Italian Grand Prix 2016 Preview: Start Time, TV Info, Weather, Schedule, Odds

Matthew Walthert@@MatthewWalthertFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2016

Italian Grand Prix 2016 Preview: Start Time, TV Info, Weather, Schedule, Odds

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    Fans invade the track at Monza.
    Fans invade the track at Monza.Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

    After an exciting weekend in Belgium, the Formula One circus heads south for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, north of Milan.

    The fast layout of the Autodromo Nazionale plays to Mercedes' strengths (are there any circuits that don't?), so expect to see the Silver Arrows leading the pack again on Sunday. The big question is: Which Merc driver will be in front?

    Nico Rosberg finally returned to the winner's circle at Spa, assisted by Lewis Hamilton's engine penalties and the collision between Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen on the opening lap.

    However, the Brit's opportunistic recovery drive to third place limited the damage from his penalties and allowed him to maintain the championship lead over his Mercedes team-mate.

    Hamilton has won three of the last four Italian Grands Prix, tying him with Vettel for the most victories at Monza among current drivers. Michael Schumacher has the most of all time (five).

    Perhaps surprisingly, no Italian drivers have won their home race since Ludovico Scarfiotti in 1966. That streak will continue this season, as there are no Italian drivers on the grid.

    Ferrari have had more success, winning the Italian Grand Prix 18 times in the world-championship era. However, the Scuderia are also experiencing a drought; Fernando Alonso was the last Ferrari driver to win at Monza, back in 2010.

    This year's Italian Grand Prix is the first race with Heineken as the official sponsor, following the announcement of the new partnership, brokered by Jackie Stewart, back in Canada.

    Keep reading for a full race-weekend preview, including TV times, championship standings, a circuit map and guide, tyre and DRS information, weather forecast, odds and session times.

Current Standings

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    Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton celebrate on the podium in Belgium.
    Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton celebrate on the podium in Belgium.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    "What! Seriously?" That was Rosberg's reaction when he realised Hamilton had finished third in Belgium after starting 21st on the grid, per ESPN F1's Nate Saunders. Still, the German reduced his team-mate's lead in the championship from 19 to nine points.

    Among the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers, Daniel Ricciardo distanced himself slightly from the group with his second-place finish, although there are still just 36 points between the Aussie in third and Verstappen, who is sixth in the drivers' standings.

    Here are the top-10 drivers heading into the Italian Grand Prix:

    Position           Driver                   Points         
    1.Lewis Hamilton232
    2.Nico Rosberg223
    3.Daniel Ricciardo151
    4.Sebastian Vettel128
    5.Kimi Raikkonen124
    6.Max Verstappen115
    7.Valtteri Bottas62
    8.Sergio Perez58
    9.Nico Hulkenberg45
    10.Felipe Massa39

    The big move in the constructors' championship after Belgium was Force India overtaking Williams for fourth place. Nico Hulkenberg had his best performance of the season, finishing fourth (and it could have been third), while Sergio Perez followed him home in fifth.

    Further down the table, McLaren jumped ahead of Toro Rosso for sixth place, thanks to Alonso's seventh-place finish at Spa.

    Here is the table for the constructors' championship:

    PositionTeamPoints
    1.Mercedes455
    2.Red Bull274
    3.Ferrari252
    4.Force India103
    5.Williams101
    6.McLaren48
    7.Toro Rosso45
    8.Haas28
    9.Renault6
    10.Manor1
    11.Sauber0

Autodromo Nazionale Monza

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    Wikimedia Commons/Will Pittenger

    The 5.793-kilometre Monza circuit is the fastest on the F1 calendar. The teams will bring extremely low-downforce packages to Italy, resulting in speeds of more than 350 km/h around the Autodromo.

    To get a sense of the speeds possible at Monza, check out this video of Juan Pablo Montoya's flying lap from qualifying in 2004.

    "You feel the lightness of the car in every corner because you’ve got so little aero load and it’s even hard to keep the steering wheel level on the straights," said Sergio Perez, per Force India's race preview.

    Monza is also one of the oldest circuits left in F1, having hosted the second Italian Grand Prix back in 1922. The circuit has changed somewhat over the years, most notably with the removal of the oval and its banked corners, but the basic layout is still recognisable from the early days.

    "People often think that Monza is all about the straights, with tight, small corners—but that’s not really true: Corners like the Lesmos, the Ascari chicane and Parabolica are big, fast corners that require precision and commitment," explained Jenson Button in McLaren's race preview.

    Turns 1 and 2

    The first two turns are a slow chicane, with drivers braking from more than 350 km/h on the start/finish straight to just 90 km/h for Turn 1.

    This heavy braking, combined with the DRS zone on the main straight, makes the first chicane a prime overtaking spot at Monza.

    Turns 3 (Curva Grande), 4 and 5

    The Curva Grande is a long, flat-out right-hander and one of the features preserved from the original track. Drivers will reach speeds of more than 330 km/h before braking for the second chicane, which is another possible overtaking opportunity.

    Unfortunately, there are plans to neuter the Curva Grande for 2017, per F1 Fanatic's Keith Collantine.

    Turns 4 and 5

    The second chicane, the Variante della Roggia, is slightly quicker than the first, with drivers braking to about 120 km/h for the entrance to the corner. Monza's infamous high kerbs are apparent here, as the cars bounce through the chicane.

    Turns 6 and 7 (Curve di Lesmo)

    The two Lesmo corners are back-to-back, quick right-handers. They are taken at approximately 185 km/h and 175 km/h, respectively.

    "These corners have a lot of banking, so it allows you to carry a lot of speed into them," explained Carlos Sainz, per Toro Rosso's race preview. "I have to say that lap by lap you go quicker each time through these corners just because of gaining more and more confidence."

    Turns 8, 9 and 10 (Variante Ascari)

    The third and final chicane at Monza, the Variante is taken relatively quickly—drivers brake to approximately 180 km/h before turning into Turn 8 and are already back up to more than 200 km/h by the exit of Turn 10.

    Turn 11 (Parabolica)

    From Turn 10, it is a long run down to the Parabolica, perhaps the most famous corner at Monza. The seemingly unending right-hander is taken at more than 200 km/h, although its challenge has been somewhat mitigated by the addition of an asphalt run-off area on the outside of the turn.

    "There's a very long and fast straight, before arriving to Turn 11, a corner that has lost a lot of its beauty—the run-off area used to be gravel and it was so much nicer back then!" explained Sainz in the Toro Rosso race preview. "Now it's tarmac and everyone can go fast through the Parabolica. It's a shame that they decided to do this."

    The pit entrance is on the right, after the Parabolica exit, and from there it is a straight blast back to the first chicane, ending a lap at Monza.

         

    The circuit map is from Wikimedia Commons. Speed data is from the FIA's circuit map.

Italian Grand Prix Tyres and DRS Zones

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    LOIC VENANCE/Getty Images

    For the fourth race in a row, Pirelli is bringing medium, soft and supersoft tyres to Monza. "While average speeds are high, cornering speeds are reasonably low, minimising tyre wear," noted the Italian company's race preview. 

    Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said: "With the supersoft coming to Monza for the first time, we might also see some record top speeds in qualifying especially. Last year we saw the majority of competitors opt for a one-stop strategy, but the arrival of the supersoft could make multi-stop options more attractive this time."

    Looking at the teams' tyre choices, Haas are at one extreme, with nine sets of supersoft tyres for each of their drivers, and Romain Grosjean selecting just one set of mediums for the weekend.

    A few other drivers, including Hamilton and Vettel, have a single set of mediums, but they have more of a mix between the soft and supersoft tyres. The world champion, for example, has seven supersoft sets and five soft. The Force India drivers have the most medium tyres, with three sets for each driver.

    DRS Zones

    There are two DRS zones and two detection points at Monza. The first detection point comes between the two Lesmo corners, with the activation point on the run down to the Variante Ascari.

    The second detection point is just before the entrance to the Parabolica, with the activation point midway down the start/finish straight.

Italian Grand Prix Weather

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    Sebastian Vettel on his way to victory at the rainy 2008 Italian Grand Prix.
    Sebastian Vettel on his way to victory at the rainy 2008 Italian Grand Prix.GIUSEPPE CACACE/Getty Images

    It will be a hot weekend in Monza, with a high of 30 degrees Celsius on Friday and 31 degrees on Saturday and Sunday, according to AccuWeather.

    UBIMET, the FIA's official weather service, forecasts, "an increased risk of rain, especially in the afternoon," on Sunday. However, AccuWeather pegs the chances of rain on Sunday at just 14 percent.

    The last wet race at Monza came back in 2008—you might remember it for Vettel's (and Toro Rosso's) first F1 victory.

Italian Grand Prix Odds

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    Dan Istitene/Getty Images

    After a one-race blip thanks to his engine penalties, Hamilton is back as the favourite in Italy. Rosberg is the only other realistic choice, unless both Mercs somehow fail to finish the race.

    The best odds available for the top-10 favourites at Monza are:

    DriverOdds
    Lewis Hamilton10-11
    Nico Rosberg9-4
    Daniel Ricciardo16-1
    Max Verstappen16-1
    Sebastian Vettel16-1
    Kimi Raikkonen28-1
    Nico Hulkenberg150-1
    Sergio Perez150-1
    Valtteri Bottas300-1
    Felipe Massa400-1

    Selected Others

    The odds of a non-Merc driver nabbing pole position are even worse than for winning the race. Vettel is the favourite, aside from the Mercedes duo, at just 18-1, followed by the Red Bull pair, each at 22-1. Ferrari and Red Bull have just one pole position apiece since the start of the 2014 season.

    Picking which driver will retire first is a crapshoot, but if you're wondering who the oddsmakers think will be the first to go, it's Daniil Kvyat and Jolyon Palmer, both at 14-1.

    Verstappen and Vettel are decent bets for the podium at 2-1, while Nico Hulkenberg is 14-1 to finish in the top three after his near-miss in Belgium. Sergio Perez, his Force India team-mate, can be had at 15-1.

            

    All odds are taken from Oddschecker and correct at the time of publication.

Italian Grand Prix Session and TV Times

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Here are the times for the three free practice sessions, qualifying and the race:

    SessionDayTime
    Practice 1Friday10 a.m.
    Practice 2Friday2 p.m.
    Practice 3Saturday11 a.m.
    QualifyingSaturday2 p.m.
    RaceSunday2 p.m.

    The above times are in local Monza time (CEST, UTC+2). You can convert the times to your local time zone using the helpful tool on the official F1 website.

    TV Times

    In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports F1 and Channel 4 will have live coverage of all the sessions. The programming start times are as follows (all times BST):

    SessionDayTime (Sky Sports)Time (Channel 4)
    Practice 1Friday8:45 a.m.8:55 a.m.
    Practice 2Friday12:45 p.m.12:55 p.m.
    Practice 3Saturday9:45 a.m.9:55 a.m.
    QualifyingSaturday12 p.m.11:55 a.m.
    RaceSunday11:30 a.m.12 p.m.

    In the United States, NBC has live coverage of all the sessions on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app, with programming start times as follows (all times EDT):

    SessionDayTime
    Practice 1Friday4 a.m. (NBC Sports app)
    Practice 2Friday8 a.m. (NBCSN)
    Practice 3Saturday5 a.m. (NBC Sports app)
    QualifyingSaturday8 a.m. (NBCSN)
    RaceSunday7 a.m. (NBCSN)

    Enjoy the race and the rest of the weekend!

           

    Matthew Walthert is an F1 columnist for Bleacher Report UK. He has also written for VICEFourFourTwo and the Globe and Mail. Follow him on Twitter:

    Follow @MatthewWalthert

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