1998 ITALIAN GRAND PRIX - PREVIEW TENSIONS BUILDS IN PREPARATION FOR MONZA With only three races to go and a sparse seven points still separating championship contenders Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher, Monza is preparing itself for huge...
1998 ITALIAN GRAND PRIX - PREVIEW
TENSIONS BUILDS IN PREPARATION FOR MONZA
With only three races to go and a sparse seven points still separating championship contenders Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher, Monza is preparing itself for huge crowds and high emotions at the Italian GP on September 13.
After four days of pre-race testing at the classic high-speed circuit near Milan, Hakkinen's team mate David Coulthard claimed fastest lap for West McLaren Mercedes and Bridgestone when he recorded 1:23.461s. Coulthard believed that his time - 0.8 second faster than the best by either of Ferrari's two drivers - could have been bettered on Friday, when the session was ended by red flags signaling an incident.
"Although the lap times recorded during testing normally hold little significance for us, David was still going faster on lap 27 of a simulated race test when the red flags stopped him," commented Mr. Hirohide Hamashima, Technical Director of Bridgestone Motorsport. "We believe that this demonstrates the durability of our tyres for the Italian Grand Prix itself."
Following the test, Bridgestone technicians have decided to bring narrow front tyres into different specifications from which the six Bridgestone-contracted teams may choose. Final decisions will be made after practice, when the team's engineers have evaluated the combined effects of ambient track temperatures and the fluctuations of wheel/brake temperature generated by the circuit's long straights and the hard braking required for its three tight chicanes.
"This has been a particularly important test as far as the championship is concerned, because we also used it to decide the tyres we expect to use in the final two events of the season at the Nurburgring (GP of Luxembourg, September 27) and Suzuka (GP of Japan, November 1)," Hamashima added. "I am happy to report that we completed our testing programme in spite of the heavy rain that fell until after lunch time on the final day."
For the sake of safe, close racing, and to ensure the most comfortable conditions for the fans coming to Monza, Bridgestone hopes that weather conditions remain dry on race day. However, the company's engineers are confident that their latest wet-road tyres - tested when rain fell at Monza on the final day of the test - will be competitive if the race is also affected by rain.
Bridgestone will bring 1830 tyres to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix. This will be split approximately 50/50 between dry and wet tyres.