Tifosi prove F1 is alive and kicking
This week’s news that Monza will remain on the Formula 1 calendar until at least 2024 was a more than welcome announcement, even if rather expected.
Because let’s face it, it was never going anywhere, was it?
A jewel in the crown of the schedule, only Britain has staged a race in every championship season, while Monza is the only venue that has been a mainstay since 1950 (Brands Hatch and Aintree have occasionally wrestled the British Grand Prix away from Silverstone).
It remains encouraging to see that F1’s still relatively new owners understand the value of its core racing circuits, but it’s not just the track’s blistering straights that accommodate 220mph+, its test-your-bravery chicanes or the historic remains from previous incarnations that have kept this gem on the outskirts of Milan on the billing.
That probably has a little bit more to do with a different element – one that the city centre witnessed in full force this week.
Thousands upon thousands of the Tifosi – an army of Ferrari superfans – gathered in its main square on Wednesday to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Italian Grand Prix, which was supplemented by the new contract news and the likes of current and former drivers Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc and Alan Prost.
And it must be said, the love is absolutely real.
Ferrari haven’t won a drivers’ title since 2007 or a constructors’ crown since 2008, yet year after year unwavering support awaits them at Monza and beyond.
While there is always hope of returning to winning ways due to Ferrari’s large-scale budgets and ability to attract the best names to its cockpits, the Tifosi have more than passed the ‘ultra-fan’ test over the last decade.
From Felipe Massa’s gut-wrenching last lap, last corner loss to Lewis Hamilton in Brazil, to two near misses for Fernando Alonso and a valiant effort from Vettel in 2017, it’s been a harsh script for the prancing horse in the post-Michael Schumacher era.
But the Tifosi continue to come again. Hope does not kill them.
As for the team, they are always in the mix. The pieces simply need to fall into place.
They have a new hope now in Leclerc, who will look to follow up his maiden F1 victory in Belgium with another in front of his employer’s home crowd. He’s in for unforgettable pandemonium if he takes to the top step again this week.
Whether or not a red car is on that podium, though, has now become irrelevant. The Tifosi will always be there, through thick and thin. They’ll never turn their back, which can only be good for F1. Securing Monza on the calendar was the least it could do.