In quick succession from the Belgium Grand Prix, the F1 circus and Gullivers moved onto Italy for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Built in 1922, Monza is one of the oldest race circuits in the world and F1’s oldest circuit - the ‘Temple of Speed’ is steeped in heritage. Adding to the atmosphere of the weekend was the news that a new three year deal had been signed to keep it part of the F1 calendar until 2019.
The Gullivers team met at Heathrow on the Thursday night and after a briefing for the weekend ahead, we all had an early night ready for the very early start on Friday morning. We had multiple flights from Heathrow to the two Milan airports of Linate and Malpensa, followed by transfers to our four hotels in Como, Bergamo and Milan.
This was my first visit to Milan and my first live Grand Prix for 16 years, so I was full of anticipation of some exciting racing, sunshine and a gelato or two - a heady combination! Friday evening saw our clients catching up over a glass of wine or beer at our welcome drinks at the Radisson Blu hotel in Milan. Discussions were rampant over who people expected to be on pole and more importantly, who would win on Sunday. General feeling was that it would be a Hamilton weekend, but Rosberg would be looking to close the gap and in the homeland of the tifosi, Ferrari could never be counted out of equation.
Saturday morning arrived and we headed off to the circuit for a day of GP races and the F1 qualifying. It quickly appeared that Hamilton was going to show his dominance yet again, with Hamilton taking pole and Rosberg joining him on the front of the grid. To the joy of the tifosi, it was Ferrari on the second row with Vettel qualifying in third and Raikkonen in fourth. A happy but weary group gathered for our quick transport back to the hotel and general plans of relaxing with a cold beer and dinner seemed to be the main priorities.
The Milan Gullivers team took the opportunity to eat pasta and have a few glasses of Italian wine near Milan’s stunning gothic cathedral - the Duomo - beautifully lit up for the night. The surrounding street and square was buzzing with people socialising and ‘promenading’ late into the evening. A delicious gelato while stood outside the Doumo rounded off a full day.
Sunday morning and after a quick transfer to the circuit, we settled in for the day. The Gullivers team found a great spot on the inside entrance to the Parabolica curve, and after some action-packed Porsche racing, the main show of the day started. Hamilton got off to a bad start and dropped down to 5th with Rosberg in the lead and the Ferrari’s second and third. At this point we knew that the race would be interesting, as Hamilton fought to battle back up the board. After a thrilling 53 laps, Rosberg was the winner with Hamilton managing to get back to second, and Vettel rounding off the podium. With Rosberg’s win, Hamilton’s championship lead has been reduced to two points, making for a thrilling couple of months as the 2016 season leaves Europe.
After navigating the traffic back to the hotel, we had one final evening to enjoy Milan before the flights back to the UK on Monday. This weekend more than matched my expectations and has reinvigorated my enthusiasm for Formula One – I will be watching the rest of the season with keen interest.