In many ways, Monza represents the spiritual home of Formula One. The longest serving circuit on the calendar, Monza has been a mainstay of F1 since the fifties and is the most anticipated race of the season. The high speeds and passionate crowd combine to create memorable racing that perhaps only Spa can match. That Bernie Ecclestone came extraordinarily close to ejecting the circuit from next year's calendar says it all about modern-day F1: Money and profit over tradition and heritage.
To this weekend, then, and it's looking like Mercedes will storm to victory once again. Assuming both Rosberg and Hamilton get away cleanly from the start and survive the potential carnage of the first corner (a tight chicane barely wide enough for two cars), it's essentially plain sailing from there (see Spa last weekend).
This could well be a pivotal race in the Drivers' Championship hunt. Last week in Spa, Lewis Hamilton secured a brilliant third despite starting from the back of the grid after serving a penalty for replacing the engine in his troubled Mercerdes. Rosberg won the race and clawed back some much needed points on Hamilton, but he surely would've been banking on the Briton finishing much lower in the points, if at all.
This brings us to Monza. You'd back Hamilton to get the better of Rosberg here, given his raw speed and aggressive driving, even if he were to start second on the grid behind the German. A win for the German would make it two wins in a row and bring some much needed confidence. A Hamilton win would reinstate the status quo of recent weeks and paint last week as a blip for the Brit.
Elsewhere on the grid, Felipe Massa has started his farewell to the sport. An emotional statement confirmed his retirement, at a track where ten years ago the great Michael Schumacher done likewise. Massa spoke of the 2008 season and crashgate as the biggest regret of his career; he should have won the World Championship that year and blames crashgate entirely for a young Hamilton to pip him effectively at the season's finish line. A great servant and described as one of the sport's gentleman, the Brazilian will be missed.