F1 Power Rankings: Italian Grand Prix

Apart from Monaco, the most prestigious race on the Formula One calendar is the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. While Monaco has all the glitz and glamour, Monza is the heart of the sport. The fans at this race, mostly the tifosi, are the most passionate for the sport of any crowd of the season. Spraying champagne on a sea of red-clad fans is a highlight for any driver.

#1 Sebastian Vettel (Last Race #1)
Seb wants to remind you that he won his first career race at Monza: “This track brings back great memories for me, mainly from my first win there in 2008 with Toro Rosso. I can’t describe the feeling of standing on the top of the podium for the first time, and Monza was one of the best places to experience it because of the thousands of passionate fans that stand beneath, it gives you goose bumps.”

#2 Fernando Alonso (LR #2)

#3 Lewis Hamilton (LR #4)
Old Louise Hamilton avoids mentioning that he was booed last year for beating the hometown team which is perfectly justifiable in sport: “The layout and atmosphere of Monza are very special and it really feels like you are going back to Formula One’s roots when you race there. The car has a completely different aerodynamic package to anywhere else on the calendar with really low downforce to make the most of the four long straights.”

f1-kimi-raikkonen-helmet-2013#4 Kimi Raikkonen (LR #3)
The Iceman isn’t completely sold on his chances this weekend: “It’s a unique circuit with the high speeds achieved there and everyone will be running the lowest level of downforce we see all year. Low downforce has not always been the best for our car, but the factory has been working hard to get more speed and stability for us with some changes to the car.”

#5 Mark Webber (LR #5)
@AussieGrit tells some funny stories about the tifosi: “The Tifosi really make the atmosphere of the weekend, they go ballistic and they’re very passionate about a certain red team. They will climb anything to get a good view: they sit in trees, on billboards and after the second Lesmo they sit on the old banking with their feet hanging over the barrier.”

#6 Nico Rosberg (LR #7)
Keke’s kid’s strategy for this weekend can be boiled down to two words:
“Mercedes engine”: “To go to Monza with the feeling that we have a quick car is fantastic and I hope we will achieve another strong team result as we did in Belgium. We have to keep pushing now and I know everyone is working really hard at the factories to do just that.”

f1-romain-grosjean-helmet-2013#7 Romain Grosjean (LR #8)
Grosjean talks about Lotus’ unique strategy call at Belgium which I missed to go to Fan Expo. Hey, it wasn’t all bad. I met Stan Lee: “At Spa, considering where we were in the first half of the race, we had to attempt something a bit different as raw pace wasn’t our strong point. Then, with the new tyres I felt that the grip was much higher than before, but I knew that it would be difficult to get the time back. We tried something different and you never know; had it rained in the middle of the race we could have been well-placed to take advantage.”

#8 Felipe Massa (LR #6)

f1-jenson-button-helmet-2013#9 Jenson Button (LR #9)
Jenson talks about what it’s like to drive a low downforce F1 car: “The place is unique: 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.”

f1-sergio-perez-helmet-2013#10 Sergio Perez (LR #10)
Checo comes very close to saying his car kinda sucks: ” As in Hungary and Belgium, we don’t expect to have a car that’ll be capable of fighting right at the front, but I hope we’ll be scrapping for points positions. That’s always fun, because then it’s really down to the team and the driver to maximise every opportunity on the day.”

#11 Adrian Sutil (LR #12)
Like the rest of the Mercedes engine teams, Sutil’s game plan is right foot flat and haul ass for 300 km: “The car is very efficient and we showed good top speed in Spa, so I expect the same this weekend. We are usually quick at Monza and I remember Paul qualified well last year. Also, it’s the track where I got my best result in Formula One in 2009 so historically it’s one of our best tracks.”

#12 Paul di Resta (LR #11)
Dario’s cousin is quite concerned with tyres which is an unusual thing for hear from Force India: “Based on our past performance you’d say that Monza and Singapore are two of the stronger tracks for us. Going on Silverstone’s qualifying performance, you would say Suzuka might work well for us, but the tyres have changed since then so it’s hard to predict.”

#13 Daniel Ricciardo (LR #14)

f1-nico-hulkenberg-helmet-2013#14 Nico Hulkenberg (LR #13)
The Hulk wants you to know that it’s important to smash the kerbs: ” Monza requires a low downforce configuration, which can make the car quite tricky to drive when braking from 340 kp/h down to speeds of about 60 kp/h in the chicanes… I enjoy driving there, as it’s a simple layout but it’s not as easy as it looks. There are some technical bits and chicanes and you really have to master the kerbs.”

#15 Jean-Eric Vergne (LR #15)

f1-esteban-gutierrez-helmet-2013#16 Esteban Gutierrez (LR #17)
Steve might have the most interesting quote of the week since a lot of people like Monza and Spa because of age and speed: “Monza is a great track, and very different to Spa. It’s important to consider that. Coming from a track like Spa, we need to adapt to Monza in terms of driving style, strategy and set-up. It will be a crucial weekend, because stability in slow corners is important and, unfortunately, this is where we’ve been struggling.”

#17 Pastor Maldonado (LR #16)
If this season has proven anything, it’s that the Williams isn’t capable of much in terms of speed, Pastor: “It’s the fastest track of the season and we will be reaching speeds of up to 340kph. Most of the corners are high speed which makes it more of an adrenaline boost and the downforce will be very low on the car which makes it more challenging to drive. This circuit gives everyone the chance to open the car up and see what it is capable of on the long straights.”

#18 Valtteri Bottas (LR #18)
I think Val wins generic PR quote of the week: “In Monza straight line speed is very important for lap time as well as overtaking or defending in a race so we will run the car with the lowest amount of downforce and drag of the season. Tyre wear will not be as big an issue at this race as some other circuits and because of the high pit loss teams will be trying to pit as little as possible.”

#19 Giedo van der Garde (LR #21)
Gary’s got big dreams for this weekend after recent results: “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.”

#20 Charles Pic (LR #20)
Chuckie is going to murder those kerbs. Yes, I know my puns are terrible: “The main focus will be on finding a setup that gives us maximum straightline speed and a car that we can really attack the kerbs with. That’s important for lap time, particularly in T3 and T7, as you need to be able to minimise the time in the corners by pushing the car over the kerbs, so having the right mechanical setup is crucial.”

#21 Jules Bianchi (LR #19)
With a name like Bianchi, I almost forgot that Jules is French and not Italian. So much for saying this is a home race: “I know just what a special circuit it is to drive. More than that, it is the atmosphere, the fans and all the history attached to Monza that makes it so fantastic. 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.”

f1-max-chilton-helmet-2013#22 Max Chilton (LR #22)
It’s not been great season at Marussia but Max the Axe sees signs of improvement: “In Spa we had the very satisfying graduation to Q2, then quite a tough time of it in the race, but on a personal level I have been getting closer and closer to where I want to be, particularly in terms of qualifying pace. I want to maintain that momentum in Monza and each of the remaining rounds, now that I have a stronger bank of experience.”

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