Technical Director Mike Gascoyne is looking for improved reliability in Monza this weekend in order to capitalise on the Team's overall level of performance after the last race in Belgium saw points slip away. "We were very pleased with our ...
Technical Director Mike Gascoyne is looking for improved reliability in Monza this weekend in order to capitalise on the Team's overall level of performance after the last race in Belgium saw points slip away.
"We were very pleased with our competitiveness in qualifying and the race, but were ultimately let down by poor reliability. Jarno drove an excellent race and deserved to finish fifth, which we would have been very happy with.
"Unreliability is obviously a worry at this stage of the season, and we would undoubtedly have cemented our hold on fourth place in the Championship were it not for these problems. While that's disappointing, we must nevertheless look to maintain our level of performance at Monza."
While the Monza layout is not expected to suit the Team's package as well as the challenging sweeps of Spa, Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds is confident the Team will nevertheless prove competitive on the Italian circuit:
"Although Monza is a circuit where engine power is at a premium, our car works very well in low-downforce configuration and hence we can run a competitive top speed. Traction is very important, and this is an area in which both the chassis and our control systems are very good. We hope these combined factors will give us a competitive showing."
Gascoyne concurs: "We will not be as close to the top three teams as we have been at the more chassis-orientated circuits like Spa. Nonetheless, with the package we have, we must look to qualify behind them and race ahead of the rest in order to score points should any of the top six not finish."
After the changes made to Hockenheim for this year, Monza is now the first time the Team runs its very low downforce package during the season. This will include modifications to the front and rear wings as well as revisions to the braking system in order to cope with the extremes encountered at the circuit.
"The new package includes several updates," said Gascoyne, "and the testing at Monza last week allowed us to make a thorough evaluation of their performance. The results seem very positive."
While aerodynamic performance is obviously at a premium, the slow chicanes demand a car that is able to cope with riding the kerbs, as Pat Symonds explains:
"The kerbs are a major feature of Monza, and it is necessary to use them well in order to get a good lap time. This means ride is a factor which receives a great deal of attention over the weekend. In addition, this circuit is the hardest on brakes that we see during the season and it is necessary to have not just high efficiency from the brakes, but also good controllability and low wear rates."
As ever, tyres will be a key factor in overall performance. Wet conditions during testing last week meant the Team was able to complete valuable running on the latest generation of Michelin tyres, and the results proved encouraging.
"While the poor weather at last week's test hampered our dry tyre development, the conditions did allow us to evaluate the new wet tyres and these proved to be a big step forward," said Symonds. "Michelin were very competitive here in the dry last year, and there have been numerous improvements since then."
Gascoyne is equally positive about Michelin's current level of performance, and is optimistic for the remaining three races this season: "Michelin were much more competitive at Spa than they have been recently. I think the tyres for the last three races should suit Michelin more, which will hopefully see us maintain that gap."
Monza is one of the classic F1 circuits and, because of the changes made to Hockenheim this year, is now also the circuit where the cars reach the highest maximum speeds of the year, often greater than 350 kph. The cars exceed 335 kph in four different places: before braking for the Rettifilo, the Roggia and Ascari chicanes, as well as on the straight leading to the Parabolica. This simple fact explains why Monza is defined as an engine circuit.
A powerful engine is the fundamental criterion for being competitive at this circuit: a lack of horsepower is noticed immediately. Torque is less important than power at high revs and engine reliability. At Monza, a given power increase brings an improvement in lap time three times greater than the same gain would at Monaco: this fact demonstrates just how critical engine power is.
The engine runs at full throttle for 65% of the lap: the longest of any circuit in the season. The average number of revs used is very high overall.
Two further points are worth noting:
- engine reliability is tested to the limit by high operating temperatures
- Monza is the reference circuit used by the Renault F1 Team for endurance testing on the dynos at Viry-Châtillon.
In terms of cooling, the low downforce configuration means the engine is well cooled. Nevertheless, the mechanical demands are the most severe of the whole season.