Panasonic Toyota Racing driver Allan McNish reflects on the Italian Grand Prix, a promising performance and a lot, lot more:

"That was a disappointing one! Right from the very start I thought that the Italian Grand Prix would offer us the chance of a good result and I wasn't wrong. It's just a shame that a suspension problem prevented me from getting on the scoreboard."

"It is no secret that engine performance is one of the strongest aspects of our package and Monza is another circuit that really allows you to race."

"It is now the fastest circuit left on the calendar and so you run in very low downforce trim, which means that the car feels much more on a knife-edge. Driving at Monza you know you are a racing driver! Monza is actually quite satisfying and although you do use the kerbs at the chicanes quite a bit, you are rewarded for precision. You can overtake too, which has to be good news."

"Monza is one of those places with a huge racing history and heritage. All you have to do is look at the old banking. It is highly impressive..."

"There was quite a lot of excitement in the media when Juan Pablo Montoya's pole position lap broke Keke Rosberg's record for having the highest average speed over a single lap - a record that dates back to Silverstone in 1985. That is really just an illustration of the constant progress in Formula 1."

"Monza is a very different track to Silverstone and I think it's even more impressive that Rubens Barrichello's race-winning average speed was just short of Peter Gethin's record in 1971. Okay, you might say, that was three decades ago, and so it was, but back then the track was flat-out all the way and now we have three chicanes!"

"As far as our own weekend was concerned, I was relatively happy with the car balance. We only have 12 laps in qualifying to get the best possible result. Normally we complete four runs of three laps - an out lap, a flying lap and an in-lap, but the conditions at Monza meant that to get the best out of the tyres both myself and Mika [Salo] opted for two flying laps and only three runs. The downside with that is that it is much harder to anticipate getting a clear run and, in keeping with some of my luck this year, I got held up on my best effort and had two fewer flying laps than Mika.2

"Still, 13th on the grid was quite good and certainly a very different proposition from a similar starting position at somewhere like Hungaroring, where overtaking during the race is almost impossible. There are some good places to get by at Monza ,so I ran very little wing in the race and really went for it."

"I got through the first chicane really well and came out seventh! When Ralf Schumacher stopped early on I was in a points position before the end of lap five and starting to think that this was going to be my day."

"However it wasn't to be. The car started to become unstable under braking, especially at Ascari, where you have rapid directional changes. At first I thought it might just be the rubber going off, but then it got worse and the steering wheel was at an angle. I had to pit early. I went back out but the problem was still there and I had no choice but to retire from the race."

"We were intending to pit stop only once and I was comfortable at the pace of the car. I don't think I could have achieved a podium place, but I am certain that fourth place was possible."

"We now go to Paul Ricard to prepare for the last two races, at Indianapolis and Suzuka. Indy is another place with a tremendous racing history and I have to say I'm really looking forward to going there. It's largely unknown territory for us because it's one of the places where we didn't run during our test year. As ever though, we will give it our best.

Allan McNish.

This story is courtesy of the Toyota media site.



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