As the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team arrives in Monza for the 2002 Italian Grand Prix, drivers Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button are looking to put the disappointment of Belgium behind them in order to concentrate their efforts on consolidating the...
As the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team arrives in Monza for the 2002 Italian Grand Prix, drivers Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button are looking to put the disappointment of Belgium behind them in order to concentrate their efforts on consolidating the Team's fourth position in the Constructors' Championship.
Before tackling the historic circuit, the drivers will make a run of a different kind on Thursday evening, taking a turn on the catwalk at a party organised by opinion-leading fashion magazine Spoon in conjunction with the Team. However, when it comes down to business, their focus will be as keen as ever, as Italian Jarno Trulli explains:
"Honestly, the Italian Grand Prix is not much different to any other race even though I am racing at home. My motivation is always the same - very high. Obviously, it is nice to have lots of supporters at the circuit, but it doesn't change anything in how I approach the weekend."
2002 marks the eightieth anniversary of the first Italian Grand Prix held at Monza, with the circuit still following much the same route as the road portion of the original. For Trulli though, the Italian Grand Prix is one of "bad memories", after the accident which marred the 2000 race and the events which cast their long shadow in 2001. When it is driven in a modern F1 car, even the track itself fails to inspire him:
"The circuit itself is nothing very exciting, which is a shame I think. But that's Monza - it's been like that forever."
Team-mate Jenson Button, on the other hand, is a fan of the high-speed Autodromo:
"I like Monza - I really do. It is quite an enjoyable, flowing circuit with lots of quick corners - the Lesmo, Ascari and the Parabolica. Although the chicanes might be a little boring, they are obviously there for safety reasons."
Indeed, the 'split personality' of the layout, divided between the high-speed corners of the old road circuit and slower, artificial chicanes, poses a challenge in terms of driver concentration, a problem Button recognises:
"It is quite difficult to brake on the same mark lap after lap, especially at the first chicane. The only things we have to aim for are the 150m and 100m boards, and we brake somewhere in the middle. The corner is so tight that any little mistake braking on the straight means you have to run straight on and ruin the lap. That's quite tough."
After a productive four days' testing at Monza last week, Button believes the Team can expect a strong race performance:
"I think Jarno and I are on good form, and that the car will be working well. Qualifying will be a bit more difficult than Spa, but you don't score points on the Saturday. We have a good launch control system, which will help as the start area is quite slippery at Monza, and I am confident that we will race well."
Trulli echoes his team-mate, and thinks that if events favour them in the race, points are a real possibility:
"In terms of setting the car up, you need to find a compromise that means you can have confidence in the car. As for scoring points, that's always possible but depends on circumstances as much as anything else."