The Italian Grand Prix is always a special one for me in terms of the memories I have there – going right back to my early career. The karting championships used to race in Italy quite often and it’s also where I met Nico – so that’s where our rivalry really began. Monza is such a historic circuit and to win there is a really special feeling. I had that experience in 2012 and I’d love to do it again in 2014. Last season we really struggled at this race – but we have a fantastic car this year and I’m confident we can make up for it this time around. One thing I always love about racing at Monza is the fans. They’re just so passionate about motorsport and the buzz around the place is unbelievable – particularly on the podium. Hopefully we can reward them with some exciting racing. My aim for the weekend, of course, is to claw back the gap in the Drivers’ Championship. It’s as big as it’s been all season so I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me – but anything can happen in this sport. I won’t give up until the flag drops in Abu Dhabi and there’s still plenty of points to be won before then, so it’s far from over yet.
Monza - In The Cockpit With Lewis
Monza is bellissimo! It’s the fastest circuit we get to drive throughout the year and coming across the long start / finish straight you really are absolutely flat out – maybe even approaching 360 km/h with the new Hybrid Power Units. It’s a very technical track which is all about late braking, riding and bouncing off the kerbs… it’s pretty spectacular!
Finding the braking point into Turn One is not easy. You generally run a lot less downforce on the car at this circuit and you’re arriving at much higher speed, so braking distances change quite a bit. Of course, this year we have less downforce at the rear of the car anyway, so that will make it even trickier.
You have to position yourself nice and straight coming out of Turn Three as, once again, braking into Turn Four is tricky. The front of the car gets quite light on the way into the corner and the exit kerb is really bumpy, which loses you a lot of traction. Into the two Lesmo curves and you’re now driving through the shadows thanks to the trees above the track. For both of these, you need to get the front hugged in and then nail the exit – especially out of the second corner as there’s a long straight immediately afterwards.
This straight is interesting for a number of reasons. There’s the first DRS zone of the lap, it’s quite narrow at the start and there’s a crest in the middle of the track which means the car is bumping and bouncing all the way down to the Ascari chicane. Turn Eight is really difficult – important not to take too much of the corner on the way in but crucial to maintain as much speed as possible for the run down the next straight to the Parabolica.
The final corner is really misleading, as you carry so much speed into here and it feels like the car has turned. You then have to be fully committed once you get on the power as any lift will lose you so much time across the start / finish line and back into the first corner of a new lap where it’s easiest to overtake.