Italian GP: BAR preview

Nestling on the outskirts of Milan, legendary Monza, the spiritual home of motorsport in Italy, is the next pitstop for the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team, and the venue for next weekend's Italian Grand Prix, round 14 of the 2003 World ...

Nestling on the outskirts of Milan, legendary Monza, the spiritual home of motorsport in Italy, is the next pitstop for the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team, and the venue for next weekend's Italian Grand Prix, round 14 of the 2003 World Championship.

Monza is the fastest race on the F1 calendar with long, high-speed straights interspersed with tight chicanes and culminating with the famous final sweeping bend, Parabolica, which leads the drivers back out onto the front straight. It is a low-downforce circuit with a very smooth surface and drivers will be required to use full throttle for nearly 70 per cent of the lap.

The team has been working hard to prepare for Monza, using its full line-up of race and test drivers in a three-day test at the circuit this week. The team conducted comprehensive development work on all areas of the car, including aerodynamics, engine and intensive tyre assessment with Bridgestone.

Last year was a good race for B*A*R, with Olivier Panis picking up points for sixth place and Jacques Villeneuve finishing in ninth. Jenson finished the race in fifth position last year whilst Jacques has had a number of strong performances here, most recently finishing sixth with B*A*R in 2001.

Jacques Villeneuve on the Italian Grand Prix:

"Monza is one of the places I know best in the calendar because I used to race there when I was in Formula Three. The people are very passionate about racing and it's a special place to compete. The track itself is very different to most other circuits. There are long straight lines between the corners, so you are almost less active and have time to relax."

"The last corner, Parabolica, is quite special. It's very difficult; visually you don't want to go there as there is a real danger element, and it's a difficult corner to get right. You can always go faster there than you actually do. Technically, you need support for the high-speed corners, but a set-up that can ride the kerbs at the tight chicanes. It's the only track which has very low downforce and so the car is lighter than the rest of the year."

Jenson Button on the Italian Grand Prix:

"Monza is one of the original tracks and is obviously very historical. It's very high-speed, and very different from most on the calendar today. For those reasons, it is a race that I really enjoy. The Italian fans are great, they always really get into the spirit of things and give the race a special atmosphere. For me, the best part of the circuit is the last corner, Parabolica. It's a great section to drive and is really fast and flowing. The most difficult part of the circuit is the left-right-left corner, Ascari. The car looked good on the track this week at the test and we've just got to work a little more to get the set-up right for race day."

David Richards, Team Principal:

"The result in Hungary was not what we would have hoped for at this crucial point in the season, when our aim is to secure fifth in the constructers' championship. However, we now move to Monza, a circuit which is well-suited to our car and drivers. Both Jacques and Jenson, together with our test drivers, have been working tirelessly in testing at Monza this week to ensure that we achieve the best possible preparation for the Italian Grand Prix. We look forward to rewarding the considerable efforts of the team and our drivers with a positive result next weekend."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:

"The Italian Grand Prix at Monza is the only remaining true high-speed race left on the F1 calendar and this year will see the cars exceeding 355km/h in their low-drag trim. Set-up is a big compromise between high-speed straights and the low-speed chicanes. Due to the high speeds, low wing level and two slow chicanes, the circuit is very hard on brakes and with the long, high-speed sections engine reliability will be tested."

"The important areas for car handling are stability under braking, the ability to ride the kerbs well and good traction from low speed. The fact that the race is in September and the circuit lies in a park full of trees means that fallen leaves can block the radiator ducts. Generally this is a tough race with a significant number of retirements so we will be very focused on reliability."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:

"Overall we've had a good test at Monza and racked up a lot of mileage on all three cars. Monza puts the highest demands on engines of any track on the F1 calendar, so we're looking forward to the challenge and are ready to go."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , David Richards , Shuhei Nakamoto