Formula One's calendar stop at Monza is normally a celebration of all things Italy. It's a chance for Pirelli to shine in its own backyard, as the tire manufacturer's headquarters is 42 minutes away in nearby Milan. It's an opportunity for the tifosi to celebrate Ferrari, regardless of how well (or not well) the scuderia are going. Fans will be dressed head-to-toe in Ferrari red, flags will be waved and much cheering will be going on.
So trust Lewis Hamilton to steal some of the thunder. Ending months and months of speculation over his future in the series, Hamilton and Mercedes announced on Thursday that the seven-time world champion will continue with the Silver Arrows for another two seasons.
"It's been an honor to earn our way into the history books with this incredible team," Hamilton, who is tied with Michael Schumacher on driver's titles but stands alone with the most poles ever claimed (104) and race wins (103), told formula1.com. " ... We have learnt from every success but also every setback. We continue to chase our dreams, we continue to fight no matter the challenge and we will win again. I'm grateful to the team who have supported me both on and off the track. Our story isn't finished, we are determined to achieve more together and we won't stop until we do."
Hamilton's news didn't mean that Ferrari completely escaped the scrutiny of the assembled media, and as usual the topic Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur was asked about most revolved around the Scuderia's chances against Red Bull Racing.
"If you have a look on the numbers, it's quite difficult to imagine we could be champions on the team and driver championships," Vasseur told formula1.com. "But we need to keep the same mindset, to try to get the best on every single weekend, not to be focused on the championship. We have to improve the package. We also have to improve what we are doing on track and to try to get the best from the package that we have. It's where we have to be focused. I don't want to fix a target to say we have to do 'this' or 'this.' As long as we have room for improvement, we have to be 100-percent focused on this. It's clear that on every single topic, and every single pillar of the performance, we need to take a step forward."
And for the tifosi who will be jamming the stands at Monza, Sunday would be a terrific time to start.
How to watch the F1 Italian Grand Prix
- Date: Sunday, Sept. 3
- Location: 3.6-mile (5.793 kilometer), 11-turn Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy
- Time: 9 a.m. ET
- TV: ESPN/ESPN+
- Stream: fubo (try for free)
What to watch for
Italy's Temple of Speed, Monza is another of the classic circuits on the F1 calendar that instantly brings images with it. The beautiful Italian countryside. The screaming Italian fans, rooting for those flashy red cars from Maranello. The phenomenal final turn, known as the "Parabolica." It's a track where, once again, teams will have to be able to dial the cars in to find that perfect balance. It is tough on brakes, tough on tires and obviously tough on drivers, who can't afford to take a lap off. Lose concentration and lose the car.
"Teams will be using the lowest possible aerodynamic downforce levels in favor of top speed,"Pirelli's motorsport director, Mario Isola, told formula1.com. "Stability under braking and traction coming out of the two chicanes are the two key factors that challenge tires the most on this track, as well as the lateral loads exerted in the fast corners such as Parabolica and Curva Grande."
Pirelli will be supplying the teams with the three softest compound in the range. The C3 white will be the hard compound for the weekend. The C5 red is the softest. The last time these compounds were used on the calendar was Hungary, also a circuit that is difficult on tire wear due to braking. Drivers will get three sets of the C3s, four of the C4s and four of the C5s. Usually, each driver is given two sets of hards, three mediums and eight softs. Drivers at Monza will be required to use C3s for the first qualifying session, C4s for the second and C5s for the final session.
As for pit stops, this 53-lap race usually revolves around one pit stop.