At yet another power circuit, Haas F1 Team believe they will struggle to exempt themselves from the bottom five qualifiers this weekend amidst speed troubles for the Ferrari-engined cars of the grid.
The American outfit say that the Autodromo Nazionale Monza (more commonly known as the temple of speed) will provide a huge challenge for their sluggish VF-20, with team principal Gunther Steiner citing that the realistic expectation is for Haas to fight their way through to second Qualifying.
Although he knows this year will be unpleasant, Steiner reminisced about the good experiences he has had in Italy – where he witnessed the Jaguar F1 Team‘s first F1 podium all the way back in 2002.
“I have a lot of home grands prix; people love to remind me how many I have. I’m a little bit of a global citizen, so I would say the Italian Grand Prix is one of my home races. But it is actually the closest one to my hometown, that much is correct.“
“One of my best moments there would be my first podium in Formula One with Eddie (Irvine) and Jaguar. It was my first podium and my last in Formula One up until now. I hope to get there again soon as it was a great moment. I don’t think it will happen this year.”
Steiner also revealed his grounded expectations for Haas this year, considering how the super-fast circuit will unfortunately not be very complimentary of their car.
“Realistically we’ll be fighting to get out of Q1. That is the real expectation but that’s what we’ll be working towards – making it out of Q1. You need to have a target, but it needs to be realistic. There’s no point dreaming about getting into Q3. If we can get out of Q1, especially on high speed tracks like Spa and Monza, that’s good.
He concluded: “We’ll fight hard but we know we’ve got one arm tied behind our back.”
Grosjean ready to ‘keep pushing the limit’ at ‘atypical’ Monza
Whilst he admits it will be ‘strange’ racing in Italy without the famed Tifosi, Romain Grosjean is ready to experience the thrills of Monza again. The temple of speed is a place that he remembers vividly, although his memories are of times before Formula 1.
“Monza will definitely feel strange without the fans, especially when you get to the paddock. Usually all the fans are waiting by the car park and it’s almost difficult to walk to the paddock – but it’s mega to be a part of it.”
“For me this season, it’s usually Sunday on the grid where you miss the fans the most. At Monza we’ll definitely feel it every day.”
“I had my first ever Formula Renault 2.0 race at Monza in the Eurocup back in 2004. It was also the first race for my team (SG Formula), it was brand new team. I qualified second from something like 45 cars on the grid. I surprised everyone, including myself, it was mega.”
Grosjean was also keen to highlight the team’s plans to maximise the pace potential this weekend, and how exactly they aim to do that.
“The set-up is really about putting confidence into the car,” he said. “From Friday to Sunday, normally what you do is keep removing downforce from the car, you keep pushing the limit of it.”
Magnussen ‘will miss the atmosphere’ at unual Italian Grand Prix this year
In his seventh season of Formula 1 this year, Kevin Magnussen is as excited as ever to return to the legendary Monza track. It’s a place he says he’s always valued the atmosphere, but he rather dejectedly acknowledged that the absence of fans will no doubt tarnish the happy mood.
“Monza will feel very different, there’s always a great atmosphere there,” said Magnussen. “You would get very close to the fans entering the track and driving through the park from the hotel every morning. Of course, the atmosphere on Sunday, both before and after the race, we’ll all miss that this year.”
“I always think that on a race weekend, the atmosphere is extra special just before the race itself. That’s usually when most of the spectators are in their seats, the grandstands are completely full. Usually during practice and so on they might be wandering around the circuit a bit more, but for the bit just before the race when everyone’s seated, you really feel that energy.”