2020 F1 Tuscan Grand Prix Ferrari 1000 race preview: Ferrari's home celebrations

F1

Ferrari's 1000th Formula 1 championship grand prix takes place this weekend at Mugello, though the Prancing Horse is likely in for a tough weekend

SF1000, Mugello livery

This weekend will be Ferrari's 1000th F1 Grand Prix

ScuderiaFerrari

One week on from an unpredictable and thrilling Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Formula 1 remains in Italy but makes the relatively short trip to Mugello and into another unknown.

Ferrari will celebrate 1000 races in Formula 1 and events are planned throughout the weekend in honour of the milestone, but on track, things are looking far less rosy for the Scuderia.

A dismal Italian GP weekend ended in double retirement following the team’s worst qualifying on home soil since 1984, and another high-speed circuit could make for a very painful race.

Mercedes will be desperate to right the wrongs of Monza after the team threw away an almost certain victory with an uncharacteristic mistake. Lewis Hamilton‘s championship lead remained intact at 43 points over his nearest rival who is once again team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

The Finn suffered his own woes during the Monza race, falling back on the first lap and unable to make a significant recovery. In the end, he finished just 9sec up the road from his team-mate despite Hamilton being 24sec off the leading pack following his stop/go penalty after the restart.

Red Bull called time on their Monza stay early, opting to cancel their media obligations and will be equally desperate to put things right in Mugello.

Can the likes of McLaren, AlphaTauri and Racing Point get among the top runners once more? Or will it be a return to reality for the midfield?

Here is the team-by-team preview ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix.

 

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, 2020 Italian GP

Hamilton and Mercedes could and probably should have coasted to victory last weekend

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The last time Mercedes made an error like the one that played out in Monza, the team came back from Hockenheim and pulled out a brilliant race in Hungary to win last year.

The last time Lewis Hamilton finished seventh following an off afternoon, he dominated the following race weekend, going from penalty in Brazil to comfortable win in Abu Dhabi to cap off his 2019 season.

Not bad omens heading into Mugello then.

Valtteri Bottas’ inability to get by the cars in front while his team-mate scythed back through the field keeps the championship advantage with Hamilton heading into this weekend, and at the halfway point of the season barring any major upsets and turnarounds in form, he looks uncatchable.

Team boss Toto Wolff said they would analyse Bottas’ car between Monza and Mugello to try and identify any issues that prevented him from making progress through the pack, but more cooling worries could hamper the W11s once more in Italy.

“We need to see what happened with the car, as it wasn’t turning well into the right-handers and that was making it hard for him to make progress.

“We were also marginal on cooling, which made things even tougher for him out there. We’ll take all the learnings we can from this weekend and come back fighting in Mugello.”

 

Red Bull

Alex Albon, 2020 Italian GP

Red Bull’s weekend at Monza never quite got going

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Fifteenth and a DNF is hardly what the Red Bull team is capable of and it will be hoping to get its head around the Mugello Circuit in quick order to bounce back from such a disappointment.

Pressure continues to mount on Alex Albon, especially in the face of the driver he replaced winning in an inferior car, while Max Verstappen slipped to third in the drivers’ standings.

A repeat of the madness of Monza is unlikely, with the team already confident that they have a good grasp on the demands of the circuit, despite not visiting in recent years with modern cars.

“We were sent the information from the FIA with regards to track elevation and curvature and everything else, so we could get some off-line sims kicked off [when the race was announced],” says Verstappen’s race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase.

“Those off-line tools give us a fairly broad picture in terms of where that circuit sits from overall sensitivities to downforce, drag, power, grip. It also gives us a speed profile around the lap.

“It would only affect us – or any team – if it were a track unlike anything else on the calendar.

“For example, if Monza popped up at short notice, with the dedicated aero packages you develop for Monza, then you would end up with something sub-optimal if you couldn’t design and build the parts in the timeframe.

“Somewhere like Mugello, which is within the normal range, isn’t a problem. The drivers are only on the simulator a week or two before the event anyway, so from that point of view, when you need the driver, the circuit has already been inserted into the calendar.”

 

Ferrari

Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel, 2020 Italian GP

Ferrari will be competing in its 1000th F1 race but face a tough weekend

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Ferrari arrives for the 1000th Formula 1 championship race this weekend on the back of a woeful three days at Monza.

Sebastian Vettel‘s brake failure and Charles Leclerc‘s crash made for a tough afternoon at home, but the team gets another chance to give the Tifosi something to cheer before the mid-season ‘break’.

“It’s even more disappointing that Sebastian’s retirement was down to a lack of reliability on the car. Problems like that, in this case with the brake system, should not happen,” team principal Mattia Binotto said.

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“It’s a very hard season but it’s by facing up to difficulties like these that you get stronger. We must look ahead and there are useful lessons for all of us to take away from this to build for the future.

“Having said that, we must absolutely not give up and we will be giving our all at Mugello, which is a special event for us, being our 1000th Formula 1 grand prix.”

Vice chairman Piero Ferrari spoke of the pride the team is feeling ahead of its 1000th F1 race and the special livery and race-suit designs.

“It’s a tribute to our origins: to our starting point for the amazing Ferrari story, characterised by an endless desire to compete, alongside the will to build road cars that are exceptional in terms of technology and design.

“Ferrari is unique in the world, because the company has the soul of a car manufacturer and of a racing team, an inseparable link that is never questioned.

Only a few months ago, no one could have imagined that our 1000th race could take place at our own Mugello circuit.

“I am pleased that in the grand prix official name, Formula 1 chose to pay tribute to Ferrari, the only team that has always been present in the sport’s 71-year history.”

 

McLaren

Carlos Sainz, Italian GP 2020

Sainz celebrates his best F1 finish to date

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Third in qualifying, second in the race, the 2020 Italian Grand Prix was just the latest example of McLaren’s improvements.

Carlos Sainz might have been disappointed to end runner-up, but the team has made significant strides forward this season, and arrive in Mugello with all of the momentum in the midfield battle.

I still have a bit of a nagging feeling for not getting the win, but after a couple of days and having reviewed the weekend I’m obviously very happy with our performance,” the Spaniard said ahead of the weekend.

“We were the fastest car behind Mercedes all weekend, and even after the setback of the red flag we managed to put ourselves again back in contention for the win. I drove my heart out the whole race and gave everything to catch Pierre. He did a good job holding on, so well done to him.

“We move on to Mugello, where I hope we can carry our good momentum and have another strong weekend. It’s a completely new track for me and F1 cars have never raced here before, which makes it an exciting challenge.

“Getting as much data, confidence and understanding as possible on Friday will be crucial to a good weekend.”

Renault

Daniel Ricciardo, 2020 Italian GP

Ricciardo and Renault have been proving competitive in recent races

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Renault has been another team on the up recently, enjoying the spaces left by Ferrari as the Italian outfit’s struggles continue. While not as impressive around Monza, a reversion to a Spa-like circuit in terms of speed and downforce might be what the team needs in its battle against McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo was one of the first drivers to admit the prospect of qualifying at Mugello was a tantalising one and the Australian expects a tough weekend for drivers, with fitness pushed to the limits.

“I’m really excited to drive a modern Formula 1 car at Mugello,” he said.

“I’ve been there in 2007 for Formula Renault and in 2012 for an F1 test. It’s so fast and flowing, it has a nice rhythm and it’s going to be a lot of hard work at the wheel. I think all our necks are going to want to fly off because of the changes of direction and medium- to high-speed corners!

“It’s going to be pretty awesome. For racing, it’s difficult to know where it’ll be good to overtake in these current cars. I’d say Turn 1 is going to be the best place, but I think we’re going to be braking late and deep into there as it’s quite a long corner. It’s going to be hard to send it from far, but that will be the challenge.”

Chief race engineer Ciaron Pilbeam explains how the team will operate this weekend on a new circuit having not had any previous running.

“Our priorities for the first part of the weekend will be to give the drivers time to get up to speed on the new circuit, to dial in the set-up as we learn the details of the track, and to understand the behaviour of the tyres.”

 

AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly, 2020 Italian GP

Gasly is the man in form going into the Tuscan GP weekend

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Pierre Gasly‘s Monza heroics has the AlphaTauri team riding high into what will be the team’s home Grand Prix, with Mugello being the closest venue to their Faenza base.

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Last weekend’s race winner is excited too about the prospect of piloting a modern Formula 1 car around the demanding turns and high-speed blasts of the Ferrari test track.

“It’s always exciting to discover a new circuit in a Formula 1 car,” Gasly said. The teams have no data from this track so everyone, drivers and teams, will be discovering what it’s like.

“It’s a thrilling layout and I think that will be especially true in a Formula 1 car. I raced there in 2013, but in an F1 car it will be very different and impressive.

“The double right-hander especially should be super quick. It will be a track where you can really feel what a Formula 1 car can do and it will be fantastic from a driving point of view.”

 

Racing Point

Lance Stroll, 2020 Italian GP

Stroll’s P3 at Monza puts him fourth in the drivers’ championship

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Racing Point will not only be riding high this weekend fresh from Lance Stroll‘s third-place finish at the Italian GP, but news that Sebastian Vettel will be joining the team for the 2021 season is all the more reason to be optimistic about its future.

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Stroll’s podium finish at Monza was the first for the team in its Racing Point guise that finally made good on its promise from pre-season testing.

Though the Canadian had a chance at victory, an uncharacteristically poor getaway from the reformed grid left him with too much to do against a quicker McLaren ahead.

On a circuit that is less reliant on outright power, Racing Point might be better placed to extract the maximum from the RP20.

With overtaking expected to be difficult on Sunday, qualifying is even more crucial than usual and it is an area the team has struggled in during the current three-race period, with disappointing sessions at Spa and Monza.

 

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo, 2020 Italian GP

Alfa Romeo enjoyed a decent spell inside the top 10, but couldn’t hold on after the restart

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Alfa Romeo did manage to run in the top five part-way through the Italian GP but didn’t quite have the pace to hang on for points.

A bold call to restart on softs was a roll of the dice the team needs to make to secure a good finish, but recent races have shown the team is taking steps forward.

Kimi Räikkönen is one of the drivers on the current grid with experience around Mugello, though the Finn doubts his previous laps around the circuit will help in much different machinery.

“The Mugello Circuit is where I had my first ever test with Sauber, back in 2000, but I seriously doubt those days 20 years ago are going to give me that much of a competitive advantage.

“It’s going to be nice to be back on that track with the same team I was there with back in the day, but I don’t think we will have a lot of time to indulge in reminiscing about the past. We’re there to race and hopefully we can have a good weekend.

“The track is new to everybody and that could make things interesting, at least because nobody has any data about it and the drivers will need to get to grips with the circuit.

“We have been making some steps forward, both in qualifying and in the race but we haven’t been able to bring home some points yet, so that has to remain our objective for the weekend.”

 

Haas

Kevin Magnussen, 2020 Italian GP

Haas made a huge impact during the Italian GP, but not in the manner it would have hoped

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Kevin Magnussen‘s retirement from the Italian Grand Prix gave the race a shake-up but the Haas team could not capitalise on the opportunity.

Team principal Guenther Steiner says he is hoping for more of the same around Mugello, saying he hopes the team’s inexperience around the venue will make for an unpredictable race.

“Mugello’s more like a traditional circuit, as I would call it, not like Spa and Monza which are high-speed circuits.

“Hopefully we can perform a little bit better there with it not being so power sensitive. I think it’s good that we’re going there. We also have to remember that this is the first time a Formula One race has been held there. Being a new track, as is normal, I’m sure some surprises will come up.

“I’m hoping we’ll have some good surprises.”

Williams

Williams, 2020 Italian GP

Latifi’s 11th place at Monza was tied for the best result for the team all season

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A new era dawns at Williams after the departure of Frank and Claire Williams. Monza has not been a favoured circuit for Williams in recent years, and it proved to be a difficult race once again, though Nicholas Latifi‘s 11th place was equal with the team’s best finish of 2020 so far.

Both drivers have prior experience around Mugello though neither has driven the circuit recently. It will be another tough challenge for the team.

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“We battled hard in the race at Monza, and although the nature of the circuit didn’t suit the car very well, we secured a good final result,” head of vehicle performance Dave Robson said.

“The nature of Mugello, which has some parallels with Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring, should be more suited to our car.

“Even though many teams will have access to track simulations and previous data, the Free Practice sessions are still likely to be busy as the drivers begin to understand the nuances of this great circuit.”

Williams finished 11th with Latifi in the first Austria race, perhaps a sign of encouragement heading into the Mugello weekend.