Clip The Apex
Catch it while you can folks otherwise you could be watching the last but one Italian GP from the Monza circuit. Bernie will be sitting down with the GP organisors after the race to discuss a new contract post 2016 and at the moment has said he is not sure if there will be a race here in 2017. The track itself openend in 1922 and since 1950 has held every single Italian GP with the exception of 1980 when it was held at Imola. Since it's a track with so little F1 history behind it, it's no wonder it's in danger of not being around much longer. (sarcasm !!). Bernie has stated he is not going to offer the track a cut price deal and expects it to pay the going rate to host a race.
The layout of the track is of course most famous for it's banked circuit which, despite it being hugely dangerous, would make for an interesting race if it was brought back into use. Since that is extremely unlikely we'll content oursevles with a layout that has remained virtually the same with the exception of a few chicane based tweeks here and there, since the mid 60's.
Known as a breaker of gearboxes and with the engines required to run at full throttle over about 80 percent of the lap, a reliable and powerful engine is an absolute requirement here. So, with a Mercedes one-two the only likely result the big question will be who else will round out the podium?
You would imagine that, for the reasons stated above, it would have to be one of the other Mercedes powered cars. Williams, Force India and Lotus had mixed fortunes in Spa but will all be eyeing that third step. Of course, with Ferrari at their home race and the Italian 'Tifosi' out in full voice there will be an added urge to compete but is that Ferrari engine powerful enough at this track?
McLaren have become the new Caterham in terms of promised upgrades not doing what they are claimed to do. In an Autosport piece in the run up to Spa we were cheerfully informed that the Honda upgrades would put them on a par in terms of power with Ferrari. Sadly it would seem they meant the 2014 powered Manor Ferrari and not the current Ferrari GP car.
With the remaining Reanult and Ferrari powered teams almost certainly fighting it out for the lower end of the top 10 it's really hard to see where the entertainment is going to come from. Let's just hope there is some.
Sport is increasingly more in love with youth. The younger someone achieves something the better story it is and the more talented they must be. So says the media anyhow. Its certainly been part of the F1 culture for the last 10 years. Alonso was the youngest champion ever. Then Hamilton came along and he was the youngest champion. Then Vettel smashed that. Kvyat is now the second youngest podium placer and Max Verstappen could be in F1 for about 5 years and still smash all these records. Its not something that is unique to F1 as all sport is now obsessed with the young but it does create an issue in F1 unlike most other sports. There has always been a limited amount of space in F1, in the current climate even more so, which means the younger a driver is successful the longer he's going to be around in the sport. Add in the 'superstar' factor of drivers being the factor that attracts the most sponsors, and with sponsors being the only thing that keeps teams afloat in the super expensive world, it has created is an untouchable hierarchy that sits at the summit of F1.
As much as we all love F1 and enjoy watching the midfield battles we all have to accept that fact that when it comes to championships there are only 4 or 5 seats worth having in F1. There are only 5 top teams in F1, one of those is debatable (Williams) and another is in serious downfall and recovery (McLaren). As much as we'd like to say that all these teams have a level playing field the cold reality of it is there is always a lead driver and a back up driver. Meaning there is very limited space in the sport and when drivers have longevity its almost semi impossible for anyone else to break into those teams.
We all known the current situation. Lewis Hamilton is the main attraction and is fully installed at Merc and being successful. Rosberg is the perfect pairing as he's quick and pushes him but is never going to create too much friction. Merc are not going to rock the boat by bringing in the 'next big thing'. So that's Merc locked out. Vettel is now set up at Ferrari and has made a success of it so is currently their champion to bring them back to the front. It looks like they'll renew Kimi's contract because a) he doesn't bother Seb too much and b) hey he's a big name world champion and it looks good to the investors. The whole Vettel going to Ferrari thing did shake stuff up a little in the fact that he left another stalwart at the top without a team. Alonso chose to go to McLaren in the hope they will come back eventually and therefore has locked out that team now. The second seat may be up for grabs but in times of trouble having a world champion and a British superstar on the team is not a bad thing to bring in a bit of backing so therefore Jenson Button is fairly set at the moment. Red Bull are an interesting one as they are the most likely way into the top if you're a driver in F1. The problem is they only promote from within. Vettel went to the top of that team and held it until he decided to leave where his position has been filled by Danny Ricciardo who is new to the big name drivers league. The problem he has is that the team aren't on top at the moment and it seems pretty obvious that the team is just sitting waiting for Max Verstappen to come into it and be there lead driver. So there is no way in there either. Williams is an odd one as personally I'm not 100% sure they are part of the top 5 teams due to the fact they defer to Merc. It is an opportunity for drivers but its pretty much the same opportunity as driving for Toro Rosso. Even Williams have one of the old boys propping up their sponsorship.