The Formula One fraternity arrives in Italy for the final race of the European season to the great Grand Prix venue of the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the spiritual home of Italian motor racing, located in the outskirts of Milan. The Italian...
The Formula One fraternity arrives in Italy for the final race of the European season to the great Grand Prix venue of the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the spiritual home of Italian motor racing, located in the outskirts of Milan.
The Italian Grand Prix has been held every year since the inception of the Formula 1 World Championship in 1950, it is the only race alongside the British Grand Prix to which this applies.
Grand Prix racing in Italy began in 1921 on the 17.3km circuit in Montichiari near Brescia. The following year, the decision was made to build a permanent race track in the Villa Reale Park, Monza. The Milan Automobile Club started work on 15th May 1922 and was completed in 110 days. The circuit opened on 3rd September and a week later was inaugurated with its first Italian Grand Prix.
The original Monza track incorporated long banked sections, but safety concerns saw significant modifications, which included the removal of the banking from the circuit and the inclusion of a number of chicanes. McLaren has won the Italian Grand Prix on eight occasions, with the most recent two victories secured by Team McLaren Mercedes drivers David Coulthard in 1997 and Juan Pablo Montoya in 2005.
Since the Turkish Grand Prix at the Istanbul Park, Team McLaren Mercedes has been testing at the Monza circuit with Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett in preparation for the race.
"Monza is a great track, it is all about speed but not just on the straights. It has some fantastic corners such as Parabolica that are flat out and you really have to push the car. Parabolica is a really important part of the track, because it takes you back out on to the long start and finish straight, and so you have to keep your speed as high as possible through it."
"The track is also really hard on the cars, with the bumps and the long straights at full throttle. You tend to use the kerbs quite a lot and so have a slightly softer set-up so the car rides well over them."
"After my retirement from the Turkish race, my back was a bit sore, so we decided that I would rest to get properly fit for this race rather than test, but I am totally fine, there are no problems from the incident and I am looking forward to getting back in the car. It has been feeling really strong recently, so I hope we can have more of a race in Monza than in Istanbul."
Pedro de la Rosa:
"We had a good test last week in Monza, Gary and I completed over 1500km and were able to work through a lot of the preparations for the race this weekend. This included tyre selection with Michelin, proving aero packages and set-up work. The latter is always quite tricky here, so I had a big focus on this at the test. Monza demands high speed and braking stability, so this also has to be taken into account."
"The track surface at Monza has been re-laid recently, and it now has quite different characteristics to the previous surface, which of course has an effect on tyre performance and wear, and we also covered this in detail at the test. It was our first time on the track with the V8 engines, and the top speeds are around the 340km/h mark, which is not significantly less than last year. "
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes:
"The Italian Grand Prix this weekend marks the end of the 2006 European season, and all at Team McLaren Mercedes would like to leave Europe on a high. The race team arrives in northern Italy following an encouraging resumption of testing at Monza last week, where the test team completed a solid two day session, and we are now looking forward to racing the cars in anger on the circuit."
"Monza sees us run with the lowest downforce configuration of the year, to allow us to maximize speed on the long stretches of full throttle around the Italian track. We use a bespoke aero package for the race, with specific front and rear wings and the removal of the winglets from the top body, which the test team ran with Pedro and Gary last week at Monza with some positive results."
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"Compared to the other circuits on the Formula 1 calendar the Monza track is the most untypical one. Nevertheless the Italian Grand Prix on this circuit is a classic and the race is the one in which the highest average speeds are recorded. In 2006 about 240 kph on average over the race distance should be attained, and also this year top speeds of more than 340 kph can be expected on the start-finish straight."
"This will be only about 25 kph less than those of September 2005 despite the fact that this year the V8 engines have about 200hp less than last year's V10s. Three quarters of the lap will be run under full throttle in a Formula 1 car, which is the highest percentage achieved during the race season and generates the highest strain on the engines.
"The cars are traditionally set up for the lowest downforce which even a non specialist can realize from the angle of the front and rear wings. In spite of this the braking and turning in characteristics and the skilled use of the kerbs are decisive factors to produce a good lap time. There are no prizes for those who are only fast in a straight line."