The Formula One fraternity arrives in Italy for the final Grand Prix of the European season, with just three points covering the top three protagonists in the Drivers' World Championship, including West McLaren Mercedes driver Kimi Raikkonen who...
The Formula One fraternity arrives in Italy for the final Grand Prix of the European season, with just three points covering the top three protagonists in the Drivers' World Championship, including West McLaren Mercedes driver Kimi Raikkonen who lies in third with 70 points. David Coulthard is in seventh position with 45 points and West McLaren Mercedes remains in third position in the Constructors' table with 115 points.
"I am looking forward to getting back to racing at the Italian Grand Prix this week following the result at Hungary, which has totally closed-up the Drivers' Championship. The whole team is working very hard and will be giving 100 per cent for the rest of the season. The last three races of the year are going to be very exciting and they all take place at good circuits. Monza is a great high speed challenge and is a fun track to drive."
"The main features of the circuit are the bumps, the quick chicanes and the long, fast straights. These characteristics mean we run with very low downforce, so you will see very small wings on the cars at Monza. This means we can reach top speeds of 220mph/350km/h along the main straight. There is usually an incident at the start of the race as the grid blasts along the wide start-finish straight at these speeds and then brakes sharply for the right Rettifilio Chicane, so hopefully we will qualify well to avoid this!"
"Monza, or the Autodromo Nazionale as it is known to the locals, is a circuit that always provides good racing. It has a number of genuine challenges, for example the awesome Parabolica, which is perhaps the most crucial section of the track. It is important to blend into the main straight carrying as much speed as possible as you sling shot out of the sweeping right hander to ensure that valuable tenths are not lost. The race has traditionally been a one-stopper, however the current regulations may see a change to this trend."
"Monza is the home of the tifosi and although we are not the main focus of their attentions, they are a very colourful and lively feature of the race and help to create an enthusiastic atmosphere. Kimi, Alex and myself were testing last week at Monza in the MP4-17D, with work focusing on set-up and general preparation for the race, along with some new developments for the car. It was a good session and we are now looking forward to the race and securing valuable points for West McLaren Mercedes' Championship challenge."
Martin Whitmarsh, Managing director, McLaren International:
"West McLaren Mercedes arrives in Northern Italy for the final European race of the season following a positive and encouraging resumption of testing at the Monza circuit, which saw the team work on a new aero package alongside race set-up. As with the majority of the tracks that have been on the calendar for many years there have been modifications to Monza, primarily the removal of the banking and inclusion of a series of chicanes, however it still remains one of the greats. With its fast speeds, and consequential hard braking, Monza is renowned as a car breaker and is particularly tough on engines and brakes."
"As has been widely reported, we find ourselves in the midst of a tight and exciting battle for the Championship over the remaining three races of the season. It is of course going to be a challenge, but West McLaren Mercedes is fully focused and dedicated to optimising our performance at Monza, Indianapolis and Suzuka."
Norbert Haug, Vice president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"Monza is the fastest track on the 2003 calendar. The circuit's main features are the long straights interrupted by three chicanes where the cars have to be braked down from high speed which makes brake wear a crucial factor of the race performance. The fast layout of the circuit is very challenging for the engine and the cars are being run with as little wing as possible to achieve high top speeds. About 70 percent of the lap are run on full throttle and engine power has the greatest influence on the car's performance of all the 2003 Grand Prix circuits."
"As Monza is the third last race of this exciting season and Kimi being only two points behind championship leader Michael Schumacher and one point behind second placed Juan Pablo Montoya reliability will be key to secure a good result to keep our title hopes in the remaining races alive. We had a good and long test at Monza last week and the entire team is looking forward to the race."