14 points. The team also cost him 3 points in Hungary. The pit SHOULD have instructed him to keep his place.

        The team have dropped the ball and its up to Hamilton to seize control.

        1. SHOULD have instructed him to keep his place.

          The team have dropped the ball


  6. He has the best car, he should win.

    1. Yes, Vettel should win. I think Ham/BOT will have something to say about that though.

  7. Will we see another Renault blow up?
    Nope. No Renault engine will blow up again since they put safety sensor to make sure the engine will shut if they had some ‘pressure’.
    No wonder Max was frustrated. He knew he could use the same useless engine again and again rather than blow up and get a better newer engine.

    1. Yeh thats how engines works.

      1. @rethla maybe its you. I for one never accept a factory defect products.
        Every car has limiter and no driver could override it himself. When you drive within the limit and it shut down anyway you should knew that’s a bad batch. And I should get on with it and happily use the same engine next couple races?

        I’ve asked all the guys in the team, the mechanical and also from the power unit side and I’ve said is there something you see Max is doing which I should maybe avoid and they said no, there’s nothing he’s doing. He’s not over-revving it or anything silly.


  8. It would be nice to see a certain Brazilian on the podium,but it would be extremely difficult :/

  9. Sporting regs need to ban intentional team-drafting in qualifying. Just like in a bicycle criterium or a triathlon, it undermines the nature of the test. It’s also asking for a dangerous situation where cars are loitering to give a tow instead of either going fast or getting out of the way of cars on a flying lap.

    1. You say it’s dangerous but when has there ever been an incident while teams are attempting it?

    2. @dmw

      Just like in a bicycle criterium or a triathlon, it undermines the nature of the test

      You should turn on your TV and watch a proper cycling criterium race or triathlon race – you will find drafting is a key element of both!! You might be getting confused between the proper sports and your local kids’ races.

  10. what are you guys predicting for the rest of the grid? can bottas get in top 3 with faster engine or 3 tight turns will play big part of monza?

    great info and thoughts!!

  11. I think, both Mercs and Ferrari will be even with new Ferrari engines. Mercs have better engine but stiff handling makes them difficult on kerbs while Ferrari will be overall good. There have been instances like Mclaren in 2007 (and RBR in 2011) where car with better handling but less power won, so its possible for Ferrari.

  12. I’m surprised that Keith hasn’t mentioned the Oil burning regulations that come in to play at Monza. I feel that might be the biggest differentiator in the race. My bet is that Ferrari have been abusing this regulation for a while, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them drop off the pace in qualifying and in straight line speed a little starting in Monza.

    1. I don’t think that. MB just hurried to omologate their 4th engine b4 Monza to avoid incurr new oil rule. Would they met than big decline on power output? So who’s the bigger oil player? FE is prepared 4th engine with new piston alloy concept to increase internal compression and gain power. Matter for monza is if it’s ready and tested enough.

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