Italian GP McLaren Preview

ITALIAN GRAND PRIX 1998 - PREVIEW Round 14 of this year's Formula One World Championship sees the West McLaren Mercedes team venturing into the great Grand Prix theatre of the Autodrome Monza, the spiritual home of Italian motor ...

ITALIAN GRAND PRIX 1998 - PREVIEW Round 14 of this year's Formula One World Championship sees the West McLaren Mercedes team venturing into the great Grand Prix theatre of the Autodrome Monza, the spiritual home of Italian motor racing. Italy's motor racing fans - affectionately called the tifosi - are always a colourful feature at Monza, creating an incredible atmostphere as fervant flag-waving accompanies immense crowd noise. They cheer all the teams and drivers and especially their beloved Ferrari. Monza was constructed by the Milan Automobile Club in 1922 and has held motorsport events almost every year since. Like most modern Grand Prix circuits, Monza has seen many modifications over the years for the purpose of improving safety, but despite the addition of the odd chicane it remains the fastest track on the F1 calendar. Bumps, quick chicanes and long, fast straights are the main characteristics of the North Italian track, and low downforce settings are required to achieve the best possible lap times. The Lesmo curves and Parabolica are two of Monza's most famous corners, the latter crucial to a good lap. Drivers scrub off 50 per cent speed as they brake from the 200mph Rettifilo Centrale straight in to the sweeping Parabolica curve, and it is important to blend into the main straight carrying optimum speed if valuable tenths are not to be lost. David Coulthard won the corresponding fixture last year to continue McLaren's enviable record in the Italian Grand Prix. In nine races since 1989, the team has seen 14 cars finish in the points, including 10 podiums and four race wins. David and Mika - who set a new lap record in 1997 - will be hoping to stretch this Monza points-scoring run to 10 consecutive races this year, and increase the leads in the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships. 'Obviously I hope to repeat my result of last year,' says David Coulthard, 'but a front row position will be important as overtaking is not easy at Monza. I set the fastest time in testing at Monza last week, so that has given me some confidence for qualifying.' Mika Hakkinen says: 'After Spa, it is great to come to another fast and challenging circuit so soon. Monza is a great place and the tifosi are something else. Like Hockenheim, Monza's long, fast straights should result in the 1998 cars achieving quicker lap times than last year.' 'Our Monza test programme went well last week and provides encouragement for what will be another hard-fought Grand Prix weekend,' says Ron Dennis.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren