Italy 2020 - GP preview - Renault F1
Fourth place and the fastest lap in Belgium meant Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed his best race with the team to date. Now the Australian is looking ahead to Monza this weekend, a circuit and place he enjoys.
What do you like about Monza?
Monza is one of my favourite tracks. It’s probably not typical for my style as I love street circuits with walls and the close shaves. But Monza is high-speed and a lot of fun, especially with the low downforce as the car skates around. I really like the setting in the park and I certainly get a buzz there. It’s also home to the best pizza in the world, which is my weekend fuel. Although there won’t be fans there, you can feel the awesome energy about the place. My background is Italian, so I do love it there.
After the result last year what can we expect this weekend?
We had a very good result last year with fourth and fifth as a team there in the race. Let’s try and go one better this year! I’m feeling confident going into it especially after our performance in Spa. We showed what we can do at a low downforce track in both qualifying and the race. The result was great in Spa, so we’re determined to do it again this weekend.
After matching his best ever result in Formula 1 in Spa last weekend, Esteban Ocon is focused on this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix. Esteban has close links to Italy as he aims to push on for another good result.
What are your memories of Monza?
Monza is a really fun track. I have good memories from there back in 2017, when I started the race from third after qualifying fifth in the rain. I had a good race fighting with the Ferraris, which was nice. In 2018, I qualified quite well in eighth and ended up sixth in the race, which was also a great result. My years in Monza have been decent and I’m going there with the aim of replicating Spa. That’s the target. Our performance in Spa shows we’re capable of some good things and the similar track characteristics means we should be in a good position to get strong points. I have quite close links to Italy. I lived there in my Formula 3 days with Prema Racing and most of my karting was also in Italy. I speak Italian, so I reckon 40% of my life is Italy!
What are the challenges of the circuit?
The main challenges of Monza are straight line speed and braking. You need good brakes after coming into corners from high-speed. The engine is going to play a big part as always at power sensitive circuits. There are some legendary corners there: Parabolica, Ascari, the Lesmos and Curva Grande. They are all quite unique in the way you take them.
How do you look back on last weekend’s race?
We can certainly go to Monza feeling ready and determined for a good result. We showed at a track like Spa what we’re capable of achieving, and I think we can do the same this weekend if we execute our plan. I was happy with the race in Spa, especially the last lap overtake for fifth, which put us behind Daniel for a good team result. Thanks to everyone for their hard work and I’m sure we’ll continue to push across these next two Italian races.
The team enjoyed its best result since returning to Formula 1 in 2016 in Belgium with 23 points from Daniel’s fourth place, and fastest lap, and Esteban’s fifth place. Chief Race Engineer Ciaron Pilbeam assesses the team’s performance and looks ahead to this weekend’s race in Monza.
What are the main challenges of Monza?
Spa and Monza are both low downforce circuits. The two chicanes at Monza are the only slower corners on the circuit, with big braking events before them. The other corners are medium to high speed, and there are three long straights, which makes the circuit even lower downforce than Spa. The weather can be up and down in Monza as the race is in late summer/early autumn, so we need to keep an eye on the forecast and ensure we’re ready for any conditions that might occur.
How would you assess last weekend’s race?
The race weekend in Spa went very well for us. The car handled well in the lower downforce configuration and both drivers were happier with it than they had been in Barcelona right from the beginning of the weekend. The whole team performed well over the weekend, and chassis, engine, strategy and factory support all contributed to the result. It’s great to get a result like that, not only for the championship points that it brings, but for the confidence of the team and the belief that we can achieve more.
After a good team result in Spa, what can we expect this weekend?
We were competitive in Spa, and we’re hoping for another good weekend. We were competitive in Monza last year, finishing 4th and 5th, and we have just seen again that the car is good on lower downforce. If we can put together another weekend like the last one we hope to score some good points. The technical directive that comes into force in Monza, regarding qualifying and race engine modes, will affect all teams to some extent, and it will be interesting to see whether it affects the order of the grid in qualifying and the race.
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