- Sam Bird's track preview
Bird's eye view of MonzaSam Bird September 4, 2013
Monza is a very historical circuit and the fastest on the calendar. It's one where I've enjoyed some fantastic races at in the past - I got my first ever GP2 feature race win there in my rookie season when I was driving for ART - and it holds some very good memories for me.
Because of the high speed and need for low drag, we take the top plane completely off the rear wing of the GP2 car to increase our straight-line speed. You've also got to be good on the brakes and good on traction, but straight-line speed is what really matters.
The first chicane requires a very big stop. Your braking point is hard to judge because it's somewhere between the 100 and 150 metre braking boards and during the time on the straight your brakes have cooled down a bit. So to judge the braking point right and not lock up is quite tricky. You then have to have a good front end to turn in, take all the kerb at the first phase of the corner and then all the kerb at the second phase and try to get on the power nicely to take as much speed as possible onto the long curving straight towards the second chicane.
The second chicane requires another big stop. Occasionally you'll see overtaking there but it's trickier to do it there than into Turn 1. One of the great things about this track is that there are so many overtaking possibilities, which makes for great racing and close racing as well.
After darting across the kerbs at the second chicane and exiting as best as possible, next up are the two Lesmos. The first one is a longer 90 degree corner that you carry speed into and use all of the kerb on exit. The second one is a more direct 90 degree corner where you use third gear, and again you need to get the exit spot on as there is a long straight afterwards.
The straight undulates before Ascari, which is an awesome chicane. You brake roughly at the 100 metre board and go down to third gear before firing it over the first kerb, which you can really attack. The rear of the car is then just on the edge of breaking loose as you take on the right hander, change direction and go into the final phase - the left hander. You really need to be nearly flat or completely flat through there if you want a good lap time or want to attack somebody down the straight heading to the final corner, the famous Parabolica.
If you get Parabolica wrong you not only mess up your current lap but also the following lap because you need that straight-line speed and a good exit to get down the pit straight. It's a very important corner to complete the lap and one that certainly keeps your attention.
So that's a lap of the modern-day circuit, but if you want a taste of the history of Monza you have to visit the old banking. It's absolutely incredible how steep it is and fair play to the guys that used to race on that!
I think Russian Time should be in decent shape in Monza but, as usual, we're taking nothing for granted. We will have to work hard and work smart to achieve what we want from the weekend. We're in a strong position in both championships - teams and drivers - and we've got some momentum behind us. I'd like to think that if we can continue with the pace we showed at Spa and Silverstone, we can make it very difficult for anyone else. It's all to play for.
Sam Bird writes for ESPNF1 ahead of each GP2 race weekend