Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda driver Brendon Hartley expects the Monza-spec aero packages that Formula 1 teams will run during this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, will aid close racing and overtaking.
New Zealander Hartley is preparing for his first F1 race at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, although he did race at the circuit in junior formulae and took part in a test session in an LMP1 Porsche.
Due to the nature of the circuit, with long straights and fast corners, teams often bring ‘Monza-spec’ aerodynamic package to northern Italy in a bid to aid outright top speed and to eliminate as much drag and downforce for the chassis as possible.
And Hartley believes that the reduction in downforce can only be beneficial for overtaking. Dirty air from the rear of a car will disrupt the sensitive and complex aerodynamics of a following car, often making it difficult for a chasing driver to get close enough to attempt a move.
“[We will be] running with as [little] downforce as we can get away with, given that all the teams bring a Monza-specific aero package,” explained Hartley.
“The cars will be difficult to drive for everyone, [and] maybe it will create even better racing, because we have less downforce to lose when we’re following other cars and slipstreaming them.
“Usually, we have so much downforce and grip, all the corrections we’re doing [and] the amount of sliding, is not always visible to the spectators. So, at a track like Monza with lower downforce, I guess those issues are more obvious,” he continued.
“Braking distances will be longer with less downforce, which creates more overtaking opportunities, especially as it is easier to lock the front brakes. I guess in a way it will be a little bit more challenging for us and it will be enjoyable for sure.”
The race at Monza is Toro Rosso’s home grand prix, and is the tenth anniversary of the team’s only pole position, podium, and race win to date, when Sebastian Vettel put in one of the all-time great wet weather performances to take the honours at a drenched 2008 running.
And Hartley is optimistic that he and team-mate Pierre Gasly can deliver a good result for the team and fans, especially after Gasly scored two points in Belgium, on another power hungry circuit.
“Monza has [a] huge history, which means you can feel a special atmosphere as soon as you get there,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to driving a Formula 1 car there for the first time.
“It is going to be a home race for us at Toro Rosso and so I’m expecting to see many (Italian) Tricolore flags.”