The European season draws to an end this weekend with a visit to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix on 14 September. The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza has a proud racing heritage, having hosted more Formula One races than any other track and all but...
The European season draws to an end this weekend with a visit to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix on 14 September. The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza has a proud racing heritage, having hosted more Formula One races than any other track and all but one Italian Grand Prix since 1950.
Monza's depth of history makes it a fitting venue for Williams to record its 500th Grand Prix start next Sunday. Williams Grand Prix Engineering was incorporated by Frank Williams and Patrick Head in 1978, but it was not until the Argentine Grand Prix in January 1979 that the new organisation fielded its first own-designed and built race car, the FW06 for Alan Jones. Monza will mark the team's 500th race start in its thirtieth year of racing, during which time the team has recorded 250,00km of competitive racing, scored 113 GP wins and won 16 World Championships - nine constructors' titles and seven drivers' titles.
We had a good test in Monza two weeks ago, both in terms of evaluating new parts and defining set-up for the Grand Prix. I am looking forward to racing at the Autodromo, not only because it is the quickest circuit on the calendar, but also because it has so much history. Monza is really fun to drive because of the super fast start-finish straight, the tight braking events at the end of the lap and also the kerbs which you have to ride as much as you can. The faster corners are quite difficult to drive because we run such little downforce at Monza, but that doesn't diminish the experience of driving at one of the best circuits we visit! To top the weekend off, the atmosphere, the people and the food in Italy are all great, so I'm really looking forward to the weekend!
I tested in Monza just before the race in Spa, but prior that, it was exactly a year since I had driven on the circuit. So the test was quite busy to me, I had to get used to the track as much as the car, because in the low downforce specification, it has very different characteristics. Anyway, the test reminded that Monza is very exciting, very fast and a very technical track. The tricky bit is the kerbing, you have to be brave and take a lot of kerb, but while this makes the track quite distinctive, I really feel Monza is a circuit that suits me.
Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams F1:
Monza has the highest top speeds of all the circuits we visit, with the cars topping 350kph on the main straight every lap. With only four actual corners and two chicanes, high power, low drag and kerb riding ability are all key to success on the Italian circuit.
Kerb riding is a fundamental set-up requirement at Monza because the speed the car comes off the kerbs heavily influences the speed all the way down the following straight.
The aerodynamic package for this track is always unique, and this year is no exception. The FW30 will have a modified bodywork and specially developed front and rear wings. Everything has been thoroughly validated at the Monza test a fortnight ago.
Race strategy will be one or two stop for all teams. The pit lane loss is quite high, simply because while a car is going slowly in the pitlane, a competitor out on track at racing speed is traveling faster in relative terms than might be the case at other tracks. Bridgestone will take the medium and hard tyre compounds as the tyre temperatures as the car comes off the high speed Parabolica can be extreme.
Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Italy:
Monza marks a real return to power track territory. The 5.793km circuit in the Old Royal Park is one of the few remaining high speed tracks on the calendar and so requires the lowest downforce arrangement seen all year. Monza's chicanes and four key corners, however, also demand a balancing aerodynamic efficiency to ensure a smooth transition over the harsh kerbs.
A traditional power track, engines are put through their paces over the weekend as they consistently reach speeds of 340kph and endure a full throttle ratio of 73% per lap. With such high top speeds, and an average lap speed of 250kph, extensive loads are exerted on the brakes during each braking event. Turn one, for example, sees drivers brake so hard into the corner, they experience 5g. Accordingly, brake durability is crucial while a car's stability under braking is also important at Monza where the track surface is notoriously bumpy. With an approximate 25 second penalty for each pit-stop, the Italian Grand Prix is invariably a one or perhaps two stop race. With several overtaking opportunities over the lap, the final European round will no doubt be an engaging one.