Even though his activity on track will, hopefully, be restricted to just two hours on Friday morning, Renault test driver Allan McNish is looking forward to going to Monza this weekend.

The Scot admits that the Italian track is one he looks forward to going to each season, particularly because of its notable differences to the other, largely homogenous, venues on the calendar.

"It is very different to every other circuit we go to and, because of the very high speeds, is now unique on the calendar," McNish explained, "As well as providing different challenges from a driving point of view, though, it is also steeped in history. You can still visit the old banking, and there is a special atmosphere watching the cars go round. It is strange, but you can almost feel that great drivers like Fangio and Clark have raced and won there."

Even though it is the fastest track now on the schedule, however, the Scot points out that Monza also provides a distinct technical challenge to the drivers.

"Above all, Monza is about precision," he said, "The very low levels of downforce mean there is no margin for error, and any small mistakes in the corners see a dramatic penalty in terms of your speed down the straights that follow. Compared to Budapest, it requires a very different style of driving - you still need to attack, but while driving with your fingertips. It is a little like driving in the wet."

Although he did not take part in last week's group test at the Italian venue, McNish believes the Renault R23 can be among the frontrunners this weekend - even if not necessarily challenging for the victory as it did in Hungary last time out.

"As for overall performance, we have managed to find a raceable set-up each time this year, using the car's good mechanical grip to achieve the correct compromise on downforce levels," he reasoned, "The other important factor will be the quick corners, and we know the car handles very well at high speed. That will be crucial for achieving good straightline speed.

"In terms of Friday morning, however, I think most teams will have a pretty good idea of their set-ups after testing last week, so the main benefit of the [extra two-hour test] session will be in fine-tuning the car to the conditions. It rained during testing and, now we are coming to the end of summer, there are no guarantees that the weather will remain stable all weekend...."

 

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