FIA F1 - Pre-Race Driver Comments Monza


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Monza, Sep. 5, 2012: From one of Formula One’s racing’s most historic venues, the paddock quickly moves to another, as the teams and drivers head from Spa to Monza. With its origins dating back to 1922, it remains a supreme, high-speed challenge. No wonder it’s known as the ‘magical track’. Those involved in the Formula 1 Gran Premio Santander d'Italia 2012 discuss their prospects…

Timo Glock, Marussia 2011 Qualifying - 21st, 2011 Race - 15th “Monza is quite a high speed circuit and also a very traditional circuit, with some very special characteristics such as the long straights and high speed corners. Here it is very important that a car is quick on the straights as well as good under braking. Every time it is an eventful race, so I’m looking forward to it, although it is the last race of the European section of the season. We do need to keep our expectations in check though as Monza is a completely different challenge due to the low-downforce set-up required and realistically we did not look too strong in Canada, which calls for the same type of set-up. We have moved forward in a number of ways as a team and, for example, the fantastic pit stops in Spa also contributed to our strong showing there, so there are some things we can do this weekend to try to make the race work better for us. We need to see what the weather will do; normally it is hot which is good for the running we need to achieve, but it can also be quite demanding for the brakes. We will work hard to make the best possible result and enjoy a very nice track to go racing at.”

Charles Pic, Marussia 2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a “It was very positive to see the progress we made in Spa. The team are working well together and we have a good momentum. I think we have to wait and see just how much of that performance we can carry over in Monza though, as the circuit and the demands upon the car are completely different. Much like Montreal, the low-downforce characteristics are less well-suited to our car and we know that. Monza is a very special racetrack and I finished on the podium here in GP2 last year, so I am looking forward to returning this weekend. It’s the last European race, so we aim to do the best job we can and bring home a nice team result.”

John Booth, Marussia team principal “It has been another tight turnaround as we head into the Italian Grand Prix weekend, but we’d better get used to that as it’s only the first of four back-to-backs in this second half of the season! This is also the last of the European races, so the remaining seven rounds will quite literally be a ‘long haul’. We’re in a good place right now and last weekend’s performance in Spa boosted everyone’s spirits. We do need to temper that, however, with the realistic expectations we have for this race, because we aren’t simply picking up where we left off. Monza is quite a different challenge as its high speed characteristics call for a low-downforce set-up and we know from Canada that our car does not work as well at this type of track. We had so many areas to focus our attentions on this season and although we have seen good progress in most areas, Montreal and Monza were always going to be two races where we may not fare so favourably. Much like Spa, this is a race we always look forward to and many of us will take a bit of time out to enjoy some of the special things it has to offer, such as the old banking, which is always worth a visit.”

Mark Webber, Red Bull 2011 Qualifying - 5th, 2011 Race - DNF “So we head to the last European race of the season. Monza is a sensational venue with lots of history - it’s a beautiful amphitheatre. There’s a massive influence from the Tifosi there - especially with the attending Ferrari fans, which really adds atmosphere to the weekend. The track is incredibly unique with massive top speeds, so there’s a lot of heavy braking. It wasn’t the best venue for me last year, so I’m going there looking for a strong result.”

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull 2011 Qualifying - 1st, 2011 Race - 1st “Monza is the home of motorsport and being there gives me goose bumps. It has the best podium in the world and a win there is an unforgettable experience. If you stand up there like I did for the first time in 2008, and again last year, you are overwhelmed by the fans, the thousands of Tifosi that flood the track with their flags waving. It's just amazing. In Monza it’s extremely difficult to produce a perfect lap because it’s almost impossible to make every corner and every chicane exactly right.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus 2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a “It’s true that I have never won in Italy. For one reason or another things just did not work out for me. It doesn’t mean I can’t drive the track. Just because I have not won at a circuit in the past it doesn’t mean that I won’t win or get a good result there in the future. Hopefully we will have a real chance to fight for that victory this time.

“Monza is the real home of the Tifosi and there will be a lot of the Finnish fans, too. It’s the place where we go really, really fast. It’s great to go there with everything working well in the car and seeing how quickly you can go. Last time I raced in Monza In was a Ferrari driver. I have always enjoyed the atmosphere at Monza but it was very special as a Ferrari driver. I hope they will still like to see me racing there even if I could be in front of a Ferrari. I am really looking forward to see all the fans and I think it will be a pretty special feeling if I’m on the podium as a Lotus driver too.

“Monza always gives a great challenge. It’s so unique compared with the more modern circuits as the layout means the car needs to be setup differently. To go fast at Monza you need a good aerodynamic car that is stable over the kerbs with a strong engine, as we are using full throttle for most of the lap. I think we should be pretty good in those areas but we won’t know exactly how good until we get out on track.”

Jerome d’Ambrosio, Lotus 2011 Qualifying - 22nd, 2011 Race - DNF “I understand the circumstances in which the drive has come about, but for me it’s a great opportunity and great challenge. I first want to thank the team for having faith in me and allowing me to step in the car for this race at Monza. I will do everything I can to do the best possible job. I’ve worked hard outside the car this year and tried to prepare as best I can just in case something like this happened. I want to make the most of this weekend. I had my last podium in GP2 there, so I have good memories of Monza. It is a very challenging track because of the low downforce. It’s also going to be a special event in general, because it is the last race in Europe and Monza always has a very special atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to it.”

James Allison, Lotus technical director “It’s always tricky to go into Monza with any certainty about how the world is going to work out, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the track always produces very, very close grids and this is a season where the grids are close anyway. We could be in a situation like Valencia, where if you were two or three tenths too slow you could miss getting into Q3. Not only does Monza already attract a close grid - in a season of close grids - but it is also a very distinct circuit. In some ways it’s a bit like Canada: Straight into a corner, straight into a corner... without any big ‘S’ sections. The closest you’ve got is Ascari and Parabolica. This means that the straight-to-corner ratio is such that you run a wing level that is way too small for the corners. So the drivers will be doing their best to scrabble around the corners in a car that is optimised for the straights. All this means it’s difficult to know how we’ll perform. And, having made predictions about the last race that were not exactly on the mark, it’s even harder to do so here! That said, if you took the season as a whole, we’ve got a fair hit rate of arriving at tracks and performing reasonably. So the balance of probability is that we’ll do the same in Monza as well. In all probability it will be pretty warm and we’ve tended to go well when it’s warm, Valencia being a case in point and another point-and-squirt circuit where we’ve done very well. So we ought to be able to get our show back on the road in Monza after a slight misfire in Spa.

“Although we would like to have it at Monza - because it is the type of circuit that rewards such a thing - we don’t have the DRS device configured to cope with the Monza level of downforce. So it is not even on the table. In Singapore you won’t see it either, because it’s too high a downforce circuit with insufficient straights for it to be worthwhile. The earliest you might see it now is Suzuka.”

Jenson Button, McLaren 2011 Qualifying - 3rd, 2011 Race - 2nd “I head to Monza absolutely full of motivation after a fantastic result in Spa. It was the perfect weekend for me - it’s not only put me back in contention for the drivers’ championship, but it’s shown that we have a car that can definitely fight for the constructors’ title. It’ll be great to be back in the car so soon after the victory. Monza is one of the greatest circuits in the world and our car seems to be particularly well suited to high-speed circuits, so I’m optimistic that we’ll be competitive again this weekend. For some reason, the car we’ve brought to Monza in the last two seasons has been really well suited to me. I’ve really been able to work with the balance and enjoyed pushing the car. The success we had with a low-downforce configuration at Spa also gives us cause for optimism. I’ve finished second here in both my previous races for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes - I’ll definitely be going for the win this weekend.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren 2011 Qualifying - 2nd, 2011 Race - 4th “Spa was just one of those weekends - but the beauty of these double-header races is that it’s already firmly behind me. And Monza is such a unique and invigorating circuit that it’s easy to put my disappointments to one side and just focus on driving as fast as possible this weekend. For me, there’s something about Formula One’s older circuits that’s very special; despite each being very different, the newer tracks all seem to have the same character and the same sort of rhythm, but the older circuits are very different. They feel like the land has shaped and influenced them rather than the other way around. I like that - it means you never fall into any particular comfort zone and you’re always pushing the car one way or the other to get the best from any lap. The first laps out of the pits on Friday always feels incredible because we have such little downforce and the ratios are so long. It feels like you never stop accelerating - and then you hit the brakes and the car feels really unstable, because the wings aren’t doing much to keep it settled. You soon get used to it, but it’s always exciting to be driving flat-out around Monza because it’s such a different experience from anywhere else we visit. I’ve never won at Monza before - I’ll be doing everything I can to take the victory this weekend.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal “Our victories in Hungary and Spa hardly feel like back-to-back wins because they were achieved so far apart, but they give us enormous encouragement because they demonstrate that we can win on circuits of distinctly different character. While I still think that making predictions from race to race is largely futile, it’s satisfying to see there’s some shape to our performances. We’ve qualified a car on the front row of the grid for seven of this year’s 12 races - and that’s hugely motivational for our designers and engineers because it shows that we’re able to develop and refine the car successfully from track to track. There’s no reason why that shouldn’t continue. Our low-downforce potential was clear to see in Spa and we’re hopeful of picking up where we left off in Italy. In fact, Monza is the only truly high-speed circuit remaining on the Formula 1 calendar. In the past, it was comparable to the old Hockenheim and, in some ways, to Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, but Monza’s heritage gives it a unique character. It’s a track where the past comes to life and it’s an honour to tread upon the same Tarmac as some of the sport’s true greats. Having won in Hungary and Belgium, we’ll be aiming for a hat-trick of wins in Italy!”

Pastor Maldonado, Williams 2011 Qualifying - 14th, 2011 Race - 11th “Monza is another historic track that drivers like visiting so I’m really looking forward to this weekend. It’s the quickest track we visit all season and requires a very particular set up with a completely different aero package. The car has low down force levels at Monza so we will have to adapt to that setup. The track itself is a challenging one for drivers and has quite a few overtaking opportunities so it should be an exciting weekend for the fans.”

Bruno Senna, Williams 2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a “While we didn’t finish in the points the car showed good pace at Spa, particularly on the long straights, so the signs are looking good heading into Monza. It’s a very fast circuit and is a real old fashioned test for the driver’s so I’m looking forward to the race. The team is working very hard to get the maximum out of the car and if we can get qualifying right we should be looking for a points finish.”

Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer “Monza marks the last of the European races before the cars head off on their extended seven race round the world trip. Monza is an interesting circuit with the highest top and average speeds of any circuit, although cornering speeds are similar to that of Barcelona. Aerodynamic efficiency and engine power sensitivities are therefore very high and so is braking severity. It also has a high pit loss and low fuel effect that tends to favour less stops. The tyres are the same as raced in Spa, namely the Hard and Medium tyres.”

Remi Taffin, head of Renault Sport F1 track operations “The driver will spend as much as 75 percent of the lap at full throttle so we make sure that all the internals, maps, fuel and lubricants settings are triple checked. We could run a test engine to as much as 3,000km on a simulation of this track to check reliability and performance, ten times a race distance. Monza has two very long straights that are over a kilometre each so we work to create a powerful map that works well over the last two thousand revs, but we also need good acceleration out of the very slow chicanes as the driver will brake down from over 330kph to just 80kph before accelerating back up to over 300km/h in a little over 150m.”

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes 2011 Qualifying - 8th, 2011 Race - 5th “When I think of Monza, I immediately see everything through a red veil. It is the beating racing heart of Italy, everything there lives and breathes Ferrari, and I must inevitably think of the good times I spent there. What makes me particularly happy is that after all these years, the tifosi still welcome me so warmly, and I would like to thank them for that. Naturally, now I'm racing in Mercedes silver, I hope I can offer them a nice fight and be a worthy rival. They can be just as sure as our own fans that everybody in the team is looking to have a successful finale to the European season, and is therefore fully motivated to put on a good show in Monza.”

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes 2011 Qualifying - 9th, 2011 Race - DNF “I'm looking forward to getting to Monza on Thursday and getting the weekend underway. After a difficult weekend in Spa, I believe that our car will be much better suited to the amazing and high-speed Monza track. We will also have a different package there for the long straights with the low downforce required. We are continuing to work hard on improving our car, and I'm quite positive about the news that I hear from the factory, although we know that it will be a tough job with all of the other teams developing quickly as well.”

Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal “Monza is a very special race track, and certainly one of my favourite venues to visit on the calendar. The atmosphere created by the Italian fans is always fantastic and it's a great place to bring the European season to a conclusion. The circuit is a unique challenge with its high-speed straights and the requirement for a low-downforce package designed specifically for the weekend. We would like to finish the European season with a strong result and the team will be working hard to achieve that at the weekend.”

Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport “Monza is a circuit that demands very diverse strengths from the technical package - high straightline speeds through low levels of drag and downforce, with the cars exceeding 300 kph on four separate occasions, and a good mechanical base for braking stability into the chicanes and corners, and good traction exiting them. Monza is also well known as an engine circuit thanks to its high-speed layout, with over 80 per cent of the lap distance spent at full throttle. The races in Belgium and Italy are separated by just a week. The circuit-specific modifications made for Monza are only run once a year and could possibly mean that the competitive order won't be quite the same as that we saw in Spa.”

Pedro de la Rosa, HRT 2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a "Making it to 100 Grands Prix is something very special and I’m very motivated ahead of Italy, not only because of the 100 mark, but because I’m certain that we can be even more competitive. Monza is a similar circuit to Canada, where maximum speed and brake stability are important; and these are our strengths. I love consecutive races because I like continuity and, besides, Monza is one of my favourite circuits because it’s very different to the rest. So, because of all this, I’m really excited ahead of this Grand Prix.”

Narain Karthikeyan, HRT 2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a "Monza is a circuit that I really like and an interesting track for us. We’re bringing a specific package for this event, with a low drag wing which we hope will help us to have a good performance. It’s a fantastic circuit where I love to race with legendary corners such as the Parabolica and the Curva di Lesmo. I hope not to run into bad luck at this Grand Prix and to be able to convert a good performance into a positive result.”

Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal "Once again we arrive at an emblematic circuit; a classic on the calendar. Monza is the quickest track in the championship and we come with good sensations since, given the nature of the F112, our car should adapt well to this circuit. Our maximum speed is good and so is our braking so I’m confident that we will be able to perform well. It will also be a special race because Pedro will be celebrating his 100th Formula One Grand Prix and we’re quite excited about that. Very few drivers are able to stay up there for that long and gain the respect of everyone in the way that Pedro has. He’s an admirable driver and person and we’re extremely proud for him to reach this mark with us.”

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director “Monza is probably the most important race of the year for us, as it is our chance to come home and showcase our tyres and specialised technology in front of so many of our people and the passionate Italian fans. There is a really special atmosphere to this race that is unique to Italy. Not only that, but Monza is one of the most demanding circuits that we visit all year due to the high speed and significant lateral loads on the tyres. After Spa, it is the second-highest set of forces that our tyres will experience all year. Coming to Monza directly from Spa for the first time means that the teams will be fully up to speed with the hard and medium tyres, while there is a huge amount of momentum behind the championship now, which is shaping up to become the most thrilling finale since we returned to Formula One. Ambient temperatures can be very high in Italy, which places further demands on the tyres, so we would normally expect two pit stops. Strategy turned out to be a key ingredient to success last year, with the podium places only decided on the final lap, and we would expect the same again this year. With the cars at full throttle for so long, it’s hard for anybody to gain a big lead unless they use strategy to their advantage.”

Jaime Alguersuari, Pirelli test driver “Monza is like nowhere else: the exact opposite of Monaco, for example. It’s a great circuit and the fastest place we go to all year, which is really exciting. It’s quite difficult to drive as the cars run with such low downforce that they are not always easy to control. So it’s all about the right compromise between downforce and handling. You have to be assertive under braking but all the straights and corners also mean that there are lots of good opportunities to overtake. It’s important to look after the tyres in terms of traction, as the traction areas put a lot of stress on them and if you don’t get a good drive out of the corners onto the straights then it really affects your lap time. Monza isn’t one of those circuits that takes a lot out of the tyres everywhere but instead there are one or two specific places that really put a lot of energy through them: Parabolica in particular, which is why you have to look after them. Another important place is the chicane: you have to really attack the kerbs because you can make a lot of time this way. We tested at Monza last year, and the hard and medium tyres work very well under these conditions. I’m sure we’ll be in for another great race.”

Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber 2011 Qualifying - 17th, 2011 Race - DNF “In Monza we shall have very low downforce and high speed, so it will be very important to have mechanical grip as well. There will be a lot of kerb riding, and this means good mechanical grip compensating the downforce level will be key. My early racing career started in Italy. Monza is one of my favourite circuits. I have a really good feeling for it so want a good result there. I speak a little bit of Italian and I really like the Italian people as they are a lot of fun.”

Sergio Perez, Sauber 2011 Qualifying - 15th, 2011 Race - DNF “The track in Monza is another favourite of mine, and I have had some very good races there. In Formula Three I qualified 14th and then went on to win both races. I always enjoy the atmosphere in Italy, and the Tifosi are just great. The circuit is obviously a true high-speed track and I have a lot of faith in our low-downforce package which we have in place. Also when I look at our performance in Spa, which is also a fast track, the C31 should be strong at the Italian Grand Prix.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber head of track engineering “Monza is definitely a stand-alone track in the season due to its very long straights and a limited amount of corners. They are interesting corners as two of them are low speed chicanes requiring very good braking stability and then traction out of them. The rest, basically Lesmo and Parabolica, are very interesting high-speed bends that become even more challenging with the low downforce levels we run there, which is also stand-alone in the season. Then we have the Variante Ascari, a medium-speed chicane which is a double corner that also gives us an engineering challenge to balance out the drag requirements, which are very low with a reasonable amount of downforce and definitely a very good mechanical grip. The track is an old fashioned one with bumps, a regular surface and high kerbs, especially in the chicanes. The tyres will be challenging and Pirelli will supply the same as in Spa - medium and hard - but Monza is not hard on the tyres so they will be consistent and getting them to perform in qualifying will possibly be challenging. The car will be updated with a low-downforce package which, like in Spa, is not a real development step. We will have different wings on the front and rear plus some normal tuning. The expectation is to have a good weekend.”

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