“I got to Italy at the start of the week, visiting the Toro Rosso factory and I can’t wait to arrive in Monza, even if it is likely to be a complicated weekend for us. Spa was also meant to be a difficult weekend, but by fighting hard we managed to make the most of every opportunity to finish in the points again. I have good memories of the Monza track as I was on pole for my last two races there, even if it’s going to be a whole new challenge this year in a Formula 1 car. It will be something new to experience the top speeds in an F1 car at what is the fastest track of the year: the engineers tell me that with DRS and slipstreaming we should be doing over 360 km/h. It’s going to be an incredible feeling rushing down the straights and then coming to the very heavy braking areas. You really have a sensation of speed and that’s one of the things that make this circuit special. We will have a low downforce aero package compared to normal and that means we will be sliding a bit more, which is fine, as the key at Monza is to be fast down the straights. You spend almost 80% of the lap flat out so it’s important not to lose speed through the chicanes, which means doing a good job of riding the kerbs and then having good traction out of the corners. I’m looking forward to our last race of the year in Europe and hope we can go well at what is the home race for our team, with so many of them coming from the factory to the circuit to support us over the weekend.”
Brendon Hartley (Car 28):
“I’ve had some success at Monza in the past, I won a race there in Formula Renault 2.0 on my way to the European Championship, I had podium finishes there in Formula 3 and I remember testing there in LMP1 but we never raced. Monza has huge history, which means you can feel a special atmosphere as soon as you get there, and I’m really looking forward to driving a Formula 1 car there for the first time.
Monza is famous for the speeds you reach and, as a Formula 1 driver, you definitely become numb over time to these speeds, because we are going that quick a lot of the time. Damping and suspension are so good now that the cars are quite stable, which also makes the high speeds less obvious. But I think that at Monza, the Ascari Chicane, the Parabolica and hitting the brakes at more than 350 km/h is going to be a great experience, running with as low downforce as we can get away with, given that all the teams bring a Monza-specific aero package. So, the cars will be different to drive for everyone. Maybe it will create even better racing actually, 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, the amount of sliding, is not always visible to the spectators, even if it feels like a lot when you are in the car. So, at a track like Monza with lower downforce, I guess those issues are more obvious. Braking distances will be longer with less downforce, which creates more overtaking opportunities, especially as it’s 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. Racecraft is always at play there and the weather can also sometimes be a factor. It’s a track I’m looking forward to. It’s going to be a home race for us at Toro Rosso and so I’m expecting to see many Tricolore flags amongst the other ones.”