The Sauber F1 Team continue their search for their first points of the season as the Formula 1 circus arrives at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix. Neither Adrian Sutil nor Esteban Gutierrez have up-to-now finished inside the top ten, and with the Ferrari power unit in their car, they expect another testing weekend in Italy.
Sutil has happy memories of the Monza circuit, having taken his career-best finish here in 2009 whilst driving for the Force India team. With the circuit being the fastest Formula 1 will visit all season, the German is wondering what the comparison between the top speeds of this year compared to other years will be, with straight-line speed generally quicker than in recent times in 2014.
“The race weekend in Monza is always a very special event due to the popularity of Formula 1 and the Tifosi,” said Sutil. “It is surely one of my favourite Grands Prix, as the Italians are great fans, and they generate a nice atmosphere around the track. The circuit is the fastest on the calendar, and I am curious about the top speed on the straights with the new engines.
“The car needs to be stable under braking, as in the first chicane we reduce our speed from approximately 340 kph to about 60 kph, and on top of that we hit the kerbs. On the long straights a high top speed is important, which can be achieved by a very low downforce.
“As Pirelli has chosen the medium and hard compounds, it could be a challenge for us to bring the tyres up to temperature. After the German Grand Prix, the race weekend in Monza is another home race for the team, as the track is not far away from the Swiss border. I am looking forward to racing there, the Italian Grand Prix has a remarkable history.”
Team-mate Gutierrez feels the Italian Grand Prix is very special, and is looking forward to getting out on track on Friday. He understands the importance of the set-up at the circuit, with a vastly reduced downforce level necessary for quick lap times.
“I am looking forward to going to Monza,” said Gutierrez. “Due to the track layout, we need a high top speed in order to be fast on the straights. Monza’s characteristics are different in comparison to the other circuits on the calendar. On one side, there are long straights, but on the other there are also two very slow chicanes on which we will use the kerbs. Therefore, the mechanical set-up of the car is crucial.
“From an aerodynamic point of view, it is important to have low drag, and, as a result, the downforce is much reduced. Ascari and Parabolica are my favorite corners on the track. In Monza it is not only the circuit that is special, but also the event itself. I am always excited to go there.”
Third driver Giedo van der Garde will take over Sutil’s car for the first free practice session of the weekend, and is looking forward to the session, and will be using the session to work on and analyse what the set-up should be on the car.
“It is great to be back again in the cockpit on Friday morning,” said van der Garde. “Particularly in Monza, there is always a special atmosphere, and the Italian people are really passionate about motorsport. I like this high-speed track, and with the new engines and the special aero package we will be very quick on the straights.
“It is important to have a high straight-line speed, and to be fast through the chicanes. We need to find a compromise with the downforce level resulting in a high straight-line speed, but also finding the right set-up for a stable car. During the first free practice session we will test different configurations in order to find the best possible package.
“My favorite corner is Ascari, which is very technical and for me a perfect combination. I believe the spectators will see a lot of oversteering cars there. The track has quite high kerbs, while when you brake hard the rear is moving and the car is sliding around. It is good fun, and I look forward to driving there.”
Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara knows the unique nature of the Monza necessitates that the car be set up with the minimal downforce, but is worried the team might not be able to get the best out of the tyres with Pirelli bringing the hardest two compounds to the circuit.
“Racing at Monza is special,” said Dall’Ara. “The engineering challenges posed by such a circuit are standalone. On the long straights the car hits speeds that aren’t reached anywhere else. Even if the number of corners per lap is low, every range of cornering speed is covered. Strong braking is fundamental, as well as traction out of the chicanes and stability over the bumps and kerbs.
“The car’s set up is heavily biased towards speed, and the drivers need to somehow reset their references to the minimal level of downforce carried. As for the tyre allocation, Pirelli have opted for the hard and the medium compounds, which is a very conservative choice. One step softer sounded more sensible for such a circuit, and we suspect that a number of teams will struggle to get the primes into their temperature-working window.”