Who expects what from this weekend's race
Minimum downforce and maximum speed are the requirements for the Italian Grand Prix circuit. The best technical brains in Formula One racing on the details and their Monza prospects.
Craig Wilson, Chief Race Engineer, BAR:
"After the disappointment of a double DNF for both drivers due to incidents in Spa, we head to the last European race of the year in Monza. It is now unique amongst the F1 circuits because of its very high speed nature due to the long straights, which require a specific low-downforce aero package just for this track. With the combination of 1st and 2nd gear chicanes and the very high speed, the braking requirements are the most demanding of all the tracks so the brake cooling and brake material have to be heavy duty. Engine and gearbox durability are also factors during races here. With the end of the test ban, we have been testing in Monza ahead of the GP to finalise the aero, engine, brakes and tyre specifications."
Bob Bell, Technical Director, Renault:
The circuit demands strong performance on the brakes and under acceleration, which we know are strengths of the R24. It also requires a set-up with roughly twenty percent less drag than at Monaco, and we have worked hard in the wind tunnel to achieve optimum efficiency at the necessary drag level, which is reflected in our aero package for Monza. Equally, we have improved the car throughout the season, and I feel we are competitive in most types of corner, in most conditions, on every type of circuit. We expect Monza to be no exception, and approach the race with our usual high expectations.
Rob White, Engine Technical Director, Renault:
Monza is an emotionally captivating circuit, and of course, the fastest of the current tracks. It imposes one of the most punishing duty cycles of the year, and presents an enormous challenge in terms of mechanical and thermal loads. The basic demands are simple: raw performance and faultless reliability. However, other parameters such as aero efficiency, braking performance and the tyres also have an important role to play in this race. It always produces a very tight grid, and we will hope to be fighting with our immediate championship rivals for the points positions come raceday."
Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams:
Monza is now a unique circuit on the Formula One calendar, one dominated by long straights, a couple of chicanes and only four important corners. With top speeds exceeding 370kph during the race, Monza is also the fastest circuit of the season. Set-up demands the lowest amount of downforce possible, and therefore requires special, one-off front and rear wings that only work on the Monza track. Good curb riding ability is important, as is the medium speed balance for the corners around the lap.
We will have some mechanical and engine improvements on the cars for this race. In addition, the team has focused on brake work at the Monza test this week in preparation for the hard braking the cars will experience during the race. Even though our starts were good at Spa, we have been working hard to make further advances. Michelin have also been hard at work since the tyre failure we had on Juan's car in Belgium, and have devised a new, higher strength rear tyre. Their work for Spa showed that they were in the correct compound region for the race. Antonio will once again drive alongside Juan and, after his excellent drive in Spa, he is looking for a strong result with his team mate.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:
From BMW's point of view, Monza is a particularly satisfying circuit. The straight measures 1,236 metres, making it the second longest on the Formula One calendar after Indianapolis. The straight provides 14 full seconds of flat-out racing, with half that time driven in seventh gear. Overall, Monza has the highest full throttle ratio of all Grand Prix circuits at 68 percent. With these challenges in mind, in recent years we have always brought the current engine to this Grand Prix in its latest development stage. In 2004, we will be doing just that with the BMW P84. Last week's Monza test produced positive results in that respect as well. Together with the on-going development of the chassis, we should be in a good position for the race at Monza.
Willy Rampf, Technical Director, Sauber:
"At Monza we run the lowest downforce package of the season, because the long straights require maximum top speed. Due to the long straight after the parabolica corner the drivers spend a long time at full throttle which gives a very high load on the engine and equally the brakes take a lot of punishment. The drivers brake from 360 kph to 80 in about three seconds going into the first of the two chicanes, so brake efficiency and stability are paramount. Ideally, to accelerate efficiently away from such slow chicanes, we would run higher downforce, but this is a penalty we have to accept, together with decreased grip and therefore, potentially, stability, under braking.
"Tyre wear is not too bad here, however, and before the latest regulations were introduced last year it was often a single-stop race. We tested there for three days last week honing our low downforce package and assessing tyres for the Italian Grand Prix. Overall, I expect that we will be competitive because the nature of the Monza circuit should suit the Sauber Petronas C23 well."
Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager, Bridgestone:
"We had several days of successful testing last week in Monza with all of our teams and have subsequently selected six specifications of dry weather tyre for this weekend's race. Speed is a major factor at the Monza track where the cars can reach up to 360 kph. This exerts a lot of force on the tyres and heat durability is an issue - wear, however, tends to be quite low. We do expect most teams to employ a two stop strategy in Monza. Last week's test was very positive and we are looking forward to being competitive this weekend."
Pascal Vasselon, F1 Programme Manager, Michelin:
Pre-race testing at Monza went very well for us. Antonio Pizzonia set the weeks fastest lap in his Williams-BMW and several of our partners performed very competitively.
As at most circuits, tyre manufacturers have to deliver a compromise when finalising tyre compounds for Monza. Despite the loads imposed by ultra-quick corners such as the Parabolica, tyre wear isnt physically excessive. Combined with the sustained high speeds down the long straights, this lack of wear generates significant tyre temperatures. Consequently, we cant afford to run compounds that are too soft. We will bring four different dry-weather options to Monza. Michelin has performed very well at Monza in recent seasons and our encouraging testing form indicates that our engineers have struck the right balance once again.
David Pitchforth, Managing Director, Jaguar Racing:
"Mark (Webber) and Christian (Klien) have been working closely with their engineers and the team last week while they were testing in Monza and we are pleased with the progress that we are making. Monza can be a challenging track to get right but the test has certainly helped both drivers feel more comfortable with the R5 and the demands of the circuit. We continue to develop the R5 and although there are no specific upgrades for this weekend we have continued to develop many parts of the car. We have a good strong package this weekend and although we know the track is demanding we will be doing all we can to score more Championship points."
James Robinson, Head of Race and Test Engineering, Jordan:
The test at Monza last week was good because we were able to get all three of our drivers in the car and that was useful especially for Timo who has never been there in single seaters. He has learned a new circuit which will hopefully stand us in good stead for the race weekend. Our programme focused on a number of areas with effort targeted on evaluating tyres with Bridgestone for the Italian Grand Prix, which is excellent as it means we can make a late call on the tyre we need for the race. Our other work has been looking at development areas for the 2005 car and we completed a trouble-free 500km a day so all in all a productive test. For the race, the aero package is exclusive to Monza. Running with low downforce settings require different techniques and set-ups. All the drivers know the circuit now and Giorgio performed very well here in F3000. The fact that the drivers have all been driving here a week before the Grand Prix means during the weekend we can concentrate on fine-tuning the car rather than some of the larger steps we have to take at other race weekends.