Monza test for Merc’s warring drivers

1584033.0036.jpgWell done Daniel Ricciardo. For rather obvious reasons we’ll move onto in a moment, his race victory at Spa-Francorchamps – one of F1’s premier circuits, and a favourite of many drivers, past and present – has been somewhat forgotten. His second win on the trot, and his third overall this season, he remains the only non-Mercedes driver to take the chequered flag in 2014.

But oh, those Mercedes drivers. There’s been no escaping the fallout from Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton’s collision at F1’s last round. Blame has been thrown around, petrol has been poured on the fire of the need (or not) for team orders, while comparisons to the prickly relationship between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost have been abundant.

As we head to another of F1’s glory tracks – Italy’s Monza – you can be certain that anyone wielding a microphone near the Mercedes pit garage will have only one thing on their mind. Any more altercations like that at Spa – which deprived Hamilton of any points from Belgium – and Red Bull’s smiling Aussie has a real chance at an accolade greater than third place this season.

The results from practice suggest it’s the German and Brit who’ll be contesting for the race win again, however. Hamilton topped the first session, Rosberg the second. Raikkonen, Alonso, Bottas and Button make up the best of the rest – Ricciardo’s fastest lap placed him tenth in second practice.

Dubbed the Cathedral of Speed, few circuits can rival the heritage of Monza. It has hosted all but one of the Italian GPs in the sport’s history. Yet its future was called into question recently when F1 overlord Bernie Ecclestone declared it a commercial disaster which would be struck off the calendar when the current contract lapses in 2016.

Heartbreaking truth or mind games to encourage some circuit improvement? Either way, a sum of 10million euros is being poured into Monza to keep it competitive against the increasing amount of circuits outside of Europe vying for a place on the calendar. With a tense title fight heading for its home straight, here’s to a classic Italian GP on Sunday to cement Monza’s importance to F1…

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