The legendary Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is now ready to welcome the sixteenth round of a World Championship, the Italian F1 GP 2022, this weekend (September 9-11). An unstoppable Max Verstappen and his team, Red Bull, are mercilessly crushing all of their rivals and can practically claim the crown as their own already.
The hegemony of the Dutch driver is such that he is very close to winning the season’s title. After his tenth victory of the year in his home round (Saudi Arabia, Emilia-Romagna, Miami, Spain, Azerbaijan, Canada, France, Hungary, Belgium & Holland)
, he rules the standings with 109 points more than his teammate Checo Pérez and Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), tied in second place.
This is an astonishing advantage even more so considering the overwhelming superiority of the ‘Flying Dutchman’, and despite the fact that there are still seven races until the end of the season.
Ridding his triumphant wave, Max arrives at Ferrari’s home with every intention of annihilating the little hope that the Tifosi might still harbour. The layout of the track will also play in his favour. The very long straights and fast corners, together with the low downforce of the ‘Temple of Speed’ are perfectly suited to the RB18. Verstappen is ready to shine at this old school but unforgivable track, with its gravel run-offs. An ideal battlefield for the #33 to display his many talents.
On the other hand, not everything looks rosy within the Austrian team. Its other driver, Checo Pérez, does not seem to find his footing. His performance is declining with every new update of the blue car. Over the last seven rounds, he has only managed two podiums and a fifth place in the Netherlands.
A gloomy anniversary for Ferrari before its fans
Ferrari will be celebrating its 75th anniversary before its fans this weekend at its lowest point in the season. The alarming drop in performance of the F1-75, together with the unacceptable and recurrent team errors, have plunged the team into a deep crisis.
The last chapter of this ‘Italian comedy’ took place in Zandvoort during Carlos Sainz’s first pit stop. The problem: Ferrari mechanics did not have one of the wheels ready when the Spaniard arrived at the garage.
The mistake cost the Spaniard a 12-second delay and his third place at the time. To top it all off, on his second visit to the garage he was instructed to re-join the pit lane in a dangerous manner, and almost collided with Fernando Alonso (Alpine). As a result, he was handed a five-second penalty which sent him from fifth to eighth place at the end of the Dutch race.
On top of these recurrent human errors, the red car does not dominate the track as it did at the beginning of the campaign. Part of the problem is the heavy degradation of its tires, an issue that was dealt with a lot more carefully at the beginning of the season. Its overall power also seems to have diminished with the passing of the months.
As if the picture wasn’t bleak enough for the red team, the set-up of the ‘Magic Track’ could also highlight the weaknesses of the Maranello car. Its lack of power and top speed will be more evident than ever.
Unsurprisingly, given the circumstances, and considering the characteristics of the upcoming circuits, Ferrari is considering changing Sainz’s engine. If this is confirmed, the Spaniard would start at the bottom of the grid. A risk worth taking considering that the team of the Prancing Horse is only 30 points behind Mercedes in the constructors’ standings.
Mercedes faces its least favourable circuit
Mercedes, on the rise after a new podium by George Russell in Zandvoort, will face a very tough test at the Italian F1 GP 2022. The ‘Magic Track’ could well be the circuit that is least suited to the W13 on the whole of the calendar. The progress resistance and the rebound effect (‘porpoising’) generated by this track will pose an added challenge for the German car. The team, in order to avoid this undesired bouncing, might consider raising the height of their car as they did in Belgium, despite the costs.
Images of Italian F1 GP 2022: F1.com.