FACTS, STATS, BETTING ODDS AND MORE
Monza slipstreamer classic on the cards Why the DRS rear wing could bring back to life memories of glories past at the historic Italian cathedral of speed
Monza is the fastest circuit on the Formula 1 calendar, as demonstrated by Juan Pablo Montoya’s unofficial record during pre-qualifying in 2004 when he lapped at 162.949mph. A power circuit in the purest sense, it will be intriguing to see how the DRS rear wing changes things around the classic Milanese track.
Teams always bring ultra-lowdownforce packages to Monza. But so far this year, the trend has been to run a little extra downforce at tracks like Montreal and Spa and then use the DRS in qualifying to offset the drag. It’s likely to be the same at Monza. But with the DRS most effective in creating overtaking at tracks with long straights, there is the potential for plenty of passing at Monza, particularly with two activation zones, one located on the start/ finish straight and the other on the run from Lesmo 2 to the Ascari chicane.
“Potentially, it will be easy on the start/finish because the straight is very long and the slipstream effect is there,” says Heikki Kovalainen, who finished second for McLaren in the ’08 Italian GP. “That, combined with the DRS, could make it relatively easy. But it’s still difficult to follow through the Parabolica because it’s a relatively fast corner.”
You could say a similar thing about the second DRS zone, which follows another fourth-gear corner, albeit a far shorter one. But how straightforward the pass is will depend on whether you can blast ahead of your quarry before the braking zone. This is because defending on the inside is easy.
There’s an argument saying that whoever is leading exiting Lesmo 2 on the final lap could be second favourite for victory. For the DRS zone on start/finish is unlikely to be positioned to allow a pass in time for the line, making the dash for the Ascari chicane crucial.
The other main challenge at Monza is driving the skinny aero set-ups that sacrifice grip for acceleration and top speeds. Kovalainen reckons that the challenge of driving this configuration of car is not so huge.
“It’s something that you get used to very quickly actually,” he says. “They still have a reasonable amount of grip even though the car does slide around a bit more. It’s not as dramatic as people say, even though you can feel the lack of downforce.”
16 autosport.com September 8 2011 F1 PREVIEW ITALIAN GP
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RUBENS BARRICHELLO (2004)
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Monza: where top speed is king
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SEBASTIAN VETTEL Monza is not particularly physically demanding, but because we drive with less rear wing than at other circuits, the car can be more unstable; accelerating out of Parabolica is a balancing act where you cannot make even the smallest mistake.
JENSON BUTTON It’s going to be the usual diﬃcult trade-oﬀ between drag and downforce to find the ultimate package for the race. Last year I went for more grip, at the expense of straight-line speed. That meant that, although I had the laptime, I didn’t quite have the opportunity to mount an attack for the win.
HEIKKI KOVALAINEN One of the keys to a quick lap is how well you use the kerbs. It helps minimise the overall length of the lap, and shortcutting as much as you can, obviously within the rules and as much as the car can take, saves time and helps you maintain momentum.
PARABOLICA The Parabolica is one of the oldest corners on the calendar, scene of the build-up to some of the most dramatic slipstreaming finishes in F1 history. With a fast approach, drivers drop down to fourth gear at the apex and must use the full width at the track at the exit. Any unexploited potential in the long-right hander can make a big diﬀerence to exit speed, and therefore overall lap-time. A classic corner.
1995 Johnny Herbert took the spoils after Damon Hill took out Michael Schumacher. Ferrari led until Jean Alesi retired with a broken wheel bearing, shortly after his on-car camera had fallen oﬀ and broken team-mate Gerhard Berger’s suspension.
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