2016 Formula One Italian Grand Prix, Preview
Vijay Mallya on Monza
Team Principal, Vijay Mallya, celebrates the strong showing in Spa and targets more points in Monza.
Vijay, one of the best results in the team’s history in Belgium – you must be pleased?
VJM: “Spa has always been a special place for us – we scored our very first points and podium there in 2009, and this year’s race didn’t disappoint us either. We were strong from the first practice session through to Sunday afternoon thanks to an excellent all-round team performance. We could have been on the podium had some circumstances played out differently, but when you earn 22 points in one race weekend there is no reason to complain at all.”
The team has scored 89 points since Monaco and is sitting in fourth in the constructors’ championship. What next for Sahara Force India this season?
VJM: “We need to keep working hard because every race between now and the end of the year will be crucial. To be fourth in the championship is a fantastic feeling for the team, but it will mean nothing unless we are in this position after Abu Dhabi. The battle in the midfield is getting closer: the gaps are getting smaller and the margins of error disappearing. We know some tracks will work really well for us and we will keep pushing hard all the way.”
We now get to the final European race of the season – in Monza’s Temple of Speed…
VJM: “The Italian Grand Prix is one of the best races of the season. It has all the ingredients that make Formula One special. We saw a huge turnout of fans in Belgium last week and I’m sure the tifosi will help create a fantastic atmosphere this weekend too. Monza is a track that rewards top speed and pushes the engine to its limit. Given our competitive form in Spa, I’m confident we can keep up the momentum this weekend.”
Nico on Monza
Nico Hulkenberg gets ready for magical Monza following his season-best result in Spa.
Nico: “Monza is a great place to go racing. There are so many different destinations on the calendar and there is something special about each one of them, but Monza is legendary. It’s a unique track, with very high speeds and low downforce. The setting in the park of Monza is beautiful: the moment you drive through the gates, you feel all the history of the place coming at you. The tifosi, the Italian fans, add to this combination and create a fantastic vibe.
“Monza is just on the outskirts of Milan, which is a very interesting place, but during a race weekend you’re just too busy to go and explore. The parties on Sunday night are not too bad, though! We go to Italy at the end of the summer and the weather is usually still quite hot. Great weather, great fans, great food – it all adds up to make a very cool race.
“Few tracks push the car to the limit as Monza does. There is no margin for error in the braking zones and every mistake costs you time. In terms of set-up, you need to strike a balance between high speed on the straights and downforce in the corners, but the focus is firmly on top speed. You also need good traction, to make the most of the long straights. We have been doing well on these sort of tracks, so I expect us to be competitive and fighting for points.”
Sergio on Monza
Sergio Perez looks forward to the high-speed challenge of Monza.
Sergio: “After a month off on holiday, Spa was the best way to get back into action. We had a very positive weekend, an exciting race and we’re now fourth in the championship!
“Italy is one of my favourite places: the people are very warm and welcoming, and they’re absolutely crazy for Formula One. The passion you see from the Italian fans reminds me of the atmosphere we saw in Mexico. There’s so much support; everyone is chanting and waving flags and there are so many people asking us for a photo when we arrive at or leave the track.
“I have great memories from Monza and it’s where I’ve had some of my best races. When I was racing in F3, I had the best weekend of my career there: I started 14th in both races and went on to win both. I scored a podium there in Formula One and I’ve always had a special relationship with the track. It’s not just what happens at the venue – I have a lot of good friends living nearby and it’s just a very enjoyable experience.
“As a fan of our sport, I know Monza has a special place in the history of Formula One. It’s one of the circuits where Formula One should always race. It’s so incredibly fast and the key to a quick lap is to be good under braking and have good traction out of the corners. You brake really hard at the end of the straights and the car moves a lot: you run with very little wing and having a good balance is very important.
“You feel the lightness of the car in every corner because you’ve got so little aero load and it’s even hard to keep the steering wheel level on the straights. The two Lesmo corners are crucial: you need to be stable under braking and control your traction – get wheelspin out of the corner and you’ll destroy your tyres. Then you have the Parabolica: it lost a little of its challenge with the tarmac run-off but you still need to be very precise and use the very last inch of track in this interesting corner.”