Ever since Hockenheim was altered two years ago, Monza has been the sole low-downforce circuit on the calendar. It's a challenge that requires a serious amount of preparation. The Royal Park of Monza has always been a unique place. Since 1922,...
Ever since Hockenheim was altered two years ago, Monza has been the sole low-downforce circuit on the calendar. It's a challenge that requires a serious amount of preparation.
The Royal Park of Monza has always been a unique place. Since 1922, the second weekend in September has been reserved for the Italian Grand Prix at the historic Autodromo, and the layout today is still recognisably that which greeted racers over eighty years ago. Even though chicanes have interrupted the famous flat-out blasts for thirty-one years, Monza is still all about speed. Now that it is the sole circuit on the calendar requiring very-low downforce, it means the Formula 1 teams have to work for a number of weeks for this race alone.
"For the first time this year, we will be tackling a circuit requiring very low downforce levels," explains Renault Technical Director Mike Gascoyne. "For example, this means that we will be running much smaller wings compared to other circuits, and we have to develop a specific low downforce package for this track."
Monza is not all about straights though; the high-speed theme extends to the sweeping curves as well. "There are lots of quick corners there," continues Mike. "Good aerodynamic efficiency will stand you in good stead in terms of overall lap times, especially through somewhere like the Parabolica. The circuit is unique though: with the high speeds and low downforce levels, the car is operating in a very different state to usual for extended periods of time."
All this means that this week's Monza test will be vital for honing competitiveness around the old circuit's challenging lap. "This week, we will be testing our aerodynamic package for the race," concludes Mike. "It includes various detail updates to cope with the demands of high-speed running, designed to minimise drag levels. During the year, we will have spent a total of two or three weeks of wind tunnel time fine-tuning the low-downforce package."
From a distance, the R23B testing this week at Monza may look like the same car you have seen all year, but the truth is somewhat different. With the championship battle looking like it will go down to the wire, never have these 'one-race specials' been quite so critical as they will be in the next fortnight.