3 September 2014
F1: McLaren keen to maintain progress at ‘crazy’ Monza
Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button hope to build on their recent performance at Spa as the F1 circus heads for the unique low downforce challenge of the Italian GP.
Buoyed by their performance in the Belgium Grand Prix, McLaren drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button are hoping for a solid haul of points in Italy.
Although the Dane was ultimately hit with a 30-second penalty that dropped him out of the points, sixth and seventh places on the road at Spa-Francorchamps provided sufficient confirmation of McLaren's revised low downforce set-up that the Woking team heads to Monza with renewed confidence.
“I think we showed at Spa that our low-downforce package has kept us in the mix, and I'd like to come away from the Italian weekend with some good points for the team,” rookie Magnussen announced, “I certainly think we're making progress, and it would be good to pull it all together over the course of a single weekend.”
The youngster has good memories of Monza – as he has with many of the tracks he is revisiting this season – but knows that he will not have faced anything like the challenge of driving an F1 car around the fastest circuit on the schedule.
“I last raced at Monza in the World Series by Renault 3.5 back in April last year - I was runner-up in both events and took a pole too,” he recalled, “I'm looking forward to getting back there: it's such a great racetrack, and, as it's a grand prix I've watched since I was very young, it's a place where I've always wanted to race an F1 car.
“With this year's hybrid cars, I think Monza will be spectacular. We're expecting to see top-speeds in the region of about 345km/h (214mph) – and that's without a tow!”
Team-mate Jenson Button has plenty of F1 experience at the royal park, but agrees that this year's cars, with turbos and DRS/ERS assistance, will be something else again.
“I think every racing driver looks forward to Monza, [and] I'll never grow tired of going there,” the veteran of 259 grands prix admitted, “Driving out of the pits at Monza is always cool. You've been so used to the higher downforce levels that we run at most other circuits, that it just feels crazy when the speed keeps rising and rising – it never seems to end.
“You're running such low levels of downforce that braking and accelerating are made much trickier. Under heavy braking, the car is constantly trying to break away from you and, equally, when you're trying to get the throttle down, the car is unsettled, so the rear is squirming around.
“With ERS and DRS, I think we could have a very special Monza race, but it's such a fast circuit that it really requires a different driving approach to any other circuit on the calendar. It's a unique challenge.”
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