With the end of the summer break we are getting ready to start the final part of the championship which has proven to be very balanced. We are nine rounds away from the end and, at least on paper, Ferrari and Mercedes have four favourable grands prix each. The winner will be the one better able to put on track the latest developments and who will make the least errors since, up till now, neither Vettel nor Hamilton have been blameless.
We start with Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, two tracks that favour Mercedes before going to Singapore which could also be the watershed for the drivers’ market. In this final part of the season possible penalties for the replacement of components of the Power-Unit could also come into play. Sebastian Vettel is slightly disadvantaged compared to Lewis Hamilton.
We are coming to a track that is very demanding on both the cars and the drivers with a heavy aerodynamic load and very high speeds.
Traditionally the weather is very variable and for the first time in the Ardennes Pirelli will bring the Ultra-Soft mix. Friday’s free practice will be decisive for studying this mix and understanding the laps it could cover before changing to the harder mixes.
As in Belgium, so at Monza where the first curve will represent an important unknown. Historically the La Source bend has decided the fate of many drivers in the race and where Ferrari lost a championship when Grosjean took off dangerously on Fernando Alonso.
Red Bull could be the third force with Verstappen and Ricciardo ready to steal points by taking advantage of its good aerodynamic load before going all in at Singapore. We will probably not see again the beau geste by Toto Wolff’s men when they gave Vettel three points which could prove decisive.
Gian Carlo Minardi