Italian Race Preview 8th September 1996 The European Formula One season reaches a climax at the Italian Grand Prix this weekend, with the Driver's FIA Formula One ...
Italian Race Preview 8th September 1996
The European Formula One season reaches a climax at the Italian Grand Prix this weekend, with the Driver's FIA Formula One World Championship either settled or thrown wide open again. For Marlboro McLaren Mercedes, the expectations will also be high, following the promising result of the Belgian Grand Prix a fortnight ago.
There could hardly be a better venue than the historical Autodromo Nazionale di Monza - one of the oldest circuits on the Formula One calendar - to host this exciting 14th round of the championship. Situated a few kilometres north of Milan, the fast, 5.800km-long track is a favourite not only among the drivers, who put it at the top of their list alongside of Spa-Francorchamps, but also among the teams, who enjoy the passionate atmosphere created by the famous Italian "tifosi" and the beautiful surroundings of Monza's Royal Park.
Marlboro McLaren Mercedes driver Mika Hakkinen is particularly pleased to travel back to Monza. This is where, a year ago, he achieved the best result of his career to date with second place - a feat he would repeat in an even more convincing manner a few weeks later in Japan. "I really enjoy driving at Monza", explains the Finn. "It is a challenging, high speed circuit, where you can go up to 340km/h on the start/finish straight. It is very hard on the brakes, with three chicanes to be negotiated in the middle of fast sectors, and extremely demanding on the equipment in general. With the drivers also submitted to a great deal of physical effort, this race will be challenging in every respect!"
"I feel very positive about this Grand Prix," Mika continues. "This car's performance is improving all the time and judging from our result in Belgium, I think we can achieve great things this weekend." Monza is where Marlboro McLaren Mercedes recorded their best overall result of the 1995 season, with Mark Blundell complementing the team effort with fourth place. Mika's 1996 teammate David Coulthard, who started last year's Grand Prix from pole position, is also looking forward to this race, especially in view of the continuous progress made on the engine: "The latest Mercedes V10 is not only good in top speed, but the mid-range power is now much better too, which should be good for a track like Monza with its very fast corners and straights slowed by the medium-fast chicanes."
Alain Prost and Ralf Schumacher carried out a productive test session at Silverstone last week. Alain concentrated on development work, whilst Ralf continued to gain experience at the wheel of a Formula One car.