The Italian Grand Prix is one of the oldest, and most prestigious Formula 1 races of all. The first Grand Prix was held at Monza over eighty years ago, and Renault F1 Team test driver Allan McNish has a keen sense of the history that surrounds him...
The Italian Grand Prix is one of the oldest, and most prestigious Formula 1 races of all. The first Grand Prix was held at Monza over eighty years ago, and Renault F1 Team test driver Allan McNish has a keen sense of the history that surrounds him in the famous Royal Park. "It's a race I enjoy, and not just because the circuit is now the only really high speed race on the calendar," he explains.
On the modern calendar, Monza is the only circuit which calls for a very low downforce set-up. The result is that it poses some unusual challenges for the drivers. "The circuit might look pretty simple, but it is actually all about precision," continues Allan. "We run with such low downforce levels that there is absolutely no margin for error at all. The set-up of the car means that any mistakes are magnified, especially on entry to the corner, and you pay a dramatic penalty in terms of straightline speed down the straights."
"In Hungary, with lots of wing cranked on the car, you could really attack the corners whereas at Monza you have to drive with your fingertips, and be very precise in your movements. It's a little bit like driving in the wet."
The challenges of the circuit place a real premium on consistency, and hitting the correct braking points lap after lap during the race. Overall, how does Allan expect the team to perform during the 53-lap event next Sunday?
"At most circuits this year, we have managed to find a good compromise between downforce and straightline speed, achieving a good race set-up by relying on the car's innate grip and adjusting the wing levels to suit. The corners at Monza are important, because they dictate your speed onto the straights, and we know the car is strong in that area. We have had some very good races recently and although nobody in the team is going to Monza expecting a repeat of Budapest, I think we can put in a strong race. The nice thing about this year is that it has been so hard to predict before we get there."