Michael Bailey: No need to wing it at Monza
Blink and you've missed it – once this weekend in Italy comes to an end, that will be it for another European season in F1.And in plenty of ways, Monza sums up exactly what old school, European-dominated Formula One is all about: power, speed and the Tifosi.
It is a proper, classic track – one which has always hosted the Italian Grand Prix and, for as long as Ferrari has a say, will be staying put.
This year, Monza's low downforce power requirements will also bring the introduction of double DRS-proper for the first time.
The FIA has fiddled around with the moveable rear wing system, designed to aid overtaking, a fair bit during the season.
Most tracks in 2011 have been handed one section where the car behind could use DRS to overtake the driver in front down the circuit's longest straight.
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Yet in Montreal and Valencia, there were consecutive sections of track available for DRS – but only one timing point, which decided whether a car was within one second of the driver in front and therefore able to use the system.
That was fine – except when a car easily passed the guy in front on the first straight, and could then pull away even easier on the second.
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In Monza however, DRS should be a real treat.
The two sections will be in different parts of the track, and with their own timing points.
Meaning if you get ahead at the first DRS section but are not on it after, you could easily get the place taken back from you before you reach the chequered flag.
Admittedly there is a danger the whole passing experience could become a bore if it's happening twice every lap.
But it may also throw up some interesting reactions should a few F1 drivers not take well to the fluidity of the order.
Or, of course, it may just be a damp squib and have little effect.
Even if that does happen, there is no doubt in my mind DRS has been a terrific success in its first season.
Sure, at some circuits it made passing a little too easy. At others it had no effect whatsoever.
Next year, those tracks will need a tweak or two.
But while the teams have got to grips with the Pirelli tyres, DRS has kept things on edge – before Europe, and at every corner since.
• In a land long ago, before the mid-season break, this column touched on the issues brought by a lack of testing – and being able to tell whether a driver can really cut it, before actually stepping into a car.
With Bruno Senna about to get his big opportunity with Group Lotus-backed Renault, he is about to get his chance to show everyone where exactly he stands – with the added pressure of carrying the name of his legendary uncle too, of course.
But without that name and the undoubted extra coverage and confidence from others that it brings, would Bruno has displaced Nick Heidfeld so easily? You would doubt it.
The fact is it takes something special to earn a practice seat, let alone a shot at races, in F1.
But that 'something special' is not always talent.
Nico Hulkenberg was a big talent in GP2 during 2009, and decent enough in his rookie season with Williams – a campaign that included a remarkable pole position in Brazil.
Yet Williams were not prepared to keep faith – and the German was left to wait for his chance, again, as reserve driver with Force India behind Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta this season.
Sometimes, for some teams, the safer option is just too tempting.
For Williams, that has been Rubens Barrichello – tried and tested so much, you would imagine the Brazilian is coming apart at the seams.
Yet there are suggestions the veteran may not see 2012 at Grove – and that would still be a surprise for a team in need of some serious development this winter.
In truth, there was not a lot of seat swapping for 2011 – simply a few rookies getting their chance.
It might be that money, and drivers with big backing, get even more sway as the 2012 opportunities get sorted.
But you can't help feeling there may be more of an appetite for a switch or two this time around.
• Remember back in May when we were treated to a brilliant Turkish Grand Prix? Good – because there will not be one next season.
Formula One's governing body, the FIA, published its calendar for 2012 last week and a trip to Istanbul – a circuit enjoyed by drivers and spectators, if too few of them could actually afford tickets – was omitted.
In fact, since arriving on the circus in 2005 there have been several superb races around the Hermann Tilke track.
The issue, instead, has been trying to conjure up the spectator numbers – something not helped by high prices, both to host the race and then let people in to watch it.
And you suspect it will be some time before F1's rulers have the appetite for a return trip.
Other points of interest on the 20-race calendar include 2012 starting in Melbourne, with round four in Bahrain, while the return of the United States GP will be in Austin on November 18 – seven days before the climax in Brazil.