Round 14 of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to the outskirts of Milan for the Italian Grand Prix. The 53-lap race is staged at the 5.793km (3.600-mile) Autodromo Nazionale di Monza and marks the end of F1’s European season.
Alex Wurz: “There is something very special about Monza. The setting, the noise of the tifosi, the old banking crumbling in the background, the name - I like it all! It’s the only super-fast track on the calendar and everything happens very quickly for the drivers. It takes a few laps to get used to it, even if you’ve been racing all year.
“In terms of driving style, Monza is an incredibly interesting mixture. On the one hand you have to be very harsh with your car by being super-aggressive over the curbs, but you also have to treat it with respect by being very careful with the throttle because of the low downforce.
“Turn 1 is all about braking. You don’t want to out-brake yourself, which can easily happen because the approach is so fast - 340kph (211mph) - and you then have to use the curbs a lot. You must make sure that you make a clean exit because the long straight around Curva Grande follows before you’re back on the brakes from high speed for the second chicane. The braking area is bumpy and you then have to jump over the curbs very aggressively, which is fun.
“You’re in fourth gear for the two Lesmos, which are both very slippery. The first one is slightly banked in your favor, so you have mid-corner understeer followed by exit oversteer. It’s then very important to have a good rhythm through the second Lesmo because it’s very easy to overdrive - and underdrive - the car and you need a good exit.
“Next up is Ascari, which is one of the best corners in Formula One. Braking is difficult because it’s bumpy and once you’ve turned in, you jump over the inside curb. You then get straight back on the power and you should aim to do the next right and left-handers just flat. If they are easy-flat, you have too much understeer or too much downforce, and if you can’t do it flat you lose too much time by lifting off.
“You then brake very late into the final corner, Parabolica. You hit the brakes at about 60 meters and change down from seventh to fourth. The car is always very nervous on the entry and you have to get back on the power before the apex, at which point you don’t know where you will hit the white line at the exit. It’s a ballsy situation. ”
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