F1 2014 Monza Italian Grand Prix: Hamilton battles for pole position
PUBLISHED: 06:41 06 September 2014 | UPDATED: 14:18 06 September 2014
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton battles Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg for pole position in qualifying for the 2014 Italian Grand Prix at Monza today (Saturday).
The 29-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas racer from Hertfordshire was fastest around the historic Monza track in practice yesterday (Friday).
And the 2008 F1 world champion will be hoping to plant his Silver Arrows on pole position in qualifying this afternoon – ahead of bitter Silver Arrows rivals Nico Rosberg on the starting grid.
The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, known in Italian racing circles as ‘La Pista Magica’, is the fastest circuit in F1, and the passionate Italian fans give the race a unique atmosphere in which to see out the European leg of the 2014 season.
Hamilton said: “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.
Monza – the stats you need
* Race distance: 53 laps (306.720km/190.596 miles)
* Start time: 14:00 (local)/12:00 (GMT)
* Circuit length: 5.793km/3.600 miles
* 2013 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 53 laps in 1hr18m 33.352s (234.268km/h)
* 2013 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1m23.755s (248.997km/h)
* Lap record: Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari F2004) 1m21.046s (257.320km/h)
* First championship race 1950
“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.”
There are two DRS zones around the lap; the first is on the start-finish straight and the second on the approach to Turn Eight, the Ascari chicane.
However, history relates that overtaking might still be difficult because pole position is statistically more important at Monza than at Monaco.
This race has been won from pole position 11 times in the last 14 years, whereas Monaco has been won from pole on only nine occasions during the same period.
On nailing a quick lap around the Autodromo di Monza, Hamilton said: “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!
Italian GP timetable
* Friday, September 5
Practice 1: 9am – 10.30am
Practice 2: 1pm – 2.30pm
* Saturday, September 6
Practice 3: 10am – 11am
* Sunday, September 7
“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.”
Hamilton, who trails Rosberg by 29 points in the FIA World Drivers’ Championship, added: “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.”
Completing a lap of Monza, Hamilton added: “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.”
Qualifying for the 2014 Italian Grand Prix starts at 1pm.
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