The Infiniti Red Bull Racing team arrive at Monza after taking victory in the last two Grand Prix in Hungary and Belgium with Daniel Ricciardo, while team-mate Sebastian Vettel has fond memories of the circuit, having taken his maiden F1 win back in 2008 and two wins for Red Bull in 2011 and 2013.
Ricciardo believes the biggest challenge at Monza is the braking zones, where he feels the most time could be gained or lost. He loves driving around the Italian circuit, especially with the trees lining the track, and hopes to experience the thrills of the unique podium at the track for the first time this year.
“The biggest challenges at Monza nowadays are the braking zones,” said Ricciardo. “The first chicane is the ultimate example: you’re coming down to that first chicane at the highest speed an F1 car will reach all year and you’re braking into one of the tightest corners you’ll take all year. Added to that you’re doing this with the least amount of downforce you’ll have all year – which means the car tends to slide around quite a bit as well as taking longer to stop.
“You can’t afford to lock a brake but equally you can’t lose time by being too eager on the pedal. It demands that you are really focused all of the time. I’m not really that keen on super-long straights; I find them a little dull compared to hammering through a series of demanding corners but Monza is the exception to that.
“There’s something about flashing through those trees in front of that massive crowd that definitely gets the pulse all the way up! Also the crowd in Monza is wild. Obviously it’s full-on Ferrari but in the past they’ve always been very generous to me. I’d love to get the opportunity to stand on that brilliant podium and find out!”
Team-mate Vettel, still searching for his first victory of a very tough 2014 season after winning the past four World Drivers’ Championships, has fond memories of Italy, and remembers his karting days and his maiden F1 win for Scuderia Toro Rosso back in 2008. He reveals that Monza is one of the trickiest circuits on the calendar to get a perfect lap on the board.
“Italy offers a lot: good food, nice places and I think this is the reason you will find a lot of Germans on the beaches there for their holidays,” jokes Vettel. “I spent a lot of time when I was young karting in Italy so I got to know a few places like Lake Garda, Napoli in Northern Italy, and Parma, which has a great karting circuit. The level of karting is quite high in Italy because there are a lot of manufacturers there. I have some friends in Italy from the karting days and also Toro Rosso so it is nice to go back there.
“For me one of the best places is obviously Monza for the race circuit, which is one of the fastest tracks we go to. The 5.793 km long track has brutal deceleration points, is especially tough on the brakes and the tyres are also heavily loaded, especially in the fast corners such as the Curva Grande and Parabolica. It is extremely difficult in Monza to get a perfect lap because it is almost impossible to hit every curve and every chicane in the way you want.”