F1 Power Rankings: Italian Grand Prix

The proverbial fat lady is warming up. After picking up his seventh win from 12 races, Sebastian Vettel extended his championship lead to 92 points. At 25 points for a win, that’s nearly a four-race lead with only seven races to go. With the championship all but sewn up, the focus turns to the battle for second place. Four drivers are within 21 points of second spot in the World Drivers’ Championship. Something tells me that race will be a bit more exciting than the battle for the championship.

#1 Sebastian Vettel (Last Race #1)
Before Seb won for Red Bull, he won in Monza for Toro Rosso: “Monza holds incredibly special memories for me, as it’s where I scored my first-ever F1 win with Toro Rosso in 2008. That’s something I will never forget – I had goosebumps standing on the podium with the fans below. The circuit is one of the most challenging of the season. It includes very long straights where we reach more than 320kph, making Monza the fastest track of the year. The track is not particularly physically demanding but, despite that, it is certainly not easy.”

#2 Fernando Alonso (LR #2)
If Ferrari was to ever pull a rabbit out of their hat, they need it this weekend. After all, a repeat of Belgium’s 4th for Alonso and 8th for Massa would not exactly go over well with the Tifosi who will fill the grandstands at Monza. With Imola off the schedule, there’s only one home race for Ferrari now. They had trouble getting heat in the medium compound tires in the cool conditions at Spa. Italy is considerably warmer so it’ll be up to a dynamic Alonso start and some luck with the weather to get them the win over one of the Mercedes powered cars.

#3 Mark Webber (LR #3)
@AussieGrit loves Monza and Italy and the Tifosi: “Monza is one of the best races of the year because the atmosphere is amazing with the Tifosi supporting Ferrari. There is an immense amount of history with the old banking still in place and the beautiful park where the Italian Grand Prix has been staged over the past 80 odd years. It’s the shortest Grand Prix we take part in, as we can knock the 300 kilometre race distance out very fast because of the exceptional average speed.”

#4 Jenson Button (LR #5)
Jenson likes his chances to exploit two DRS zones like he did in Montreal: “I think things will be a little more mixed-up this year. For the second time this season, we’ll have two distinct DRS zones, with two potential passing opportunities. The first zone’s going to be interesting because it’s always been very tough to challenge for position under braking for Ascari – the track’s pretty narrow and it’s a fast entry – so I’ll be really interested to see how well DRS will work into that corner – we might see some pretty spectacular moves!”

#5 Lewis Hamilton (LR #4)
Lewis feels the need for speed: “I’m particularly looking forward to qualifying, because I think DRS will make a huge difference to our laptimes, and I really want to get the maximum out of the car in quali – and then look forward to a strong race, of course. With unlimited use in quali, and those four long straights, I think qualifying’s going to be pretty intense: we’ll be 20km/h faster at four key points of the circuit, so our quali times are going to be much faster than in the race. That should be pretty exciting.”

#6 Felipe Massa (LR #6)
Old Phil Massa is hoping the weather is a little warmer this weekend than at Spa: “This is a very important weekend for us. Not in the sense of it being a last chance for us this year or anything like that, but because we really want to produce a great result for ourselves, for the team and most of all for the fans. Spa was not fantastic for us and the cold weather accentuated our tyre problems, but this weekend, we have the same tyre compounds but hopefully much hotter weather.”

#7 Nico Rosberg (LR #7)
Nico completely omits the part where Michael kicked his ass in Belgium and put in the best drive in a Mercedes this season: “I’m really looking forward to the weekend in Monza. We learned at the last race in Spa that our car can be competitive at high-speed tracks, and we definitely took a step forward there. I am confident that we can do that again in Italy next weekend.”

#8 Michael Schumacher (LR #8)
Seven-time rocked F1 last week and wants to do it again this week: “The final European race takes place at Monza, a truly historic Formula One circuit, and one where I have always been so warmly welcomed and supported over the years. We achieved a good team result in Spa last weekend, and I especially enjoyed the overtaking battles and the challenge of making up so many places during the race. This gives us a boost going into the final part of the season, and we will continue pushing hard to get the best possible results.”

#9 Adrian Sutil (LR #12)
Adrian thinks that FI’s strength at high-speed circuits will be a huge plus this weekend: “I think our car is more consistent on all tracks rather than just being strong on the quick circuits. Also, because everyone is now using DRS and KERS, the advantage of our straight-line speed is not so significant. It’s still a fast car, but we were seventh in Hungary on a high downforce circuit and got the same result in Spa on a low downforce circuit. So it’s a very consistent car now and I expect a good race at Monza.”

#10 Vitaly Petrov (LR #9)
Petrov talks about his new teammate: “I’ve known Bruno for quite a long time from my days in GP2. Back then, we were not close friends, but since he joined us this year he’s been in every briefing and we’ve eaten together, talked a lot and developed a good relationship. He’s a good mate, and he’s also a talented driver, which was evident in Belgium. He demonstrated his skills there for all to see.”

#11 Jaime Alguersuari (LR #11)

#12 Sebastien Buemi (LR #13)

#13 Kamui Kobayashi (LR #10)
Kobayashi Maru is looking forward to some good eats this weekend: “I like Monza. I have driven quite a lot there because I did Formula Renault Italia. I have also done GP2, but that wasn’t nice as I remember there was a lot of rain then. Anyway, I like the track and the town, as there are a couple of nice restaurants, it is quite close to Milan and it is always nice to go there as well.”

#14 Bruno Senna (LR #18)
Senna talks about his first race: “In fairness I’d give it an eight and a half because apart from the two mistakes I made during the weekend, everything went smoothly. It certainly was not perfect because of my mistakes, but at the same time it was very encouraging and gave me great confidence to work hard with the team and to try and develop things further; it gave me a firm base for future development.”

#15 Sergio Perez (LR #14)
Perez likes his chances to score points in Monza but doesn’t like the car’s ability to do so: “The very long straights in Monza could be tough for us. I want to maintain a good rhythm with positive performances in qualifying and for the start. Then, of course, I want to finish the race and score points for the team. It is my aim to finish the European season on a high.”

#16 Paul di Resta (LR #16)
Dario’s cousin let’s us in on a secret about Monza that no one else does. Brakes are very important here: “I loved the track. It’s so fast but you also need to be aggressive and use the kerbs to get the laptime. And because it’s so low downforce, you have to adapt and drive in a different way. You need to be very precise on the brakes too, because it’s easy to lock a wheel and if you miss your braking by just a metre it can cost you a lot.”

#17 Rubens Barrichello (LR #15)
This is literally Rubens’ entire pre-race PR quote: “Monza is a circuit that I like very much. Having good brakes and traction are important factors here so setting the car up becomes crucial for a good race. Having won there in the past, I really look forward to racing in Monza again. The tifosi also make it feel very special.”

#18 Pastor Maldonado (LR #17)
Pastor thinks that Williams can repeat the success of Spa at Monza: “It is a wonderful track, especially because it is so quick, one of the quickest of the year. It is a low downforce circuit so you need a good aero balance for that. As we showed at Spa-Francorchamps, our car is working well on these types of tracks so I hope to be in the points again this weekend.”

#19 Heikki Kovalainen (LR #19)
Heikki on the quick way around Monza: “For Monza you’ll hear a lot of the drivers talking about how one of the keys to a quick lap is how well you use the kerbs. Getting over them as efficiently as possible helps minimise the overall length of the lap and it might only be fractions of seconds, but shortcutting as much as you can, obviously within the rules and as much as the car can take, saves time and helps you maintain momentum onto the straights. To the viewer on TV and even at the track the kerbs don’t look all that hardcore, but when you’re in the car you hit them pretty hard and you need to be ready for it to get out of shape and even start to snap away from you.”

#20 Jarno Trulli (LR #20)
Jarno has no soul: “Monza’s a funny one for me. As an Italian everyone expects it to be the most special race of the season for me but really it’s not. I can’t really afford to treat it differently to any other race as I want to make sure I can focus on the job every day I’m on track, and even though there’s a lot of fans in the stands, and friends and family around the paddock, I always try and treat it like any other race. Obviously the good thing for me is that it’s close to my home, so I do get to catch up with lots of people who I don’t normally have time to see, but ever since I started racing I was nearly always abroad, so while it’s obviously my home race it’s not one I approach differently to any others.”

#21 Timo Glock (LR #21)
Tim O’Glock with the best breakdown of driving Monza an F1 driver would be willing to give you: “Monza is a fantastic track situated in the heart of the town, just outside Milan. The track is generally flat, but has gradual gradient from the second Lesmos to the Variante Ascari and the grip here is very low due to the aerodynamic profile needed. Understeer is also more of an issue here than at other tracks, however, we do experience oversteer in the second sector.”

#22 Jerome d’Ambrosio (LR #22)
Jerome just wants to drive fast: “I now can’t wait to drive a Formula 1 car at high speed in Monza. Speed is important, but braking stability is also vital, as well as the ability to ride the kerbs. The atmosphere here is also very special, with a lot of emotional Italian fans that will cheer us on from the grandstands.”

#23 Tonio Liuzzi (LR #23)

#24 Daniel Ricciardo (LR #24)

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