High-speed Monza a unique challenge

High-speed Monza a unique challenge

Formula One is now heading into the final five races of the season and the next event is the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Nearly all the teams are testing at Monza this week to prepare for the unique challenge of one of the fastest tracks on the...

Formula One is now heading into the final five races of the season and the next event is the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Nearly all the teams are testing at Monza this week to prepare for the unique challenge of one of the fastest tracks on the calendar, and Renault has race drivers Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella on duty.

Renault F1 team members at work.
Photo by LAT Photographic.

"It's a question of safety," said the team's engineering chief Pat Symonds, in regard to the need to test at the circuit before the race. "Monza is the place where we reach the highest speeds of the year, over 360 kph on the straights. The teams all develop specific packages for this race, and we need to test them to ensure driver safety for the race."

Monza's characteristics can mean a car handles differently than at other circuits, which presents the drivers with a harder job than usual. "Generally, they come back to the pits with similar comments," said Symonds. "They say the engine feels great, but there's no grip. That's because we run such low drag and low downforce."

"You need to approach it with aggression but also finesse. For example, the first chicane is a horrible corner for an F1 car: you need to throw the car across the kerbs. But the Lesmos, Ascaro and Parabolica need a deft touch so you don't lose too much speed by scrubbing the tyres, or being too aggressive."

Obviously testing at the track shortly before the race is helpful, perhaps more so than other locations. "It helps that Monza is a circuit that does not change too much from the test to the race," Symonds concluded.

"Unlike Barcelona, where temperatures and wind direction can have a big impact on how the car handles, Monza is not a particularly sensitive circuit -- so the work we do this week will be of direct use next Friday."

During Wednesday's testing Alonso and Fisichella completed nearly 200 trouble-free laps between them and were second and third fastest respectively. Set up and tyres were the focus of the first day's work and the pair will continue on Thursday.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Fernando Alonso