2015 Italian Grand Prix Preview
Autodromo Nazionale Monza snapshot
Table of contents
- Circuit lowdown
- It's all about: THE RACE
- It's all about: THE TRACK
- It's all about: THE CAR
- Technical words of wisdom
- McLaren at the Italian Grand Prix
- Our most memorable Italian Grand Prix:
- #14 Fernando Alonso
- #22 Jenson Button
- Eric Boullier - Racing director, McLaren-Honda
- Yasuhisa Arai - Chief Officer of Motorsport, Honda R&D Co Ltd
The Autodromo Nazionale Monza is one of the most iconic racetracks on the Formula 1 calendar. It was built in 1922 and has staged more world championship grands prix than any other circuit in the world. Only once, in 1980, has the circuit not been on the F1 calendar.
Up until the early ’60s, racing took place on a fearsome six-mile oval. But the death of Wolfgang von Trips and 15 spectators in the 1961 Italian Grand Prix resulted in future races taking place on a shorter road course, with the last true ‘slipstreaming’ battle taking place in 1971, after which chicanes were installed to slow the cars.
The track is still the fastest in Formula 1, with today’s cars exceeding 200mph (322km/h) on four occasions around the lap. The average speed is in excess of 150mph (241km/h), so the teams use one-off low-downforce aerodynamic packages to maximise straight-line speed. However, braking stability is important: there are a total of six braking events around the lap and on two occasions the cars slow from 200mph (322km/h) to 50mph (80km/h) in just two seconds.
There are two DRS zones; the first is on the start-finish straight and the second on the approach to Turn Eight, the Ascari chicane. But overtaking remains difficult because the impact of DRS is less at Monza than at other racetracks, due to the small rear wings being used by the cars. In fact, statistically, pole position is more important at Monza than it is at Monaco.
Pirelli is taking softer tyres to the race than was the case last year. The Soft (Option) and Medium (Prime) compounds will be used next weekend, as opposed to Medium and Hard in 2014, and this could result in more varied strategies than the traditional one-stop races that have prevailed in recent years.
McLaren has an enviable record at Monza. The team has won the race on 10 occasions, most recently in 2012, and both of our current drivers have good records at the track. Fernando Alonso has won twice before, while Jenson Button has finished on the podium on four occasions.
It’s all about: THE RACE
|Start time||1400 (local) / 1300 BST)|
|Race distance||53 laps (full world championship points awarded after 75 per cent distance/40 laps)|
|2014 winner||Lewis Hamilton 53 laps in 1h:19m:10.236s|
|2014 pole position||Lewis Hamilton 1m24.109s 247.950km/h (154.068mph)|
|2014 fastest lap||Lewis Hamilton 1m28.004s 236.976km/h (147.250mph)|
|Chances of a Safety Car||Low. There is only a 43 per cent chance of a Safety Car|
|Don’t put the kettle on…||on laps 17 or 36, which would be a classic two-stop strategy. Last year this race was won using a one-stop strategy, but that could change this year due to Pirelli going one notch softer with its compound choices|
|Weather forecast||Temperatures in the mid-20s are expected, but we’re now into autumn and the teams need to be prepared for big temperature swings during the day|
It’s all about: THE TRACK
|Circuit length||5.793km/3.600 miles|
|Run to Turn One||380 metres/0.2 miles|
|Longest straight||1.120km/0.7 miles, on the approach to Turn One|
|Top speed||360km/h/224mph on the approach to Turn One|
|DRS zones||Two – on the approach to Turn One and, again, on the approach to Turn Eight|
|Key corner||Turn 11, a 180-degree right-hander called Parabolica. The corner opens up at the exit and is followed by the longest straight at the track, so the driver has to get on the power as early as possible|
|Pitlane length||420 metres (0.3 miles), which is long. A pitstop takes about 25s|
|Major changes for 2015||None|
It’s all about: THE CAR
|Fuel consumption||1.8kg per lap, which is high – but not as high as Montreal|
|Full throttle||74 per cent. The longest uninterrupted period of full throttle is 17s|
|Brake wear||High. There are only six braking events around the lap, but all of them are from high speeds|
|Gear changes||46 per lap/2,438 per race|
|Did you know?||Only once since 1950 has Monza not staged a World Championship grand prix. That was in 1980, when the Italian Grand Prix was held at Imola.|
Technical words of wisdom
Jonathan Neale, chief operating officer and acting CEO
“Monza is a demanding racetrack for several reasons. It’s hard on the brakes, it’s hard on the power units and it’s hard on the drivers, due to the high top speeds.
“The first practice session on Friday is important for the drivers’ confidence because the cars feel very skittish when they are producing so little downforce and drag. It’s a big challenge for them to adapt to the feel of the cars and they don’t have long to get used to it because they’ve really got to nail it during qualifying on Saturday afternoon.”
McLaren at the Italian Grand Prix
|Wins||10 (1968, 1984, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1997, 2005, 2007, 2012)|
|Poles||11 (1977, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012)|
|Fastest laps||11 (1984, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011)|
Our most memorable Italian Grand Prix: 2007
This was McLaren’s most dominant display at Monza. Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton locked out the front row of the grid in qualifying and they finished first and second, comfortably ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari in third place.
At the start, Fernando converted pole position and led into Turn One. Lewis looked set to challenge his team-mate under braking, until he was tapped from behind by Felipe Massa and he decided to slot into second place.
Fernando wasn’t headed all afternoon, securing his first win at Monza in emphatic style. Lewis, meanwhile, had to work harder for his second place; he emerged from his second pitstop behind Raikkonen and had to pull off a stunning overtaking manoeuvre into Turn One to secure second place. Job done: McLaren’s only 1-2 finish to date in the Italian Grand Prix.
#14 Fernando Alonso
“Monza is completely unique – a fantastic circuit, so much history, great fans, and huge fun to drive. It’s always special to go there year after year to experience the atmosphere, and the way the car feels when you drive on that track is completely different to any other.
“I have won at Monza twice in my career – once with McLaren in 2007 – and both times were incredibly special. We have to manage our own expectations for this race, as we know it won’t suit our car, but we will still push hard as usual, learn as much as we can about our package, and work on our low-downforce configuration to try and get as much as we can out of the weekend.
“It will be tough, but with the benefit of already taking our engine penalties in Spa, I’m hopeful that in qualifying we will be able to give ourselves a better chance to fight with our competitors during the race on Sunday.”
|Age||34 (July 29 1981)|
|Best result in Italy||1st (2007, 2010)|
#22 Jenson Button
“Monza is such a great place, definitely one of the most incredible races on the calendar for a driver, and always such a thrill to race on. It’s completely unique in terms of the setup it demands, and I love the feeling you get when you hit the sweet spot in the corners – keeping the car controlled under heavy braking on the way in is tricky, and then on the way out it becomes very unsettled as you’re trying to get the power down, so it’s a great test of nerve.
“Spa was a very tough race for the team, and especially so on my side of the garage due to the deployment issues I had on the straights. We’re working hard on this and we’re optimistic that there won’t be a repeat in Monza, as it really hindered any chance I had of keeping up with the rest of the pack. That said, Monza’s high speeds will prove very challenging for us, but we’ll give it our all and stay focussed as ever.
“The key for us will be getting the maximum from the car on Saturday, to give ourselves a fighting chance of a good battle on Sunday afternoon. Despite the issues, the car was well balanced in Spa and felt good to drive, particularly in qualifying, so we’ll aim to make the most of that in Monza, too, before we head to the fly-aways where there’ll be circuits that’ll suit our car’s strengths much better.”
|Age||35 (January 19 1980)|
|Best result in Italy||2nd (2009, 2010, 2011)|
Eric Boullier - Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“Firstly, on behalf of everyone at McLaren-Honda, we extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Justin Wilson at this incredibly difficult time. He was not only a much-loved member of the Formula 1 and motorsport community, but also well-known to many members of our team, and the tragic news of his passing puts all of our racing activities into sharp perspective. Rest in peace, Justin.
“As we move our thoughts to Monza, the race which marks the end of the European leg of the season, it’s often a good opportunity to look further ahead to the end of the season and the final fly-away races of the year. It’s certainly been a tough year for McLaren-Honda so far, but we’re continuing to fight with our heads held high.
“Spa was a particularly unflattering race for our package, which disappointingly masked many signs of progress we were hoping to see after the summer break. However, we always knew Spa would be one of, if not the, most challenging grand prix of the season, and we were certainly proved right. On the other hand, we also took some positives from the weekend and we’re working hard to ensure we achieve the same consistent tyre performance and improved car balance that we saw in Spa-Francorchamps.
“In terms of Monza’s characteristics, it’s another high-speed, low downforce track, and a unique challenge, with long straights and heavy braking. For this reason, we expect this race will be difficult for us in similar ways to Spa, but our aim is to finish the race with both cars and learn as much as we can from the weekend in anticipation of Singapore and beyond, where we’re hopeful of demonstrating improved pace. In Monza, the passionate fans and incredible atmosphere that are always guaranteed there will surely provide us with a fantastic weekend of racing on this legendary circuit.”
Yasuhisa Arai - Chief Officer of Motorsport, Honda R&D Co Ltd
"Monza is another high-speed track which unfortunately does not suit our package. The drivers are on full throttle for most of the lap due to the long straights and fast corners, and since maximum power and minimal drag are key we know we have a big challenge ahead of us this weekend.
“We know we still have a lot of work to do, but we also know we're heading in the right direction to start achieving our goals. As always, the team will continue to work tirelessly, and we will remain determined and focused on the job at hand."