Red Bull hopes to replicate Spa pace at Italian GP

Red Bull finished 1-2 at Spa, with Max Verstappen leading Perez home despite starting 14th on the grid (13th if you consider the number of cars starting), as the team vastly outperformed its rivals.

The form at the Belgian venue is usually an indicator of how the weekend at Monza will turn out for most teams, as the low-drag aero packages pay off even more on the Italian track because it features fewer wide corners.

Red Bull have also had the edge over title rival Ferrari at every other low-downforce circuit F1 has visited so far in 2022, with the RB18’s slim rear wing package also pairing well with its powerful Honda engine.

Asked by Autosport to explain the car’s key strengths for the Monza weekend at the pre-event press conference, Perez replied: “We have a pretty efficient car.

“We have seen at Spa and hopefully again at Monza that we tend to like lower downforce wings better.

“So the car seems to work better when we run with the smaller rear wing. Hopefully that can be a good thing again here.

“But it’s going to be very different conditions, so we’re also very curious to see how we can cope with those different conditions.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Motorsport Images

While Perez also said he expects Red Bull “to have a similar pace to what we showed in Spa”, he warned that the different characteristics of the corners at Monza, as well as the wet weather expected during Friday practice, could affect the chances of his team to repeat his Belgian dominance. .

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“This track is a bit different from the one in Belgium,” he said. “Certainly, the weather will be.

“It will be interesting to see how we are able to perform.

“For example, Mercedes was very strong last weekend. [in the Dutch GP] – especially with the tire grade. So, it will be interesting this Sunday.”

Speaking alongside Perez at the Monza press conference was Lewis Hamilton, whose Mercedes team struggled at Spa, where all teams were forced to raise their ride heights to navigate the compression of the Eau Rouge hill, which Red Bull was able to do as much without losing downforce as its rivals, a key factor in its dominance.

In response to a question about whether he expects the W13 to perform better at Monza than at Spa, Hamilton said: “I don’t think it could be any worse!

“That’s a positive way of looking at it. It can’t be worse than Spa, I don’t think so. No, I think it will be much better here.

Hamilton arrives in Italy knowing he will receive a grid penalty for using a fourth engine from the 2022 campaign, after his third, fitted all-new at Spa, was damaged on lap one colliding with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso there.

Mercedes is still trying to repair that power unit so Hamilton can reuse it later in the season, but it is understood that their initial investigations have revealed no positive results so far.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13 accident with Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13 accident with Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

But with Monza’s layout offering overtaking opportunities, Mercedes has opted to make a change, although that will mean Hamilton will start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid.

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That challenge follows Hamilton’s strong showing last weekend at Zandvoort, where a late-race safety car thwarted Mercedes’ ambitious one-stop strategy to try to get into the lead fight with Verstappen.

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Hamilton said he came into Monza feeling “as good as I can feel” despite the engine situation and disappointment with how his Dutch GP turned out, with his lead on the late restart becoming fourth by the flag.

“You will always feel better if you won,” he added. “But no, we have still made a lot of progress as a team, we have closed the gap more.

“[Or] at least we’re closing the gap more and more, weekend after weekend.

“Of course we don’t know how the car will be here this weekend; whether or not it’s as good as it was in the last race, we’ll find out.

“My third engine that I had [that was] The new one in Spa is still being worked on, so I can’t use it now and have to take a room.

“That is my doing and we still have hope that we can use it later. So, I have to try to recover as best I can from my back.”

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