Toyota's Mika Salo looks ahead to the Italian Grand Prix. "I cannot wait to get racing at Monza next weekend. The Panasonic Toyota Racing team is in a positive frame of mind by our two-car finish at Spa last time out - where I was only...
Toyota's Mika Salo looks ahead to the Italian Grand Prix.
"I cannot wait to get racing at Monza next weekend. The Panasonic Toyota Racing team is in a positive frame of mind by our two-car finish at Spa last time out - where I was only 0.4-seconds behind sixth-placed Eddie Irvine - and I think Monza could suit the TF102 reasonably well."
"We have just completed a huge four-day test at the Italian track. The team test drivers Stéphane Sarrazin and Ryan Briscoe kicked off the test on Tuesday, with Allan and myself completing the session. We did quite a lot of work on general set-up of the car as well as Michelin tyre tests and comparison of various aerodynamic parts. It is always beneficial to have a test on a track one week before you race on it, because you can find problem areas early on and try to solve them before Friday's first free practice session."
"Monza is the only track left on the Formula 1 calendar that is really high-speed - 320kph-plus - and it requires a completely different approach to other tracks. There are two key areas to focus on: stability under braking and getting the car to work over the kerbs."
"First the braking. Because we are braking from such high speeds, this is the area where we can make and lose the most time in an entire lap. We run very little rear wing on the car in an effort to improve our straightline speed, but that results in the car - and particularly its rear - being quite unstable under braking. There are things that you can do with the suspension and ballast to improve this, as well as tyre pressures."
"Second, the kerbs. We have been suffering from the same problem all year in that the TF102 does not ride the kerbs well enough. We first noticed the problem at Imola in April and found that it recurred at Montreal a couple of months later. Since then we have progressed the car quite a lot and it is now much better, but will it be enough? We will only find out next weekend."
"Quite aside from the on-track activity, Monza is a great place for a race because the Italians are so passionate about their motor racing. There is always a great atmosphere as a result. The tifosi are mainly cheering for one team, of course, but they are respectful to everyone involved. I certainly have one of my best memories in motor racing from Monza. I finished third there in 1999, and the crowd went wild. To see all the fans spread out below the podium was a very special moment."