Having failed to win a race in the opening 12 rounds of the 2019 Formula 1 season, Ferrari heads to its home event seeking a second victory in as many races.

Ferrari will arguably have its best chance of securing a win on home soil for the first time since Fernando Alonso’s 2010 triumph this year at Monza.

Charles Leclerc’s maiden grand prix victory last time out at Spa proved a decisive moment in the Scuderia’s season, handing the team a long-awaited first win of 2019 and ending its barren spell waiting for a return to the top step of the podium.

Ferrari’s straight-line speed advantage over chief rival Mercedes proved key to sealing a front-row lockout and ultimately the win in Belgium, and it will come in handy once again at the power-hungry Monza, dubbed the ‘Temple of Speed’.

The Italian squad will also be boosted by the introduction of its new-spec engine, having made the upgrade available to customer teams Alfa Romeo and Haas last time out. 

“I think at first, to prepare for Monza or the best way to approach Monza would have been to win many races before and not only Spa,” Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said.

“Certainly Spa and Monza are the most power-sensitive circuits, and we proved that our package is competitive here at Spa, and we maybe expect to be competitive in Monza as well, no doubt.

“We’ve developed some low downforce packages. Some of it has been used here in Spa. I don’t know what the others have prepared for Monza, so that’s really a question mark.

“But true as well that we know our car is competitive on the straights for the speed we’ve got, and after Spa, I may say that we will be competitive in Monza as well.

“I think the winning in Spa is important as well for our fans. Hopefully many fans will join us in Monza to support us because we’ve seen today to win, you need to do everything perfect from the qualy to the start to the team management, to the drivers themselves, their driving.

“Nothing can be left and I’m expecting as well that it will be very difficult at Monza. We will need to be perfect there, knowing that certainly we may be competitive as well.”

Leclerc laid down something of a statement of intent with his triumph at Spa, but four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel will be determined to respond and claim his first victory in over a year at a circuit he has not won at since his Red Bull days in 2013.

Mercedes braced for tough weekend

Mercedes may have won 10 of the 13 races so far this year - and all five Italian GPs since the start of the V6 hybrid engine era in 2014 - but it heads to Monza expecting to play second fiddle to Ferrari.

A new power unit upgrade at Spa resulted in minor performance improvements but the team continues to lag behind Ferrari in terms of outright top speed. The German manufacturer put its deficit to Ferrari at around 15kph in Belgium, and that is before Ferrari introduces its own engine upgrade this weekend.

Mercedes was still able to claim a ‘damage limitation’ second and third place behind Leclerc last time out, and had there been another lap or two, Hamilton would have surely been able to challenge for victory on a day his side demonstrated the stronger race pace, something Mercedes boss Toto Wolff reckons could serve his team well.

“We don't expect the Italian Grand Prix to be an easy weekend,” Wolff conceded.

“Monza is 'the' power circuit in F1, that rewards high power and low drag. While we have had the fastest overall package on the grid this season, it's not ideal for a track where straight line speed is a key performance differentiator.

“However, we've also seen that the Ferraris look mighty at high-speed tracks on Saturdays, but don't look quite as strong on Sundays - and that's when the points are won.

“We will not be favourites in Italy, but we will do everything we can to take the fight to the red team this weekend.”

Hubert remains on everyone’s minds

The F1 paddock remains in shellshock heading into this weekend’s Italian GP following the tragic death of Formula 2 racer Anthoine Hubert at Spa.

The 22-year-old Frenchman succumbed to injuries sustained in a serious crash on the second lap of the opening F2 race during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend on Saturday, an incident which has also left fellow F2 driver Juan Manuel Correa recovering in intensive care having suffered two broken legs and a minor spinal injury.

Emotional tributes were paid to Hubert ahead of Sunday’s grand prix, before race-winner Leclerc fittingly dedicated his maiden F1 victory to his close friend.

Hubert will remain on the minds of all at Monza, with the events of last weekend still very raw.

After the first Spa round was abandoned and Sunday’s sprint race was cancelled out of respect to Hubert, Formula 2 returns to this action at Monza in what is sure to be an emotional weekend for all involved.

Three teams have confirmed they will run single-car entries, with Callum Ilott the sole driver for the Sauber Junior Team by Charouz as his teammate Correa continues his rehabilitation.

Charouz has confirmed it will leave Correa’s car in its garage throughout the weekend as a “silent tribute” to Hubert.

Trident will also field one car after Giuliano Alesi’s car was impounded by Belgian authorities as the investigation into Hubert’s fatal crash takes place. Alesi will instead driver teammate Ralph Boschung’s car, with the Swiss driver sitting out action at Monza. Meanwhile, Hubert’s team, Arden, will run a single car for Tatiana Calderon.

Renault, for whom Hubert was a junior driver member, announced it had agreed a programme for one of its most promising young stars to continue in F2 for 2020. The deal had been finalised on Saturday, a matter of hours prior to the accident that claimed his life.

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