It may feel like the 2005 Formula One season has been going on forever, but there are still five races left and a lot of work to do. The pace of development continues unabated and Panasonic Toyota Racing heads to this weekend's Italian Grand Prix looking for yet more points from its strongest ever season in F1. Monza is one of the calendar's traditional, historic venues. It is also the fastest track of the year, with long straights that prove a challenge to the even the most powerful and reliable engines. Toyota stands in 4th place in the constructors' championship, but with only 15 points separating the team from a place in the top three, Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher will be pushing hard to close the gap.
JT GOIN' HOME
Italy's Jarno Trulli always enjoys the special atmosphere of his home grand prix at Monza and he hopes to have something to celebrate with the local fans on Sunday evening.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16): "It is always nice to return to Monza. I like the place, I like the atmosphere and I have usually had good results there. The main characteristic of Monza is the speed of the circuit. Good straight-line speed is essential so you run with very little wing. That means the car feels very light to drive and it can be nervous, so it is essential to drive smoothly. Because you run with such a low level of downforce, that has an effect under braking and acceleration, not just in the corners. There is a lot of hard braking and you have to brake earlier than you do anywhere else. The main factor that can affect tyres is blistering, so that's what we have to minimise, particularly coming out of the slow corners. You also need good traction, so the engine is important but it's also crucial to have a good aero package. I'm looking forward to the weekend and it will be great to go there with a car that can challenge for the points or even a podium."
IT'S A HISTORY TO ME
Ralf Schumacher does not usually wax lyrical about the traditions of grand prix racing, but a trip to Monza is enough to stir even his interest in the F1 of days gone by.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17): "You can tell that Monza is somewhere special. I am not deeply into the sport's heritage like some people but the setting is great, and you just have to see the old banking to appreciate the history. That is pushed even further by the track's surroundings in the Royal Park and the nearby Villa Reale. The fans, of course, are unique, even if most of them are supporting the other red car! Monza is very fast with long straights interspersed by chicanes. You have to be very precise to gain as much momentum as possible, so I enjoy the challenge of moving from the fast to slow sections. You run the car in low downforce trim and so it can feel ‘loose.' You try to counter that with the set-up because you want to have confidence under the heavy braking needed, especially for the first chicane. The car's behaviour on the kerbs is also important and the track is perhaps the most demanding of the season for engines. This year, with the two-race engines, it will be an even tougher challenge."
FULL SPEED AHEAD
The Italian Grand Prix's home at Monza is the quickest circuit on the calendar and it puts even more pressure than usual on the performance of the engine.
Luca Marmorini – Technical Director Engine: "Engine performance is a key issue at Monza. It is a high speed track for which engine power is very important, but reliability is also crucial. We will run at full throttle for more than 75% of the lap, which makes Monza – together with Spa-Francorchamps a week later – one of the most challenging tracks for reliability. Traction is important, but in order to go quickly around Monza it is even more important to ride the kerbs well. When it comes to set-up, that makes it a difficult compromise for getting the quickest possible lap time. We run with one of the lowest downforce levels of the year, but we use a specific set-up for Monza. Like all the other teams, we will make full use of the data gleaned from last week's test at the circuit to ensure we hit the ground running as soon as Friday free practice gets under way."