LONDON, Sept 2, 2011 (AFP) - Michael Schumacher returns to Italy two weeks after his stirring exploits in Belgium for another landmark homecoming when he leads Mercedes' bid for glory on his former Ferrari team's home soil in the Italian Grand Prix.
For Schumacher, 42 and winner of seven drivers' world titles - five with Ferrari, it will be another chance to revive the halcyon days of his younger years when he was Germany's outstanding driver and, as the 'red baron', he led the scarlet scuderia to unprecedented success.
"It was wonderful for me personally to enjoy my 20th anniversary in Spa, where I raced in F1 for the first time," said Schumacher." But now it is back to business again and we have to continue to deliver progress and good results.
"We achieved a good team result in Spa last weekend, and I especially enjoyed the overtaking battles and the challenge of making up so many places during the race. This gives us a boost going into the final part of the season, and we will continue pushing hard to get the best possible results."
Schumacher started from the back of the grid in 24th place at Spa-Francorchamps and finished the race fifth, one place ahead of his Mercedes team-mate and compatriot Nico Rosberg. It was the first time this year that Mercedes had both drivers finishing in the top six.
At Monza, using a special low-down-force configuration to make the most of their powerful power-units on the circuit's long straights in the old royal park, both Rosberg and Schumacher have high hopes of another good weekend.
Rosberg, 26, said: "I've got to admit that I'm really looking forward to the weekend in Monza. We learned at the last race in Spa that our car can be competitive at high-speed tracks -- and we definitely took a step forward there.
"I am confident that we can do that again in Italy next weekend. I visited the factory this week -- and I'm quite happy with how things are working out there."
After a period of evolution following Mercedes' take-over of the former Brawn team - that was previously Honda and prior to that British American Racing - it appears that the organization has settled down.
Team chief Ross Brawn, who is keen to see them finish fourth in the constructors' championship, said: "Coming off the back of our best result of the season in Spa, we are looking forward to the weekend and to finishing the European season on a high.
"With the emphasis jointly on engine power and aerodynamic efficiency, we have the benefit of our Mercedes-Benz engine and, as always for Monza, we will run a special low-downforce aerodynamic package to minimize drag so I think we should be in good shape."
Like Schumacher, Brawn also is a revered figure in northern Italy where motor racing followers in general and Ferrari fans in particular recall his successful spell at Maranello as technical director during the Schumacher era.
He is sure of a warm welcome, but may also find that the tifosi are desperate to help push their own current Ferrari team to glory again. One win this year at the British Grand Prix is an unimpressive return from two-times champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso and they will be hoping, against the odds, that he can find the power and speed not only to match Schumacher and Mercedes, but beat both the McLarens and the Red Bulls next Sunday afternoon.