Italian GP: McLaren Merecedes preview

2009 SANTANDER ITALIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW Lewis Hamilton "Since we no longer test at Monza before the Santander Italian Grand Prix, it will take the drivers a bit of acclimatisation to get used to running in low downforce at this high-speed...


Lewis Hamilton

"Since we no longer test at Monza before the Santander Italian Grand Prix, it will take the drivers a bit of acclimatisation to get used to running in low downforce at this high-speed circuit. It's a real challenge to get the set-up right because there's never an ideal compromise between speed along the straight and through the corners. It's never easy to keep the car on the track because it slides all the time: at most tracks, you feel like the downforce is sticking you to the track at high speeds -- but not at Monza, it's like you are skating across the surface. But it's a fantastic circuit -- our car has traditionally gone well there so I am looking forward to another competitive weekend."

Heikki Kovalainen

"I've scored points in the last four races and can see no reason why we shouldn't be contenders for more points at Monza next weekend. I love the place: I've won there in GP2, finished in the points in both my Formula 1 outings and I think our car will be reasonably well suited to the circuit. Like every team, we'll be running a special low-downforce aero package in Italy -- but we'll also have the benefit of using KERS along the straights, which should give us a greater advantage over a single lap, especially in qualifying, where it will be extremely valuable. It should be fun!"

Martin Whitmarsh
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

"Monza is a venue where the team has traditionally gone well and we love racing on a racetrack that's so steeped in Formula 1 history. The unique high-speed nature of the track places unique demands on the cars and, like every team, we'll arrive at the circuit with a bespoke high-speed aerodynamic package. It will be another interesting test for MP4-24 as we continue to develop the car -- it will be useful to understand how it works in a low-downforce set-up. Of course, Monza is notable for being a power circuit, and, with KERS, we should see some incredible speeds -- particularly during qualifying when the drivers will double-deploy KERS along the start/finish straight."

Norbert Haug
Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"Together with Monaco, Monza is the most untypical Formula 1 track. But, whilst Monaco is a street course with the lowest average speeds, Monza is a high-speed circuit at more than 250 kph average whilst the top speed in the dry will probably exceed 350 kph this year. We have good memories of this special race in the "Royal Park" and won two of the last four grands prix there. During the forthcoming race, we will possibly see the closest field in Formula 1 history. Spa has shown that the current Formula 1 is good for big surprises, and Monza will possibly underline this again. Our target is to continue our upward trend there. However, after Lewis's win and second place at Budapest and Valencia, we have not been where we wanted to be even after Heikki managed to come home sixth from 15th on the grid. What remains positive: Although Lewis had an accident and therefore already retired on lap one which was not his own fault, no other team scored more points during the last four races than Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. In the remaining five races we will build on this with a healthy ambition -- without seeing us being the favourites for Monza. There will be at least a handful of them which is first class for the sport."

McLaren at the Italian Grand Prix...

10 years ago (September 12 1999)

Pole-sitter Mika Hakkinen looked destined for a straightforward win until mistakenly dropping an extra gear on entering the first chicane, locking the rear wheels and skating off into the gravel. The race was won by Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen. David Coulthard finished fifth.

20 years ago (September 10 1989)

Alain Prost emerged victorious at Monza after pole man and team-mate Ayrton Senna slid to a halt on his MP4/5's own oil after the Honda V10 expired at Parabolica with just nine laps remaining. Prost took fastest lap and stretched his lead in the drivers' championship to 20 points over Senna.

30 years ago (September 9 1979)

Team McLaren continued with the unloved M29, Patrick Tambay qualifying 14th and John Watson starting from 19th. The race was equally unproductive -- Tambay retired after three laps with engine problems while Wattie lasted until lap 13 before crashing out.

40 years ago (September 7 1969)

The fledgling McLaren squad took two cars to Monza, an M7C for Bruce McLaren and an older M7A for Denny Hulme. The latter put his car on the front row, behind pole-sitter Jochen Rindt, while Bruce qualified fifth. The tables were turned in the race as Bruce came home fourth and Denny was classified eighth.

-credit: mclaren

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Norbert Haug , Denny Hulme , Lewis Hamilton , Alain Prost , Ayrton Senna , Patrick Tambay , John Watson , Heikki Kovalainen , Martin Whitmarsh , Jochen Rindt
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Jordan