Having spent a predominantly rain-soaked four days there last week, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team heads back to the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza this week for the Italian Grand Prix - round fourteen of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Monza is...
Having spent a predominantly rain-soaked four days there last week, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team heads back to the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza this week for the Italian Grand Prix - round fourteen of the FIA Formula One World Championship.
Monza is for purists. It's for those who 'remember when racing was great'. It's for those who love their cars to be red. It's for fans who adore their drivers to be gladiatorial heroes facing unassailable odds. It is the home of the tifosi. It is the spiritual ground of Ferrari. Monza carries with it more myths and legends, more historical landmarks, more tragic ironies and triumphant glories than all the other circuits on the calendar together. It seems that every great driver has his own connection with the place, whether it be happy or sad, Monza touches the soul.
"Our performance in Spa was very satisfying and resulted in the accumulation of more important points. The BMW WilliamsF1 Team continues to work hard with the development of the FW22 and I am confidently looking forward to the remaining races.
"Along with Hockenheim, Monza is one of the quickest tracks we have in the Formula One. Downforce settings are very low and this means low wing levels -- vital for speed but allowing less grip through the chicanes. For a good lap time, it's also important to find good mechanical grip for the slower corners. Monza is also very demanding on the engine and brakes. The pit straight is followed by the Goodyear chicane. Arriving in seventh gear, you brake at about 110 metres, shifting down to second and cut the corner by jumping on the kerbs. This is important in achieving a quick lap time. A good exit from the second part of the chicane is crucial because of the following long straight. You go up to seventh gear and arrive at another chicane, this time Curva della Roggia. Accelerating from the Variante della Roggia, you switch into fourth gear, brake slightly and turn into the first Lesmo in third gear. More important, however, is the exit out of the second Lesmo because of the long straight to the Curva del Vialone. The Variante Ascari, the fastest chicane of the track, then follows. You need to come out as quickly as possible and drive over the kerbs to carry all the revs with you for another long straight down to the Parabolica. The Parabolica, a right hand corner, is fast, very long and very important, because it ends and starts the lap. You have to balance the car by playing with the throttle and your exit must be good enough to get the power down as early as possible. Because of the unusually bad weather in Monza last week, we couldn't complete our testing programme but nonetheless, we are looking forward to this weekend's Italian Grand Prix."
"I haven't raced a Formula One car at Monza, but I do know the circuit reasonably well from F3 and recent test sessions with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team. It's a very fast circuit and one that puts great demands on the car, particularly on the engine. Our performance last weekend in Spa was very rewarding and I will be doing my best to carry that momentum through to Monza. The car felt well balanced last week during our test and I'm looking forward to the prospect of racing at what is arguably one of the quickest and most challenging circuits on the calendar."
"I love racing at Monza. The track is fast with some very demanding high-speed corners and it's also very tough on the cars. This really is a true test of reliability. I guess it's the crowd that makes the difference and what separates this race from the others. I have always thought of them as the Italian winter football crowd warming-up for the season, but whoever they may be, they provide a palpable atmosphere which is enthusiastic and highly supportive, even if we are not in Ferrari red. I am looking forward to this weekend."
Dr Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director)
"After Hockenheim and Spa we face another circuit that places the highest demands on the engine. We are looking forward to racing at Monza for the first time and because it's Ferrari's home race, it's special place on the Formula One calendar is much loved, especially by the tifosi. We are going to race the same engine specification in Monza that Ralf finished third in Spa with. Although our pre-race Monza test was interrupted by bad weather, we are satisfied with the preparation achieved for this race in that we did both race simulation and qualifying exercises." The 53-lap Italian Grand Prix gets underway at 14:00 local time (12:00 GMT) on Sunday 10th September. A total race distance of 189.859 miles (306.234 km) will be covered at the famous Autodromo Nazionale di Monza where Mika Hakkinen holds the lap record of 1m24s.808s (McLaren-Mercedes, 1997).
Despite a great victory for Jordan-Mugen's Heinz-Harald Frentzen, the most enduring image of last year's Italian Grand Prix was a tearful Mika Hakkinen after he had spun out of the lead. Mika selected first gear instead of second at the Rettifilo chicane and hit the wall. Ralf Schumacher finished second in the WilliamsF1-Supertec and stand-in driver Mika Salo completed the podium for Ferrari.