After the madness of Monza, will order be restored at Mugello? And is there any chance of a happy anniversary for Ferrari?
Here are five of the biggest questions as Formula 1 heads to the Tuscan track for the very first time…
Will it be back to reality after Monza?
For one, in terms of pace, Lewis Hamilton was leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the field. He showed this in the opening stages when he built up a huge lead and post-penalty when he closed a near 30-second gap to the rest of the grid and finished in P7. If he hadn’t illegally entered a closed pit-lane, he would have won with ease.
As for Verstappen and Bottas, they made bad starts and got stuck behind a group of cars so evenly matched that they all stayed in DRS range of each other, making overtaking difficult. It’s almost certain that the midfield won’t be able to follow each other so closely in Mugello. Therefore, the faster cars should be able to clear traffic with much less trouble.
Throw in the fact that Mercedes expect to be strong in Tuscany, and Verstappen is confident he won’t be plagued by engine issues again, and a return to normality looks likely. That being said, all we need is a few Safety Cars for all that to go out the window…
Will McLaren be the best of the rest again?
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) September 6, 2020
Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris finished in P2 and P4 respectively at Monza. So strong was their pace that, without the Red Flag, they genuinely could have scored the team’s first 1-2 since 2010.
The McLaren looked to be the second quickest car on the track throughout the race. Sainz was the second-fastest driver after Hamilton in the first stint, while Norris managed to keep Bottas behind him comfortably for the entirety of the race. If Gasly hadn’t pitted before the race stopped and Stroll had, P1 and P2 would’ve been theirs.
Granted, the Red Bull of Verstappen was stuck in traffic before retiring, but even in qualifying Sainz managed to go quicker than the Dutchman, while Norris almost did the same and did beat Albon.
If the Red Bull does retake its spot as the fastest non-Mercedes car, McLaren won’t be too fussed. Their fight is with Renault and Racing Point for P3 in the Constructor’s Championship and, with a comfortable lead already, if they’re as strong at Mugello as they were at Monza, it’s one they’ll almost certainly win.
Can Ferrari avoid disaster in their 1000th race?
Short answer: no. Not unless they ride a wave of complete and utter carnage into the top 10, or the FIA give them a few laps headstart as an anniversary gift.
That’s because, in terms of pace, the car isn’t even near the points-scoring positions. Granted, Mugello will suit it slightly more than Monza given that engine power isn’t the be-all and end-all, but there’s still one huge straight there, and it’s not like the SF1000 is much good in other areas either.
Leclerc’s crash last time out showed just how hard the car is to handle in the corners, while Vettel’s brake failure added another part to the long list of problem areas for the team.
Not even the most optimistic members of the team’s staff will be expecting either driver to make Q3, or to score any points in the race without the help of a Safety Car. Instead, they’ll just be hoping both cars can escape Q1 and finish the race.
Well, at least fans won’t be in the stands to see them struggle. Oh, wait…
📣🇬🇧 PUBLIC ADMITTED TO THE GRANDSTANDS FOR THE TUSCANY GP – FERRARI 1000 AT MUGELLO CIRCUIT.
11-13 SEPTEMBER 2020
— Mugello Circuit (@MugelloCircuit) August 29, 2020
Can the drivers cope with the physical demands of Mugello?
When rumours began to swirl that Mugello would be added to the 2020 calendar, Mark Webber got everyone excited when he said the following:
“Not one driver’s head is going to stay on around that track. If they race in Mugello their necks are going to snap in half with those cars around the back – it’s so, so quick.
“I think it will be brilliant. I tested there [in the past] and it’s very, very, very, very quick. So good – bring it on.”
Now, Mark is of course exaggerating – drivers won’t *actually* lose their heads, not literally at least – but his point still stands. Mugello is a high speed, high G-force track with flowing corners, elevation changes and a big old straight where cars will hit their top speed.
Add in the fact that the weather is probably going to be around 30’C and sunny, and the weekend could be a serious test for the drivers. Sitting back and watching, we can’t wait.
Can Mugello stake a claim for a permanent place on the calendar?
On paper, Mugello looks like a great place to host a Formula 1 race. The track is fast and challenging, the surrounding area is beautiful and, with it being the home of Ferrari, the crowds there will be excellent when allowed back completely.
Given all of this, many would like to see it stay on the calendar going forward. If it can produce an exciting race, it may well do so.
The main concern is that it will be too difficult to overtake considering all the fast corners. Sure, there will be chances with DRS on the straight, but seeing cars pass like that isn’t the most exciting spectacle. If drivers can pull off moves elsewhere, expect to see them in plenty of “m’overtakes of the year’ articles come the end of the season.
Ultimately, with it being by no means certain that it will be possible to travel anywhere in the world next season, the sport is probably already considering asking Mugello back again, so the race doesn’t need to be as good as what we saw in Monza to stake a claim. I mean come on, it can’t be any worse than the French Grand Prix, can it?