Italian GP: Williams preview

The Event Formula One moves to a more traditional location next weekend as the teams make the second visit of the year to Italy for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Affectionately known as the "Pista Magica," Monza is the largest motorsport...

The Event

Formula One moves to a more traditional location next weekend as the teams make the second visit of the year to Italy for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Affectionately known as the "Pista Magica," Monza is the largest motorsport centre in Italy and one of the most prestigious racing circuits in the world. Opened in 1922, the Autodrome is also the third oldest motorsports venue after Brooklands in the UK (1907) and Indianapolis (1909) and has hosted all but one of the 56 Italian Grands Prix.

Although re-designed several times over the years due to safety concerns, Monza essentially remains the same -- a circuit which punishes the weak and rewards the brave. Williams has won nearly one in every four Italian Grands Prix entered, taken 19 podiums and claimed more fastest laps than any other team at the Old Royal Park. For this year's race, the team is looking to capitalise upon improved pace seen in Turkey and score some solid points with both cars.

Between the races

The end of the August test ban allowed the team a three day session in Monza with Webber, Rosberg and Wurz completing two days each. While testing the Monza aero package and evaluating tyres for next weekend's race, the trio covered just over 3,000kms, while Nico also set the fourth quickest time of the week. Following the conclusion of their test commitments, all three drivers enjoyed a brief few days' rest before returning to Italy for the race itself.

Making the car go faster

The unique nature of the Autodrome demands a fully revised aero package which the team has developed in its two wind tunnels and at the test last week. The most visual of changes will be completely new front and rear wing assemblies. The FW28s will also run with new engine cover flip-ups, while the cars' roll-hoop wings, cascade wings and winglets will all be removed to create a low drag configuration.

Monza from a technical perspective

A step away from previous rounds, Monza also presents a return to power track territory. The 5.793km circuit in the Old Royal Park is one of the highest speed tracks on the calendar and so requires the lowest downforce arrangement seen all year. Monza's chicanes and four key corners, however, also demand a balancing aerodynamic efficiency to ensure a smooth transition over the harsh kerbs.

A traditional power track, engines are put through their paces over the weekend as they consistently reach speeds of 340km/h and endure a full throttle ratio of 70% per lap. With such high top speeds, extensive loads are exerted on the brakes during each braking event, turn one, for example, sees drivers brake so hard into the corner, they experience 5g.

Accordingly, brake durability is crucial while a car's stability under braking is also important at Monza where the track surface is notoriously bumpy. With an approximate 25 second penalty for each pitstop, the Italian Grand Prix is invariably a one stop race but, with several overtaking opportunities over the lap, the finale to the European season is sure to be an engaging event.

Mark Webber:

"Monza is a different type of circuit to the others that we race on over the season. It's a track which has high top speeds - in a straight line we'll reach speeds up to 340kph - so the aerodynamic wing level on the car has to be totally different for this race. Also, the set-up has to be good to allow us to ride the chicances as we hit the kerbs so hard."

"Monza isn't the safest circuit in the world, so we need to work with the organisers to find some way to make the track a little bit safer. I've had a few points' finishes here, but I've never been on the podium, so hopefully I will get there one day. We can probably have a reasonable race here, it's very competitive at the front at the moment but I hope we'll be fighting to get back up there in these last few races and get some good points."

Nico Rosberg:

"The Autodrome is a special track. I believe it's one of the oldest circuits on the calendar so there's plenty of history. Monza is also a very exciting circuit as it's so different to the other tracks we race on. There are lots of straights so you have to take all the downforce off the car. That, though, means that there's less grip, so it's harder to drive."

"Aside from the track itself, this Grand Prix is always a good one because of the Italian fans who just go crazy for Ferrari. They're great supporters of motor racing in general as well, so this race always has a very special atmosphere."

Sam Michael, Technical Director, WilliamsF1:

"Characterised by long straights, a couple of slow speed chicanes and four important corners, Monza is an entirely unique circuit on the calendar and so requires a totally different car set-up to that seen at other races. The car's aerodynamics must be configured to a low downforce setting, predominantly achieved through specific front and rear wings, to provide good balance through the medium speed corners and stability over the kerbs."

"With top speeds reaching the highest we see all year, engine power is critical, while brake durability is also necessary at the second hardest wearing track after Montréal. Due to the long pitlane time and low tyre degradation at this circuit, most teams will be on a one stop strategy. At the test in Monza last week, we worked on the aero package and tyre selection to put us in the best possible position for the race."

Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth:

"In terms of engines, Monza is the most demanding circuit in Formula One and Cosworth typically uses this track as the basis for the endurance tests routinely run on our Northampton test cells. At last week's test with WilliamsF1, we completed the final validation of a very aggressive duty cycle on the latest Series 6 engines and this will now be available for both Mark and Nico at the Italian Grand Prix. Cosworth will therefore be able to run maximum engine performance, including the 20,000RPM rev limit, for all key laps in qualifying and for a significant fraction of the race.

-credit: williams

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mark Webber , Nico Rosberg
Teams Ferrari , Williams