Button ready for ‘historical’ Monza weekend
31 August 2013
While a victory may be out of the question, there will still be much for McLaren to celebrate at next weekend's Italian Grand Prix, according to Jenson Button.
The Briton heads to Monza on the back of a hard-earned sixth place in Belgium, but admits that there is more to look forward to whenever F1 returns to one of its 'original' circuits.
The Autodromo di Monza, which again hosts the final European stop on the F1 tour, remains the fastest venue on the calendar, with an average speed in excess of 150mph, but it is also one of the season's most historic venues. Built in 1922, the circuit has hosted the Italian Grand Prix every year bar one since 1950 – the 1980 edition was staged at Imola – and the teams and drivers revel in the unique atmosphere of the royal park.
To add to the occasion, McLaren – which boasts an enviable record of ten victories in the Italian Grand Prix - celebrates its 50th anniversary next week, leaving Button hoping for a strong result to mark the milestone.
“I've always loved Monza,” the Briton admitted, “I really enjoy circuits that have a bit of history to them, and Monza has that in abundance – it's one of the greatest tracks on the calendar.
“The place is unique: ever since we lost the 'old' Hockenheim, this has been the only place on the calendar where you run a really super-low downforce configuration - and you can feel it. The car accelerates up to speed incredibly quickly, feels skittish and loose when you're running flat-out, and can be tricky and unpredictable under braking. But that's what makes the place a special kind of challenge, and I really enjoy that.
“When you have the car hooked up beneath you, you get into a special kind of rhythm around Monza. You're going so fast that the whole lap just flows together. There's nowhere quite like it.
“It's really appropriate that McLaren will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in the paddock over the Monza weekend. Both names are synonymous with motorsport history – you couldn't imagine F1 without them – so I'll be hoping for a strong result to show the strength and depth that we have as a team.”
Even with its long straights and its two DRS zones, Monza is a difficult circuit upon which to overtake. The Italian Grand Prix has been won from pole position 10 times in the last 13 years, making pole position at Monza more important than at Monaco over the same period!
With the team unlikely to be challenging for either pole or victory, however, team principal Martin Whitmarsh agrees that the real celebration will be taking place off-track.
“This year's Italian Grand Prix will be a very special weekend for the whole team, as we celebrate a landmark for any sporting organisation, let alone a grand prix team,” he noted, “Since the formation of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd in September 1963, and our F1 debut at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, no team has won more races than McLaren – an incredible record.
“It's appropriate that we'll be marking the passage of time at a circuit that is both venerable and yet eternally evergreen: in terms of history, nothing really comes close to Monza in terms of capturing the spirits past of motor racing. Yet, it's also the fastest racetrack in F1, a temple to raw speed, and a circuit that will always deserve its place on the calendar. It's richly evocative, and a place that I love.
“We have some special events and surprises planned to mark our anniversary, but it'll be Monza itself that will make the weekend unique.”