2018 Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix preview

Autodromo Nazionale Monza, home of the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix

The 2018 Formula 1 World Championship continues this weekend with the Italian Grand Prix at the legendary Autodromo Nazionale Monza.

The Italian event is typically the last of the European rounds, as is the case this year, and it’s always a great race to attend, thanks in part to thousands of Tifosi there to celebrate their home team. And then there’s the history; the Italian Grand Prix was present during F1’s inaugural 1950 season and has been a fixture on the calendar ever since.

The Monza circuit is located just to the north of Milan. It consists of a series of straights and some tight chicanes, with drivers typically spending over 75 percent of the 3.6-mile lap at full throttle, delivering the fastest average speed of the season and reaching more than 200 mph at no less than four sections.

As a result, cars are set up for low downforce to maximize their top speeds. This in turn makes them more dependent on the mechanical grip from the tires to provide grip through the corners. Pirelli has nominated its medium, soft and supersoft compounds for the round.

Lots of power is also a must, and as we saw during last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, also a high-speed circuit, Ferrari appears to have come out of the summer break with the edge over Mercedes-AMG. Neither team was pushing things during early practice on Friday, though, with Force India’s Sergio Perez putting in the fastest times.

The weather at Monza this time of year tends to be hot and sunny. However, we could see some rain during Saturday’s qualifying this year. There was a little during Friday’s practice. The good news is that the forecast for Sunday’s race calls for fine conditions with partly cloudy skies.

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Going into the weekend, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton leads the 2018 Drivers’ Championship with 231 points versus the 214 of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in second. Fellow Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen is third with 146 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 375 points versus the 360 of Ferrari and 238 of Red Bull Racing. Last year’s winner in Italy was Hamilton for Mercedes.

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