THE Coronavirus has done many a weird thing, including having two rounds of the  2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship run twice on the same circuit.

We had that scenario in Austria and in England, but contrary to what I said last week, the Italian job is on separate circuits.

Last Sunday’s bizarre race was run at Monza, but this Sunday the action moves to Mugello, a circuit used mainly for MotoGP — but also for some sports car and lesser Formulae races.

But until now, not Formula 1.

Also, it will not be known as the Italian Grand Prix Mk II, but rather the Pirelli Tuscan Grand Prix.

The newly-revitalised Renault team is looking forward to it.

Lead driver Daniel Ricciardo raced there in 2007 in Formula Renault and had this to say about the 5.245km circuit, which has 15 turns and a 1.14km long straight.

“I’m really excited to drive a modern Formula 1 car at Mugello,” he said. 

“It’s so fast and flowing, it has a nice rhythm and it’s going to be a lot of hard work at the wheel. 

“I think all our necks are going to want to fly off because of the changes of direction and medium to high speed corners. It’s going to be pretty awesome. 

“For racing, it’s difficult to know where it’ll be good to overtake in these current cars. I’d say Turn 1 is going to be the best place, but I think we’re going to be braking late and deep into there as it’s quite a long corner. 

“It’s going to be hard to send it from far, but that will be the challenge.”

Teammate Esteban Ocon reckons it looks like a fantastic track for pure pace. 

“I don’t have any experience racing there as I’ve not driven it for real. 

“From what I’ve seen on my home simulator it looks a massive challenge for the car, the driver and especially the tyres, which will be critical to manage throughout. 

“I’ve driven a lot of laps there on the simulator and it has a nice combination of corners, some quick ones, which will be mega impressive in the current cars. 

“I think it will be medium to high downforce with a lot tyre degradation. 

“We’ll have a sore neck, so that’s something to keep in mind during the preparation.”

READ:  Ricciardo promises nice little send-off

Chief race engineer Ciaron Pilbeam views it as a challenge.

“Mugello is effectively a new circuit for us. 

“Some teams used to test there several years ago, but the cars are very different now and there won’t be much from previous running that is very relevant to this weekend. 

“The circuit has mainly medium and high-speed corners, some very fast, but also a long straight, so the choice of downforce level will be a compromise between the two. 

“Our priorities for the first part of the weekend will be to give the drivers time to get up to speed on the new circuit, to dial in the setup as we learn the details of the track, and to understand the behaviour of the tyres. 

“We have the three hardest compounds as this circuit is likely to be quite severe. 

“It’s the first of several circuits that we have not been to for a few years, so it’s an interesting new challenge.”

The circuit is owned by Liberty Media, a US mass media company, through its wholly owned subsidiary — the Formula One Group. 

The location is in Scarperia e San Piero, Tuscany, some 32km from Florence.

Mugello is actually a vast valley, surrounded by mountains and hills that slope down to the plain adjacent to the River Sieve. 

There are nine villages in the region, which is popular with tourists. Local fauna includes deer, wild boar and wild horned sheep, called mouflon — as well as wolves and eagles.

It does not sound particularly attractive to the Prancing Horse outfit, which had its worst showing in four decades at Monza last week.

East African racing fans might like the phonetic connection to the Tuscan race, as they quaff a few of their excellent Tusker lagers while watching the on-track drama unfold.

 

CHECKOUT: Gasping Gasly claims first win in crazy Italian Grand Prix

CHECKOUT: Ricciardo jubilant as Hamilton wins (again)

Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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