Italian GP Benetton preview

Pat Symonds: "In preparation for the Italian Grand Prix, the team like all others has spent four days last week testing at the Monza circuit. The test was interrupted by a severe accident to Giancarlo Fisichella's car, which was caused when a...

Pat Symonds: "In preparation for the Italian Grand Prix, the team like all others has spent four days last week testing at the Monza circuit. The test was interrupted by a severe accident to Giancarlo Fisichella's car, which was caused when a brake pad failed while braking for the Ascari chicane. The car was too badly damaged to take part in any further testing, although luckily Giancarlo escaped with just severe bruising. Alexander Wurz continued the testing although the very heavy rain that occurred last week interrupted progress."

"In spite of this, a lot of solid work was done in preparation for the Grand Prix, which included several investigations into the best brake set-up to be used this weekend, one of the critical items in preparing the car for Monza. A few new developments were tried although there were some further refinements of both chassis and aerodynamics for this extremely high-speed circuit."

"Monza circuit is extremely high speed, and although this can lead to some very close racing, the nature of the corners is such that overtaking is still extremely difficult. In spite of the long straights and the long braking distances, it is very difficult for cars to follow their competitors out of the corners that lead on to the straights, which in turn makes it difficult to pass at the end of them."

"A new feature for the circuit this year is the modifications made to the first chicane. This has had both positive and negative effects. Although the curbs are no longer as severe and are therefore less likely to cause failures of the suspension of the cars, the corner itself has become so tight and narrow that avoiding an accident there on the first lap of the race will be a major achievement. In preparing the cars for this race, which generally employs a one-stop strategy, it is vital to achieve a good compromise between the extremely high straight-line speeds and the normal requirements of downforce for cornering stability, good braking and traction."

"The Monza circuit puts the biggest load on the brakes of any circuit on the Grand Prix calendar, and it is often necessary to compromise the set up of the car in order to achieve the required brake life. Tyres are not generally a problem at Monza. Bridgestone is bringing the medium and hard compounds to this race. Although in testing there was some blistering of the medium tyre, it is expected that most teams will choose to use this compound and will still carry out a one-stop strategy. The race is also extremely hard on engines with very high revs being held for sustained periods."

A lap with Giancarlo Fisichella: "Having crossed the start line at around 320 km/h, I accelerate towards the first corner, reaching a speed of nearly 350 km/h before braking hard for the new, very tight chicane. Braking is at over 3.5g for this corner and I'm on the brakes for over 180 metres before taking the corner at less than 70 km/h in 1st gear."

"I remain in 1st gear for the second part of the chicane before accelerating through Curva Grande and approaching the second chicane at about 330 km/h. Again it's hard on the brakes, with a force of up to 4g, for the 2nd gear 95 km/h first part of the chicane. Then follows a short 4th gear straight where I reach up to 260 km/h by the end and this leads into the first of the Lesmo corners which is taken in 3rd gear at 165 km/h. I accelerate through 4th gear to just under 260 km/h before dropping down to 3rd gear for the second Lesmo corner which I take at about 150 km/h."

"Another long straight leads to the Ascari chicane where I reach 335 km/h in 6th gear before dropping to 3rd gear to take the first part of the chicane in at 140 km/h and the second at 180 km/h. The final back straight leads to Parabolica where I reach 340 km/h in 4th gear before entering this very long corner, the minimum speed of which is just under160 km/h. A good exit is imperative to carry speed on to the main pit straight."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Alexander Wurz
Teams Benetton