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Italy preview quotes - Manor, Renault, Mercedes, Force India, Haas & more

31 Aug 2016

From one classic circuit to another, the F1 paddock heads quickly from Spa-Francorchamps to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the Formula 1 Gran Premio Heineken d'Italia 2016. Those involved look ahead to the action...


Pascal Wehrlein

“You never know how well a car is going to be suited to a track until you actually drive for the first time on Friday, but this is a high-speed track and the theory is that we can do well again here. That’s my goal, anyway.

“I’m pretty happy with what I’ve achieved so far in my first 13 races. 13! Ah yes, that explains Spa! Just joking; I’m not really superstitious. The upside of that weekend was starting the race from the midfield, so that’s our biggest target achieved right there! And, we could have been even higher, as we saw with P9 in Q1. It was a ‘team’ target to close the gap to the midfield, but my own target, as a driver, to get us there. So I’m pretty happy with that. I’m also excited by the possibilities for the rest of the season if we can continue like this. Ours are small but very important steps. We’re ahead of Sauber and really pushing Renault, so my next target is to keep things that way and make the gap to the midfield even smaller. Of course, I’d like to see us get another point or two very soon. That would be nice.”

Esteban Ocon

“It’s such an amazing circuit, with so much history. I raced here in GP3 last year, so that’s good preparation, although the feeling with an F1 car is quite different and going out for the first time will be pretty special. What was so great about the race in Spa was that I had so many situations to deal with; it was an eventful race! I feel like I can roll all of that experience and learning into a much stronger weekend. I love the fast circuits, and I hope I can do well here.”

Dave Ryan, racing director

“We have a few new bits and pieces to suit the characteristics of this circuit and we’ve addressed the issues that hampered us last week, so I’m hopeful that we can pick up where we left off last weekend and make a strong start on track on Friday, to give us the best shot at the rest of the weekend. This is a fantastic circuit and I’d like to see us do really well here. Our drivers are doing an exceptional job, and although Esteban is only one race into his F1 career, it’s clear that, at the level at which they’re operating, both will be pivotal to the fight to maintain our position in the championship.”


Kevin Magnussen

"I'm feeling okay. It was a big crash [at Spa] and I was sore but fortunately had nothing worse than a bruised ankle. I've had some more checks in Denmark and am working with my physio to keep fit. I feel I'm ready to race in Monza. The FIA will of course have the final word but I really want to and I'm confident that by then it will be fine.

"I think that the fact it has so much history makes it a special event. The track is unique as well, with very long straights and slow corners. It does have some high speed corners that are a challenge too, so it's just really cool. Added to that you have one of the best atmospheres of the season. In all honesty it's not been the best track for me but it has been ok. I have had podiums in nearly everything I've driven but never won there, so clearly we need to fix that!"

Jolyon Palmer

"It's a very special track, and one I absolutely love. There is so much history there; so many races have been held at Monza and lots of great drivers have won, particularly back in the old days when you needed to be quick and incredibly brave. Then there is the passion of the crowd – you can hear the fans when you drive round. The track itself is very old school and it's fun to drive. We take off a lot of downforce so parts are flat out and there can be a lot of overtaking. It's good fun.

"I won and took pole in GP2 plus I've won twice in F2, so it's been a good one for me. I really enjoy racing at Monza and I think it's actually one of my best tracks. I did FP1 last year as well so I've driven it in an F1 car, which is good experience, so I'm really looking forward to getting there and out in the car.

"We go to Monza knowing it will be tough as it does not suit the characteristics of the car too much. However we also thought Spa was going to be tough and it was better than expected, particularly in qualifying. We need to approach it fresh, confident that at each race we are moving forward and in the fight now and see how we do."

Fred Vasseur, Renault racing director

"We built performance over the weekend and had our best qualifying of the year so far [at Spa]. We got two cars through to Q2 for the second time this season and the starting positions, twelfth and thirteenth, were the best we have had. Before the safety car came out we had both cars in the top ten, but eventually we were racing with Toro Rosso and Haas, which is where we expected to be coming into the weekend. Naturally we would have loved to keep in the top ten, but we suffered with tyre degradation and also cars coming through the field out of position. But it's showing that we are definitely in the fight now and also in the fight at all types of circuits.

"Monza is a very special track that challenges the car at the top end of its limits. We are realistic, but optimistic that we can keep the momentum we started in Hungary going. We need to build over the weekend and take every chance we can in the race. As we've seen in the last Grand Prix, anything can happen in front of us so we need to keep ourselves in a position to capitalise on every opportunity. 

"I've spoken to Kevin several times since Sunday and he is doing well. His ankle was bruised in the accident and he was taken to hospital in Belgium as a precaution, but released the same day. He has since undergone several further checks at home in Denmark and every check has indicated he is recovering well and able to race in Monza."

Nick Chester, technical director

"It is a special track, like nowhere else we visit over the season. There are four long straights so we need to run the lowest wing level of the year to be able to reach the highest speeds we can. However, you still need to make sure the car has good balance with a low level of downforce. There are some very hard braking points, but you have a lot less wing to be able to slow the car down. It can be quite tricky to find the right balance between speed and grip. Good traction out of the chicanes and getting up to speed quickly down the following straight is key to a good lap time.

"We were cautious going into Belgium as we knew it was a big power track that places a lot of demands on the car. However we performed competitively in qualifying after building up performance each session. It demonstrates that the car is working well at most track configurations now so we can go to Monza expecting to do a reasonable job."


Lewis Hamilton

"Spa was about as good as damage limitation can get, I think! It was a fantastic result for me and for the team. The guys deserved it so much after all that hard work, so I was massively pleased for them and proud of what we achieved together. Now we go to Monza - a track I know well from so many racing categories throughout my career and one it's impossible not to love. The speed, the history, the atmosphere... it's just so iconic in every way. Standing on that amazing podium, looking out over a sea of fans on the straight, has to be up there as one of the most incredible experiences a sportsman can have. I had a perfect weekend on track there last year. If I can repeat that it would be amazing but we'll see how we look when we get there. It's game on for me now with the penalties out of the way and fresh engines ready to use. I can't wait to get back out there."

Nico Rosberg

"It's great to add a classic circuit like Spa to the list of wins. It wasn't a straightforward weekend for us - but everybody did a fantastic job and the car kept improving with every session, so hopefully that puts us on a good curve as we head to another legendary track in Monza. This is a race I really enjoy and one I'd really love to master. The tifosi create such an incredible atmosphere every single time, no matter who wins the race. Last year obviously didn't end so well for me there, so I'm hoping for a bit more luck and a little less fire this time... I'm really enjoying the battle out there right now. We've got several cars in the mix now which is exciting for us and also the fans. For me, I'm taking every race like a cup final. It's great to know you have the team and the car to just go out there and lay it on the line. I can't wait to make our Silver Arrow fly at Monza."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport 

"We go to Monza in high spirits after a positive weekend by all measures in Spa. Nico drove a perfect race, while a combination of skilled driving and decisive strategy calls meant taking the penalty for Lewis turned out to be far less detrimental than we could even have dared to hope. On top of that, the tremendous job by the guys in the garage proved how strong we are as a unit. They were faultless, with no incident whatsoever on the engines. We're entering a busy final phase of the season, so to see that level of performance in such tough circumstances is encouraging for the road ahead. Eight races remain, with just nine points separating our drivers now. It has been bouncing in both directions - and my gut feeling is we will go long into the season before we see who comes out on top. On top of that, we have already seen our opposition come back stronger after the break - even if luck was not on their side at the last race. If things continue as they have been, we're set for an entertaining end to the year."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical) 

"It seems like yesterday we were in Spa! We were very happy to come out with such a great result in what proved to be a difficult race from a tyre management point of view - quite apart from the challenge of getting one car from the back of the grid to the podium! It was a great start to the second half of the season which puts us in a strong position heading to Monza - another classic, unusual circuit with quite specific demands on the car. The track is characterised by high power sensitivity, heavy demands on brakes and a low-drag configuration requiring a special rear wing. This race sees the same tyre compound allocation as Spa - the Medium, Soft and SuperSoft. However, the energy put through the tyres is notably less at this circuit, so we should see a different situation to the last race from that perspective. Monza is always a fantastic weekend for fans. The tifosi are world famous for their passion for the sport and there's nothing quite like the atmosphere of the crowd gathered under that unique podium. Although they're normally cheering for the red team, above all they love a good race - so we'll aim to provide just that."

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg

“Monza is a great place to go racing. There are so many different destinations on the calendar and there is something special about each one of them, but Monza is legendary. It’s a unique track, with very high speeds and low downforce. The setting in the park of Monza is beautiful: the moment you drive through the gates, you feel all the history of the place coming at you. The tifosi, the Italian fans, add to this combination and create a fantastic vibe.

“Monza is just on the outskirts of Milan, which is a very interesting place, but during a race weekend you’re just too busy to go and explore. The parties on Sunday night are not too bad, though! We go to Italy at the end of the summer and the weather is usually still quite hot. Great weather, great fans, great food - it all adds up to make a very cool race.

“Few tracks push the car to the limit as Monza does. There is no margin for error in the braking zones and every mistake costs you time. In terms of set-up, you need to strike a balance between high speed on the straights and downforce in the corners, but the focus is firmly on top speed. You also need good traction, to make the most of the long straights. We have been doing well on these sort of tracks, so I expect us to be competitive and fighting for points.”

Sergio Perez

“Italy is one of my favourite places: the people are very warm and welcoming, and they’re absolutely crazy for Formula One. The passion you see from the Italian fans reminds me of the atmosphere we saw in Mexico. There’s so much support; everyone is chanting and waving flags and there are so many people asking us for a photo when we arrive at or leave the track.

“I have great memories from Monza and it’s where I’ve had some of my best races. When I was racing in F3, I had the best weekend of my career there: I started 14th in both races and went on to win both. I scored a podium there in Formula One and I’ve always had a special relationship with the track. It’s not just what happens at the venue - I have a lot of good friends living nearby and it’s just a very enjoyable experience.

“As a fan of our sport, I know Monza has a special place in the history of Formula One. It’s one of the circuits where Formula One should always race. It’s so incredibly fast and the key to a quick lap is to be good under braking and have good traction out of the corners. You brake really hard at the end of the straights and the car moves a lot: you run with very little wing and having a good balance is very important.

“You feel the lightness of the car in every corner because you’ve got so little aero load and it’s even hard to keep the steering wheel level on the straights. The two Lesmo corners are crucial: you need to be stable under braking and control your traction - get wheelspin out of the corner and you’ll destroy your tyres. Then you have the Parabolica: it lost a little of its challenge with the tarmac run-off but you still need to be very precise and use the very last inch of track in this interesting corner.”

Vijay Mallya, team principal

“The Italian Grand Prix is one of the best races of the season. It has all the ingredients that make Formula One special. We saw a huge turnout of fans in Belgium last week and I’m sure the tifosi will help create a fantastic atmosphere this weekend too. Monza is a track that rewards top speed and pushes the engine to its limit. Given our competitive form in Spa, I’m confident we can keep up the momentum this weekend.”


Romain Grosjean

“It’s the characteristics of the track [that allow you to reach such high speeds], primarily a long straight line with a chicane followed by another long straight line. Everyone goes for low downforce levels. That’s where we go fast in a straight line. It’s a great track - a temple of speed.

“[Overtaking is] not as straightforward as a drag race. You still lose downforce when you follow another car out of the low-speed corners. It’s one of those races where you can have a lot of overtaking, a lot of action. It’s always interesting to see how it plays out with the big slipstreams.”

“I’m very much looking forward to racing there again. The atmosphere is crazy in Monza. The Tifosi, the fans - they’re just great. The track is in the middle of a park. It’s like nowhere else. There are so many people coming and watching, cheering for the drivers and, of course, for Ferrari. The atmosphere is electric. I love it.”

Esteban Gutierrez

“[Monza’s] interesting because you have a lot of high-speed sections, mainly straight-line sections with very low downforce, and this is directly affecting the braking of the slow-speed corners. When you have a long period of time when you’re braking, obviously the downforce is important, but the fact that you get very low downforce on this track, you need to cope with the car in different ways and you need to adapt the setup for that.

“[The overtaking opportunities are] basically, everywhere. You have Turn 1 and you have Turn 4, as well as before the Parabolica. It’s a track that provides a lot of overtaking.

“It’s one of the classics. The people, the atmosphere, the Italians, Ferrari fans, and we’re using Ferrari engines, so it’s great to come there and enjoy nice support from the Italians, especially for me being part of Ferrari last year directly as a third driver put me very close to Italy.

“I won a few championships there - two championships actually, Formula BMW and GP3. I remember exactly how it was. It was actually with a qualifying lap because it was enough to get one point from getting the pole position and that was enough for me to win the championship, so it was a very special moment. It comes always from Monza - a special place for me to get there and get that feeling.

“My favourite part of Monza is probably the Ascari corner. It’s a triple chicane, very fast turning in, very late braking. It’s actually one of my favourite corners of the calendar.”


Fernando Alonso

“As we saw in Azerbaijan, the developments that have been made to these turbo cars mean they’re now incredibly fast, and we’re going to see some serious speeds along the straights at Monza. This is always such a quick race - it’s over in a flash - and while it’s not always the most enjoyable to race with such low grip, the feeling of speed is phenomenal.

Obviously, I have plenty of happy memories of racing in Italy, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have been the subject of both the Tifosi’s approval - and also their disapproval! But they are some of the greatest fans in the world, and their passion is what makes coming to Monza each year such a legendary experience. In many ways, Monza traditionally brings the curtain down on one part of the season, and the beginning of another - so it’s always an exciting place.”

Jenson Button

“What is there left to say about Monza? It’s a unique, incredible racetrack - I love that its history surrounds the place - you just can’t ignore it. I also love that unique blend of Italian passion - and chaos - that engulfs the weekend. It also signals the end of the European season - which seems to have disappeared in a flash - so it’s a time of year when you really start to narrow your focus before the final fly-aways.

“I love the notion of coming to a racetrack that’s distinctly different from the others. We saw that in Spa last weekend - it’s no secret that, along with places like Monaco, Singapore and Suzuka, it’s also one of the circuits that the fans most love - and Monza is no exception. People often think that Monza is all about the straights, with tight, small corners - but that’s not really true: corners like the Lesmos, the Ascari chicane and Parabolica are big, fast corners that require precision and commitment. It’s a great track.

Eric Boullier, Racing Director

“As double-header races go, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and Autodromo Nazionale di Monza are a pretty epic combination. Both are dauntingly fast, achingly beautiful motor racing arenas, where the sport’s giants have triumphed, and where some of the greatest stories in Formula 1 have been forged.

“After Spa, we head to Monza with the knowledge and understanding that it won’t play to the full strengths of our latest package, but keen to further demonstrate the progress we’ve recently been making. Monza is likely to be another tough test, but we’re confident of the momentum we’ve gathered, and it’ll be interesting to see where we stand at a venue that favours out-and-out power above anything else.

“Still, there’s a determination and vigour within all at McLaren-Honda to see out the European season competitively, and to continue fighting as we head into the end-of-year flyways.”

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

“Monza is a high-speed, power-hungry, classic and legendary track with the longest full throttle percentage per lap on the 2016 calendar. The long straights and the nature of the turns will undoubtedly give us a difficult time over the race weekend, but we cannot deny the strong pull Monza has for everyone in F1, including Honda. The fans are incredibly passionate about the sport, and the atmosphere is nothing short of electric come race day. It’s always a special feeling to be part of the pinnacle of racing in Italy.

“The team did a great job pulling our strengths together last weekend despite Spa being a challenging track, and with the reliability issues we faced. The team was tested many times, but owing to their hard work and perseverance, we had a decent weekend.

“We will continue to target finishing in the points in the race, however tough it may be this weekend. We’re still investigating the problem with Fernando's power units, but we’ll learn from our experiences and hopefully have another good weekend in Monza.”

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz

“Monza is another home Grand Prix for me, as it's the land of my Italian team, Toro Rosso. It's a very special track and full of tifosi.

“As you go down into Turn 1 you can see, hear and smell them - they are all doing barbecues in this area of the track and are all so passionate! Getting to the first chicane is one of the best feelings, arriving at nearly 350km/h, surrounded by these incredible fans… It's fantastic! Obviously, it's a very tough couple of corners, always tight during the first lap of the race and there are very frequently a few tangles there.

“You then reach another 330km/h top speed section, before entering another chicane, Turns 4 and 5. Here it's very important to jump over the kerbs. We then go into what is one of my favourite parts of this circuit, the two Lesmo's. These corners have a lot of banking, so it allows you to carry a lot of speed into them. I have to say that lap by lap you go quicker each time through these corners just because of gaining more and more confidence.

“Just before arriving to Turn 8 you reach another high speed of around 340km/h, and this just shows that it's a really fast track, it's incredible. Another of my favourite chicanes is Turns 8, 9 and 10, taken in fourth gear and much faster than what it could seem… It's important to ride the kerbs here as well.

“After this there's a very long and fast straight, before arriving to Turn 11, a corner that has lost a lot of its beauty - the run off area used to be gravel and it was so much nicer back then! Now its tarmac and everyone can go fast through the Parabolica. It's a shame that they decided to do this.”

Daniil Kvyat

“Monza is an interesting and fast track. The braking into the first chicane is one of the longest and heaviest of the championship. [The top speed here is] between 350 and 360km/h, it depends where the wind is blowing… And my favourite part of the track is… Wherever I'm faster than him (Sainz)!

“I have to say it's a circuit that brings back very good memories, as I won quite often in Monza in junior categories. I enjoy the track, it's a cool one, and it's always nice to go back. But I also have a negative memory, as I had a brake disk failure into Turn 1 in 2014… It's a shame, because we were having a really good race!”

Red Bull

Max Verstappen

“Monza, it’s really cool because of the history of the track as well as being a really fun track to drive. The food, though, is of course the best in the world. I have spent a lot of time in Italy so to go back, eat some local food and see some old friends will be very nice. I can’t wait to get back there.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“We are straight in to Italy after Spa. It has the best pizza place in the world, it’s ridiculous and I love it. The fans in Italy are cool too, they are crazy about racing and extremely passionate. I like the track through the park, racing there is good and there are plenty of overtaking opportunities.”


Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“With Monza coming straight after Spa, that’s two epic circuits in the space of just over one week, but for any organisation in Formula One, your home race is always the most special of the year. It’s going to be a busy weekend for us as a result, and with the supersoft coming to Monza for the first time, we might also see some record top speeds in qualifying especially. Last year we saw the majority of competitors opt for a one-stop strategy, but the arrival of the supersoft could make multi-stop options more attractive this time.”