Italian GP Williams preview

The BMW WilliamsF1 Team is hopeful those who are predicting a good result in Monza for it are proved to be correct. On paper the Monza track should suit the FW23 and at the July test Ralf Schumacher recorded the fastest lap. In Belgium Ralf had a...

The BMW WilliamsF1 Team is hopeful those who are predicting a good result in Monza for it are proved to be correct. On paper the Monza track should suit the FW23 and at the July test Ralf Schumacher recorded the fastest lap. In Belgium Ralf had a new chassis and this weekend it is the turn of Juan Pablo Montoya with number eight earmarked for its debut in his hands. To date WilliamsF1 has five victories at the circuit to its name, while Nelson Piquet won there in 1983 during his Championship winnning year in the BMW-powered Brabham. It has been a very good circuit for Ralf as he was fifth in his first Grand Prix there in 1997, and has been on the podium for the past three years. Meanwhile, Juan Pablo only knows the circuit from testing.

Ralf Schumacher
“Monza is not too demanding on the drivers, but normally produces interesting races. There are three possibilities to overtake. With a little more luck than in Spa we should look fairly good in Italy, especially as the Monza is a similar track to Hockenheim, so it should suit our car quite well.”

Juan Pablo Montoya
“It is a track very like Hockenheim and we did well there. We should be really quick there, but we will have to see what happens.The most important thing as we have seen in qualifying in Spa is to get the car right. If we get it right we should be very quick. I have only tested there and never raced.”

Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer)
“Monza is a very low-downforce circuit with a similar top speed to Hockenheim. The four high-speed corners mean the tyres are usually harder compound. Its other main features are chicanes and low braking distances. The mechanical set-up has to be a compromise between a stable car in high speed and being competitive over the curbs at the chicanes. At the last test we were happy with the performance of the tyre compounds and constructions that Michelin developed with us. This is a critical circuit for tyre safety and we put a lot of time into testing the reliability of the tyre casing. With the low wing levels and good engine power this is the easiest circuit on which to overtake. Depending on our qualifying position, this may be the key to our pit-stop strategy on race day.”

Dr. Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director)
“In Spa by being first and second in qualifying we have shown what we can achieve if everything goes well. But on race day it became obvious the team is making far too many mistakes to be fighting at the top of the championship. A positive point is we can learn easily from obvious mistakes. We are using the time between the races to do this. We are preparing for Monza by testing in Magny-Cours and carrying out development work in Munich. We are looking forward very much to the Monza circuit, because it should suit our chassis and engine package. Of course it is our target to finish the European season with a very good result.”

This year’s race will be the 52nd Italian Grand Prix and as only the 1980 event, which was held in Imola, is the sole one not held at Monza, more Grands Prix have been held there than at any other single circuit. The Italian Grand Prix in Monza is obviously a mecca for the Italian fans, better known as the Tifosi, as they can see their heroes, the Ferrari drivers, at close quarters. Last year they were not disappointed with Michael Schumacher winning from pole. This year they will have the chance to welcome the newly crowned World Champions.

The Monza circuit is in a Royal Park at the edge of the town, which itself is a suburb of Milan.Over the years numerous changes have been made to the circuit and for last year the first chicane was dramatically re-profiled, while minor changes were made to the chicane after Curva Grande.Originally the circuit had very steep banking and some of this can still be witnessed only a few hundred yards from the pits.

The circuit is 3.600 miles (5.793 km) long and the 53 lap race will be 190.614 miles (306.764 km) long.The race will start at 14.00 local time (12.00 GMT) on Sunday, 16th September. The lap record was set last year by second-place Mika Hakkinen in his McLaren with a time of 1m 25.595s (151.394mph/243.645km/h), while the race was won by Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari. This average speed makes Monza the fastest track on the current Grand Prix calendar by about 5mph.

-Williams

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams