Stoffel Vandoorne is preparing himself for a tough weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, where the young Belgian expects a repeat of issues suffered at Spa.
Vandoorne is heading for his first Formula 1 race at Monza as he continues his first full season with the McLaren-Honda Formula 1 Team, but despite his lack of F1 experience around the sport’s fastest circuit, Vandoorne has claimed victory at the famous circuit before.
“Monza is a really cool place. I’ve driven there in Formula Renault 3.5 and also in GP2, and I won there in both series, so I know the circuit well and have always really enjoyed racing there.
“The fans are great, they show a lot of passion, and you feel like you’re swept up by their enthusiasm the whole weekend.”
Vandoorne, who was hit with a 65-place grid penalty last time out at his home event at Spa, points to the similarities between the Belgian circuit and Monza and expects to suffer from the same straight line speed deficit that blighted McLaren’s race last time out.
“Spa was definitely a tough race for us, and we’ve always identified Belgium and Italy as two difficult weekends for us.
“It was hard to manage our pace with the rest of the pack on the straights, and we’re preparing ourselves for the same thing at Monza, but of course we’ll push hard every day throughout the weekend to try and give ourselves the best chance of a good result.”
At Spa, McLaren attempted to boost their grid positions through the use of orchestrated slip-streaming between Vandoorne and his team-mate Fernando Alonso; it’s likely the team will try the same trick at Monza as Vandoorne points to the importance of qualifying.
“As usual, the important thing is qualifying, but it’s in the race where we need to work on our pace and make sure we can maintain our position throughout Sunday afternoon.
“We worked really well as a team in Spa to try to we maximise our progression through qualifying and hopefully influence our prospects for the race, and I hope we’ll be able to do more of that this coming weekend.”