Italian GP: Renault driver preview

Comments from the Renault drivers ahead of the Italian Grand Prix Jarno Trulli -- Race driver Q: For an Italian, what does it mean to be racing at Monza? JT: I'm definitely looking forward to this year's race. First of all, racing in ...

Comments from the Renault drivers ahead of the Italian Grand Prix

Jarno Trulli -- Race driver

Q: For an Italian, what does it mean to be racing at Monza?

JT: I'm definitely looking forward to this year's race. First of all, racing in Italy means lots of my fans can get to the race, and it is always nice to see your supporters in the stands! As well as that, I think we have a good chance of running well this year: the car is very competitive at the moment.

Q: Generally, you are a fan of the more technical circuits, while the layout at Monza seems relatively simple. What is it like to drive?

JT: You need to be comfortable with the car, and get it well-balanced under braking and in the changes of direction. Good straight-line speed is critical. At Monza, though, the low levels of downforce mean we have to drive more smoothly: we are usually right on the limit in terms of grip, and any small sideways moment can be more difficult to control.

Q: Last year, you raced from the back of the grid to fourth place. Can we expect as strong a performance in 2003?

JT: It is always difficult to make predictions, but I know for sure that I hope we don't start from the back this time! The car has been very quick recently, as we have seen at the last few races: the circuits in Germany and Hungary were very different, but we were fast at both. I think the whole team is confident of getting a good result.

Fernando Alonso -- Race driver

Q: You spent a lot of time in Italy when you were starting out in racing: is it a special feeling to race at Monza?

FA: Sure -- I have spent a lot of time living in Italy, and I even started my F1 career with an Italian team. I love the culture, and the people: I really feel at home there whenever I go back. Monza is a unique circuit to race on, and the passion of the fans makes the weekend even more special.

Q: And what does it mean to be going there with you first Grand Prix win under your belt?

FA: It's a fantastic feeling, but that was three weeks ago: we are focusing on the job ahead now. The win was a big boost for the team, because they have been working flat out all year, at Enstone and Viry, and now we have a real reward to show for it. For me personally, it was a great achievement... but we are looking forwards, and Monza is going to be a tough race.

Q: So, after testing last week, how competitive can you be?

FA: We had a good test last week, and managed to do lots of work on tyres and set-ups. Nobody is going there expecting to repeat what we did in Hungary, but we are confident of scoring points at every circuit this season. We have found a good compromise on set-up, the car is good through the high-speed corners and well-balanced. There are still two extra hours to fine-tune some things on Friday, so I think we can have a strong race for sure.

Allan McNish -- Test driver

Q: Allan, is Monza a circuit you enjoy?

AM: To be honest, yes. It is very different to every other circuit we go to, and because of the very high speeds, is now unique on the calendar. As well as providing different challenges from a driving point of view, though, it is also steeped in history. You can still visit the old banking, and there is a special atmosphere watching the cars go round. It is strange, but you can almost feel that great drivers like Fangio and Clark have raced and won there.

Q: At the wheel, what challenges does the circuit pose?

AM: Above all, Monza is about precision. The very low levels of downforce mean there is no margin for error and any small mistakes in the corners see a dramatic penalty in terms of your speed down the straights that follow. Compared to Budapest, it requires a very different style of driving: you still need to attack, but to do so while driving with your fingertips. It is a little like driving in the wet.

Q: How competitive can the car be?

AM: In terms of Friday morning, I think most teams will have a pretty good idea of their set-ups after testing last week, so the main benefit of the session will be in fine-tuning the car to the conditions: it rained during testing, and now we are coming to the end of summer there are no guarantees that the weather will remain stable all weekend. As for overall performance, we have managed to find a race-able set-up each time this year, using the car's good mechanical grip to achieve the correct compromise on downforce levels. The other important factor will be the quick corners: we know the car handles very well at high speed, and that will be crucial for achieving good straightline speed.


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Allan McNish , Fernando Alonso