Felipe Nasr is in his debut season racing in F1 for Sauber. He will write exclusively for F1i.com after each round of the 2015 season to provide insight in to the life of an F1 driver.
Heading for the night to escape the shadows
I confess that I had high expectations for the Italian Grand Prix, since Monza is a track where I have always driven good races and secured important wins. Given the healthy top-end speed of our Sauber C34, the strength of our new Ferrari power unit, the valuable partnership we enjoy with [brake supplier] Brembo; all the ingredients were gathered to stop my series of 11th-place finishes and make a strong return to the points-paying positions. Little did I know that I was still not free from the shadow that hangs over since last May’s Monaco Grand Prix.
The whole Sauber team was focussed on preparing two cars that could challenge for sixth or seventh place in the race. Friday’s opening practice sessions were promising, as we managed to find the right balance for the car to gain the most on Monza’s long straights, while also faring well in the heavy braking zones for the chicanes.
The Italian GP venue is a circuit for high-speed lovers and a true fan favourite in motor racing. Every fan coming to Monza is very knowledgeable in the sport, which is a genuine pleasure to enjoy close by.
Having got rid of the brake problem that had affected me during the last grand prix, I could concentrate on the car’s aerodynamic details and mechanical balance for the race. Everything was OK, my middle sector times were good, but I still did not have the highly sought after straightline speed. Even compared to my team-mate, I was around 6kph slower through the speed traps! Therefore, I could not get into Q3 during qualifying, which makes a big difference on Sundays, as you all know.
After a very good start from 11th on the grid, I was already seventh by the first chicane but fell foul of the opening corner melee: Romain Grosjean tapped my right rear wheel and I had a puncture that forced me to pit. I took the opportunity to swap my Option tyres for Primes before heading back out.
On my next stop, I went for another set of Primes, which means that, apart from the first lap, I did the whole race on the harder compound! I tried my best, of this you can be sure, and by the end I was only 49s away from the seventh place I had set my sights on. Considering that all the other drivers had done their first 18 to 21 laps on Options, this was not bad but not near enough what we could have achieved.
It was very good for the team that Marcus once again finished in the points (he crossed the line P9, after being eighth until the last lap). This confirms what I told you at the beginning, namely that we could expect good things from Monza. In less than 10 days we’ll race under the bright lights of Marina Bay, where I am sure I’ll be able to finally escape from the persistent shadow.
See you here on F1i after the Singapore Grand Prix!