Where does Monza rank on your list of favourite circuits?
Nico Hulkenberg: I do like Monza, it's a place which carries a lot of history, so that makes it very special. The atmosphere is never disappointing there, it's fantastic. Circuits with history are always interesting and fun; it's a great feeling to race at these places.
What are the main characteristics of the circuit?
NH: In terms of the actual track, it's obviously very high-speed throughout; it's called the Temple of Speed for a reason! It means a low-downforce setting on the car to suit high, straight line speed. Low downforce can mean the car feels light and uncomfortable, and that's something we'll be adjusting to in the Friday practice sessions. You need to be quite brave on the brakes as Monza has hard braking zones, especially the chicane at the end of the main straight. Of course, there are some legendary corners like the Lesmos, Ascari and the Parabolica, which are a lot of fun to drive when you get them nailed.
Do you like the Italian atmosphere?
NH: The atmosphere is always good to experience in Italy; the Italians know their motorsport, especially Formula 1, and they get very passionate when it comes to town. It's a special atmosphere at Monza. I like my food and this place is pretty good for that. I'll be sure to eat a pizza at some point over the weekend. It all adds up for a very fun experience.
What's there to say about Spa?
NH: The weekend didn't go to plan. I hold my hands up for the incident as it was my misjudgement. I'm sorry to my competitors who I eliminated from the race. We have an immediate opportunity in Italy to go again, and I'll be doing my best for a good result. We know we're going to be near the back of the pack with the grid penalty, but hopefully the pace will be there which will propel us into the points.
Carlos Sainz fell narrowly short of the points in Spa after starting from the back of the grid. Now the Spaniard is targeting a return to the top ten on his birthday weekend in Italy.
What do you like about the Italian Grand Prix?
Carlos Sainz: The Italian Grand Prix weekend is always an enjoyable one. My birthday falls over that weekend – this year it's the Saturday - so I'll be targeting a good birthday present in qualifying! I might excuse myself and have a pizza at some point over the weekend, but we're here to race and the nice Italian food will have to be put on hold. The Italian fans are excellent, I even have an Italian fan club, so it's great to have that support! We always stop to sign autographs on the way in to the circuit, so that's a good way to begin the day.
Do you enjoy driving at the Temple of Speed?
CS: Monza is a cool circuit to drive, it's certainly up there in the top five. High-speed circuits like Monza give you a thrill, and this place is known as the Temple of Speed. I'm without points there in my Formula 1 career, but I've had some success at Monza early in my single-seater career. 2014 was a particularly good year, I remember recording two pole positions and taking a win in the Formula Renault 3.5 Championship.
What is there to consider in terms of car set-up?
CS: Monza brings a low downforce balance to focus on finding a high-top speed. It takes a bit of getting used to as the car doesn't feel as grippy as it usually does in the corners. A lot of Friday will be spent learning about this and finding different set-up balances.
How do you reflect on Spa?
CS: We knew Spa was going to be a tricky weekend, but we have some positives to build on ahead of Monza. The car felt good on Friday, but, for reasons we are still working on, we were unable to convert that pace in qualifying. We did our best on Sunday, finished the race and gathered good data to do our analysis this week and aim for improvements.