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Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean
Kevin Magnussen leads Romain Grosjean

A look ahead to the first of three races scheduled to take place in Italy this year, with the Italian Grand Prix preview ahead of the weekend's race at Monza.

Formula One has been fast-moving in recent months and fittingly the eighth event in just a 10-week spell will take place at the cathedral of speed itself: the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, long-time host of the Italian Grand Prix.

Monza, located a short hop north of fashionista focal point Milan, is one of the oldest purpose-built circuits in the world, having opened its doors in 1922. Its celebrated banking is now a monument to a bygone era but history lurks at every step in the parkland setting as the class of 2020 prepares to add another chapter to the venue’s legacy. 

The circuit is the fastest on Formula One’s calendar and is famed for the high-speed sections that are punctuated by a smattering of chicanes and quick corners. These turns, and the heavy braking zones, are made more challenging by the low-downforce packages that Formula One teams run, facilitating speeds in excess of 350km/h being reached on the run to the Rettifilo Chicane. The fastest 10 laps in Formula One history have all come at Monza across the past two seasons as drivers flexed their muscles in ferociously fast cars at this throttle-happy track. Kimi Raikkonen’s 2018 pole lap was achieved at an average speed of 263.588km/h, as he completed the 11 turns and 5.793km in just 1:19.119s. 

Monza has historically not been the happiest of hunting grounds for Haas F1 Team and the circuit layout is unlikely to suit the characteristics of the VF-20. But as ever Haas F1 Team and experienced drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean will keep pushing in order to grab any opportunity that may arise. 

The action will commence with two practice sessions on Friday, prior to final practice and qualifying on Saturday, with Sunday’s 53-lap race set for 15:10 local time (09:10 EST/14:10 BST).

Guenther Steiner, Haas
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

There was some adversity faced in last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix – notably a frustrating Friday with technical issues limiting the team’s track time. As team principal, what’s your chief role in those situations? For example, is it to lead the investigation into what went wrong and why, or is it more to keep the team working forward and motivated despite the issues being faced?

“The first thing is to keep the team motivated – thank God they’re all still motivated to keep on going. I really admire that from the guys. With regards to the investigation, we cannot do that ourselves, that’s to do with the power unit and we have no insight into it. I need to push our power unit supplier to give us solutions. Losing running time on a Friday, that doesn’t help anybody.”

 

Looking ahead, the Italian Grand Prix marks a home race for yourself. When was your first visit to Autodromo Nazionale Monza and what are your favorite Italian Grand Prix moments?

“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. My first visit to Monza was not with Formula One, it was I think in rallying, probably Rally Monza or something like that. It was a long time ago; I’m getting so old now I can’t really remember the first time there – if a tree’s in front of it it’s difficult to remember the rally. 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.”

 

The Autodromo Nazionale Monza is renowned for being a temple of speed. Given power-heavy circuits haven’t been favorable to the VF-20 this season, what’s the realistic expectation of performance heading into the race weekend?

“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. We’ll fight hard but we know we’ve got one arm tied behind our back.”

 

Following on in terms of power circuits, what do you make of the track layout for the Sakhir Grand Prix in December and do you applaud Formula One’s bold decision to make use of an alternative track layout given the back-to-back races at Bahrain International Circuit?

“I fully support the change of track layout, it’s the right thing to do. I think it’s a cool thing as well, we need to be creative and put on a good show for the fans. I don’t know exactly how the track layout will suit us, I haven’t seen any simulations from the guys, it only just came out. It obviously looks like it’s a very short lap, but who cares – if it’s different it will at least create some excitement because it’s new, but also, it’ll hopefully create some excitement with the racing. It’s a simplistic layout for Formula One but sometimes simple things work as well.”

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