Formula 1 heads to Italy for back-to-back races in the same country but at different circuits. First up is the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Mercedes has enjoyed a dominant start to the 2020 season so far, winning six of the opening seven races, including its latest triumph at the Belgian Grand Prix last time out where Lewis Hamilton led another comfortable 1-2 ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas.

But could a much-debated new technical directive that restricts the engine modes teams can use in qualifying rein in some of Mercedes’ advantage and help mix up the order?

The rule change that will ban teams from switching engine performance levels over a grand prix weekend and prevent the use of high-power settings used in qualifying is coming into force from this weekend’s event at Monza.

Mercedes appears to have made another step with its power unit over the winter and its rivals believe the German manufacturer holds an advantage in this area and are hopeful the restriction could help close up the field and maybe even lead to a title fight. 

While Mercedes will now be unlikely to make the jump forward in performance that we have been accustomed to seeing from Q1 to Q2 and again into Q3, the team actually believes it could boost its competitiveness in the race as it might be able to run their power unit at a higher level in the race.

Some of Mercedes’ rivals doubt it will make a huge difference to the overall competitive picture as the likes of Honda and Renault will also be affected.

The full impact of the power unit regulation change will be one to keep an eye on throughout the weekend, particularly in qualifying.

More misery for Ferrari at Monza?

It has been a dire 2020 for Ferrari so far but the Italian outfit plunged to a new low at Spa where it recorded its worst result for a decade in what turned out to be a nightmarish weekend.

Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were both knocked out of qualifying in Q2 and went on to finish outside of the points in P13 and P14, with both cars beaten by the Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen just to add insult to injury.

And Monza – Ferrari’s home race – could be even worse given the emphasis the circuit places on having a strong power unit and straight-line speed. It is an even more power-hungry track than Spa.

Team principal Mattia Binotto has called for “patience and stability” in Ferrari’s recovery bid but admits it could take “many years” for the team to return to full competitiveness in F1.

Ferrari will be under even more scrutiny to perform this weekend, though some of the pressure will be eased slightly by the fact the Tifosi won’t be at the track this time around.

Renault’s resurgence

In Belgium, Renault enjoyed its best performance of the season to date as Daniel Ricciardo led home teammate Esteban Ocon for a P4-P5 finish that saw the French manufacturer claim its biggest-ever points haul as a manufacturer (23) - thanks to a lasp-gasp effort from Ricciardo to grab the fastest lap bonus point.

The team’s performance at Spa was particularly impressive as it highlighted Renault’s gains with its power unit, helping Ricciardo split the Red Bulls in qualifying on his way to sealing a brilliant fourth on the grid.

Renault will be encouraged heading to Monza, which last year was the scene of its previous best result since returning to F1 as a fully-fledged works outfit.

Both Renaults could be right up there in the mix again this weekend, and should any trouble befall Mercedes or Red Bull, Ricciardo may well be in prime position to land his first podium in two years, resulting in the Australian and team boss Cyril Abiteboul carrying out their tattoo bet…

When is the Italian GP on TV?

Friday September 4

Free Practice 1: 10:00am-11:30am BST (11:00am-12:30pm local)
Free Practice 2: 2:00pm-3:30pm BST (3:00pm-4:30pm local)

Saturday September 5

Free Practice 3: 11:00am-12:00pm BST (12:00pm-1:00pm local)
Qualifying: 2:00pm-3:00pm BST (3:00pm-4:00pm local)

Sunday September 6

Race: 2:10pm BST (3:10pm local)

Italian GP Pirelli tyre allocation

For the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Pirelli is bringing the C2 (Hard), C3 (Medium) and C4 (Soft) compounds, the same as used during the Belgian and 70th Anniversary Grands Prix.

For at least the first eight races of 2020, each driver will have an allocation of eight sets of the red-walled Softs, three sets of the yellow-walled Mediums, and two sets of the white-walled Hards.

Recent Italian GP Winners:

2019: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
2018: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2017: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2016: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2015: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2014: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2013: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2012: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2011: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2010: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)

 

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