Fresh from wowing the crowds in Cardiff Bay at the wheel of Red Bull's NASCAR machine, Daniel Ricciardo heads to the altogether more tropical climes of Monza hoping that his family heritage will allow him to similarly shine in the Italian Grand Prix.
Although Australian, the HRT rookie's name gives away his family background, and Ricciardo is hoping that some of that will have rubbed off as he gears up for his maiden F1 appearance at the historic autodromo
on the outskirts of Milan. While not expecting great things from the HRT on the fastest circuit of the year, the Red Bull protégé knows that he needs a good performance to keep his name in the frame for a possible promotion to Scuderia Toro Rosso's race line-up for 2011, and is determined to see the chequered flag for the fourth time in five races.
“It won't be the first time in my career racing at Monza but, as a rookie in F1, I will be at the wheel of a completely different car than any I have previously experienced," the Australian, who has previously sampled FRenault, F3 and World Series machinery at the circuit, noted, "Monza is a special track that will require a very different approach to the other tracks that I have driven. It is a low downforce, high speed, track with heavy braking required into the chicanes, so it's going to be another experience to put in the book. The word of the weekend is speed and it will be possible with teamwork.
"I want to put my first F1 non-finish at the last race in Spa behind me, and I'll be counting on my Italian roots to push me to a good performance.
Team-mate Tonio Liuzzi knows all about racing in front of the fanatical tifosi
and acknowledges that, while they are mostly cheering for Ferrari, the Italian drivers get a little love as well.
“To race at your home grand prix always produces mixed emotions, but I want this race to become a special event for my fans and I have prepared a special surprise for them," the Italian claimed, somewhat enigmatically.
"I will take the wheel of an F1 car at Monza for the fifth time in my career and I really want to perform well. I always look forward to racing here because it's my home crowd and I want to do well, to pull it all together. Because it's at Monza, it's true that it will be even more satisfying."
Despite hoping for a good result, however, Liuzzi knows that he is unlikely to be able to repeat the 13th place from Montreal that currently helps HRT remain ahead of Marussia Virgin in the teams' standings.
"In terms of racing, Monza could be a tricky weekend as one of the key factors is having good mechanical grip for braking stability into the chicanes, and good traction on the exit," he explains, "At the same time, we need to achieve the highest speed possible at the exit of the corners to make up positions.”
HRT team principal Colin Kolles accepts that the Spanish squad could be in danger of trailing behind its main rival if it is unable to pick up the pace this weekend, but is also mindful that reliability could be important too.
“The Autodromo di Monza is a power circuit and we must find the speed that we lacked at the Belgian Grand Prix," he conceded, "We have to find a very low downforce set-up for the car to achieve the maximum speed potential - but then the cars are difficult to control and the drivers have to be attentive and concentrated. Overall, however, we want to show a good level of performance, but be able to finish the last race of the European season with both cars for the eighth time this season.”