HRT boss Colin Kolles recognises that to succeed in Italy the team must find some of the speed that they lacked during the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend.
The Spanish team had a disappointing race in Spa-Francorchamps – Daniel Ricciardo recorded his first DNF of his career after a mechanical problem and Vitantonio Liuzzi finished the race last of the classified runners. With Monza sharing some of the high-speed characteristics of the Belgian circuit, Kolles may be a bit optimistic in his wishes for a ‘good level of performance’ in Italy next weekend.
“The Autodromo di Monza is a power circuit and we must find the speed that we lacked at the Belgian Grand Prix,” he acknowledges. “We have to find a very low downforce set-up for the car to achieve the maximum speed potential. The cars are difficult to control and the drivers have to be attentive and concentrated. We want to show a good level of performance and be able to finish the last race of the European 2011 season with both cars for the eighth time this season”.
The teams ability to compete at Monza will definitely matter to Liuzzi, who will be one of two Italian drivers on the grid this weekend. “To race at the home Grand Prix for a driver always gives mixed emotions,” he explains. “I will take the wheel of an F1 car in Monza for the fifth time in my career and I really want to perform well. I am always looking forward to racing here because it’s my home crowd and I want to do well and I want to pull it all together. And if it’s at Monza, it’s true that it will be even more satisfying. I want this Grand Prix to become a special event for my fans and I have prepared a special surprise for them.”
However, Liuzzi also recognises that HRT may well struggle on the long straights of this historic track: In terms of racing, Monza could be a tricky weekend as one of the key factors is having good mechanical grip for braking stability into the chicanes, and good traction on the exit. Drivers have to be careful at the first chicane after the start finish line, as it can lead to contact with a competitor or a trip over the kerbs. At the same time we need to achieve the highest speed possible at the exit of the corners to make up positions”.
Ricciardo, although Australian, does have some links with Italy, and is hoping for a good race at the season’s European finale. “It won't be the first time in my career racing at Monza, but as a rookie in Formula 1, I will be at the wheel of a completely different car than any I have previously experienced,” he says.
“I am counting on my Italian roots to push me to a good performance in Italy. Monza is a special track that will require a very different approach to the other tracks that I have driven. It is a low downforce, high speed track with heavy braking required into the chicanes, so it’s going to be another experience to put in the book.
“I want to put behind my first F1 non-finish at the last race in Spa. The word of the weekend is speed and it will be possible with team-work”.