F1: Ferrari (NYSE:RACE) Seeks to Win at Monza, Its Home Track
Legions of Ferrari supporters dressed in Red are streaming into the royal park that hosts the Italian Grand Prix and are exhibiting a rediscovered air of enthusiasm.
It has been 7 long and mostly disappointing years since Ferrari celebrated a win here at Monza, its home track.
Sebastian Vettel leading the drivers’ standings entering this weekend’s race as the iconic Italian Supercar maker celebrates its 70th Anni, it’s understandable that expectations have increased for F1’s most famous team.
“It’s the Grand Prix of Italy and we are an Italian team,” Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said Friday. “This is the emotional part.”
The reality is that Ferrari still has some catching up to do heading into Saturday’s qualifying.
Sebastian Vettel and his Scuderia teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished behind MercedesAMG’s Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in both of Friday’s Free Practice sessions on the high-speed Monza circuit, which favors MercedesAMG’s stronger power.
“They are pushing us and the expectation is very, very high,” Mr. Arrivabene said of the fans, affectionately known as the “tifosi.”
“Despite that we need to be humble because we know the nature of this year’s car and we know that Monza is not really the best track for us,” he added. “But having said so, our attitude will be humble but not surrendering. This is what I can promise to our tifosi.”
If Lewis Hamilton takes his 4th straight Pole position at Monza, and 69th overall in his career, he will break the F1 record he jointly holds with Ferrari’s great Michael Schumacher.
Mr. Schumacher, a 7-time F1 Champion, used to dominate at Monza and Ferrari holds the track record with 18 wins, but the last Scuderia driver to triumph here was Fernando Alonso in Y 2010.
“To be honest, I was not aware of that,” Mr. Vettel said of the 7-year drought. “And in the team it is no topic at all. We are looking forward and not backwards.
“If the chance is there we will take it, of course. Maybe there was no chance in the last 7 years,” Mr. Vettel added. “It would be something very special to win here ” also given the anniversary ” but it would be a bad sign if we were only to try hard here and not anywhere else. We try hard everywhere, but probably the emotions would be bigger here. The Monza podium is simply awesome.”
Ferrari seemed to struggle in the morning practice, but Messrs Vettel and Raikkonen were much more competitive in the afternoon, both placing within 4/10’ssec of MBZAMG’s Bottas’ leading time.
It looks to be shaping up for another close battle after Mr. Vettel chased Mr. Hamilton throughout last weekend’s Belgian GP, almost catching him with 10 laps to go, before finishing 2nd behind Mr. Hamilton.
“It’s the same thing we see in Monza today. The 2nd Free Practice gave a good indication that Ferrari is to be expected to be fast tomorrow and Sunday,” MercedesAMG’s head of motorsport Toto Wolff said.
“This is the narrative of the season. It is a tough fight between the 2 teams. It’s real. You can really see Sunday who has had the faster car. … This is going to go down to the very end.”
It is tight this year, with Mr. Hamilton winning 5 races to Mr. Vettel’s 4.
Sunday’s race should be between MercedesAMG and Ferrari, as both Red Bulls are taking grid penalties following engine changes.
The fans are certainly ready to cheer a Ferrari to victory.
“If you can dream, you can do it,” read a Red Ferrari banner lining the track’s main straightaway.
Another said, “You cannot describe the passion, you can only live it.”
Rain is scheduled for qualifying Saturday but the forecast for Sunday’s race is Sunshine, which will be preceded by a parade of classic Ferrari cars in celebration of its 70th Anni.
RESULTS – Practice 2, Formula 1 Italian GP (90mins)
|5||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+1.003s|
|6||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||+1.346s|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India||+1.571s|
|11||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||+1.744s|
|14||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||+1.946s|
|18||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||+2.847s|
|NYSE:RACE||115.97||1 September 2017||1.48||114.92||115.98||114.9||246,004|
|HeffX-LTN Analysis for RACE:||Overall||Short||Intermediate||Long|
|Bullish (0.45)||Bullish (0.31)||Bullish (0.46)||Very Bullish (0.58)|
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