Sports | 01 September 2017

Italian Grand Prix: Welcome to the Temple of Speed

With peaks of an eye-watering 350kph, Monza witnesses the most extreme speeds of the Formula 1 season – definitely not one for the faint of heart!
by Caroline De Beaumont

Built in 1921, Monza is one of the world’s most iconic circuits – not only because it is the oldest track on the current Formula 1 World Championship calendar, but more particularly since it is quite unique. Located not far from Milan’s world-famous cathedral – the third-largest church on the planet – Monza immediately established itself as a temple dedicated to the gods of speed. It is no great surprise that the six fastest grands prix in F1 history all took place at this circuit.

The progressive introduction of chicanes – designed to curb the enthusiasm of the sport’s more reckless drivers – has not in any way diluted the challenge or reputation of this extraordinary circuit.

It was at Monza that we recorded our highest top speed last year – 350kph during the grand prix itself. Monza is unquestionably the scene of some of the highest speeds we see anywhere in F1, as well as the highest average lap speed, which makes it the shortest race of the season time-wise.” Ciaron Pilbeam, Renault Sport Formula One Team Chief Race Engineer

Last year, pole position was achieved at an average of 257kph, with the average race speed a similarly impressive 237kph. In this weekend’s 13th round of the 2017 campaign, those figures look set to climb even higher.

In 2016, pole position was a lap of 1m21.135s. In light of the new regulations this season, we are expecting that benchmark to be some two seconds quicker again...”  Ciaron Pilbeam, Renault Sport Formula One Team Chief Race Engineer

Indeed, we may well see a new fastest lap in the history of F1 this weekend. The existing record was laid down by Juan-Pablo Montoya in 2004 at an average speed of 262.242kph – at Monza, naturally!

Paradoxically, the top speeds achieved last year may not necessarily be surpassed.

The new regulations do not mean we go any quicker in a straight line. The cars now have increased aerodynamic drag, and that means top speeds on the straight are in actual fact a little lower than before.”  Ciaron Pilbeam, Renault Sport Formula One Team Chief Race Engineer

As a consequence, it is through the famous Curva Grande, Curve di Lesmo, Variante Ascari and awe-inspiring Parabolica that the drivers must make the difference. Nico Hülkenberg and Jolyon Palmer are eager to get out on-track to tackle these celebrated corners, even if they know they do not come without their risks.

The circuit layout means we have to run with a low-downforce configuration on the car to favour top speed, which is particularly important at this track. Having such low downforce becomes uncomfortable sometimes as the car feels light and quite floaty, which can be a bit of a struggle.”
Nico Hülkenberg, Renault Sport Formula One Team Driver

See you at 2:00pm local time on Sunday to watch our very own speed gods in action!


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