At the risk of stating the obvious, the Italian Grand Prix is a special race for Scuderia Ferrari. In amongst the bunch of records, even if one sticks just to the Formula 1 years, you can rummage around at random and always find something: from Alberto Ascari’s first win in 1951, to title clinching races for Niki Lauda and Jody Scheckter, to Michael Schumacher’s five victories, all with the Scuderia in the space of eleven years. That makes the German the driver most often seen on the top step of the Monza podium and what a podium it has become, with its walkway offering a unique vista to those on it and to the fans down below.
This is the 69th home race for Ferrari, only one of them not having been held at Monza, run instead at Imola in 1980 and it follows right on the back of the GP in Belgium. With a small squad dispatched to prepare for the Formula 1 Milan Festival event on Wednesday 29th, work at the Autodromo itself began at the start of the week. Spa and Monza are next to one another on the calendar and, in the collective imagination, they are seen as similar super-high speed tracks. In truth, there are several differences, because the Italian track does not feature the Ardennes-style flat out corners; in fact quite the contrary, it asks a lot more of the brakes while witnessing even higher speeds down the straight. If they have something in common, other than being two of the classics on the calendar, it’s the ever-present passion of the fans, which in Monza, it has to be said, is primarily red.