Coming off a dominant victory at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, Sebastian Vettel is looking to extend his championship lead with Red Bull Racing ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, the final European race of the 2013 season.
Vettel currently holds a commanding lead in the driver championship standings with 197 points. Fernando Alonso is in second place with 151 points and Lewis Hamilton in third with 139.
The historic Monza circuit holds a special place for the three-time world driver champion, having claimed his maiden Formula One victory back in 2008 when he was with Scuderia Toro Rosso.
“This track brings back great memories for me, mainly from my first win there with Toro Rosso,” recalled Vettel. “I can’t describe the feeling of standing on the top of the podium for the first time, and Monza was one of the best places to experience it because of the thousands of passionate fans that stand beneath, it gives you goose bumps.”
Despite Monza’s straight forward track layout compared to some of the more twisty tracks F1 visits, Vettel insisted a fine balancing act is required to tame the circuit.
“Monza is the fastest circuit of the year. The track itself is in principle only made up of straights and chicanes. Because of this we reach the fastest top speed of the year at Monza, getting up to 330kph.
“The acceleration through the Parabolica is a balancing act – if you make the smallest error then you will slide straight into the gravel before you know it.”
Teammate Mark Webber is equally looking forward to the Italian Grand Prix. As one of the original race tracks that gave Formula One its start, its legacy and the fervent Italian fans have appealed to the Australian driver for years.
“I like Monza a lot because it’s very Formula One in terms of its history and its atmosphere,” explained Webber. “All of the greats have raced there and I have an affinity with Italians from my Minardi days.
“The Tifosi really make the atmosphere of the weekend, they go ballistic and they’re very passionate about a certain red team. They will climb anything to get a good view: they sit in trees, on billboards and after the second Lesmo they sit on the old banking with their feet hanging over the barrier.
“The track is one of a kind, it’s an incredibly fast circuit with high top speeds, so there’s a lot of heavy braking.”
Webber has been competing in the Italian Grand Prix since 2002, but has yet to finish on the podium, a statistic he wants to change come Sunday’s race. His career best finish at Monza was 6th place in 2010.
“Monza has never been that kind to me; I’ve had a few retirements and have never finished on the podium, so I want to get a good result there this year!”