Mercedes AMG Motorsport team principal Toto Wolff has described the Italian Grand Prix, which is due to be held at Monza this weekend, as a “very special event”.
The Brackley-based squad head into the second Formula 1 race since the end of summer recess leading the Championship, 145 points ahead of their closest rivals, Scuderia Ferrari.
Wolff said that off the back of their performance last time out in Belgium at Spa-Francorchamps, they have improvements to make.
“From a performance perspective, our weekend in Spa gave us plenty to work on. We were out-qualified and, while our race pace looked promising, we didn’t manage to take the win. However, given our performance in Belgium last year, it felt like we had also made a step forward.
“We don’t have the fastest car in a straight line this year but we made some progress with regards to the slow-speed corners and the way our car handles the tyres. So there are positives to take away from Spa as well,” said Wolff.
The Austrian added that he recognised taking the victory in Italy may prove to be a challenge as they don’t have the fastest car on the straights this year, with Monza also being the most power-reliant on the calendar.
“We don’t expect the Italian Grand Prix to be an easy weekend. Monza is ‘the’ power circuit in F1, that rewards high power and low drag. While we have had the fastest overall package on the grid this season, it’s not ideal for a track where straight line speed is a key performance differentiator.”
Nonetheless, Wolff is confident that all is still to play for due to Ferrari not being as competitive when it comes to the race on Sundays.
“However, we’ve also seen that the Ferraris look mighty at high-speed tracks on Saturdays, but don’t look quite as strong on Sundays – and that’s when the points are won. We will not be favourites in Italy, but we will do everything we can to take the fight to the red team this weekend.”
He concluded that Monza is one of the jewel races on the calendar, loved by more than just the Italian fans.
“Monza is a very special event thanks to the historic track and the fantastic atmosphere; you don’t have to be a Ferrari fan to appreciate the great passion of the tifosi,” Wolff commented.