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Italian Grand Prix - the engineer's view 10 Sep 2003

(L to R): David Pitchforth (GBR) Jaguar Managing Director chats with Gary Anderson (IRE) Jordan Director of Race and Test Engineering.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 6 March 2003

Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering, Jordan:
"We had a test at Monza last week and have done a bit of ground work so we are step ahead for the race weekend which is good. We still have a bit of work to do to get the aero package suited to the high speed track and get it working more efficiently. Because of the engine problems we had in Hungary, we have replaced one component of the latest upgrade with the previous specification, for the sake of reliability. The tyres were reasonable at the test and we are quite happy with our choice, it seems to be quite a consistent race tyre.

"We are running three cars again at this event in the private test session and Zsolt Baumgartner will be helping us with more tyre work. The track always changes when you go back after a test so we will have to work with the conditions of the race weekend and it will be good to have a third driver helping us. Monza is a good circuit and it's fantastic to see the Italian enthusiasm, there's always a good atmosphere. We won here with Frentzen in 1999 and it was a dry race with strong competition so there's a bit of confidence for us associated with the track.

"There are three races to go this season and we are four points away from fifth in the Championship. There's no way we're lying down. We are having a go and doing our best."

Ove Andersson, Team Principal, Toyota:
"We tested in Monza recently with three cars and all three drivers and I hope that we can translate the productive work we carried out into tangible race results at the Italian GP. However, every team has carried out intensive work at the track in the past week, so it is difficult to gauge where we will stand in comparison to our rivals. Although it is a track that should suit our car reasonably well, it will be important to find the best set-up on the car early on Friday morning. I remain hopeful that we can once again attain the sort of performance level that we have demonstrated in recent races as we aim for our eighth successive top ten grid position and more championship points."

Mario Theissen, Motorsport Director, BMW:
"Monza is the last genuine high-speed circuit on the Formula One calendar. As such, it is one of the highlights of the season for us as an engine manufacturer, but it also presents a major challenge. Our BMW P83 is extremely 'familiar' with the Monza circuit profile, as it is the reference track for simulated endurance tests on the engine rigs in Munich, so hopefully we will run fairly competitively there. Last year, Juan Pablo set a world record during his qualifying lap with an average speed of 259.827 kph and a top engine speed of over 19,000 rpm.

"As a team, we have for the first time taken the lead in the Constructors' Championship ahead of Ferrari - an incredible development after a weak start to the season. In the Drivers' standings, Juan Pablo is also right up at the front with Ralf only a few points behind. Our aim, therefore, for this race is to consolidate our position and hopefully extend the gap between us and our rivals."

Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer, Williams:
"Monza is such a different circuit compared to the other Grands Prix on the Formula One calendar. With top speeds of more than 360kph, we are operating the car at its limit. Dominated by long straights, three medium speed corners and chicanes, Monza is hard on brakes and engines. Setting the car up for the curbs is important, while maintaining good braking stability. Strategy will be interesting at Monza, particularly since overtaking is more likely in the race due to the long straights and the fact that it is possible to get a large tow.

"As normal, in line with our development program, we have a few aerodynamic and mechanical improvements for this race. We are also arriving with two new tyre compounds that we have developed with Michelin."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director, Sauber:
"Monza is the fastest track that we visit all season. Nick (Heidfeld) and Heinz-Harald (Frentzen) will attain 350 kph in two places, but more critical even than that they will have the throttle wide open for longer than on any other circuit. This means that the Italian Grand Prix is always a very high-speed race and very hard on engines in particular.

"One of our major advantages here is the reliability and power of the Petronas V10 engine of which we will use the (new) C spec for the remaining races. But we must also match that with excellent brake performance and chassis stability under braking, as the drivers have to slow down for three tight chicanes during the course of the lap.

"Pre-race testing has indicated that the Sauber C22 is competitive and well balanced in the very low downforce trim that you need at Monza. In the last week's test here in Monza we have successfully examined newly developed aerodynamic parts such as a new floor, turning vanes, engine cover and rear wing."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director, BAR:
"The Italian Grand Prix at Monza is the only remaining true high-speed race left on the F1 calendar and this year will see the cars exceeding 355km/h in their low-drag trim. Set-up is a big compromise between high-speed straights and the low-speed chicanes. Due to the high speeds, low wing level and two slow chicanes, the circuit is very hard on brakes and with the long, high-speed sections engine reliability will be tested. The important areas for car handling are stability under braking, the ability to ride the kerbs well and good traction from low speed. The fact that the race is in September and the circuit lies in a park full of trees means that fallen leaves can block the radiator ducts. Generally this is a tough race with a significant number of retirements so we will be very focused on reliability."

Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport:
"Monza is a very high speed track so we can expect heat durability to be one of the main issues there. Tyre surface temperatures may not be high when a car is running down the straights but the tyres themselves are running at a very high frequency producing stress inside the tyres which generates a lot of heat. On top of that, because of the high speeds, our tyres must be strong enough to cope with the high centrifugal forces which are experienced at Monza. The key will be to provide high grip with good heat durability. As a result of last week's testing we found some of the compounds we tried were both strong enough for Monza and also competitive. Cars will be run with low downforce set-ups which mean it is easier to slide while cornering, which also generates heat in the tyres. Monza is one of the toughest tracks on the calendar."

David Pitchforth, Managing Director, Jaguar:
"With three races to go and three teams including ours fighting it out for 5th place in the Constructors Championship, the Italian Grand Prix will be a fascinating contest. The championship scrap at the front of the grid will understandably steal the show, but along with BAR and Toyota, our aim is to maximise upon the Italian race weekend in the hope of more championship points. Mark drove a storming race in Hungary to finish 6th and add another three points to our tally but Monza will be tougher. Not only did everyone test thoroughly there last week but also Monza is also renowned for being a 'car-breaker.' The low downforce configuration means maximum straight-line speeds and the chicanes at the end of the straights put enormous stresses on brakes. With the engine being at full throttle for over 70% of the lap, the demands upon car and driver are extreme. We undertook a three-day test at Monza last week and while we encountered some problems, the overall result was positive."

Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director, Renault:
"Monza is the only very low downforce circuit left on the calendar, and we spend a lot of time preparing for it: up to two or three weeks in the wind tunnel in total. The result is the low downforce package which we tested last week, without any problems at all. To be quick at Monza, you have to be fast down the straights, of course, but there is time to be found under braking and in the corners. The car's performance in the high-speed corners is excellent, and that will definitely be an asset. In terms of results, I think that given the perceived strengths of our package, people may be tempted to write us off. My answer would be to expect us to spring a few surprises..."

Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager, Renault:
"Monza is the circuit at which the cars spend the highest percentage of the lap at full throttle of the whole season, although the maximum single period at full throttle is 15 seconds, less than we see at Indianapolis or Suzuka, for example. From the engineering point of view, the strain the engine is under means we must be extremely careful in how we use the engine, keeping strict control on temperatures and things like over-revving.

"A powerful engine is fundamental at Monza. While torque is less important, power at high revs and reliability are critical: the circuit is particularly sensitive to power, and a given increase in power can bring three times the gain it would at a circuit like Monaco. However, the engine also has its contribution to make on the handling side: the nature of the throttle response can have an impact on the car's balance, and a progressive engine will disrupt the car less as the driver gets on the power exiting the high-speed corners.

"We tested a new cylinder head at Monza last week, and it was a step forward compared to its predecessor. We hope to be able to use this component on Sunday but, with the homologation process still underway, we cannot yet confirm that the race engines will include this development."

Pascal Vasselon, Formula One Programme Manager, Michelin:
"At Monza teams tend to compromise cornering ability in order to generate higher speeds down the long straights. We have to bear this in mind when choosing tyres because we need our rubber to compensate a little for the lack of aerodynamic downforce - especially through ultra-quick corners such as the two Lesmos and the Parabolica, as well as the tight chicanes.

"Our dry-weather tyre options have been selected on the basis of results at the recent Monza tests. There will be three different types available.

"The track layout at Monza generates high temperatures so we have to focus on minimising the risk of blistering. The tighter sections of the track don't place a great deal of strain on the rubber and would allow us to run a soft compound, but the loads imposed by the long, high-speed straights persuade us to select tyres from the medium part of our range.

"Last season a one-stop strategy was most effective here, but I think teams are more likely to pit twice this time. A stop costs less than 30 seconds and the fuel penalty is about 0.3 seconds per lap for every extra 10 kilos."