Clip The Apex
Corsa Rossa. Generations of red machines. There have been Alfa Romeos, and Lancias, and Maseratis, and even Dallaras carrying the most famous of all liveries. The flame of Italian motorsport is, as it has been for more than half a century, brought back home to Monza in the possession of Scuderia Ferrari. None there doubt what the statistics suggest, that it is the greatest team in the history of Formula One.
These are not glory days for Ferrari. 2016 will be remembered as the year of censored team radio messages; frustration has been the key word for them this year. They thought they came in to this season close to Mercedes, but they're yet to snaffle a win - they should have won in Australia and they could have won in Canada, but it hasn't occurred. In fact, Monza probably represents their last chance to get near the silver machines, before the more technical circuits later on favour Red Bull's rapidly improving chassis.
The win will surely go to Mercedes, barring blunder or misfortune. Lewis Hamilton's remarkable damage limitation run in Belgium will feel like a win. He keeps a championship lead from a team-mate whose chance of ever winning the world title may well be extinguished this autumn. Before the summer break Rosberg was driving with increasing desperation; unchallenged in Belgium, his title credentials nonetheless took a beating.
Despite good form for Red Bull and particularly Daniel Ricciardo, the long straights of the Monza track threaten to hamper the Austrian team's progress. They're likely to battle with Ferrari. Traditionally, Force India are strong at Monza; their form at both Baku and Spa suggests that that will once again be the case this year. They seem to have an edge on Williams at such events.
The star of the show, as always, is Monza itself. Most people within F1 will hope that the circus returns here for 2017, no deal has been done. This circuit practically bleeds with history; it is older than the Circuit de Monaco and has held more Championship Grands Prix. It is now the ultimate test of top speed in the Formula One calendar, and is the site of the top 6 fastest races in terms of high average speed (and 21 of the top 23). Formula One's bosses have shown that they consider nothing indispensable, and that they consider the money will always keep flowing in. Hopefully, F1 at Monza will avoid the dustbin of history, and an early chapter in a future book called 'How F1 Died'.
People have different opinions about most of the F1 circuits but if there is something everybody agrees on is that SPA-Francorchamps circuit is great, for many their favourite.
How could it not, you've got the Ardennes forest, the very high speed, the ups and downs and iconic turns like La Source, Eau Rouge and Raidillon, Stavelot, Bus Stop. Could it be the motorsport heritage? For as long as cars have gone racing, Spa is associated with velocity. Of course at the turn of the 20th century they used the original circuit of 86km (or was it 118km?).
Even after it was shorten to 15km and then 7km, it kept its pedigree, its spirit. As the race comes closer, the anxiety continues to build in F1 fans; a 4-week summer break may be deserved for the drivers and teams but creates a void that cannot be filled with race reruns or silly season discussion. And it's mind-boggling that they have kept it as is but they've added more and more races (currently we are at 21) making each result of little relevance is the great scheme of things.