F1: Italy Preview
Monza has hosted every Italian Grand Prix, bar one, since 1980
(Photo from: www.autoblog.com)
After the historic fast and flowing Spa Francorchamps a week on and Formula 1 heads to the oldest race on the calendar Italy. Monza hosts the Grand Prix, having do so since 1981 and only missing out on one Grand Prix since the inaugural Formula 1 season in 1950.
After a tense time for the Italian Grand Prix regarding a contract extension to its deal which was due to run out at the end of the season it has been confirmed that Monza has agreed a three year contract extension ensuring the race will remain on the calendar until 2019.
In the week between the two races the driver market for 2017 has started to see some developments with one major story which has the potential to start a driver merry go round.
On Thursday before this weekend’s Grand Prix, Williams’ Felipe Mass announced he would be retiring at the end of the 2016 season, bringing an end to a 14 year career in the sport. A popular driver on and off the circuit, the Brazilian made his debut in 2002 for Sauber before taking a year sabbatical, in 2003 after Sauber did not renew his contract. He returned to the team in 2004 before joining Ferrari in 2006 replacing compatriot and great friend Rubens Barrichello.
Massa experienced both the good and the bad of Formula 1 during his career, achieving eleven wins and coming within seconds of winning the 2008 World Championship, before missing out to Lewis Hamilton by one point. A year later, and Massa would experienced the worst of Formula 1 when he was struck on the head by a stray spring from Barrichello’s car causing season ending injuries which were initially described as leaving the Brazilian in a “life threatening but stable” condition. His condition quickly improved however and returned to the cockpit in 2010 and moved to Williams for the 2014 season.
The news is likely to kick start the 2017 driver market with rumours circulation as to who will replace Massa at Williams and where that will leave the remaining drivers on the 2016 grid.
However one driver deal which has been agreed prior to this weekend regards Romain Grosjean, who is set to remain at Haas for the 2017 season. Although no deal has been officially announced it is believed that a deal has been struck to keep the Frenchman at the team for one more season. No announcement has been made regarding the team’s second seat.
In other news leading up to the Grand Prix it has been confirmed that Kevin Magnussen will be allowed to race this weekend following his massive crash last weekend in Belgium which left him with a small ankle injury. Despite revealing to the press that he will be fit to race, he still had to pass the mandatory FIA tests to ensure that he was indeed fit.
Like all Italian Grand Prix’s this weekend has the potential to be a classic with the championship finely poised at the top, and both Mercedes driver’s performing well, it will be fascination to see who comes out on top.